Sleeping bag liners

28 Feb 2013 09:17 #56117 by Josh of the Bushveld
Hi everyone, I recently purchased a K-Way Extreme Lite 500 based in part on @Boerkie's review .
The bag is rated 9 degrees for comfort.

What have your experiences been with sleeping bag liners? Do they increase warmth as much as they claim? (eg one Sea to Summit liner claims up to +15 degrees).

Another question I have is how do you test cold-weather gear? I obviously don't want to put myself in danger by going into a cold situation with gear that won't stand up to it.

Would it be reasonable to use this bag in the Northern 'berg in May, in a tent?

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28 Feb 2013 13:57 #56118 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Sleeping bag liners
Hmmmm - bag liners... Personally I find my bag liner to be annoying and stopped using it after 1 use. Fitness made his own one out of arctic fleece. Costs about R100 and takes a sowing machine and 20 minutes to make, its also very compact and light. Also you can make it the size of your sleeping bag so that you don't feel too squashed in it. He says his combined with his lightweight down bag is really warm. I'm sure he can provide better insight on the matter though.

Caesar (a local Drakensberg and climbing legend who works at Bush n Bundu in Pietermaritzburg) says he doubts that the Sea to Summit one adds 5 degrees, never mind 15. I haven't tried it, but I'm also skeptical. Most liners only add up to about 3 degrees.

Personally I use a Mountain Hardware Pinole synthetic -7 bag. Its relatively cheap, light weight and I have used it in standing snow and it was fine (not to mention Mountain Hardware being a reputable good brand - not saying that K-Way isn't, but K-Way synthetic bags are too heavy).

Remember that number 1 on the list of difference between life and death items is your sleeping bag. If your shoes break you will have very sore feet, maybe some broken bones and possibly even permanent damage to your feet - but you will most likely live. If your backpack fails you may lose gear and have a very unpleasant hike - but you will probably live. If all your get wet and the only dry item you have is your sleeping bag, you can still survive the night. But if your sleeping bag fails, the money you saved buying a cheaper one will probably come in use in covering your funeral costs.

You can't tell how a bag will do in really cold conditions till you have used it in really cold conditions. One of the tricks is to make sure you never sleep in more than a single layer of clothing inside your bag. Personally I go with my thermal vest and long johns, others advocate just your underwear or maybe shorts and a t-shirt. Strangely enough your clothes make the bag less effective, and in my experience, only thermal inners actually help (presumably in the same way as Fitness' home made inner or a shop bought inner would do), all other clothes make the bag colder.

Then there are the emergency backup plans:
1) carry a space blanket at all times (especially useful if you fall down into a gully and break your legs, your pack is above you at the point from where you fell and have to wait at night while mountain rescue comes). The Messner brothers with little other gear apart from 1 space blanket while stranded at 8000m on Nanga Parbat in -40C due to a series of unfortunate circumstances used one. Neither slept at all, but both lived to see the next morning. Sadly Gunter died in an avalanche a few days later, but thats besides the point.
2) make sure you are good friends with your hiking partner and remember the rules of hiking-spooning etiquette... Not an option I have even been forced into and I personally hope to keep it that way :laugh:

I remember Boerkie describing that bag as more realistically a 0 rated bag, so with temperatures on the escarpment often reaching 0 in summer, I would be weary in autumn. Bear in mind that a 2 man tent with 2 people in it generally adds about 3 degrees, a 3 man tent with 3 people in it generally adds about 5 degrees. But still, be careful of chancing it.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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28 Feb 2013 14:09 - 28 Feb 2013 14:10 #56120 by Josh of the Bushveld
Thanks for the tips.
I do carry a space blanket or poncho with me at all times.
I've also got a reflective groundsheet/footprint (Coghlans) that theoretically should help.
I'll see if Fitness responds, otherwise I'll message him for his advice.
Seems like there's a lot of negativity around commercial liners, so I reckon I'll pass on them.

