Friday, January 4, 2013

Sleeping Bag Woes

from XKCD

When we were camping in November, we tried out our new sleeping bags, the REI Sub Kilo 20 degree bags with the Sea to Summit sleeping bag linerThey were warm at first and I was able to fall asleep just fine. However, I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like my rear end had been replaced with a bag of ice. This made it somewhat difficult to fall back asleep. It also gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "on the rocks."

Sleeping is a critical activity, which is funny to me, as it is more or less actively doing nothing at all. However, if I don't sleep properly, then my muscles won't have time to repair, my food won't get digested, and my experiences won't be able to get transferred from short term memory into long term memory, which means that this blog will basically devolve into ruminations about the nature of the color chartreuse. As entertaining as that may be, I rather like being a fully functioning human being. And chartreuse is a completely ridiculous color anyway. Mauve, on the other hand; that dude means business.

We were also conflicted as to whether or not we should stick with a down-fill bag or switch to synthetic-fill bags. Down is significantly lighter, but it also becomes completely useless if it gets damp. I'm not planning on wearing my sleeping bag like a giant caterpillar and jumping into any lakes, but the odds of my sleeping bag getting damp are pretty high. Imagine setting up the tent in the pouring rain, and having to take off all of our soaking clothing, blowing up our sleeping pads and rolling out our sleeping bags. Even if we tried to dry everything in that cramped tent before we unrolled the sleeping bags, things are bound to be a bit wet. Water is like the James Bond of elements; irresistible, stealthy, and all up in your business.

Synthetic bags on the other hand, do not lose their "loft" when they get wet, which means that though they'd be damp, they would still retain their warmth. However, switching to synthetic bags was daunting, as it meant that my pack weight might increase an extra 2 pounds. Not only that, but I needed to find something a little bit warmer (a 15 degree bag at least) to keep the bag-o-ice butt syndrome at bay. 

What's a girl to do?!

We went to REI and did a fair bit of research, and I think we've found a happy medium. There is a treatment that can be done to down to make it somewhat more water resistant. It still can't get soaked, but if it gets damp it will still retain its warmth. Not only that, it helps if you are a sweaty sleeper. In a regular down bag, if you sweat from the warmth, then that sweat can dampen the loft of the down, causing it to lose heat and then your sweat becomes cold. By trying to keep yourself warm you end up causing your own coldness. It's sort of like how if the polar ice caps melt, the polar water could screw up all of the warm ocean currents and potentially cause another ice age. And yes, I just compared being a sweaty sleeper to the devastation of global warming. I HAVE NO EXCUSE.

These are the bags we got:

Sierra Designs DriDown 15 Degree

Weight: 2 lbs 6 oz

Fill: Down treated with DriDown: this process treats each individual duck down plume with a hydrophobic finish. This means the insulation retains its loft and stays dry 7 times longer than untreated down. It also dries faster.

Other cool stuff: It is a lot roomier than our other bags were, which means I can more easily curl up, which I really like. Also the color makes me feel like I'm sleeping in an alien space pod. Which is ESSENTIAL.

I got into one of these while we were at REI and it felt a lot more comfy than our other bags. Awesomely, we were able to return our other bags to REI, and the 15 degree bags were on sale, so we broke even. These are slightly heavier than our other bags were, but they are warmer, and it quells a little bit of my worry about my bag getting wet. 

This is going to be my bed for 6 months. 

Sweet dreams!

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