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What does your BOB contain?
I keep a sleeping bag IN my BOB at all times 24%  24%  [ 7 ]
I keep a sleeping bag near my BOB at all times 24%  24%  [ 7 ]
I keep a blanket in my BOB (with or without a sleeping bag near) 34%  34%  [ 10 ]
I just have a space blanket and a will to live, you sissies. 17%  17%  [ 5 ]
Total votes : 29
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:51 pm 
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It seems to be not an uncommon practice to keep a blanket of some kind packed in a BOB so as to leave a sleeping bag uncompressed in storage, or less often as a way to save bulk or money compared to a sleeping bag. I don't think this is a bad practice, and I myself rarely keep my sleeping bag fully packed in my BOB, but I think there is much room for improvement over the typical surplus wool blanket that seems to be the popular choice.

I'll preface the discussion with a few things:
A) I define "best" in the case of sleep systems as the warmest for a unit of weight. There are of course other factors (moisture tolerance, durability, bulk) but by and large these all play second fiddle. So by necessity we are discussing relative warmth, and not absolute warmth. I do not care if a certain 5lb blanket is warmer then a certain 2.5lb blanket, unless it is twice as warm or warmer it is not better.
B) It is often the case that efficiency and versatility have an inverse correlation. I am strongly biased towards efficiency and will nearly always petition from this position but I realize that isn't for everyone.
C) While choosing the right material is very important, the overall design of the sleep system means an awful lot as well. Much of this post will be comparing normal square blankets so the design aspect is held constant.
D) most importantly we must have some basic science numbers that this discussion will hinge on. CLO is a silly, archaic way to measure warmth so just think of it as "R value" for clothing:
(all numbers are CLO per oz of material)

Cotton: .04
Merino wool: .084
Polartec Classic fleece (100, 200 and 300 weight): .16
Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft: .185-.21
Thinsulate: .3
Wiggy's Lamalite: .6ish
550 fill down: .7
Primaloft Silver: .79
Climashield Apex: .82
Primaloft Gold: .92
625 fill down: .92
800 fill down: 1.68
850+ fill down 2.53

Now your typical surplus wool blanket isn't Merino, but I'm going to make the assumption that it is near enough .08/oz that we can use that number for our back of the napkin math. So what are some better alternatives to a surplus wool blanket?

1) Exotic/luxury fiber blankets

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By this I mostly mean mohair, alpaca, possum wool, or angora. While I do not have CLO numbers for these they are more or less universally accepted as being warmer then sheep wool for the weight, at least partially due to having a hollow fiber. Alpaca at least also has the advantage of absorbing far less water then sheeps wool, which is nearly always an advantage.
Now while these are considered luxury items they can be had extremely cheaply on eBay, as with many luxury items they do not hold value well, especially when they are a hideous color from several decades ago. The majority of them are unfortunately "throw" sized, and you will probably need two of them to make a proper sleep system.
I went on a bender at one point and bought several, they got used a lot as couch and car blankets and as a warmth booster inside of sleeping bags for casual camping. I am working up the gumption to turn one into either an elephant foot bag or a full length mummy.

2) Classic Fleece Blankets

Image

Just your standard-ass fleece blankey. As you can see from the CLO chart, fleece is basically twice as warm for the weight as wool. They also happen to be widely available and fairly cheap, here is a generously sized one from sportsman's guide:
http://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/us-military-polartec-fleece-blanket-60-x-90-new?a=1921645&pm2d=CSE-SPG-15-PLA&utm_medium=PLA&utm_source=Google&utm_campaign=CI&gclid=CjwKEAiA4dPCBRCM4dqhlv2R1R8SJABom9pHFaLuRFcpim0Ze03QzuV5L9EPO1u-p2WF58MY9GYeXRoCkr7w_wcB
You can find off-brand fleece for crazy cheap, but I recommend paying for the genuine polartec. I don't necessarily think the cheaper stuff is any less warm, but it can certainly be a mixed bag as far as durability.

Lets do a little math experiment; consider a 200 weight fleece blanket, or what most would call a "mid-weight" fleece. The 200 refers to grams/meter^2, or for those of us that went to the moon that means about 5.9oz/yd^2.
Many surplus wool blankets are in the 20-24oz range (the really nice Italian blankets are hefty like this) the WWII US blankets are probably only in the 16oz range.
A good sized blanket is about 4 square yards (its usually smaller, but lets make the math simple).
So a 6oz/yd^2 fleece blanket will weigh 24oz and have a CLO of .96/yd^2 (.16 x 6)
a 20oz/yd^2 wool blanket will weigh 80oz and have a CLO of 1.68/yd^2 (.084 x 20)

So while the heavy wool blanket is noticeably warmer, you could have more then 3 of the fleece blankets for the same weight, which just as the initial CLO charts indicate, would be nearly twice as warm.

3) High Loft Fleece Blanket

Image
At this point, pretty much the king of non-lofted blankets. As the charts indicate, Polartec's high loft is pretty much the warmest man made fabric we've come up with that isn't a lofted insulation (meaning like down or polyfill). You do give up some durability compared with classic fleece, but the lifespan is still quite good. This fabric is pretty common (and dearly loved) in jackets as it wicks moisture very well, warms up very quickly and is generally tougher then polyfill insulators like Primaloft. Part of the advantage of a lighter wight blanket (beyond ease of carry) is that less thermal mass means less energy is needed to heat up the blanket, a fluffy fleece blanket will feel warm almost right away while a wool blanket takes a bit.

Using the same math as the normal fleece, a 6oz/yd^2 highloft blanket would weigh 24oz and have a CLO of 1.2/yd^2 (.2 x 6), meaning that just two of these blankets would be much warmer then the wool blanket and still significantly lighter.

