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Synthetic sleeping bags for mountaineering??

Original Post
amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 735

I'm moving to Arctic Norway (once the Visa process is finally completed) and plan to do a lot of backcountry shenanigans.

Currently I have a 15f bag, which is great, but I want something warmer.

My father in law is a sort of mr. outdoors up there and he is insisting I'm a buffoon for wanting to buy a nice treated down bag instead of synthetic. My opinion is that thanks to treated down, there's little advantage to synthetic bags. Am I wrong?

I'm looking at the rab neutrino 800- is there anything better than this that comes in a long size?

Opinions, flame, whatever- bring it on. 

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5

Treated down isn't perfect (doesn't loft as well/clumps compared to untreated, it can still get wet and become useless), but in any case winter synthetic bags are just too bulky/heavy to be practical. I'm not sure what your objective is but those things will take up most of your pack. Most people use down and are very careful with their bags. 

On the other hand, a synthetic parka often makes sense. 

Seamus Morgan · · Alaska and New England · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 15

A nice down does just fine, I'm in Alaska and I use a zero degree down typically for any outing and I bring a second zero degree down to put inside if I'm doing a tall mountain in the Alaska range or the Wrangells. If you go backpacking or mountaineering the wetness you encounter isn't going to be that prohibitive if you have a  GOOD rain cover for your backpack. Most of the wetness will be melted snow. A zero degree or -10 is always good. If it's too warm just unzip and use it as a blanket. I was doing Crow Pass solo in the summer, a 20 mileish trip through the Chugatch mountains. It was that terrible weather of 35-37° and raining and I was shivering and freezing setting my tent up. As soon as I got in my 0° down bag which obviously got decently wet, it was like I was in a different planet. Everything warmed up and dried out inside the tent. 

jg fox · · Long Beach, CA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5

When you are at lower elevations where there is wet precipitation, instead of cold dry precipitation up high in the mountains, then you are going to have issues with a down bag when it gets wet.  Synthetics have improved over the years so they aren't as heavy and bulky like they once were.  Colin Haley used to prefer synthetics for open bivys when he was younger because the inevitable wetness they would get exposed to.

That said down bags that don't have water proofing coatings are the best choice for up high in the mountains and I love my Valandre bag as much as I love my dog.  I personally don't like waterproofing on my sleeping bags because drying clothes and other items inside them is difficult because moisture gets trapped.  My tent mate in Alaska, had a water proof eddie bauer bag and put his camera batteries in the bag with him one night to keep them warm.  The following morning, he woke up with them soaked and his camera was useless for the rest of the trip.

amockalypsenow · · San Diego · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 735

Interesting. There are some extreme temps in Norway, as you go inland, but usually the elevation is fairly low. The tallest mountain in Scandinavia is 8,100 ft.

r m · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Find out what the locals do once you're there :)

Trip duration is one concern. Each night you'll be releasing significant amounts of moisture into your sleeping system, it'll condense at a point between you and the stars. The longer the trip the more of a problem that becomes if it's within your insulation.

Down vs synthetic doesn't have to be an all or nothing, you could layer a light synthetic bag/quilt over a light down bag, which gives you 3 sleeping options. I expect it'll be a bit lighter than full synthetic, if you pick a light synthetic quilt the wasted mass by having two items will just be the additional shell material (~26 grams/square meter)

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

When I ski toured the lyngen alps we skied right up to the road on the ocean. That was in April. That area is fairly far north though.

JSchloem · · Homer, AK · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 265

get a 0 or -5 down. Get a pack liner. Be happy

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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