Wanted: Long Tern Synthetic Relationship

  • Creator
  • #17730

    I heard Steve House, somewhere, describe the difference between down and synthetic bags as a one night stand vs. a long term relationship. I laughed. It’s true.

    I am looking for recommendations for synthetic bag(s) that shine in the winter conditions of the North Cascades and Canadian Rockies for extended trips or summits with lengthy/remote approach hikes.

    I know this is very basic but I am hoping one of you guys or gals doesn’t mind mentoring me electronically for a few questions as I try to stomp down the learning curve and get into the mountains.

    Thanks in advance!


Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #17977

    Hi Jonesy,
    I’m afraid I don’t know what the good current models of synthetic bags are. I have a couple, one by the north face, one by mountain hardware, and 2 that I sewed up myself (using the insulation in the Patagonia DAS Parkas) that are sweet because they have no insulation underneath, just a sleeve to hold a thermarest in place. Those are my favorite, but hard to make and impossible to buy.(Believe me I’ve tried to convince a few companies, including Patagonia, to make this as a product.)

    jones on #18071

    Thanks! @steve

    Killer idea! Now that I’ve “borrowed” my wife’s sewing machine and sacrificed a tent, I have to ask:

    How many DAS parkas do I need to re-purpose to make this work?

    TerryLui on #18266

    Hey Jonesy,
    Steve’s description of his custom made “DAS bag” makes me think of a sleeping quilt…
    What do you guys think of these?

    May not be warm enough but they do offer customization. I just bought a down quilt for my wife and I last summer and we really like the “no insulation on bottom” concept

    Rachel on #18307

    I really like EE’s quilts, I think we own at least four of them. We have both the down and the APEX quilts. I use the 20 degree down quilt most of the time (I live in the Rockies so it’s dry, but I also used it on Timberline Trail last summer, too, and it wasn’t dry at all).

    I use my APEX one to layer over the down in colder weather, or by itself when it’s really warm at night. I have a 40 degree APEX quilt which I would use at 55 or higher because I sleep cold. I think it would be great in the Pac NW.

    I haven’t been able to go back to sleeping bags after trying out quilts. I do recommend going one size wider than you think you need, it doesn’t weigh that much more and it helps to prevent drafts when it gets colder.

    jones on #18412

    Brilliant! I’ve just made a brew so maybe I’m a little over stoked but this will make the DAS bag (Going forward tbk as the HouseInABag, that ok w/ you @steve ? It’s a production run of 1) so much easier. I’m thinking of using one of the EE quilts sewn onto the lightweight tent fabric sheath I’ve now sewn as a sleeve for the thermarest. 1/2 way there! Thanks @terrylui and @rarichard

    Steve House on #18625

    I’m all for tinkering and sewing!
    I procured my sleeping bag insulation from the source, the R and D room at Patagonia HQ, so I did not have to deconstruct an old DAS parka. I’ve used the “rainshed” in Eugene Oregon to order fabric from many times. There used to be a similar shop in Seattle but I can’t remember their name. I started sewing gear when I was a teenager, and even drove to Eugene on my old motorcycle when I was 18 to buy some patterns and fabrics. Here is their website:

    Good luck and post photos of the finished product.

    and +1 on the quilts, I’ve played with these as well but find them too hard to use in a real bivy situation, a closed ‘bag’ is much better then.

    Jan on #18997

    The concept Steve refers to is called a top bag. Big Agnes produces them, Therm-a-Rest used to have a model of this and Sierra Designs uses it in some of their models as well – so not that impossible to buy at all, though Big Agnes might be the only synthetic one available.

    I for myself use a EE Enigma Apex 20F Quilt and am happy with it. I usually don’t get into “real bivy situations” so can’t really say anything about that, but I don’t see why a quilt (plus a balaclava/jacket hood plus a bivy bag) wouldn’t work.

    Jan on #18998

    And if you want to make the bag yourself anyway: Here you get Primaloft and Climashield Apex, considered to be the best available synthetic insulation right now, and everything else you would need to make your own gear.

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