Sleeping bags

26 Jul 2010 09:40 #1506 by mike
mike created the topic: Sleeping bags
Hi everyone

Whats the life span of a down sleeping bag?
Myself and a friend bought identical -15 degree down bags about 4 years ago,in the beginning they were fantastic and actually a bit of overkill for Berg conditions. We always found ourselves completely starkers and unzipping the top half because it was just too warm even in freezing conditions. The last two or three hikes iv done recently iv found that the bag just isnt as warm anymore. This past weekend wasnt that cold and both my friend and I had to pull a thermal on in the bag to keep warm and zip it up fully, can it really have lost that much efficiency in such a short time or are we just getting old ;) ?
I do look after the bag well and air it after every trip and store it in a large sack so that its not compressed.

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26 Jul 2010 18:40 #1507 by anthony
anthony replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
Mike

My family and i all have -15 sleeping bags, and we were up on the berg on the 15th of June and we all froze,and that was with a -5 thermal liner inside ,so i was glad we did not take our icebreakers.

I personally think it all comes down to how well you are insulated from the cold of the ground beneath you, because that particular week even the ground was frozen, it was a struggle to even remove your tent pegs in the morning.I am now going to invest in one of those thick emergency blankets that you can find at cape union and use that as a ground sheet under my tent in extreme cold conditions.

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26 Jul 2010 21:30 #1509 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
My understanding is that a down bag should last around 15 years, as opposed to about 5 years when it comes to synthetics. Usage (how much and how long it was compressed) obviously plays a role (along with storage when not in use), as well as the quality of the down. The occasional wash may also be beneficial as it re-fluffs the down. I use an Ice Nino for 2-3 seasons in the Berg, which us now around 13 years old and its still doing OK. There could be a number of factors explaining why you suddenly felt colder in them (some of which Anthony suggested), but its not likely that they are worn out.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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27 Jul 2010 18:17 #1514 by tiska
tiska replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
I've managed to get some life back into a down bag by putting it in a tumble drier set on very *LOW* cool setting. Put in a tennis ball or two. It seems to get the loft back.

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28 Jul 2010 08:49 #1516 by mike
mike replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
Thanks for the info guys

Good point Anthony I use a thermarest mat and lately have been finding my bum on the floor half way through the night,could be that the cold is coming up. I used to use a thin blue foam mat under that previously to avoid punctures but havent bothered lately.Never had a prob with icy floors whilst i was doing that. I have been avoiding washing it regularly but will give it a good one and do the tennis ball trick and see how it goes next weekend
Now to find that elusive puncture...

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03 Aug 2010 08:46 #1545 by ClimbyKel
ClimbyKel replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
I just purchased a used winter (-15) bag. It's in really good condition, and I wanted to see how I like it (before I drop the big money on a brand new one).

I'm hearing you guys say your -15 bags didn't quite do the trick; it sounds like you were freezing your butts off a bit? Next time would you buy something even more severe for the Berg or stick with a -15 bag again?

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03 Aug 2010 10:59 #1548 by mike
mike replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
@ klimbykel
the -15 bag in my opinion is ample for the cold Berg conditions . Obviously it does differ from person to person and how your body reacts to the cold.
I have slept in the open on cold days with bottles freezing solid next to me with just a t shirt on in the bag and been really comfi . If it does get much colder than the usual , by wearing your extra clothing it should be good. I personally wouldnt get something more extreem than that, weight in mind to.

Im sure my problem was 1)the insulation from the floor and 2) because i havent washed it before and have had a few wet nights in it by doing silly things like pulling a fly sheet over it :blush:

I washed the bag on the weekend (and its still wet and starting to smell.... any tips?the thing just wont dry?) and im heading to the upper Berg this weekend so i will try it out again, this time with proper insulation on the floor and let you know how it went.On the topic are there any clues to find Rolands cave ? Intending on spending Sat and Sun nights there.

