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Author Topic: Best price point for winter sleeping bags  (Read 293 times)

Offline memaquay

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Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« on: June 13, 2018, 08:47:05 AM »
I am currently trying to expand our school's wilderness canoe tripping club to have a winter component.  I ran into some extra money and should be able to acquire tents. 

I'm wondering what a good base line sleeping bag would be at a reasonable price.  Most of our kids cannot afford any good gear.

Offline gnatwest

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 08:54:59 AM »
For winter I would think minimum -20c Bags.

I got good deals at atmosphere on Marmot Down bags.  But more commonly I would look at MEC.

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5046-839/Centaurus--18C-Sleeping-Bag


Offline rbinhood

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 09:45:47 AM »
I would contact Marmot and Sierra Designs and ask if they might have special pricing for a school group. Also call Sierra Trading Post and see if they might offer a deal.
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."
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Offline Bothwell Voyageur

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 10:00:51 AM »
I guess you are looking at synthetic? -20 C with a home sewn fleece liner would work? Sewing the liners would make a good class project.

Since you are in Canada, start with MEC. They have grant programs that may help with this. Also try Wilderness Supply out of Thunder Bay or Gear-Up. Maybe they would go 25% off retail.

Altitude-Sports/ The Last Hunt in Quebec has good sales on Mountain Hardwear, Marmot and Sierra Designs stuff and may offer a corporate deal. TLH has -26 C  MH bags on sale at $197 right now.

Just so you are aware, there is going to be a 10% tariff on USA made sleeping bags coming in to Canada starting July 1st so get your Western Mountaineering/ Feathered Friends bags now!
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Offline AunNordDuNord

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 04:52:43 PM »
Taiga makes really good bags for a decent price and they are made right here in Canada. Me and my wife have the 1001 night -18c and they are fantastic bag other than for the real cold winter night, I'm sure a nice fleece liner and a good heavy set of thermal underwear and you could manage down to -25c w/o problems!!
https://www.taigaworks.ca/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=303

Offline Bothwell Voyageur

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 06:27:48 PM »
Yes Taiga are great. Wifie has one of the -35 bags. But I always get the feeling that you would struggle to get a discount out of him. Happy to be proved wrong!
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Offline Chicken Farmer

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 08:24:24 PM »
Maybe try to make contact with Tim over at Canadian Outdoor Supply. He might be able help in some way??

Offline Old Guide

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 09:39:11 PM »
I am currently trying to expand our school's wilderness canoe tripping club to have a winter component.  I ran into some extra money and should be able to acquire tents. 

I'm wondering what a good base line sleeping bag would be at a reasonable price.  Most of our kids cannot afford any good gear.

Always remember, even the best bags, no matter the filling, need to be aired out almost daily from sweat and other moisture. There are heavy winter bags that can be quite damp and keep you warm but it might not be all that comfortable.

Offline hotelfive

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 02:41:23 PM »
I have a Taiga down jacket that I bought at least 15 years ago.  It's not fancy by any means and might not have the quality of say an Arc Teryx or something, but it has served me VERY well and has no signs of damage or broken parts.  I'd assume their bags are similar.  Price seems very good as well

Offline McLeod

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 03:39:26 PM »
Hi Memaquay, Not that you were asking, exactly, but I'll throw in two bits too, if I may.

Here is what has worked best with the school program we have going here: two nested 3-season bags per student.

I offer one 3-season (-10C) loaner bag to each student that they use to compliment the one sleeping bag that they scrounge up. Most students can ask around in their extended families and find a 3-season bag. If they choose to buy a bag, a 3-season bag will be more useful to the family going forward than would a full winter bag.

About 25% of the students can't round up one reasonable 3-season bag, so we help them with the loan of two of the school's 3-season bags.

In past years we have had a complete set of synthetic winter bags (rated -30C ).
 - They were not as warm as two combined 3-season bags,
 - they are harder to dry out,
 - they are not as versatile when push comes to shove and we have to re-organize who needs more insulation, who can do with less,
 - they are useless for the school's summer backpacking and canoe trips, and
 - they are more expensive to replace/maintain.

3-season bags go on sale more often.

When the kids bring their gear in to be checked, we slide the two bags together, loft them up, and check the combined thickness. On the trail the students use purpose-made single-layer, very breathable bivy bags to hold their sleeping bags and mattresses together, and to keep errant snow from compromising their sleep system.

Two bags are definitely bulkier than a high quality full winter bag, but we're using sleds, so the extra bulk does not matter so much.

This system is what I'd aim for to begin with if I were starting a new program.

What part of the country are you tripping in with the students? -20C has been mentioned here as adequate for a winter trip, but that may not give you enough margin of safety if the snow shelter is not going to happen for some reason, or if the bag gets a little damp, or if the student is getting sick, or if a picky person decides not to eat enough calories 'cause he doesn't like the supper, or  .... and all of this stuff happens sooner or later.

Lastly, we always take one or two very thick, very warm winter bags. These would be traded, in a pinch, with the student who is sick or injured, and would be used in an emergency when you just need to know that if you get that student into dry clothes and into that good sleeping bag they will not get any more hypothermic, regardless of how cold the night gets.

Will you be hot tenting with the students?

