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Staying warm (3 season-ish) without bag?

Background-  I always try to hike "minimal".  Thus, as little bulk as possible (it's not really a weight thing so much as bulk) is my objective.  BUT....the last couple times I've camped in the San Gabs, even in summer (top of Baldy in July, Baden Powell in August), and I only brought 3 long-sleeve shirts and a bag liner plus a standard pair of socks.....I was MISERABLE!  

My promise to myself was that I would not camp at altitude without a bag ever again.  But...can anyone think of other May-October, high-altitude options?  I'm thinking about polypropylene balaclava, pants and socks.  Think that might make all the difference?  Or..... just lug the bag??


Sometimes I bring a poncho liner, just the basic issue one. Kifaru has some sorta high speed one if you wanna blow a paycheck. They're kinda small, quite warm, and not a bag. Much smaller than a bag.

Or I just put on everything I have and take what I get. Or, make a fire. Smile

I've used some very light 50° bags with limited success

If you used a ultralight bivy like the Black Diamond Twilight Bivy @ 10oz along with one of these or alone you'd be more comfortable than out on the ground with nothing.

The North Face Aleutian 1S @ 1lb 10oz is about as light as it gets for a bag

this would get you into 2lbs 4oz

For that matter a Tyvek ground cloth would help build a layer of dead air 3.2 oz

this would take the total to 2lbs 7.2oz

This would be ok for the local mountains in Summer maybe pushing it into late spring and early fall depending on your tolerance for being miserable

I for one would forgo a fire except in a genuine life threatening emergency

I'd leave some of the extra clothing at home and bring a bag. If you're not on a super strict budget, get a bag with a high down fill (ex Marmot Plasma 40, 17 oz, 900 fill, extremely small packed up). While you hang out at camp and before you go to sleep, use your bag as an extra insulation layer. If you get a bag with a lower temp rating (Plasma 30, 23 oz), you will also have more down within it and can get by without needing a pad as well. I've used extra clothing as a makeshift pad in the past, as well, to save on bringing the extra pound with the pad.

If you're on a budget and open to the bag idea, check out either the Marmot Cloudbreak 30 ($190) or the REI travel down (45 degree down bag, $119).

mattmaxon wrote:
I for one would forgo a fire except in a genuine life threatening emergency

That Wally Waldron tree on Baden-Powell looks like a nice piece of firewood Embarassed

Hope people know Im it dark canyoneering humor. Of course being a NHPS member , the mere idea of camping on top of a wind magnet like Baldy is uncool Very Happy

Disclaimer: don't make a fire if you're an idiot. Wink

I make fires from time to time in the SG's, but I'm a high speed low drag operator, trained to kill.

Taco wrote:
Disclaimer: don't make a fire if you're an idiot. Wink

I make fires from time to time in the SG's, but I'm a high speed low drag operator, trained to kill.

first comment is funny rest got me rolling  lol

I really like my down pants for summery weather... but they're certainly not an October bag replacement.

davantalus wrote:
I really like my down pants ...
You with your pants down?  That might some guys warm, but I wouldn't know about that sort of thing...  Wink   Laughing


On a more serious note, I've got a Summerlite sleeping bag from Western Mountaineering.  It's 1 lbs, 3 oz.  It's rated at 32F, but I've used it even colder and worn a jacket and such to bed.  It compacts to the size of a loaf of bread.  Matt mentioned Tyvek.  I use a sheet of Tyvek underneath to protect the bag.

On the down side, it's not particularly roomy for a guy my size.  I'm about 6' and 220#.   If you're shorter and less porcine, it'd be a good fit.  If you're chunky, look elsewhere.  Great bag.  They're not cheap though.  I bought mine used on eBay, but even then they're pretty spendy.  


So, I ended up buying a new (3rd) bag.   This one's rated to +5 (which means probably 20....but we'll see as I'll test in on Lowe soon). I also bought some Tyvek for a footprint, and also some more Tyvek for a rain fly on my 1-banger tent.  Not sure I'll often bring the tent unless rain is possible (aint' it great to live in CA?).  

I also bring polypropylene (thick) socks and balaclava....along with "performance long underwear" (okay, they're tights) and mittens.  I also have a pad....but really, I should invest some money in a good inflatable one.  What do they say.....1 on the ground is worth 5 on top?

BrownMtnBob wrote:
 I also have a pad....but really, I should invest some money in a good inflatable one.  
I've got a NeoAir.  It's lighter and more compact than anything else I've ever seen.  It's about the size of a Nalgene.

My NeoAir is the yellow item, 2nd from the left.

I bought the 3/4 length.  If I had to do it over again, I would just buy the full length.  The weight savings (about 1 oz) isn't worth it.

Darned expensive though.

Uncle Rico

I'm gettin' all worked up over here looking at your Summerlite HJ. Stop posting gear porn. My wife's gettin' suspicious.

Uncle Rico wrote:
gear porn
 Laughing  Laughing

It is a seriously nice bag.   I really like how it packs small and carries light -- it is less than a pound and a quarter.  It's pretty much been the perfect bag for Southern California for typical ("three season") use.  The typical recommendation is for a 20F bag, but 20F bags are typically too warm at least for me.

In warmer weather, the full zip allows me to spread it like a blanket, as here modeled by my daughter:

In colder weather, I zip it fully and put it in a bivy or tent.  I'll also sleep with a fleece cap on and wear my down sweater to bed.

I've used it when nights are in the 70's all the way to when nights are in the mid 20's and been comfortable.  You do need a good pad though (as you would with any bag of course).  Here it is with my NeoAir which is the best pad that I've used in terms of weight, comfort, and compactness.

It's not a particularly thick bag, so it's a little vulnerable to wind, but putting it in a lightweight bivy pretty much cures that problem.  Here it's in a Mountain Hardware Conduit SL bivy:

The downside is that it's a little on the tight side especially if you're a bit "full figured" (as I am), but I've been sleeping in mummy bags since I was a kid, so it doesn't bother me.

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