These can also be fairly cheap, Cabelas has an exclusive blanket they sell in various sizes that happen to be in nice earth tones at what I consider very reasonable prices:
http://www.cabelas.com/product/cabela-s-polartec-174-high-loft-60-34-x-70-34-throw/1374664.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fproduct.jsp%3FproductId%3D940524&categoryIds=104798880|104698980|104221980|

Once again there are cheap fluffy fleece blankets all over the place, while I'm sure they are still warmer then classic fleece I don't think they are nearly as warm as the genuine Polartec product. They do seem to hold up just fine though as my wife has used one for several years, and has far more miles on it then I do on any of my sleeping bags.


So lets say you are a luddite or just hate the feel of fleece, what else can you do?

4) Surplus Wool Sleeping Bag

Image
The opposite of preface C, this unit offers better warmth only through superior design. Instead of a large blanket that requires practice, technique, and overlapping fabric to seal out drafts and hold in heat, this does the same with much less material and intelligent shaping. It is of course hard to put a number on the superior warmth of this compared to a blanket, but it should not be underestimated. From what I remember of the Army literature they claimed it could replace 2 blankets in a soldiers pack (but if these are the same guys that put the temp rating on the MSS we know how far we can trust them).
While the zipper is a little short I find this bag quite comfortable, even at 6' 2" and it can be sealed up pretty tight. These often come with a canvas bivvy of sorts, but it adds little value in my mind and should be discarded and replaced with a modern version if it is needed at all.

So what are the disadvantages? The main one I can see is that you do lose the versatility of a wool blanket and its various poncho/matchcoat uses, but this comes back to the versatility/efficiency debate. If you had a desire to you could add armholes and a foot hole and use this as a sort of long vest (like the various "mobility bags" like the Feathered Friends Wren or Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy).

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:26 pm 
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I answered blanket in bag with sleeping bag near. Though I dropped the whole BOB thing and have a EDC/GHB and INCH pack. Since a BOB tends to be a smaller 72 hr pack that really any sleep system fills up the space way too fast and so too many compromise on BOB sleep systems. It is in fact the struggle with inclusion of a good sleep system in my pack that was the primary motivation that moved me toward INCH over BOB. Seeing the majority of a BOB's space fill up when adding a sleeping bag just gets depressing.

That said. My blanket is one of the Alpacawarehouse aka alpaca4less queen sized banderita 50/50 alpaca/merino wool blankets. Which is as warm or warmer than my Hudson bay point blanket for less bulk. I use the Hudson bay blanket before I had the alpaca one. I would love to find a good 100% alpaca blanket but have yet to find one that is durable enough and affordable enough. The banderita ones work great though and are affordable.

My thinking of blanket in pack sleeping bag near by is that if I am in such a rush I don't have time to pack the sleeping bag, then I at least have something. Otherwise I have a space filler that I can swap out with my sleeping bag, or if possible I can take both. Preferably I will have the ability to take both.

I will also mention I store my sleep pad near my pack too. As I have a Thermarest self inflating mat. So like sleeping bags, it is best to store uncompressed. I do plan on picking up a solid mat to store with the pack full time, but would still leave room for the Thermarest. More padding and insulation from the ground is never bad if you have room and and carry it.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:51 pm 
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I keep a sleeping bag uncompressed near my BOB. Do have a Wiggy Woobie in my truck. Also have long synthetic coat which saved my bacon the other day when the van ran out of gas during the coldest part of the coldest day this season. Windy as hell. The jacket is really a tench coat made out of sleeping bag type material. I should take a photo of it later but good ER light weight kit.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:44 am 
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I keep a Kifaru Woobie in my GHB with an SOL Escape Bivy and my USMC Bivy. Might not make for a comfortable night sleep on the coldest day but should keep me alive with my weather appropriate clothing. On the BOB, well I keep a sleeping bag nearby which is soon being replaced with an Enlightened Equipment synthetic quilt. It should be the best of both worlds for me and my climate.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:10 am 
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5) Buffalo Systems sleeping bag

Image

Image

In a way this is to the high loft blanket what the wool bag was to typical surplus blankets. Essentially a very fluffy fleece mummy bag with a close fitting hood, It won't be quite as warm for the wight as the highloft blanket, but warmer then classic fleece and a fair bit tougher then the High Loft (probably closest to the old ECWCS "Bear Suits"). You can get an "inner" and "outer" bag, the outer having a windproof layer of Pertex nylon.
Pretty bulky, expensive and hard to find in the US, I think this might be one of the best compromise of warmth and durability of the bunch. While I don't intend to purchase one, I do have some 20oz Polartec fleece that is very similar (single sided pile, almost a faux sheepskin, I'm told it was intended for dog beds) that I might turn into a tapered bag or long coat for bushcrafty trips.

6) Blizzard Bag

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Image
While I think we are all fairly familiar with mylar "space blankets," emergency bivvies and their limitations, I think this one deserves mention. Basically it is a multilayer mylar bivvy that lofts up from body heat so as to do a little more for convective and conductive heat then the normal mylar that only really traps radiant heat. Reviews are mixed and I have no firsthand experience, but it seams like a sound principle and can't really be worse then the typical emergency bivvy.


