How far have you pushed temp ratings

Discussion in 'Sleep Systems' started by UAHiker, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    one thing i've always been curious about is temp ratings on bags and quilts. i understand how they come up with the ratings and get that everyone is slightly different all depending on if your a hot sleeper, conditions outside, clothes your sleeping in, ect....

    what i'm wondering though is how far have you pushed your temp rating on your sleep system? what do you feel comfortable pushing it too? for example say you have a 50 degree rating would you be comfortable pushing it into the 40's? what about the 30's?

    i'll go i have a 10 degree quilt that i have taken to single digits if i remember correctly and was comfortably warm with the appropriate clothing warn to bed
     
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  2. DKR

    DKR Scout

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    Willingly? Couple of times I spent the night freezing my nads off after the chopper didn't come back for pickup. Poncho liner x 2 and a poncho is not a sleep system - even on the edge of Death Valley in April. Once the sun goes down, it doesn't take long to get cold...

    After that, I always carried a ruck with a full sleeping bag, stove, 3 x days of chow and all the water that would fit....even on road trips.

    Moat folks that wind up 'testing' the limits of their sleep system do so out of calamity and not by choice.
     
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  3. HeadyBrew

    HeadyBrew Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Only time I can recall truly testing the rating was unintentional. Spent a cold, miserable night in my hammock with the temps hovering around freezing in my 20* bag. That taught me the importance of insulation from underneath (pad or UQ).

    Honestly I always err on the side caution and so I don’t know I’ve ever really “tested” my ratings. I have a 40* down bag which I bring till around mid 50*’s. If overnight temps are expected to get into the lower 50*s, I bring my 20* down bag. If calling for temps around freezing or below then I’ll bring my 0* down bag. I’d rather have to open it up because I’m sweating than risk a cold, sleepless night.
     
  4. perdidochas

    perdidochas Guide

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    I go the other way. I wouldn't use a bag that is rated more than 40 degrees in 50 degree weather. (I agree with Heady Brew above)
     
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  5. RJM52

    RJM52 Scout

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    Problem is everyone rates their bags differently... For me, when a manufacturer says a 40* bag, that is naked in the bag, not with a down coat and pants on, in an unheated tent with an insulated pad....

    After sleeping for several hundred nights in Wiggy's bags since 1995 his rating for me at least are high...meaning his rating for a 40* bag is really more like 30* for me. I slept in one of his 40* Overbags with a light weight Kelty Bivy sack at 28* and was comfortable.

    I have one down bag, a 1970s vintage EMS Mt. Robson that is duck down...rated for -20. I have been to -10 with the bag and been warm. I can not sleep in the bag if it isn't in the 20s..just too warm.

    Bob
     
  6. CSM1970

    CSM1970 Guide

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    We went rock hunting near Leadville Colorado. We were at about 9000 feet in April. It probably got into the 30’s overnight and we slept in the back of a pickup with a tarp thrown over the bed. I had a 2# Coleman cotton bag. Yeah, do stupid things, win stupid prizes.
     
  7. ra2bach

    ra2bach Bushmaster

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    I keep a small thermometer clipped to the ridgeline of my hammock along with my Photon Micro-light so if I wake up cold, I know exactly the conditions I'm in vs the gear I brought.

    doing this has taught me a couple things about staying warm at night. one thing that really helps when wind is whistling lengthwise through my tarp is to get out my poncho and install it over the end of my hammock.

    I unclip my suspension carabiner and pass the bottom of the poncho over this onto the hammock and then tighten the hood draw cord around the gathered end knot on my hammock suspension. the ridgeline suspends the poncho and gives a cone of wind (and sometimes rain) proof protection to just about half my hammock. usually this is enough to give back what the wind was stealing...
     
  8. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout

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    After being in northern N.Y. and the desert where I had no choice in being real cold or real hot, I don't go where I need to test the limits of anything. I'm a firm believer in my comfort.
     
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  9. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Do you mean the comfort limits or the survival limits?
    Getting 5 to 10 degrees of extra warmth is simply a matter of adding an extra layer of clothing inside the bag and/or adding the windproof shell of a proper bivvy bag. If however you mean stretching the survival rating I've done it a few times by wearing all my clothing layers, putting the foot end of the sleeping bag inside my waterproof parka and spending half the night shivering. Did it just this last Southern snow season. For practice so I remember how when stressed.
    96GSM Liteloft bag rated to 14C. UL Goretex bivvy 3mm CCF pad
    Adding my day pack clothing layer to my skiing layer, this was my Patagonia DAS pants and parka plus a 100 wt fleece jumper. I shivered all night but did manage to get a few hours sleep in between shivering bouts. Now this is the important information about me, I'm 70YO soon and my sleeping MET is a lot lower than it was so the 14C sleeping bag is really only going to be rated to 25C [ -5C for every decades after 25YO] I have a UL down half bag that I would normally have in my day pack but this was to seriously test the limits of my system and my toughness and I had shelter and warm gear close by and I knew it was only going to get to about -8C. Note that I call this a "soft" bivvy because I had an escape if needed, I also had to do 2 "hard" bivvys this season and with less gear. If you have a sleeping bag from a reputable maker and it is EN tested remember that the "Survival" / "extreme " rating may mean hypothermia and /or frostbite when talking about temperatures lower than -18C/0F.
    Over at BPL the saying is that if you are not wearing all of your clothes to sleep in you are carrying too much gear, the assumption being that your warm layers are part of your sleeping system
     
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  10. 41magfan

    41magfan Scout

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    I pushed a Western Mountaineering Megalite (30-deg rated) way past the limit once. I had opted for 3 oz of Overfill when I bought it so I'm guessing it was more of a 22-25 degree bag with the extra down fill. I was sleeping under a tarp and using a silk liner, but I was still only wearing my socks, skivvies and a short sleeve Smartwool T-shirt. I woke up a few times just before daylight slightly chilled, but not enough to make me want to get up and put on more clothes. The temps that night dropped into the high single-digits. Try that with another bag that weighs in at 27 oz!
     
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  11. 1911srule

    1911srule Scout

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    Now if we winter camp , I try to bring the chemical hand warmers just in case. I place between my thighs in the fetal position to warm femoral blood flow. I did this with the old style Jone hand warmer an found lighter fluid on the boys was quite the wake up call when it leaked. That kind is better in the bottom of the bag if needed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
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  12. Midwest.Bushlore

    Midwest.Bushlore Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I do that too! I always have a small zipper pull with a button compass and a thermometer. Well, almost always- the one I usually have along fell apart, separated into two halves. The back half was still on the zipper pull but the "guts" were gone! It's very handy to have a thermometer IMO. Obviously if you feel cold it's cold but sometimes being able to read the temp can clue you in before you have a problem.
     
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  13. MJGEGB

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    This needs to be prefaced with KNOW THYSELF.

    I pushed my 32° down bag to 20° this past year. It's called a 23° bag but when you look at the specs 32° is the comfort rating and 23 is the lower limit. Judging from the baffle hight I'd say it's an accurate rating. I sleep warm though so I knew I could push the bags limits with clothes. Only issue was my feet got a bit cold in the early morning. Not enough to get out of the bag and put on a second pair of socks, but a little chilly. I've also had the bag down to probably just below it's comfort rating without issues. I found using my down puffer as a neck baffle worked wonders at locking in heat. But here's the kicker I took it down to just below freezing with an uninsulated pad with an R value of 1.8 so I was still pushing the limits, just in this case it was of the pad. On the trip we're it got down to 20° or below I placed a CCF pad underneath, likly still pushing the limits.

    But likely the worst I ever pushed a bag was when I made the stupid mistake of assuming I knew what the weather would be like. I spent the night in an overnight cold snap going down to the low 20s in a 40° bag with clothes but still. Let's just say I will never buy another quilt construction bag again. It's great for warm weather, but that's it.
     
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  14. ra2bach

    ra2bach Bushmaster

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    the variables with trying to assign a temperature rating are too many to predict or asses from a "rating". personal condition, fatigue, hydration, and cold tolerance change from day-to-day, maybe even hour-to-hour when outdoors, and all are extremely important to how warm you sleep. humidity is another factor that affects temp/comfort ratings.

    it's only by using the "try it and see" method that I've been able to understand the factors that contribute to sleeping comfort and it's why I feel it's important to use a thermometer to take note the parameters of my gear before I rely on it in a critical situation. I carry one every time I go out so I'm constantly increasing data.

    the OP doesn't specify whether sleeping in a hammock or a tent that but that is a significant difference. in a hammock, you have exposure to wind on all sides due to the non-sealed tarp conditions. in a tent you can close the door and be protected from wind but you still have to protect from the cold ground leaching your body heat. a mattress or pad of sufficient insulation is vital, otherwise, you'll never realize the advantages of a warmer cover...
     
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  15. SkipJunkie

    SkipJunkie Tracker

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    Word od advice try it at home first . That where I tested my extreme cold sleep system . Worked like a charm by the eay .
     
  16. AdamD1776

    AdamD1776 Tracker

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    Well, I once tried using just a cheap trow blanket in ~ 50 degree weather... Yeah, I wasn't thinking on that one...
     
  17. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I push mine pretty regularly; I have a good idea (predicated on lots of outings) of how far I can push things. Every once in awhile, Mother Nature throws me a curve ball and I suffer a wee bit :4:
     
  18. stingray4540

    stingray4540 Scout

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    Some ratings are for survival. I don’t want to survive, I want to be comfortable. My first backpacking bag was a cat’s meow rated for 20°. First time Inused it it was in the mid to low 30’s. I froze my a$s off and didn’t sleep. Got rid of it and picked up a 10° down bag. I haven’t had an uncomfortable night since, even below freezing. I have no intention of using it any lower than low 30’s high 20’s without support.

    I have no idea how cowboys slept with just a wool blanket. It gets cold at night out west, even in the middle of summer. Maybe back east where you nighttime low is only 5°s lower than your high, but in the west, I need some insulation to sleep.
     
  19. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    That is because they didn't. That is just television and the movies.
     
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  20. ACrawford36

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    Went to the field for a few weeks. Didn't call for anything before 60 at night. Majority of us only brought a woobie. Well up on the mountain not including wind it turned into 45°. So while in our OPs built up small wind breaks best we could. Used the poncho in conjunction with the the Woobie. Wasn't the warmest but didn't freeze. They were some close nights....
     

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