Okay, so I am totally new to winter camping. Prior to becoming a hanger I've only camped in mild weather, except for one car camping experience down to 32 F with like a gazillion blankets and a tent roommate who was a furnace.
Now that I am a hanger, and the owner of a HG Incubator, I've been testing my winter limits. So far I've made it down to 16* F (with 10-15 mph steady winds and occasional gusts) and was toasty warm. It was an awesome experience. The more I cold weather test, the more totally hooked on winter camping I become.
The night I slept out in 16 F, I woke up around 4 AM just a little cold because my top layers had gapped a little in my sleep, letting in some cold air. When I started to double check that everything was tucked back around me, I discovered that the top layer of my sleeping bag (I was using it like a top quilt) was absolutely soaked in spots. There were wet spots and ice crystals all along my bugnetting/weathershield as well, right above my head. I realized that I had forgotten to vent my weathershield. Oops. At this point, I decided to get out and pee, and when I unzipped, moisture and ice crystals sprinkled down on me like a mini storm.
I considered calling it a night at this point and heading inside (I was backyard testing), but then I thought, well.... I'm not actually cold or miserable. The condensation did not affect my warmth or comfort at all. So I got back in, had another little mini storm as I zipped back up, and then I cocooned myself back underneath my sleeping bag liner and sleeping bag (using both as top quilts tucked around me). I made sure to tuck everything around me better so it would not gap in my sleep. Next time I will likely just zip into my sleeping bag to prevent drafts (which I often do, but wanted to test not doing this time). I did leave a vent in the weathershield at this point. (EDIT to add: I should clarify that when I vented, both the netting and the weathershield were open. But I did it at the side, next time I think I need to do it above my head.)
Even though the top layer of my sleeping bag was sopping wet in places, I still got snuggly warm and drifted back off to sleep quite easily. I slept very well the rest of the night. When I woke up in the morning, the venting I had done really hadn't made too much of a difference. My sleeping bag was still wet on the top and more ice crystals were on the "ceiling". But I was still completely dry and quite warm and toasty.
So all of that to get to my actual question.... If I was warm and comfortable do I really need to worry all that much about condensation? My sleeping bag liner is made of Climashield Combat and my sleeping bag is a combo of Climashield Apex and Prism. When I got up in the morning, everything dried out very fast. After breakfast I went to hang up my gear to dry it out and discovered it was already dry. I'm assuming if I was using a down top quilt that I would have to do something about this condensation issue or I will wake up cold due to loss of loft? But using synthetics, should I worry as much?
I have actually been wanting to switch to a down top quilt because I love my down UQ so much, but now I'm not sure. This experience would have gone much differently had I not been using synthetics, I'm sure, especially if I had to pack up wet and then sleep again with wet gear that didn't dry out fast. How does treated down change these assumptions?
My plan for next time is to remember to vent just above my head right from the start and maybe hang something made of fleece above my head to catch some of the condensation? Sound okay?
What temps do I generally need to worry about condensation in? I've previously done some testing in the mid to high 20s and did not notice any condensation issues.
Would appreciate some experienced feedback. I know this post is loaded with questions and issues... condensation management, down versus synthetics, etc etc. I have read tons of posts on these issues, just wanted to get some specific feedback on my situation. Thanks!