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AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 20 2014 9:30 am
by matthewkphx
I'm still pretty new to backpacking but I'm tired of being cold at camp at night before bed (and in the morning) when the temps are around freezing. I think I'm going to invest in a Montbell Alpine down jacket.

Any thoughts on down vs synthetic? We live in a relatively dry climate, so down makes sense, right? I've got a nice shell to wear over it if there is any rain.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 20 2014 10:25 am
by Nighthiker
I have both and I recently added a Snugpak sleeping bag to my inventory which I have been using the past couple of months. I tent, popup camp backpack and bicycle camp/tour and I also use a sleeping pad as well. Been very pleased with the Snugpak and some bicycle tourist told me about this brand of sleeping bag.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 20 2014 4:48 pm
by azbackpackr
I lean toward lightening my pack without sacrificing warmth, since I tend to sleep cold. I have never liked synthetic sleeping bags, jackets or vests. I prefer down. I have a Marmot Helium sleeping bag, rated to 15 degrees, which means I'm usually cold if it gets down to 30. :( But it's a very nice bag, and I tend, at my age, to avoid camping in weather colder than about 40 degrees at night. I didn't used to avoid this, however. Anyway, this bag weighs 2 pounds and packs to the size of a small watermelon. I got it on sale (you will cringe when you see the regular price). I use a down vest, but am thinking about buying an SUL (superultralight) down jacket as well. I want one of the kind that packs up really small. I always use a stocking cap.

Down is a lot lighter than synthetic.

I haven't done much lately to lighten my pack since I have been doing more kayak camping this past year, instead of backpacking. But if you buy something heavy you will replace it later. So you may as well buy something light and good now. Check out ultralight websites. REI is not very good at this yet. Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs, ULA, Mountain Hardware, etc. etc.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 20 2014 5:16 pm
by RowdyandMe
I like to travel light. I prefer a foam pad and no sleeping bag as I sleep in the raw. Just the way our ancester did except for the pad.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 21 2014 7:02 pm
by Bradshaws
I rock synthetics :D

Before I describe my gear I should say that I don't buy new gear if I don't have to. I would say that 80% of my gear is 2nd hand 8-[

I'm presently using a lightweight military sleeping bag(green) and military bivy (cost=free :-$ ) If the temp drops too low I have a EMS synthetic parka (cost= $9.00 Savers). I've yet to use the parka, just holding it makes me sweat :lol:

I've found that my green bag and a base layer top, bottom and socks has kept me warm. I do have to say I also use Z-lite sleep pad and it makes a huge difference I can feel when a body part wanders off of it. All of a sudden my arm or leg will get cold. :D

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 21 2014 9:34 pm
by kevinweitzel75
I use the Kelty Light Year down bag. At a 20 degree, keeps me pretty warm with the help of a Big Agnes insulated pad. Quite comfortable too. As for down jackets, nope. Have a Polartec fleece jacket that I picked up used at an Army Surplus store for $15, $80 something new at Cabelas.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 22 2014 10:59 am
by ALMAL
Sounds like your question is more about a jacket than which fill to have in your sleeping bag...
Just before you turn in for the night and just after waking up in the morning are both low physical activity times for most people.
Both down or poly will do the trick and now days and both are pretty light.
I recommend some pushups, sit ups, or other exercise to get the blood flowing a bit more. You'll warm up once inside your bag or once you're up and moving in the morning.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 22 2014 9:40 pm
by matthewkphx
Thanks Almal. You are right, my question was not about bags/quilts. I'm great once I'm in bed. Good tip on exercising. I think I'm going to pull the trigger on some feathers. I've been saving for a while and want to keep things light and small.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 23 2014 8:18 am
by MtnBart01
@matthewkphx
Look for the online sales. I picked up a Mtn Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket 7 oz. for $165 when I moved up to Co. last year. Ok so it's blaze orange but it works. :sl:

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 24 2014 10:45 am
by jimmyjam
I prefer down. Look at the quilts Tim makes at http://www.enlightenedequipment.com
They are top notch and light. Most of my hiking is in the Appalachians, but they would work great in the southwest too.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 24 2014 5:59 pm
by MtnBart01
@jimmyjam
I have one of his Cuben fiber quilts it doesn't appear he is doing these anymore? Customer service is pretty good as well.

Re: AZ cold: down or synthetic?

Posted: Jul 25 2014 10:08 am
by jimmyjam
MtnBart01,

No I believe Tim is not making them out of cuben anymore. I think mine is M50 or M90 and I can't say enough good things about quilts, especially Tim's.