While we are on the subject of alternatives to sleeping bags, lets look at sleeping bags themselves. What is the reason to not store a bag compressed? To save the loft of course. Even the most knackered sleeping bag still has some loft, so how much loft can be lost before the degradation plateaus? Hard to say, but according to some educated speculation on the topic from experienced outdoorsman Climashield and Primaloft (the two industry leaders in synthetic insulation) both lose about 30% of their loft within the first year or so of regular use. Many say Climashield does hold loft for a bit longer, at the cost of initial efficiency (notice PL Gold has a higher starting CLO) and packed size (it doesn't compress very well at all). Lamilite (and by deduction, most older synthetics like Polarguard) loses about 10% of their loft and then stabilize (at the cost of an even lower initial efficiency and even worse compressibility). My personal theory (based in part on the fact that PL Gold is pretty much an apparel-only insulation) is that most synthetic sleeping bags end up pretty much in the same ballpark after a few years of use.

Importantly though, that number is somewhere between .5-.6 CLO, much higher then any of the options discussed above. Of course the shell fabrics of sleeping bags complicate the CLO calculation, but given that we are still talking about a number several times greater then the best fleece (at .2) it begs the question if even the oldest, most beat up MSS sleeping bag is still a better bet then any of these alternatives.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:28 am 
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Woods Walker wrote:
I keep a sleeping bag uncompressed near my BOB. Do have a Wiggy Woobie in my truck. Also have long synthetic coat which saved my bacon the other day when the van ran out of gas during the coldest part of the coldest day this season. Windy as hell. The jacket is really a tench coat made out of sleeping bag type material. I should take a photo of it later but good ER light weight kit.


I'd be real curious to see that coat, what brand is it? I bought some Lamilite from Wiggy that I've been meaning to turn into an anorak or parka of some kind.


Dragon80 wrote:
I keep a Kifaru Woobie in my GHB with an SOL Escape Bivy and my USMC Bivy. Might not make for a comfortable night sleep on the coldest day but should keep me alive with my weather appropriate clothing. On the BOB, well I keep a sleeping bag nearby which is soon being replaced with an Enlightened Equipment synthetic quilt. It should be the best of both worlds for me and my climate.


The SOL Escape has been a game changer for me, I don't think it adds that much warmth but it is about the lightest and cheapest way to get a windproof and mostly waterproof backup option. My DIY quilt as been a bit drafty due to bad footbox design so the Escape really seals me in. Should be standard equipment in most BOBs.
I think you will be really happy with the EE quilt, my DIY climashield quilt is pretty similar (now that I recently fixed the footbox) and other then the compressibility it is pretty hard to find much to complain about.

ineffableone wrote:
I will also mention I store my sleep pad near my pack too. As I have a Thermarest self inflating mat. So like sleeping bags, it is best to store uncompressed. I do plan on picking up a solid mat to store with the pack full time, but would still leave room for the Thermarest. More padding and insulation from the ground is never bad if you have room and and carry it.


While I prefer my old prolite 4 thermarest I keep a Neoair in my BOB because it doesn't mind living compressed. I recommend having a trimmed down torso foam pad at least (for chair duty as well) but the bulk of a full-on foam roll can be pretty obnoxious. My Crazy Creek chair is my backup sleeping pad, before that I had a torso length Z-rest that did the job well. Both where smaller and less prone to snagging on any old thing I walked by then a full pad and they gave me a little more piece of mind and insulation since the Neoair isn't the warmest pad around.
Experimenting with a last-ditch small pack I trimmed a foam down to pretty much shoulders-to-hip in the fetal position size. It was certainly better then nothing but was about as sucky as it sounds, it now lives on my hypothetical fighting load as my "I really hope I don't have to spend the night" pad.

ineffableone wrote:
That said. My blanket is one of the Alpacawarehouse aka alpaca4less queen sized banderita 50/50 alpaca/merino wool blankets. Which is as warm or warmer than my Hudson bay point blanket for less bulk. I use the Hudson bay blanket before I had the alpaca one. I would love to find a good 100% alpaca blanket but have yet to find one that is durable enough and affordable enough. The banderita ones work great though and are affordable.


As much as I rail against it for BOB use, I'm a wool guy through and through and have used wool blankets on my bed for years. Pendleton did a special collaboration with an alpaca farm once with spectacular results, but like you say it was out of my budget. For some reason alpaca doesn't seem to be as prolific on eBay as the mohair options, and the ones that are on there are sketchy imports and not reputable brands that happen to be leftovers from grandma's estate.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:36 am 
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RonnyRonin wrote:
Dragon80 wrote:
I keep a Kifaru Woobie in my GHB with an SOL Escape Bivy and my USMC Bivy. Might not make for a comfortable night sleep on the coldest day but should keep me alive with my weather appropriate clothing. On the BOB, well I keep a sleeping bag nearby which is soon being replaced with an Enlightened Equipment synthetic quilt. It should be the best of both worlds for me and my climate.


The SOL Escape has been a game changer for me, I don't think it adds that much warmth but it is about the lightest and cheapest way to get a windproof and mostly waterproof backup option. My DIY quilt as been a bit drafty due to bad footbox design so the Escape really seals me in. Should be standard equipment in most BOBs.
I think you will be really happy with the EE quilt, my DIY climashield quilt is pretty similar (now that I recently fixed the footbox) and other then the compressibility it is pretty hard to find much to complain about.


I am looking forward to trying the EE quilt. I love my Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy bag but it's down and it's wet here for months at a time so synthetic is preferred even though it's dri-down. I had a night where the footbox of my bag was stuck to the frozen ground while tarping and didn't realize it until I fell asleep. My feet got so cold it woke me up, so I added the Escape bivy over my bag and in 30-45 minutes they were warm and I slept. Actually it was too warm, I ended up peeling it halfway down in the middle of the night. I just wish there was a long size, I can't fit all the way into it. That's very cool about your quilt, custom stuff can definitely be about trial and error, you'll get it right.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:27 pm 
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I"ve been working through this stuff for a while. I don't have great answers yet, but I"ve found a few ways to stretch the gear I have and increase it's capability. I realize the discussion here is focused on the gear you can take with you, but I feel we need to consider gear we can acquire in the field to supplement BOB sleep systems. This will help reduce the carried load, but can have other costs.


