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  1. #1
    Senior Member Carolinahammockhanger's Avatar
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    Sleeping bags..Down vs Synthetic

    I need a new sleeping bag and I'm new to hammocking. I'm looking for a 40 degree bag for spring/summer/fall use in NC. I've been told while in a hammock down bags will compress more on the bottom and leave me cold while a synthetic bag will not, or at least not as much. I have a thermarest prolite4 and ridgerest. Not sure which of those to use as well. Does anybody use a down sleeping bag w/o underquilt in moderate conditions? What are your experiences? Anybody who has used both a down and synthetic and could give me differences would be ideal. I like the idea of down because I do the ultralite thing, but I would rather be warm. If I should get a synthetic no problem, just wanna know. Thanks in advance. This form site is the best!

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    I've been through both syn and down bags and have been cold either way. I leave the under-insulation up to my pads not my bag. As a matter of fact, I prefer to use a quilt than a bag.

    Because of this, my criteria for a bag purchase was, compressibility, weight and can it unzip to be a quilt. I went with the Western Mountaineering Mitylite (35*)... not sure if it's made anymore. Works pretty good with my prolite4 in and around 40*. YMMV

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rushthezeppelin's Avatar
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    Ya down or synthetic is still going to compress enough underneath you to possibly make you cold. Not saying it will....there a select few "icemen" here who seem to be able to get sometimes into the 20s without bottom insulation but they seem to be few and far between. I suggest using a pad or investing in a UQ. Also don't worry about synthetic if you have the money to get down. Synthetic bags, especially polyfill, are extremely bulky and will eat up pack space. Only exception I have seen is Primaloft which can be decently pricey stuff (I don't think quite as much as down). I got a primaloft bag at an REI garage sale for cheap the other day though and I have to say I like it. It's almost as light as down. It's packable almost as well as down. I got a 35* bag and I was pleasantly surprised when I took it down to 35* and was still quite toasty. One thing it beats down on is that it looses very little insulating properties when wet where as down becomes almost useless when wet.
    Last edited by Rushthezeppelin; 02-22-2009 at 12:37.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Heber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carolinahammockhanger View Post
    I need a new sleeping bag and I'm new to hammocking. I'm looking for a 40 degree bag for spring/summer/fall use in NC. I've been told while in a hammock down bags will compress more on the bottom and leave me cold while a synthetic bag will not, or at least not as much.
    Both type of bags will compress under you and leave you cold. Synthetic is not perceptibly better than down in this regard. That's true on the ground or in a hammock which is one reason ultralighters prefer quilts, even when they sleep on the ground.

    I have a thermarest prolite4 and ridgerest. Not sure which of those to use as well. Does anybody use a down sleeping bag w/o underquilt in moderate conditions? What are your experiences? Anybody who has used both a down and synthetic and could give me differences would be ideal. I like the idea of down because I do the ultralite thing, but I would rather be warm. If I should get a synthetic no problem, just wanna know. Thanks in advance. This form site is the best!
    I always sleep without an underquilt because I use a pad. Works great. Some people like the feel of the underquilt better.

    I think the ridgerest is the better pad for hammocking, at least for the weight. The prolight may have a higher R value but it has a weight penalty associated with the need to be airtight. But the purpose of the air is to make the pad comfortable, not warm. In a hammock you don't need a comfortable pad because there are no rocks or roots under your back. IMHO you are better off with closed-cell foam pads in a hammock. You can use more than one when things are very cold.

    However both pads are a little narrow for hammocking. You may need a SPE (segmented pad extender). Check them out on speerhammocks.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member Carolinahammockhanger's Avatar
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    thanks for the info. The majority seem to use ccf pads, guess I will try that. Herber , I see you use a golite poncho for a tarp. How does it work? I alreay have one and love it! Thanks to all the replies! Keep em coming. I seem to be leaning toward sythetic just is case I get wet. I had a bad storm experience where my tent was destroyed to wind any I was wet. Still a little cold in my bag but thank god I wasn't in down. With a 40 degree bag and ccf pad would ya'll think 50-55 degrees should be low as I should go temp wise? In general (and I mean general) would the majority say a hammock takes 15 or so degrees off the rating of your sleeping bag? Thanks again folks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carolinahammockhanger View Post
    With a 40 degree bag and ccf pad would ya'll think 50-55 degrees should be low as I should go temp wise? In general (and I mean general) would the majority say a hammock takes 15 or so degrees off the rating of your sleeping bag? Thanks again folks!
    I slept in 32F with a blue ccf in my hammock and a synthetic RayWay quilt. I suspect the quilt would be good into the mid 20s and the pad was adequate; butt was a tiny bit chilly. It's the thicker egg crate ccf from Walmart, fifteen bucks as I recall. I am a cold sleeper. The quilt was more than warm, it was toasty, and I didn't realize it was freezing until I had to take a pee break.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rushthezeppelin's Avatar
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    The thicker stuff from wally world is only 10 bucks when I got mine. There is a 7 dollar version that is thinner and not as wide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lori View Post
    I slept in 32F with a blue ccf in my hammock and a synthetic RayWay quilt. I suspect the quilt would be good into the mid 20s and the pad was adequate; butt was a tiny bit chilly. It's the thicker egg crate ccf from Walmart, fifteen bucks as I recall. I am a cold sleeper. The quilt was more than warm, it was toasty, and I didn't realize it was freezing until I had to take a pee break.
    I did about the same with the Rayway Alpine quilt on two 1/4in evazote pads. I was wearing silkweight long johns, zip off pants, an army polypro shirt, and a wool balaclava. A DIY Jardine bomber hat, BPL balaclava, or a JRB hood would push that system lower, IMO.

  9. #9
    Senior Member plowhorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rushthezeppelin View Post
    Ya down or synthetic is still going to compress enough underneath you to possibly make you cold. Not saying it will....there a select few "icemen" here who seem to be able to get sometimes into the 20s without bottom insulation but they seem to be few and far between. .
    I must be one of these "ice men". my 50 dollar coleman 20 degree bag has served me well into the low teens while snow camping in a tent without a pad under me. actually I was colder with an air mattress. saturday night did my first over night hang in my backyard with same bag and no top or bottom insulation other than the bag. was nice and warm with some polypro bottoms and a lightweight hoodie. that night it got down to 36 with windchill, and bag got damp from dew. I'm not advising this as a regular practice, but like I was told by everyone here experiment a little and find out what works for you. If I had been anywhere but my backyard, I would have used considerably more insulation.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Rushthezeppelin's Avatar
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    Lucky you....I wish I had that anti-freeze for blood Ohhh well I do great in my current setup so I can't really complain but it would be nice to not have to worry about bottom insulation.

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