Out of interest I also have an FA Ice Breaker, but I'm trying to shed weight where I can.
Last edit: 28 Feb 2013 14:10 by Josh of the Bushveld.

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28 Feb 2013 14:30 #56122 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Sleeping bag liners
In winter you need something like a FA IB. Don't try to save weight on the most important survival item you carry. Wrap it up in plastic so it doesn't get wet, put it in the middle of your pack so that if you fall in a river your other gear will get wet before it. Never underestimate the importance of this 1 item!

In the sleeping bag thread there was a discussion about bag liners long ago - I remember posting a similar question about the same Sea to Summit Liner - there should be some other opinions there too.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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28 Feb 2013 15:00 #56123 by Fitness
Replied by Fitness on topic Sleeping bag liners
@joshilewis, as Ghaz said I had my clever wife make a bag liner for me, it cost about R100 and maybe less the 20min to make but make all the difference in winter, hard to say the exact temp increase but I can assure you my next winter hike it will becoming with me.
For the space and weight I'd rather take less food for the comfort of a warm bag.
Never ever skimp on the sleeping bag warmth for weight.
Just my 5cents worth,
The following user(s) said Thank You: ghaznavid

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04 Mar 2013 07:02 #56153 by Josh of the Bushveld
Fair points, I'll keep my Ice Breaker for 'berg trips then.
I use TeVo vacuum bags for my sleeping bag and clothes. They're a bit sturdier than 'ordinary' plastic bags, and the vacuum makes them more water proof.

@Fitness, did you use a specific fleece liner/blanket? Would it be worth making one from a more technical fabric, or is a cheap blanket good enough?

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04 Mar 2013 12:22 #56159 by Captain
Replied by Captain on topic Sleeping bag liners
I'd say it depends on you as an individual. Are you susceptible cold, average fitness and your state of hydration etc. Your sleep system needs to reflect your situation i.e. are you sleeping in a tent, hut/cabin or cave; time of year; region you're overnighting in (Cederberg, Drakensberg) etc. The sleeping bag liner serves 2 purposes: 1) Keeping the sleeping bag clean and 2) Increasing the insulating capacity of the sleeping bag.

You can make your own or buy a one.

I've made a nylon ripstop bag liner that gets washed after every hike and works like a bomb.

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05 Mar 2013 08:41 #56168 by Josh of the Bushveld
@Captain, I agree it depends very much on the circumstances. At the moment I'm planning for an Autumn 'berg trip in a tent. I'd also like to be able to do winter 'berg trips. However I also do hutted and more fair-weather tented trails. I guess I'll come up with a range of gear, suited for different occasions (e.g. I already have 4 sleeping bags).

@Fitness and @Captain, how heavy and bulky are your home-made liners?
Seeing as the K-Way Extreme Lite weighs just under 500g and is not too bulky, would it make sense to use it in conjunction with an Ice Breaker for low temperatures, like the 'berg in winter (instead of a thermal liner)? (Because both bags are down, I'd look at using a very lightweight liner that wouldn't add warmth, just the cleaning aspect).

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05 Mar 2013 12:43 #56175 by dunmor
Replied by dunmor on topic Sleeping bag liners
I know this is slightly off topic, but it seems you are worried about the cold and trying to get extra warmth with a liner. My experience is that it helps only a little as people have said; maybe 2 to 3 degrees. What I have found that has made a big difference to warmth is a good hiking mat. I have an "exped down 7 mattress" and this makes a massive difference to warmth. Actually you cannot feel any form of cold from the floor and it warms up your sleeping bag from the bottom.

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05 Mar 2013 12:52 #56176 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Sleeping bag liners
Thats very true. And don't forget, a self inflating mattress at 3000m is a mattress inflated by yourSELF. Rather get one of those lighter weight thicker non-foam ones. I wish I had one of those rather than my 600g Thermal Comfort 2" thick mat...

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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