Offline memaquay

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2018, 04:35:24 PM »
Thanks for all the replies!  We will be hot tenting.  I like the idea of the two bag three season system.  I use something similar myself.  The added bonus to that system is the kids can sweat it out in their own bag.  I'm three hours northeast of Thunder Bay, so we routinely see temps in the -30's.  However, I would be planning on March trips probably, with a close eye on the weather report.  -20 would be doable with the two bags and the stoves.  The kids will be man-hauling, but I'll be on a skidoo in case of emergency (plus my man-hauling days are over).

As a secondary question, what's the cheapest method for a sleeping platform?  We will be using boughs as a primary cover, no shortage up here.  I think next year I will have some money, but I would like to get something durable that doesn't break the bank.

Can a kid sleep with a bivy sack around their sleeping bag on top of tarp covered boughs?  They are pretty tough kids.

Offline Undersky

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2018, 09:04:17 PM »
McLeod / Undersky here again.

March is the best time for tripping, eh?! The long light hours are the best when you are with a group who need those hours to learn.

The heat from the sun is wonderful at pulling moisture out of sleeping bags, and at allowing the group to relax during breaks when traveling. We do trips in mid January and in early Feb, too, and they are much less relaxing.

You are exactly right that the inner bag should be the kid's bag, and the outer one the school's bag. The outer one needs much less laundering. Even if it does get more condensation, they'll dry in the morning, and when hung up at school after the trip.

Like the way you and me used to be, many young people have high metabolisms that can pump out the heat when they need it. Even so, I'd encourage you to use sleeping pads under the kids, not just boughs & tarps. The better sleep they have had, the better trip they will have, and the fewer problems we'll have.

I guess there is a reasonable standard that I think leaders should meet, too. While I went on many trips with inadequate insulation under me in my teens and twenties, I definitely remember being cold sometimes, and sometimes too cold. Last thing anyone needs is a reasonable parent asking reasonable questions after their child had an iffy experience, or worse, and I can only say, " yes, everyone uses sleeping pads for winter camping, but I decided not to have them for your child." ...just wouldn't go over well, I don't think.

A single thick blue foam pad will likely be the least expensive and most effective pad in the long run. They can't deflate. A single pad will likely be enough if it is over a couple of inches of boughs and a few layers of tarp.

My experience with hot tenting with students has pushed me to this situation: the stove goes out when the adults go to sleep. We all can still enjoy the heat of the stove for supper and evening, and breakfast, but the risk of having a student fall on the hot stove or lean on the hot stove is just too big for the value of the overnight heat. So, we eat and visit hot, and sleep cold. This system has worked very well for 20 years now.

Online Moondog55

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2018, 09:53:38 PM »
Would dedicated overbags be a reasonable solution?
I have looked seriously at the MEC line for my own deep winter use. I have decided to go a slightly different route myself but the big overbag from MEC did make it to my short list
https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5009-397/Emperor-Penguin-Windstopper-Overbag
The 12C rating should mean a 10C boost to a 3-season bag
https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5042-108/Amulet-Ultralight-Overbag
I don't think the LW overbag would do very much, it reminds me of my old Chouinard bivvy from the 1980s and that did bugger all for me in winter
Do school groups get a GST break in Canada?
At least MEC offer a group buy discount
https://www.mec.ca/en/explore/corporate-and-group-sales

Offline McLeod

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2018, 11:31:15 AM »
Dedicated overbags definitely have their place. In my mind that place is not with the student tenting crowd, hot or cold.

In my limited experience you get less insulation per dollar in a dedicated overbag than in a basic 3-season bag.

When two 3-season bags are nested together, often the inner one is crumpled up a bit. But this just means less free air space with the inner bag, so more warmth.

The windstopper fabric has its place, too, but not inside a tent, or as a bivy bag. Little if any liquid water is coming at you from the outside of the bag in the cold winter conditions we're talking about, and liquid water repelling, and wind stopping are what windstopper was designed for.

The unfortunate thing about windstopper and other similar fabrics are that they reduce the breathe-ability of the whole system. You end up with more condensate/sublimate building up on the inside of that outer-most layer, the windstopper itself.

Then when you are trying to dry it the next day, more heat energy is required to push that water out through the semi-breathable windstopper than would be required to dry a very breathable material.

On our coldest trips, the bivy bags that have worked best have been the ones that breathe the most. And if, at bedtime your bivy is still frosty on the inside, you can flip that bivy inside out, and the temp differential will dry the outside overnight.

If it existed, I'd want the outer-most layer of a hot-tent or cold-tent sleep system to be made of a material that did not absorb moisture (maybe woven of sil-impregnated fiber) and was as breathable as possible - like a custom no-see-um netting with holes 1/4  as big as normal no-see-um netting. This material would, ideally, shed all snow crystals, but let humid air pass through unimpeded, and allow you to brush off any frost build-up very easily.

Dreamin' on!



« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 04:49:29 PM by McLeod »

Online Moondog55

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Re: Best price point for winter sleeping bags
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2018, 06:52:50 PM »
Well That fabric is called EPIC, per metre cost is similar to WindStopper. It wasn't so much the outer fabric that got me to look at the MEC overbags but the generous sizing to allow full loft of the inner bag.
You turn them inside out to dry tho