7) External Heat

A fire or hot hands can increase the effectiveness of your sleep system. At 7am today it was -22 F outside where I am staying. Wind chill brought it even lower. I have a hard time thinking of many "survival/disaster" situations where I would not want a fire. The only reason I can think of where I would not want a fire involve some sort of E&E/PAW type situation. A "long fire" has been a huge help when camping in +5 to -15 F temps. Long fires are much better than your standard circle fires for warmth and heat. Having some sort of reflector also helps tremendously.

Hot hands are nice, but are consumables.

One could also plan to fill a water bottle (probably metal) with hot/boiling water, add some insulating material, and throw that in your sleeping gear at night. I have used USGI arctic canteens filled with boiling water in this fashion. No extra insulation needed. One would need a means of heating/boiling water for such a technique to work with their BOB sleep system.

Of course, there are time costs and energy costs to gathering wood, carrying wood processing tools, and building shelter. In a difficult security situation, there would be security costs.

8) Friends

One particular freezing night in Iowa, it was 10 F, and I did not have proper sleeping gear. My friend's dog decided he wanted to sleep on my feet and suddenly life was WONDERFUL!!! One of the best nights sleep I have had in the woods.

A spouse or buddy can help. I'm now experimenting with how my wife and I together changes our sleep gear needs as we get back into camping. Most of my ex-mil friends tell stories of cuddling/spooning with buddies while wrapped up in every stitch of clothing they have. I have read a person produces as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb (though that means more for those who grew up before all this energy saving started). I suspect one could double up on blankets (increasing insulation) and enjoy your buddy's shared heat (increasing warmth under those blankets). Dogs are awesome in the cold! And pretty much everywhere else too.

9) Shelter

Shelter greatly increases the effectiveness of a sleep system. Of course, this is not earth shattering news for the ZS crowd.

Gathering a pile of leaves or long grass 20-36 inches deep will greatly help in staying warm. Especially if you crawl into it. Making shelter takes time and energy.

Snow caves can help, but one must actually have enough snow to actually make a cave. My last 6 winter camps did not have enough snow on the ground to make a snow shelter. Which sucked. I am trying to gain some experience with snow shelters. I really can't speak from experience here, and I realize one cannot count on snow being there for you in an emergency.

Tents can help, but carry weight/energy/space costs.

In a true disaster if I am far from home, I plan to savage my vehicle for supplies. On the one hand, I could stay in the car and use blankets, hand warmers, and candles to make it more suitable in the cold. If I am traveling I could make mukluks and a sleeping pad with foam from the seats. Would it cost $600 to re-upholster? I"d have to be willing to pay $300 for muklucks and $300 for a sleeping pad before I"d do that.

So the point I am trying to make is that sleep systems can be paired down, or increased in effectiveness. It may simply take some thinking beyond what is available in your bag.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:54 pm 
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RonnyRonin wrote:
Woods Walker wrote:
I keep a sleeping bag uncompressed near my BOB. Do have a Wiggy Woobie in my truck. Also have long synthetic coat which saved my bacon the other day when the van ran out of gas during the coldest part of the coldest day this season. Windy as hell. The jacket is really a tench coat made out of sleeping bag type material. I should take a photo of it later but good ER light weight kit.


I'd be real curious to see that coat, what brand is it? I bought some Lamilite from Wiggy that I've been meaning to turn into an anorak or parka of some kind..


Sure will take a photo tomorrow. It also becomes a backpack though never tried it.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:21 am 
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RonnyRonin wrote:
[

[b]6) Blizzard Bag


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Image
While I think we are all fairly familiar with mylar "space blankets," emergency bivvies and their limitations, I think this one deserves mention. Basically it is a multilayer mylar bivvy that lofts up from body heat so as to do a little more for convective and conductive heat then the normal mylar that only really traps radiant heat. Reviews are mixed and I have no firsthand experience, but it seams like a sound principle and can't really be worse then the typical emergency bivvy.
.

I overnighted in a Blizzard for a Mock Bug Out in the Alps: Here is my video review:
Excellent piece of kit.

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the_alias wrote:
I overnighted in a Blizzard for a Mock Bug Out in the Alps: Here is my video review:
Excellent piece of kit.


I'll add the video to my too-watch list, but I'll want a thorough run-down, especially if you've used it since then, I don't think I've actually talked to a user yet. Mostly I'm wondering if the weight/bulk is actually better then a sleeping bag that would provide similar warmth. Obviously the blizzard would have the advantage as far as moisture is concerned.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:49 pm 
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RonnyRonin wrote:
the_alias wrote:
I overnighted in a Blizzard for a Mock Bug Out in the Alps: Here is my video review:
Excellent piece of kit.


I'll add the video to my too-watch list, but I'll want a thorough run-down, especially if you've used it since then, I don't think I've actually talked to a user yet. Mostly I'm wondering if the weight/bulk is actually better then a sleeping bag that would provide similar warmth. Obviously the blizzard would have the advantage as far as moisture is concerned.

Haha it's a morning after 52 second review so I can add more detail here.

I didn't reuse it but I did repurpose it for hammock camping as a lower heat reflector.

Weight/bulk vs a sleeping bag. I really see it as an emergency item for the following uses for me:
-Car kit
- My mountain bag
- My ski bag
- a GHB

For a BoB I'd be happy to throw it in PLUS something like a poncho liner and thermals. I'm a huge believer in thermals being part of any sleep system.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:01 pm 
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Wondered too. Especially about the durability for days, weeks or months at a time. I asked a friend that used one and he said, "Froze my ass off mate." I chalk that up to his training environment. Now, I don't have a SOL Escape but I have used a ranger roll or a poncho/poncho liner/space blanket roll to keep out of wind and rain like RR mentioned. I'm interested in the bags. I'd want one for emergencies and such but my purpose I think would be dedicated to surviving long enough to improve the situation much like I know a cup of heated ramen noodles will warm the body and fill the belly long enough to get to the place where one can get the nutrition a hard working person needs. Please offer disagreement. For less than $25, one can purchase an older extreme cold bag and a mat, then walk into a Harbor Freight and get a 5'x7' tarp free just for a $5 purchase. By way of experience, I did the cold weather cycle -MWTC in January, Drum in Feb, McCoy in March all to prepare us for Norway, which was a warm vacation spot compared to the icehouse known as Ft. Drum. I didn't vote. I have a bag in a pack, a bag by a pack, a big Bergen with a bag and a wool blanket in it and I seldom travel far without a poncho liner. Don't know about the sissies part; you can call me anything you like as long as I don't have to spend the dark hours wet and shaking and hoping that a vivid dream made a lot of time pass but when I open my eyes notice that only 2 minutes have gone by. It is 29 F where I am currently. Solo, I am carrying what I need to sleep comfortably. With a larger group, I'd set up a timeshare plan to make better use of bags/space. With a larger footprint someone may always have to be on full alert.

Cold weather is by far the biggest challenge for leaders and hypothermia is the #1 killer of outdoorsmen.

The fascination with lighter and lighter loads is extremely interesting but I find that over time people learn to carry what they need.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:32 pm 
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Very timely thread as I'm just starting to load my off grid/B.O.B./I.N.C.H./Z.O.M.G. bag and intend to go the stored-with-blanket-swap-for-sleeping-bag-if-time-allows methodology (B.O.B. in sig is designed around realistic events where I wouldn't need to make or provide my own shelter, just get to a friends/hotel until insurance/infrastructure can support me).

Given the numbers presented before, and the quality bivy I have for this kit, I was leaning towards an alpaca blanket, but now considering the high loft fleece.

A lot of people hear that wool is "better insulating when wet", but that doesn't mean warm when wet, or will help greatly when you and the wool are soaked to the bone. Better than cotton? Sure, but good cared for synthetics can be much lighter and equally as warm through adverse conditions.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:32 pm 
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I think wool can be more comfortable when wet, but the usual wool sales pitch is just parroted from somewhere else and not based on firsthand accounts. Water is a conductor and a massive heat sink, the problem with wool is that it hangs onto water and won't let go of it; I once soaked a knee length wool coat on a boat tour in New Zealand. Every night I hung it up in the bathroom of the hotel we were staying in and shut the door with the heater on. Every morning I would wring a little more water out and throw it back on but it took DAYS to completely dry.
Fleece (and most synthetics) just can't hang onto the water because the individual fibers just can't absorb much, so a good wring and some vigorous shaking will have the huge majority of the water out of the system. I much prefer the feel of wool and will take it over fleece most days, but I don't need the best performance in my day to day life.

Also keep in mind the one stat that often gets touted in the wool sales pitch; wool can gain almost 30% of its weight in water before it feels damp. This means it stays comfortable in moist environments, but that also means with high humidity a 5lb blanket can suddenly become a 6.5lb blanket without you even noticing. This doesn't apply so much to alpaca according to one of my sources, if I remember correctly it absorbs about half of sheep's wool.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:34 pm 
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Jacks-R-Better Sierra Sniveller series (40F Sierra Stealth shown, 20oz) - down quilt/ponch/serape.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 3:53 pm 
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While the blizzard bags high cost of entry ($40+ from most sources) has kept me from trying it myself, a glut of "survival blankets" has popped up on eBay. These are the flat, self adhesive blankets that use the same multi-cell design and are made to wrap a casualty but I'm assuming could be fashioned into a suitable bivvy with some head scratching and elbow grease. Going rate seems to be $12ish, or hardly more then a quality flat mylar blanket. Grab 'em while they're hot!

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woodsghost wrote:
I"ve been working through this stuff for a while. I don't have great answers yet, but I"ve found a few ways to stretch the gear I have and increase it's capability. I realize the discussion here is focused on the gear you can take with you, but I feel we need to consider gear we can acquire in the field to supplement BOB sleep systems. This will help reduce the carried load, but can have other costs.


7) External Heat

A fire or hot hands can increase the effectiveness of your sleep system. At 7am today it was -22 F outside where I am staying. Wind chill brought it even lower. I have a hard time thinking of many "survival/disaster" situations where I would not want a fire. The only reason I can think of where I would not want a fire involve some sort of E&E/PAW type situation. A "long fire" has been a huge help when camping in +5 to -15 F temps. Long fires are much better than your standard circle fires for warmth and heat. Having some sort of reflector also helps tremendously.

Hot hands are nice, but are consumables.

One could also plan to fill a water bottle (probably metal) with hot/boiling water, add some insulating material, and throw that in your sleeping gear at night. I have used USGI arctic canteens filled with boiling water in this fashion. No extra insulation needed. One would need a means of heating/boiling water for such a technique to work with their BOB sleep system.

Of course, there are time costs and energy costs to gathering wood, carrying wood processing tools, and building shelter. In a difficult security situation, there would be security costs.

8) Friends

One particular freezing night in Iowa, it was 10 F, and I did not have proper sleeping gear. My friend's dog decided he wanted to sleep on my feet and suddenly life was WONDERFUL!!! One of the best nights sleep I have had in the woods.

A spouse or buddy can help. I'm now experimenting with how my wife and I together changes our sleep gear needs as we get back into camping. Most of my ex-mil friends tell stories of cuddling/spooning with buddies while wrapped up in every stitch of clothing they have. I have read a person produces as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb (though that means more for those who grew up before all this energy saving started). I suspect one could double up on blankets (increasing insulation) and enjoy your buddy's shared heat (increasing warmth under those blankets). Dogs are awesome in the cold! And pretty much everywhere else too.

9) Shelter

Shelter greatly increases the effectiveness of a sleep system. Of course, this is not earth shattering news for the ZS crowd.

Gathering a pile of leaves or long grass 20-36 inches deep will greatly help in staying warm. Especially if you crawl into it. Making shelter takes time and energy.

Snow caves can help, but one must actually have enough snow to actually make a cave. My last 6 winter camps did not have enough snow on the ground to make a snow shelter. Which sucked. I am trying to gain some experience with snow shelters. I really can't speak from experience here, and I realize one cannot count on snow being there for you in an emergency.

Tents can help, but carry weight/energy/space costs.

In a true disaster if I am far from home, I plan to savage my vehicle for supplies. On the one hand, I could stay in the car and use blankets, hand warmers, and candles to make it more suitable in the cold. If I am traveling I could make mukluks and a sleeping pad with foam from the seats. Would it cost $600 to re-upholster? I"d have to be willing to pay $300 for muklucks and $300 for a sleeping pad before I"d do that.

So the point I am trying to make is that sleep systems can be paired down, or increased in effectiveness. It may simply take some thinking beyond what is available in your bag.


I think this is an important addition, ways to stretch and improve the gear you have. From hand warmers (there are reusable ones too), hot water bottles, hot rocks, sharing body heat, good shelter, a fire (especially good long lasting fire lays) there are a lot of ways to improve your sleep system if while your out there you find it just isn't cutting the mustard.

A couple other things not directly mentioned and would fit into some of the categories but worth noting directly. Hot coal bed buried under you sleep area, giving you radiant heat all night. The super shelter, that can actually turn a simple shelter into a sauna.

Something not mentioned, but highly worth noting. Location of where you set up camp as well as how you orient your sleeping set up. Cold air sinks, we all know this. But it is so common to forget this when setting up a camp it is worth reminding folks. You don't want to locate your camp where the cold air is pooling and congregating. Similarly watch for humidity, if you can see water vapor off a body of water, and watch how it flows around land forms. See what sorts of areas it likes to hang out in, those are not good places to camp unless you like waking damp and cold. Lets not forget wind, which can make for a big cooling effect on you. Watch how you set up your camp or place your camp. Look for shelter from the wind and if you can't find it, create it if possible. If you can't create it, orient your camp to minimize the wind's effect on your sleep as well as fire.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:22 pm 
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woodsghost wrote:
7) External Heat

A fire or hot hands can increase the effectiveness of your sleep system. At 7am today it was -22 F outside where I am staying. Wind chill brought it even lower. I have a hard time thinking of many "survival/disaster" situations where I would not want a fire. The only reason I can think of where I would not want a fire involve some sort of E&E/PAW type situation. A "long fire" has been a huge help when camping in +5 to -15 F temps. Long fires are much better than your standard circle fires for warmth and heat. Having some sort of reflector also helps tremendously.

Hot hands are nice, but are consumables.

One could also plan to fill a water bottle (probably metal) with hot/boiling water, add some insulating material, and throw that in your sleeping gear at night. I have used USGI arctic canteens filled with boiling water in this fashion. No extra insulation needed. One would need a means of heating/boiling water for such a technique to work with their BOB sleep system.

Of course, there are time costs and energy costs to gathering wood, carrying wood processing tools, and building shelter. In a difficult security situation, there would be security costs.


My need for external heat is pretty much proportional to how far down the contingency list I am. For a full on BOB, if the clothes and sleeping system I have packed isn't adequate I did a pretty crappy job. If it is more of a GHB I'm much more likely to just have a mylar bivvy and some hot hands.

While fire stuff is super fun and a very important skill to learn, I dislike the fire-centric mindset that often comes up in Bushcraft/survival circles. With practice and a knowledge of your area I don't think its unrealistic to expect to be able to build a fire (almost) anywhere anytime, but I think the calorie/time expenditure is penny smart and pound foolish. For one relying on fire precludes many shelter options (most enclosed tents) and secondly the hour or two (minimum) that it takes to set up a good fire situation for the night could be spent putting miles between you and whatever you are fleeing. The more I do the math I think that a 5lb sleep system will get you by nearly anywhere in the lower 48 (a true 0* bag, insulated pad with an R value of 6, and a light bivvy, bolstered with climate appropriate clothing) so I really can't think of a way that saving a pound or two off of that could ever pay for itself in ground covered or time saved.

Of course the calculous changes with larger groups, especially if you have less able members (young or old) that can't cover that extra hour of ground anyway and you can divvy up chores more. And of course for the inevitable "what if you lose all your stuff" discussion, knowing all the fire tricks is possibly second only to not losing your stuff.

The ultimate in external heat will always be the wood stove. The packable Kifaru/SO/Ti Goat/Lite outdoors ones are of course expensive but the weight to utility ratio is absurd for cold climates, and really have to be tried to be believed. There are lots of DIY options and tutorials out there, and a ghetto hot tent is a cheap way to live in luxury in cold temps; I'd take a chaffing dish stove and a blue tarp over all the fire tricks in the book any day.

woodsghost wrote:
8) Friends

One particular freezing night in Iowa, it was 10 F, and I did not have proper sleeping gear. My friend's dog decided he wanted to sleep on my feet and suddenly life was WONDERFUL!!! One of the best nights sleep I have had in the woods.

A spouse or buddy can help. I'm now experimenting with how my wife and I together changes our sleep gear needs as we get back into camping. Most of my ex-mil friends tell stories of cuddling/spooning with buddies while wrapped up in every stitch of clothing they have. I have read a person produces as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb (though that means more for those who grew up before all this energy saving started). I suspect one could double up on blankets (increasing insulation) and enjoy your buddy's shared heat (increasing warmth under those blankets). Dogs are awesome in the cold! And pretty much everywhere else too.


I always have a hard time planning for this for BO purposes because I'm too paranoid about being split up. I'm trying to build a better double sleep system for the wife and I for normal camping/traveling use but for a BOB I just can't shake the feeling of one person lugging around a double quilt while the other one is somewhere else with diddly. Two thinner blankets that combined to make a double sleep system is an option, but once again you are stuck with something less then optimal if split up. I think the getting separated worry is vastly overblown and highly unlikely but I can't shake it.

Even just cramming a bunch of people in a single tent or shelter (even with everyone in their own sleeping bags) does a lot for raising the temp.

woodsghost wrote:
9) Shelter

Shelter greatly increases the effectiveness of a sleep system. Of course, this is not earth shattering news for the ZS crowd.

Gathering a pile of leaves or long grass 20-36 inches deep will greatly help in staying warm. Especially if you crawl into it. Making shelter takes time and energy.

Snow caves can help, but one must actually have enough snow to actually make a cave. My last 6 winter camps did not have enough snow on the ground to make a snow shelter. Which sucked. I am trying to gain some experience with snow shelters. I really can't speak from experience here, and I realize one cannot count on snow being there for you in an emergency.

Tents can help, but carry weight/energy/space costs.


I was mostly comparing stuff in a vacuum for ease of discussion but shelter is always an important topic. Once again I tend to think natural shelters are false economy. Good modern shelters (be they tarps, bivvys or tents) are just so light and compact there are few excuses to be without them. Like fire my math says that the calories expended from carrying a well-thought out shelter system all day will never exceed that of improvising shelter. Just like your snow shelter story illustrated, the situation seldom plays nice with our plans, so simply having a sleep and shelter system that works ANYWHERE is the ultimate insurance policy.


woodsghost wrote:
In a true disaster if I am far from home, I plan to savage my vehicle for supplies. On the one hand, I could stay in the car and use blankets, hand warmers, and candles to make it more suitable in the cold. If I am traveling I could make mukluks and a sleeping pad with foam from the seats. Would it cost $600 to re-upholster? I"d have to be willing to pay $300 for muklucks and $300 for a sleeping pad before I"d do that.

So the point I am trying to make is that sleep systems can be paired down, or increased in effectiveness. It may simply take some thinking beyond what is available in your bag.


The car example is a good illustration of my views on improvisation in general. Most of my sleeping pads (including the insulated ones) cost between $10 and $20. Good winter boots can often be scrounged for $50 or less. Likely most of us already have both laying around, and unless you share a vehicle with a very tidy person the cost of storing said items at all times in the car approaches $0. So while the odds of having to make $600 winter gear is quite low, they can be completely eliminated with a tiny investment ahead of time, and on top of that you would have purpose built gear and not improvised stuff that never turns out quite as well as you thought it would.

I don't like to sound like I'm against the improvising/adapting mindset, because I think it is a very valuable skill to develop, but I think it gets an emphasis it doesn't deserve and can mutate into a weird "I don't need X piece of critical gear, I'll McGiver it out of a panty hose and condoms!" when consumed by the uninitiated.

My real goal with this thread is to A) show lots of better options then wool blankets, but B) subtly reinforce my message that a traditional sleep system (good bag, good pad, good shelter) is always best, and along with water filters and shoes is something that 1) we shouldn't compromise on and 2) really don't need to compromise on.



ineffableone wrote:
Something not mentioned, but highly worth noting. Location of where you set up camp as well as how you orient your sleeping set up. Cold air sinks, we all know this. But it is so common to forget this when setting up a camp it is worth reminding folks. You don't want to locate your camp where the cold air is pooling and congregating. Similarly watch for humidity, if you can see water vapor off a body of water, and watch how it flows around land forms. See what sorts of areas it likes to hang out in, those are not good places to camp unless you like waking damp and cold. Lets not forget wind, which can make for a big cooling effect on you. Watch how you set up your camp or place your camp. Look for shelter from the wind and if you can't find it, create it if possible. If you can't create it, orient your camp to minimize the wind's effect on your sleep as well as fire.



This is huge, and not something I've mastered. Short version is avoid bodies of water and setup under trees/cover when safe to do so. My belief if not skimping on a sleep system rarely makes this a critical step for me so the motivation to hone my camp site picking skills has been minimal.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:13 pm 
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RonnyRonin wrote:
ineffableone wrote:
Something not mentioned, but highly worth noting. Location of where you set up camp as well as how you orient your sleeping set up. Cold air sinks, we all know this. But it is so common to forget this when setting up a camp it is worth reminding folks. You don't want to locate your camp where the cold air is pooling and congregating. Similarly watch for humidity, if you can see water vapor off a body of water, and watch how it flows around land forms. See what sorts of areas it likes to hang out in, those are not good places to camp unless you like waking damp and cold. Lets not forget wind, which can make for a big cooling effect on you. Watch how you set up your camp or place your camp. Look for shelter from the wind and if you can't find it, create it if possible. If you can't create it, orient your camp to minimize the wind's effect on your sleep as well as fire.



This is huge, and not something I've mastered. Short version is avoid bodies of water and setup under trees/cover when safe to do so. My belief if not skimping on a sleep system rarely makes this a critical step for me so the motivation to hone my camp site picking skills has been minimal.


Being from the PNW helps make you learn that one fast. There are so many micro climates when in the woods here that you learn quickly to choose your camp wisely. It isn't just avoid bodies of water, and set up under a tree though. Valleys tend to collect cold air for example, but then the ridge tends to be windy and cold too. You want to try and find somewhere in the middle, that is protected. Bodies of water can at times actually be helpful as they can actually radiate warmth in a cold night, though you have to watch for humidity then. Rocks that have been soaking in the sun can offer a warm place in what normally would be a cold one. The shade of a tree though could make what would seem a warm space more of a cold one.

There are a lot of little things that make site selection, but this is not a thread on site selection or fire or shelter. I had highlighted woodsghost's post because not everyone will have gotten their BOB/INCH sleep system dialed in properly right away. Fire, shelter, site selection can help make up for the deficit. As well as in SHTF, you just never know what might happen. Loss of gear, a tumble in the water, etc... can alter the effectiveness of your sleep gear. Just as being too reliant on a fire is a bad idea, so too is being too reliant on your sleep system. Having back up options is pretty much a fundamental of prepping.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:43 am 
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The main reason that I got involved with this forum, was to seek an answer as to what type of sleep system to put in a BOB. I grew up in the frigid cold and know that hypothermia is no joke. One of the worst camping experiences I've ever had was camping at altitude without the proper clothing or sleeping bag. I threw every piece of clothing and my pack on top of me to no avail. I shivering like a jackhammer through what seemed like an endless night and throughout most of the next day, it was miserable. Members on this forum have been most helpful with their opinions and contributions on the sleep system subject. At this point I'm still undecided on the best approach, but have included winter clothing, a polartec fleece blanket, sol escape bivy and a usmc bivy in my pack. I have a 700 fil down mummy bag that I use for winter camping, plenty warm, but bulky when not compressed. I want to put something with more substantial insulation than my blanket in my vehicle or close to my BOB. I am leaning towards a Wiggy's bag. I was intrigued that they offer vacuum packing for their products and from what I understand, (correct me if I'm wrong) is that lamilite can withstand being compressed with minimal degradation of fiber, leading to loss of loft compared to other synthetic fibers. I have heard good things about Wiggy's bags, any recommendations on Wiggy's product offerings?

Also I thought this was an interesting concept although it has many shortcomings, small in size, heavy and way overpriced
https://mambeblankets.com/collections/o ... er-extreme

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I have a new appreciation for Wiggy's products, but the detractors are not wrong. They are heavy, don't compress well, and aren't terribly warm for their weight. But they are pretty affordable, very tough, and warm through brute force. In my mind car use is the perfect application for a Wiggy's bag, while they will degrade some from being compressed, the initial lack of performance of Lamilite means they are essentially "pre-degraded" from the factory, and just don't have that much further to fall.

For BOV/INCH use I'd give Wiggy a serious look, for BOB or backpacking it is a pretty poor choice.

That blanket is a little heavy and expensive, and doesn't offer much that the three ingredients separate (a primaloft quilt, a fleece blanket and a reflective tarp) wouldn't do better. Particularly because the reflective layer and the waterproof layer more then likely trap moisture that would be hard to dry.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:54 pm 
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I just ordered a Wiggys 0 degree bag for $144 shipped - yes it's 4lbs but it'll be for car/sled camping and I'm excited to have it.

Browsing the mont-bell store whilst waiting for my bus today I do thing another alternative sleep system could be down pants and a down jacket in addition to thermals and some other kind of bivvy bag. Those downpants are NOT cheap though and you probably wouldn't want to compress them + they get a bit shit in wet conditions. I did notice some synthetic insulation pants as well similar designed.

Does anyone have experience with the HPG Mountain Serape? I like the idea of it.

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Haven't used the HPG but I've been around it some. For normal sized folks I'd certainly recommend the smaller sized one, the original is pretty darn big. I wish it was more tapered and had more insulation but it is a pretty darn good static clothing/sleep system booster. Some claim it is good to 40* by itself but I think for me it would be closer to a 50* bag. Most are using it as an overbag to stretch their sleeping bag and/or protect down from moisture. Certainly warmer then any of the blanket options I listed and much more efficient for garment wear with the hood and zipper closure.
I would say a Mt. Serape is a better choice all around then any of the wool/fleece options, I didn't list it because I meant "alternative" as "non-puffy" and not different form factors. For alternative designs using standard puffy insulation the HPG and the Jacks R Better shown earlier are pretty high on my list. If the Wiggy's insulated poncho was his laminated insulation and not quilted I be highly recommending it as well (still a decent choice for car use).

Something along the vein of a serape/poncho combo is about as versatile as it gets, and is on my too-make list (have a climashield quilt already, just need to whack a big ol' head hole in it).

If it is warm enough that you can sleep in a pair of down pants I think chances are that it is warm enough you don't need to wear them during the day and you would have better performance out of the classic parka/elephant foot combo to get the mitten effect with your legs. I just bought one of those cheap down throws from Bed Bath and Beyond ($26 with coupon) and have taken some of the quilting out and trimmed the width to make a very compact elephant boot top quilt. I don't think it will do me much good on its own, but I plan to use it to stretch my 30* synthetic quilt and possibly just as a day-hike warm up layer (it also needs a head hole). Claimed 700 fill down, finished weight with drawstring foot box is about 13oz.

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