Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Sleeping bags in PNW - Down or synthetic

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Beaverton, OR
    Posts
    11

    Question Sleeping bags in PNW - Down or synthetic

    Hi folks,

    I'm a relatively recent convert to the PNW (Oregon to be exact). As I'm new to motorcycles camping my question is whether to get a down or a synthetic sleeping bag. I've spent most of my life in New York and New England where it seemed to rain about every three days that I went camping, so I used synthetic bags. Now I am starting motorcycle camping and all of the bags that I have are quite large and bulky (even with a compression sack) and I would like to get something more compact. I have to strap the gear (sleeping bag, tent, and clothes bag probably in Helen2wheels bags).

    So are most of the bags that people use down or synthetic?

    Thanks,
    Ed

  2. #2
    Prefers to play martinph's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Armstrong, BC
    Posts
    683
    I have used Down bags for 35 years and really like them, they pack small, keep you warm, you can sleep on top of them in the heat and are light. Make sure to keep them dry.
    Having said that, I think you will get a ton of answers, all different!
    Martin.
    Martin. BMW MOA Ambassador.17748
    BMW MOA Charter, Life member.
    Valley BMW Riders. British Columbia.

  3. #3
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    3,305
    Do you sleep warm (tend to be hot) or do you sleep cool (tend to be cold)? It makes a difference. If you sleep cool then a down bag is likely a good idea. If not... the worst night I've spent camping was with temps in the low 50s (not very cold) with the wrong bag. It was cold enough to want to be in my bag. But my 25 degree rated down bag had me so hot that I'd start sweating. Kick off the bag and the combo of sweat and cool air made me cold. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. All night long. Not very restful.

    I usually use a 40˚ bag for 3 season camping and only break out the down bag if I know it's going to be colder than that. I also prefer a rectangular bag that I can stick a leg out of to help moderate my internal temperature.

    So how do you sleep?

  4. #4
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    "Big Bend" TX
    Posts
    8,495
    The issue as it might or might not impact camping in the PNW is how the two fill materials perform if they get wet.

    Most synthetic fill materials retain most of their insulation qualities even if wet.

    Down doesn't.

    The choice depends on your confidence in your ability to ensure that the bag doesn't get wet, packed or in use. And it depends on the consequences and course of action if it does get wet. (Bail and go home vs try to stay warm till dawn and hike out.)

    Down certainly packs smaller than a comparably rated synthetic bag.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  5. #5
    Lifetime Member Ridealot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Salem Or.
    Posts
    697
    As someone who also lives in Oregon my advice would be this. If most of your camping will be in the West side of the state then get a synthetic. Or spend the big money for a down bag with a water proof cover. There is just to much moisture here to bother with a down bag.

    On the other hand if your going to be doing most of your camping on the East side then a down bag would be best. Its a dry desert with elevation that means it can be a bit chilly at night.

    I use nothing but synthetic bags, but one of the guys I camp with uses only a down bag. If you use a down bag make sure that your tent is well ventilated and water proof. You don't want to have a tent that will allow the dew to soak thru onto your bag if you accidently touch the sides of the tent at night while sleeping. I move all over at night and always end up touching the tent wall, thats why I don't use a down bag.

    Hows that for a wishy washy answer.
    Tom
    Salem Or.
    '93 K1100LT w/Bushtec
    '03 F650CS '09 F650GS

  6. #6
    The Blue Max 31310's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Calgary Alberta
    Posts
    213
    We bought new bags this spring from Mountain Equipment Co-op, the bottom is synthetic and the top down. The idea is the synthetic does not compress like down, stays drier in damp conditions while the down top is warm and compresses. I used the bag on a ten day trip and really liked it; with a compression sack, it fits inside a saddlebag on my '07RT.

  7. #7
    Brett
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Altoona pa
    Posts
    363
    I always keep two, one really light one for June-August and my 0 Degree Coleman synthetic for spring fall and winter. The Coleman packs small and I have stayed perfectly warm down to 10 degrees using this bag in November in West Virginia. It will draw some moisture depending on what you use under it. I suggest thermarest, they are temp rated also. It was so cold my drinking water froze solid in my tent and I was really warm. Cost about $90.00. I also use this bag on winter hiking trips

    Brett Endress
    Altoona Pa

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    255
    Try to decide what the temperatue range is that you would most likely camp in and go from there. My bag is a synthetic mummy bag which packs smaller than a regular size bag. The other consideration is if you sleep on an air mattress or on one of the new type cots that are avaliable. If you use a cot that keeps you off the ground to start with it definately keeps some of the ground dampness and temperature off your sleeping equipment and in my opinion it beats the heck out of an air mattress plus it bundles into a package of about 24" long by maybe 5' or so in diamater. Lots of choices out there, actually as many as there are campers.
    Mo Shaffer
    Maggie valley NC,
    St. George, BM

  9. #9
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Clovis,CA
    Posts
    4,192

    Here's a thought;

    You can always cool off, BUT cannot always warm up with "less than" the right gear! I will always pick my warmest bag for extended travel, knowing wherever I camp, I will not get cold. I use the Big Agnes air matress combo bag rated to 15 degrees and it proved valuable this past winter(Feb.) in Big Bend NP, where the nights got to 15 outside. I was warm. Synthetics. I have a down bag too and its one of the finest, natural means of warmth on the planet, but is so weak when wet and this is always a concern as an outdoorsman. I use both, depending on my mood and weather. Randy

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Brownsburg, IN
    Posts
    337
    I found the price and sizes to be the deciding factors. I could just barely fit my fat @#$% in a down mummy bag. And they were expensive. I did find a larger Marmont synthetic bag that fit the bill. And they pack fairly small in their own little stuff bags. We had no complaints at the last national and a trip or after that. Well worth the money.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Beaverton, OR
    Posts
    11
    I want to thank everyone for their responses. I'm probably going to stick with synthetic at this time. Even though I plan on keeping the bag in a waterproof Helen2Wheels bag (ordered it yesterday) I just feel that it is pushing things to keep it dry because I live on the west side of Oregon.

    The down side (no pun intended) is that the bag will not pack as compact as a own bag will. I'm going to try my old bag before I get something else. If I do decide to get another bag, I am seriously considering the Big Agnes bags. Without insulation on the bottom of the bag, it definitely packs smaller.

    Take care.
    Ed

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Port St. Lucie, FL
    Posts
    378
    Big Agnes is the way to go. No more thin, hard to pack Thermarest. I have the insulated air-core mattress and a 25degree rated Crystal bag that is a combination of down and fibre fill. In the hottest of situations it is a bit much, but I use a cotton sheet liner that is just enough for the hot nights. Five years of this combination made me a believer. By all means, use the Helen Two Wheels system. Dry bag for stuff inside the tent and wet bag for the tent and other wet stuff.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •