Sleeping bag vs wool blanket

Discussion in 'Clothing' started by gm42, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. gm42

    gm42 Scout

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    Hey Guys,

    For long term survival would you carry a sleeping bag or a wool blanket plus some extra clothing?

    It seems to me that if you are in the wilderness for a while, everything eventually gets damp and wet. I think this would be a problem for a synthetic bag so a wool blanket and some extra clothing would probably hold up better. The wool blanket and extra clothing would add around 4 extra pounds of weight.

    What is your opinion?

    Thanks,

    Geoff
     
  2. donk

    donk Guide Bushclass I

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    Geoff, I've spent a lot of time outdoors and I would rather have a good wool blanket and extra clothes. Keeping the inner layer dry, ie stopping mid-day and changing out t- shirt and socks and again at lights out, and keeping out of the wind is the secret. A fire is great but that wasn't your question. Clothes in layers is the ticket, always stay just warm enough without sweating, especially when it's cold. Good question!
    Donk
     
  3. Jeffrey29584

    Jeffrey29584 Scout

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    Wooly!!!! Hands down!!
     
  4. Keyser Söze

    Keyser Söze Usual Suspecto Lifetime Supporter

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    both , you can sleep in the bag and use the blanket on top, or half under and half on top, or folded in 2-3 under you bag
     
  5. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    Synth bag.
     
  6. northstar

    northstar Guide

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    During the summer I carry my GI bivy and patrol bag. Early spring and fall I add a wool blanket.

    Tony
     
  7. wildernesswikiup14

    wildernesswikiup14 Guide Bushclass I

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    agreed, with a bed of boughs underneath you as well, you'd be pretty well set up
     
  8. Sgt. Mac

    Sgt. Mac Elder

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    To echo Donk and his good advice, I guess the question would be what kind of shelter and fire do you have at what temps?

    In a lean to with long fires, and two reflectors you would be ok with woolys. Without having that type of fires and reflectors, say in some kind of a tent I would go with a sleeping bag
     
  9. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    depends on what you mean by long term....

    SHTF and i'll never see a clothes dryer ever again? wool blanket
    couple weeks out in a dry climate? down bag
    couple overnights in a humid climate? down bag
    couple weeks out in a humid climate? synthetic bag
     
  10. BackwoodsUncleBub

    BackwoodsUncleBub Scout

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    I take 2 wool blankets and a few safety pins to pin them up into a bag if I need to. Throw in a space blanket and a bivy and your going to be toasty warm. The blankets are easier to wash, dry, and air out in the field. Two blankets weigh a little less than one thick sleeping bag and they roll/fold up more compact.
     
  11. Pablo

    Pablo Guide

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    I'll take the sleeping bag. I've spent many nights with a wool blanket on survival courses (over 400 days spaced over 15 summers in Utah mountains and deserts), and I know that without a fire, a wool blanket has a VERY limited range of comfort (even the thick, dense blanket I bought in Guatemala). Sure, a person could build a fire, but maintaining a fire all night, night after night takes a phenomenal amount of time and energy, even with a saw/axe. Extra clothes? It'd take a lot of extra clothes to equal the comfort of a single 20 degree-rated sleeping bag. And in the Fall/Spring or even Winter? The bag wins hands down... Now, if weight wasn't an issue (say in a basecamp), and I could have more than one item? I'd take a nice down comforter...

    Some people seem like polar bears, and might be warm with a blanket, but I think the average person wouldn't find it adequate for anything but a summer's night... or maybe a winter's night with 6 sled dogs piled on top:)
     
  12. Roper Pro

    Roper Pro Scout

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    A cowboy's bedroll consisted of a regular wool blanket layed inside a heavy thick piece of canvas about 8' to 10' wide by 12' to 15' long. The user would lay the blanket inside the canvas and pull about 5 to 7 feet of excess over them, then wrap the left and right portion over them. If the user was out of the wind and near a fire, they could sustain very cold weather. But, extreme cold is totally different and unless you have shelter, you're in for some hurt and you might not wake up.
     
  13. Raydarkhorse

    Raydarkhorse Tracker

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    I have used both the sleeping bags and wool blankets in climates from rain forests to High mountains in winter. Now as I get older I find the wool if not better more versitile. I can wear my wool as a jacket,or I can roll into it next to the fire without worry it will burn just to name a few. And if nothing else the blanket will last much much longer in the long run.
     
  14. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    I've slept out in a variety of conditions, from summer to 30 below. I spent much of about 5 or 6 years being semi-nomadic, camping roughly 10 months of the year. I'll take a bag over any blanket or two or three. I've frozen my everloving behind off with blankets in modrate cold, like 20's or teens, and slept warm in a bag at 30 below. The bag just gives more useable range. In warmer weather, I tended to sleep half out of the bag, or on top of it, just covering up as much as needed to be comfortable. Sticking a leg part way out in medium weather helps regulate your temp when the bag is too much also.

    I had a couple decent to very good down bags, one was cheaper, and lasted for many years, the other is a very good bag ("Class V Expedition Outfitters" make I believe) that I've had for about 30 years, and it still works great. Adding a balnket over a bag makes them much warmer, but I'd never choose to sleep in blankets in true cold again.

    Most of my time has been in dry climates, a good synthetic bag may be better in a wet climate, but I'd still take a bag.
     
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  15. BackwoodsUncleBub

    BackwoodsUncleBub Scout

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    Here is a link to a guy that camped out in Alaska using a bedrolls like your speaking of. He of corse modified it a bit though, mainly by sewing it at the seams to make it more like a bag and adding a sleeping mat.

    http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/08/home_sweet_home_on_the_range--.html

    And of course you know that one of our own had to try out the bedroll turned sleeping bag system on a cold night :). Here is a link to their post.

    http://www.bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=934

    Here is a few 2 cents our neighbors across the pond have to throw in on the subject of wool blankets.

    http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=40317
     
  16. jimmy

    jimmy Guest

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    I'm with the bag folk's.
    The proper sleeping bag w/ liner will keep you warm and cozy night after night in sub-zero temps WITHOUT having to worry about keeping a fire going all night; night after night.
    You guys can sleep in your wool blankets and stay up all night stoking the fire while I'll be snoozing away comfortable and warm all night long.
    just sayin'!
    I should also add; a good quality bag that will keep you warm at -30 only weighs a couple of pounds.
     
  17. cloudraker

    cloudraker Guide

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    I'l take a sleeping bag too. I've been out 10 days at a time and never had a problem with dampness in a synthetic sleeping bag. All of this was under a tarp. I've slept beside fires in a wool blanket and it was a pain to get up every few hours to feed the fire in order to stay comfortable. The amount of wood needed soon took away from the mystique of sleeping by the fire. The next day I felt groogy and out of sorts from not having a full nights sleep. It taught me a lot about what I need to think straight and and act rationally ( about 6 hours of solid sleep).
     
  18. heysmithy

    heysmithy Tracker

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    This is pretty close to what I would advise too. But there are a lot of variables here. One advantage to a wool blanket is that it can easily be combined with other things that help keep you warm. You don't burn holes in it quite as easily (My best sleeping bag has hundreds of tiny holes in it from sleeping next to a few fires, and I think that's making it less warm). So you CAN sleep next to a fire for many nights with a wool blanket, whereas I wouldn't recommend it with most sleeping bags. You can also more easily utilize all of your available clothing for extra insulation. I guess you could do that in a sleeping bag, but I've always found a sleeping bag to be a little more constricting in that way.

    Also, when I think "long term" I'm thinking I have a permanent shelter, which is warm, and complete with fire place and maybe a space blanket fire reflector. Maybe even a deer skin or two.

    Also consider that a military wool blanket makes excellent "ghillie-ish" camouflage for either you or your long gun. Or you can use it as a coat or a poncho if you have to. One thing I find particularly useful is that you can use it to keep the wind off your neck when hunting in cold weather, and sit on it at the same time (though you can only hunt downwind from your prey, but I don't think that's too big of a deal).

    In short, I consider "long term" to be in excess of two weeks, in which case there's no doubt in my mind I would go with the wool blanket. For overnight or a few days, I take the sleeping bag unless I'm trying to practice with the wool blanket. You have to learn the tricks to sleep with a wool blanket.
     
  19. Lil Red

    Lil Red Scout

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    I need to get my hands on a good wool blanket. For me, it's always been a sleeping bag because that's what I've had.
     
  20. oldpinecricker

    oldpinecricker Guide

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    I fully understand the versatility and strengths of the blanket and in 2 maybe 3 seasons it might be just the ticket. However in my late 20's I lived outside in Montana under an large canvas military tarp for very near 2 yrs (that's two winters of coldness). If it weren't for my Marmot down bag tucked inside an large old Coleman bag with blankets piled on top I doubt I could have pulled it off.

    So yes Im an bag person. In particular I really like Integral Design bags and products. And while not as versatile as be blanket an modern quality bag is not only warmer but in a lot of cases lighter.

    One thing to be considered is where your location is or where your sparred out. If your in the northern tier of the US Canada or in the Rockies it can get really cold. So its really an choice based on your environoment and conditions.

    There is not really an" blanket" solution in all situations.
     
  21. Howie

    Howie Guide Bushclass III Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    todays woolies, no way. true long term, a bag all the way. I still use woolies, and sometimes a big pile of hides. But if serious push comes to shove Id like to allways have my 3 part GI bag. W/o some sort of pack mule you just cant carry enough woolies. at least not up in my part of the country for serious 4 season.

    Woolies have that romatic and nostalgic veiw and I still try to embrace that. But up here forget it. Now you folks from fla to texas thats a differant story....
     
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  22. IamLegend

    IamLegend Guide Bushclass I

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    I've used both and would not hesitate to choose a bag hands down. I like wool alot, it is very versitile but in my mind nothing beats the right mummy bag in the right conditions. A lite wool with a good bag and you've got it whooped:) I can't speak personaly to sleeping with bear skins and such but I'd sure like to find out!
     
  23. Malleus

    Malleus Scout

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    A bag every time for me too.
    JMO but it's more versatile than a blanket, basically it's a blanket you can zip up & burrow into if needed.
     
  24. mountain joe

    mountain joe Scout

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    I would have to go with the bag crowd. As far as absorbed moisture..... Wool will absorb up to 20 percent of it's weight in water. A synthetic such as a polyester will absorb less than 1% of it's weight in water. I have slept under a good wool blanket (early whitney 4 point) and froze during the SUMMER. There is no way I could stay warm during the winter here in Alaska under a wool blanket. My sleeping bag system is a Wiggy's Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System using the Ultima Thule rated at -60 below. Yes it is heavy AND bulky but it is warm. For long term survival it would have to be that sleep system for me. Even with holes wore or burnt in the sleeping bag skin, the insulation Should more or less still be intact and would continue to insulate. A down bag would lose it's insulation if the bag outer skin was damaged and no means of repair was available.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  25. kgd

    kgd Dr. Fishguts Bushclass I

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    I'll go for a bag everytime. Wool blankets are neat to have around, but they aren't all that warm and are far more bulky than even a very basic bag. They are good to supplement a ground pad and are nice to hug around yourself when at the campfire. But if I had to choose, it would be a bag without even an afterthought.

    Actually, I'd go with down and just be very careful with the shelter conditions to keep it dry. Down will hold its loft longer than any synthetic will.
     
  26. mountain joe

    mountain joe Scout

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    I had a down bag by Gerry for about 20 years and it was a great bag. The down served me well as an insulation. My experiances since then with synthetics have not been as good up until lately. I now have three synthetic bags from Wiggy's. Have had the Arctic bag for 3-4 years and now have the FTRSS bags as well. Wiggys even RECOMMENDS washing the bags in a washing machine after every use. Will see if they hold up over time as well as my down bag.
     
  27. justin_baker

    justin_baker Bushmaster

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    Wool blankets are good a nice, but the warmth per pound provided by a sleeping bag is far inferior to a sleeping bag.
    That being said, I still love wool blankets but on a distance focused backpacking trip I am going with a sleeping bag.
     
  28. justin_baker

    justin_baker Bushmaster

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    Hey, It has been done before by mountain men and trappers. But then again they were all carrying full size axes and trekking in large groups to make fire prep easier.
     
  29. heysmithy

    heysmithy Tracker

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    Yep, you just have to make sure you have some kind of ground padding, otherwise you will freeze with down if it gets very cold at all. Down gives pretty much zero insulation where it's compressed (ie, where you're laying on it).

    A thermarest or similar good quality sleep mat is a must with pretty much any sleep system, but especially with down.
     
  30. heysmithy

    heysmithy Tracker

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    The environment has a lot to do with it. I'm sure in the desert with high temps and low humidity, you can get away with just a wool blanket year round. But in Alaska you'd be asking for it. In those northern environments I guess I'd have to go with a synthetic bag and just try to take really good care of it.
     
  31. kgd

    kgd Dr. Fishguts Bushclass I

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    I agree, but one layer of wool blanket between you and the ground is pretty much zilch on the insulation also. Fold that blanket in half and you got a start, but then you've lost your cover. In either case you are going to use a ground pad or build one with debris/boughs etc.
     
  32. mountain joe

    mountain joe Scout

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    Yep, and that was in the day when men were MEN. I am a certified bonafied wimp especially when it comes to sleeping warm. I've got to have a bag rated for -60 below in order to be warm at 0 :4:
     
  33. exspooky

    exspooky Tracker

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    In my experience I'd druther have a great sleeping bag in really cold weather;but I do see the advantage of a good wool blanket (which will probably cost as much as the sleeping bag)/like a 6 point Hudson bay blanket.
     
  34. cloudraker

    cloudraker Guide

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    They also traveled with horses or canoes to pack their gear and furs. Also their life expectancy was 35-40 years.

    As much as I love the warmth that wool provides, my preference is for lighter weight and comfort when it comes to longer foot treks. My body appreciates it.
     
  35. lonelake

    lonelake Scout

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    I am a wool addict. That being said, I think the sleeping bag would be the smarter choice.

    LL
     
  36. longrifle54

    longrifle54 Scout

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    I will take my wool blankets every time. They are, however, NOT surplus blankets they are both Whitney's. Winter I take both, summer I just take one.
     
  37. Zig

    Zig Guide

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    I have to say sleeping bag for me, but when the weather is warm, I tend to take a fleece blanket/bag. I'll be picking up an Italian surplus blanket for the warmer seasons sometime in the spring.
     
  38. jimmy

    jimmy Guest

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    I just have to say. Talk to me about the blanket when theres a foot of snow and it's 10 below.
    Just sayin'. Your going to freeze without a constent warm fire. With a good bag I'll be warm and cozy without any worries until I have to pee:p
     
  39. DanS

    DanS Tracker

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    I did this very comparison last winter. FOR ME the maximum comfort of a wool blanket wrapped with a ranger poncho ( not the liner ) over three layers of clothes ( everything in my BOB ) was -10 deg C ( 14 deg F ). BUT I had to sleep in a debris shelter that took about 8 hours to build. There was no fire used to keep warm at night due to the construction of the debris shelter. My criteria for 'comfort' was that I needed to be able to sleep comfortably through the night which was another reason for not using a fire.

    I can imagine that , without an 8 hour insulated shelter, the wool blanket strategy would be far more limited. FOR ME the wool blanket is a three season solution with someone keeping a fire going at night.
     
  40. Wanderinghippy

    Wanderinghippy Tracker

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    I like to carry my down bag I carried it across 2176 miles and never had an issue, but as a newbie to Bushcraft I feel it's in my best interest to prepare myself to use what I have. I have 2 Whitney blankets and 2 gi blankets that I'm using this winter to push myself to construct better shelter and fire building tech so I will be prepared to live off the grid in a SHTF or bug out situation.thanks for all the great ideas in this thread I look forward to trying some of the setups y'all talk about.
     
  41. samthedog

    samthedog Guide

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with using a sleeping bag. I don't think the bushcraft "standard" is a wool blanket. I think when it comes to a sleep system, you should go with whatever gives you the best night's sleep. For me it's my sleeping mat, bag an inflatable pilow. There are other things I would compromise on before I'd give up my sleeping bag!!

    Paul.
     
  42. justin_baker

    justin_baker Bushmaster

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    Sleeping bags are just.....better. You get way more warmth per pound. Personally, I am going to take advantage over that. I would rather carry a 2 pound bag over an 5 pound thick wool blanket.
    If its a night in the woods, mabeye a blanket is good, but for actual trekking and backpacking, a sleeping bag is a smart option unless you prefer old fashioned gear or dislike high tech sleep systems.
     
  43. rpilthea

    rpilthea Guide

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    I use what i feel like using at the time. I have both types of sleeping gear, and enjoy them equally.

    Beyond that it's merely opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own.
    No ones opinion applies to anyone but themselves.
    :44::dblthumb:
     
  44. rg598

    rg598 Guest

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    Sleeping bag! You will need a lot of wool blankets to equal the heat retention of a good sleeping bag. It will add a lot more than 4lb. If we are talking about winter conditions the weight difference is huge. Even Kephart, with the sleeping bag technology of his day, made it clear that in cold weather you take a sleeping bag instead of wool blankets for that very same reason. If your survival situation requires you to move, wool blankets will be a problem.
     
  45. bmatt

    bmatt Guide

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    Summer = wool blanket
    Winter = sleeping bag

    I have done a lot of experimenting with blankets, bags and combinations of the two. While wool blankets are very rugged and resistant to sparks from a fire, most of them are very densely woven and don't provide the fluffy type of insulation that bags offer. I will always use wool blankets when the weather permits, but when the temps really drop, I'll take the sleeping bag (and put it inside a wool "blanket bag" :)).
     
  46. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    It’s kind of a non issue for me. I am deadly allergic to wool and synthetic blankets just do not offer the wind proof, weather fire resistance, and warmth that wool offers. I don’t use a sleeping bag however preferring instead to hide under a camp/sleeping quilt.
    Wolf
     
  47. DCM

    DCM The more I know the less I understand

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    That is a neat idea, I have the same issue, is yours a special product or one from home? Gets me to think about having one either recovered or made with fire retardant canvas.
     
  48. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    A sleeping quilt is kind of like a zipper-less mummy bag. The theory is that when you sleep in a bag the insulation under you is compressed and does not warm you or insulate you from the ground. The quilt is open on the bottom and places that would be compressed insulation above you. There is a foot pocket in the quilt but the upper section is open. The system requires a good insulation bed/sleeping pad etc. If you do not toss and turn they are very comfortable and warm, if you move around a lot in your sleep they can be drafty.

    Search on variable girth sleeping bags or Rayway quilts for information on making or purchasing one. A canvas covered one would be very nice for use around a fire, great idea!
    Wolf
     
  49. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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    ...and sleep in his waders.:11:
    man is hard core
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  50. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    I use my down bags in much the same way. When it isn't very cold, I leave the zipper all the way down, and often have a leg and arm hanging out or more. The colder it gets, the more of me I have inside it, and the farther the zipper goes up. I don't like the confined feeling of having it zipped all the way up anyway, so rarely do unless its getting cold enough that my moving around gets uncomfortable cold spots leaking cold air in. Even in zero or colder, having it open to my knees allows the dog to lay against me under the edge, making both of us happy.
     

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