Saturday, April 26, 2008


Well. At 6:30 this morning I looked at the thermometer on my outside tent zipper and it read 50*. I had been cold all night in my 40* sleeping bag with my regular night clothes (t-shirt and boxer shorts) and a light sweater. Conclusion, multiple choice:
  • (a) A warmer sleeping bag (nights can be in the teens in spring in the Smoky Mountains, and any time in New Hampshire and Maine)
  • (b) A sleeping bag liner
  • (c) Wear more clothes to bed
  • (d) A warmer sleeping bag
  • (e) More than one of the above
  • (f) All of the above

So today I sewed up a fleece sleeping bag liner out of a blanket I've been chopping up for other things (like a sleeping pad for the cat's carrying box when we travel.) It was a gift I didn't really need but didn't have the heart to re-gift, so it turns out I'm finding uses for it.

I'll try the liner out tonight. Low temp last night was 50* and dry; tonight 41* and damp is expected (system of thunder storms went through.)

I sat in my tent this evening in pouring rain and discovered a couple of drips inside. I'll have to look online about re-waterproofing it.

It was fun, though, sitting in the tent reading during an afternoon thunderstorm. Maybe not safe, but fun. And it's not impossible I'll have to do that on the AT.... won't always be near a solid shelter when a storm comes up. In fact, in a sudden storm, I'll probably just pitch my Tyvek ground cloth as a tarp.

In fact, it's not impossible I could just go with the Tyvek tarp, period, if I can't leakproof the tent. Maybe I'll spray-paint my Tyvek in a camo pattern or something so I wouldn't have a glaring-white tarptent. I could make a decent tent out of a piece of Tyvek. I have an 8 X 10 urethane-coated nylon tarp, but if I go to just a tarp, the Tyvek weighs ounces, compared to the nylon tarp's 1.5 pounds.

Who knows. I've got almost a year to try everything, find what works, find what doesn't, and learn what things I have to save up $ for.

Off now to test my 40* bag with fleece liner in actual 40* temp!


A Wild Celtic Rose said...

Hi Ellie,

Not to go all "outdoor professional" on you, but since that's what I used to do (still work for the same company, just in a different capacity.)

The first and foremost thing in sleeping in a sleeping bag is to change clothing first. The clothes that you wore outside are cold and possibly damp. If not damp from humidity, damp from perspiration. (even small amounts) and it takes a lot of energy to warm them up.

Are you using a pad under your sleeping bag? Sleeping bags are "comfort" rated with pads under them. Pads help insulate you from the cold ground.

Are you using the "hood" of the bag over your head? More heat is lost from the head than any other part of the body. I also wear a cap on my head in cold weather.

A sleeping bag is no good at all in cold weather if you're not using the hood. (it took me some getting used to, I don't like something wrapped around my head with only a small breathing hole...

You actually don't want too much clothing on in your bag. The sleeping bag's job is to warm up it's own insides with you body heat. Sleeping bags are rated with the tester (I still field test) wearing one layer of mid weight MTS or other long underwear.

Is your bag a woman specific bag? Women's bags are designed with more insulation in the feet and torso because that's where we get cold.

You may want to reconsider the fleece liner is favor of a silk or MTS liner. Fleece is bulky and you're going to be hauling this stuff a long way.

also, make sure you bag is the correct size. Too small/tight and there's no air space for your body to heat. Too big/loose and your body had to work too hard to warm that space up.

Here's a good article on choosing sleeping bags.

Ellie Hamilton said...

Thanks, "Rose!" OK, down the checklist:

Yup, I change out of the clothes I've been hiking in. I know from running and biking that I get cold when I stop, and sweaty clothes just accelerate that. I've got "camp" clothes and "sleep" clothes.

Yup, using a ThermaRest women's Pro-Lite 3 sleeping pad. Even with a few extra puffs of air, though, I feel ground under my hipbones. My hips were sore this morning. I'm going to try it tonight with a torso-length closed-cell pad underneath it. If I have to carry both, then so be it. The closed-cell one weighs only ounces and can be lashed underneath my pack.

The "hood" -- no. Last night, I wished I'd worn a knit hat. This morning I experimented and found that although the bag is a little long for me, if I pull the extra length up past my head, I can pull the drawstring to make a hood, which the bag does not have. So tonight I'll try that. And take a hat.

The night I was cold, I had only light cotton boxers on the bottom. I wasn't cold enough to get out of the bag to put on my lightweight long pants (yoga pants.) But I'd have been more comfortable.

No, it's not a women's bag. It's one my husband got for a fall bike trip. I'm trying to make it work for me so I don't have to shell out bucks for a new one.

I've been planning to make a silk liner, but I don't have the fabric yet, so, again, I used what I had on hand. I know fleece is bulky but.... it's what I had. Actually I loved it.

This bag, although not a mummy bag, is tapered at the feet and wider at the shoulders, with just enough wiggle room to feel right to me. Except for being long, I like the fit. And I can take up the length by making a hood. A button and elastic loop and presto, a hood!

Thanks for the suggestions!

Jade Lady said...

I had no idea there was so much to selecting a sleeping bag - of course, the number of times I've camped..I can count on one hand!

You're going to be so well prep'd for your adventure!