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03 Aug 2010 19:13 #1551 by ClimbyKel
ClimbyKel replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
@ Mike
Thanks for info about the bag. I tend to get chilly easy, and was a bit curious if i was going to turn into a Canadian popcycle out there. Stick your bag outside in the breeze, but not in the direct sunlight.
By the way, I know just the person to tell you how to get to Roland's cave. He SMS'd me from it once...and then I moved to SA and married him. I will have him give you directions. Take pictures, as I am dying to get to that cave soon! We too are going out this weekend, but to Monk's Cowl this time.

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05 Aug 2010 00:24 - 05 Aug 2010 00:26 #1558 by SeriousTribe2
SeriousTribe2 replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
Those who are freezin' their butts off obviously have very little covering their butts. Which in the confines of a tent becomes a serious social issue.

So to solve this, I shall add the following:

Sleeping bags [SB] are one of your essential pieces of kit.It is worth investing in a good one, and with care, they last for years.
A SB acts as an Insulator, not a heater, and all low temp ratings indicate the minimum temp below which an individual would begin to feel uncomfortable.

Considering that we have recorded -21 sleeping on an icefield near Nkosazana cave, should one go out and purchase a -30 bag.

If you consider the Insulation angle, then it stands to reason that the more you layer your clothing inside the bag, the more warm air you retain inside.
Using a beanie you can effectively requlate your temp as well [provided you can find the blasted thing in the dark after you have yanked it off !]


The - ratings are usually done making use of a foam [ground] pad, and one layer of clothing.
When it comes to inflatable ground pads bear in mind that the air inside does not insulate as well as a solid foam. [for comfort, i use both - with foam under air]
Ground pads are vital, as the loft of any bag is obviously compressed between the ground and your body, and this is where the greatest heat loss is likely to occur. [if you are not convinced, spend half the night off the pad, and then the other half on the pad - use the snoring of your comfy partner as the experimental control, and reach your conclusion by morning]

Besides the ambient temp your metabolism, level of fatique, and hunger also play a role in how cold you may feel

When choosing a bag, consider first what kind of environment you are most likely going to use it in.
For the summit, consider the following:
Mummy bag with hood [keeps you confined so less heat loss and more room in tent for compadres']
Draft collar inside around neck area [keeps the draft out, and heat in]
Draft tube behind zip for full length [ the sausage of filled material for jambing the zip on]
Full length zip [for summer use and letting odours out]
Double opening zip, allows you to get your feet out without extricating your entire self first.[handy for chasing basotho in the dark]

When done using, air it for a day or two before lightly folding away in a dry place. Don't store stuffed into its carrier, as this completely destroys loft, even synthetics.

For general care, try not 'cook with gas' whilst wrapped in your bag, as poly and flame are like electricity and water, they don't mix too good.
[duct tap has helped the foolish in years past]

For extra warmth and comfy zzzz's, I purchased a large chunk of polarfleece from a cloth waste centre, and sowed a mummy shaped inner to fit.

In the last 29 years I have owned only two bags; a 'CapeDown' -15, replaced about ten years ago as the goose has died [it is now a fair summer bag] and replaced with a 'cape onion mart' Expedition series -30 {?!} that is now due for a wash.
Both cost lots of bread but have been worth every crumb.

Enjoy shopping - no better place for retail therapy than an outdoor store [where one is sure to hear an eager salesman telling the innocent that "those boots are TOTALLY waterproof sir, 100%"] :P
Last Edit: 05 Aug 2010 00:26 by SeriousTribe2.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Papa Dragon

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05 Aug 2010 08:10 - 05 Aug 2010 08:11 #1559 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: Re: Sleeping bags
@ST2: :laugh: appreciated all the insights and humour!

mike: down can take ages to dry, I know! You may need to tumble-dry it gently on low, or no heat. On the topic of Roland's Cave, do you gave a GPS? The co-ordinates are available on this site. Find the summit of Thuthumi Pass first, its quite close to there (approx 150m), in the cliffs above you on your right, as you look down the pass. If you descend the pass approx 20m and scramble up to a grassy neck on your left, the cave just comes into view in the cliff above - this will allow you to pinpoint the way in.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last Edit: 05 Aug 2010 08:11 by intrepid.

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