Why am I cold in a 20F bag?

kimbur96

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I am so new at all this and still learning. Hoping you can help me trouble shoot why I am chilled at night. I bought a Feathered Friends Egret UL 20F 950 down fill bag. This was not a cheap bag. This weekend I was out for my first night in Colorado and got pretty chilly. My tent is a tarp tent Moment DW with the mesh interior, so it's really more like a tarp because its not a solid interior. I am using a Big Agnes insulated Double Z mat. I am not cold from the ground. But (i know this will sound crazy) but my butt was cold. I sleep on my side and this pushes me right up against my bag. I had long fleece pants on, no socks and my feet were fine, not cold. On top I had a short sleeve tech shirt then a long sleeve tech shirt and a fleece. I was comfortable on top. I ended up stuffing my down jacket in my bag over my butt and that helped. But by moving I was getting chilly all over. The low according to weather was only 37F, however a few weeds on the ground next to my tent had frost. So why was I cold? I just ordered a solid inner lining to my tent to see if that helps.
 
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Vegan.Hiker

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the pad is usually the culprit, but that pad has a 4.5 R-value. What did you wear on your head? I believe most body heat is lost from the head. I'm thinking a beanie might actually help keep the rest of your body warmer. Also did you cinch the opening snug around your forehead and chin?

You might just be a cold sleeper.
 
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Cool Danish

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I am in the process of deciding on a down bag and here is what I read on Western Mountaineering website:
Continuous Baffles
A 3-season bag needs to serve in a wide range of temperatures. You will expect it to provide comfort during the heat of summer through the cooler temperatures of fall or early spring. To ensure a broad temperature range we build our 2 and 3-season bags with continuous baffles which encircle the bag from zipper to zipper. This allows you to shift the down insulation from one side of the bag to the other. During hot summer nights, you could shift the down from the top of the bag to the bottom so there is less insulation on top of you. When the weather is cold, you can move the down to the top of the bag. Just open the bag flat and push the down with your hands from one side to the other. This adjustment allows you to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your bag. We sew continuous baffle bags with 5 1/4″ baffle spacing so that unintended down migration during the night is kept to a minimum. Our continuous baffles are fixed to the material in a “slant box” configuration because it provides the best distribution of down across the width of the bag given the differential cut.
So if your bag has continuous baffles, you might want to try to move some more down to the top side of the bag (assuming your pad is warm enough).
 

Jackson

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Another thing to consider is that when you're pressed up against your bag, it kinda smashes the down temporarily, and that reduces its ability to insulate since it's not as thick. So if you're on your side and your butt is pressing on the bag a lot, that could be why you got cold there.
 

JackBurns

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I bought a Big Anges Lost Ranger because I am always cold. I thought this would be the cure. But just like you I had cold spots and had to wrap my down vest around my rump to keep warm. The next night I used a fleece liner and was nice and toasty. I believe my problem comes from sleeping on my side with my knees drawn up. This seems to compress the down over my butt and I loose the insulation.
 

JackBurns

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Typing my reply when Jackson posted.
 

Outdoor_Fool

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It is possible to have too much clothing on a end up inhibiting blood flow, especially in a confined space like a sleeping bag. Think of winter gloves or boots that are too tight, if you've experienced that. If you tend to sleep fairly motion-free, you can wrap a down jacket outside the sleeping bag, therefore eliminating cramping yourself in the bag but still adding some insulation. Also, women do sleep much colder than men on average hence many bag companies now provide a dual temp rating. Another possibility is that sleeping on your side allows the part of the mattress under your hips to press down closer to the cold ground allowing conduction of cold to your hips. Also many (most?) people have their warm and cold spots, for my wife, the cold spot is her feet. Throw a little chill out there and her feet turn to ice.

Keep trying different solutions and you'll probably find something that works for you.
 

kimbur96

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I am in the process of deciding on a down bag and here is what I read on Western Mountaineering website:

So if your bag has continuous baffles, you might want to try to move some more down to the top side of the bag (assuming your pad is warm enough).
My bag does have continuous baffles so I will try fluffing more down to my butt side. Pad was great no cold at all radiating up to me.
 

kimbur96

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Another thing to consider is that when you're pressed up against your bag, it kinda smashes the down temporarily, and that reduces its ability to insulate since it's not as thick. So if you're on your side and your butt is pressing on the bag a lot, that could be why you got cold there.
So I need a smaller butt! Lol but I suspect that is at least part of the answer.
 

kimbur96

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I bought a Big Anges Lost Ranger because I am always cold. I thought this would be the cure. But just like you I had cold spots and had to wrap my down vest around my rump to keep warm. The next night I used a fleece liner and was nice and toasty. I believe my problem comes from sleeping on my side with my knees drawn up. This seems to compress the down over my butt and I loose the insulation.
Which fleece liner did you get? I started looking at them online last night.
 

Wyatt Carson

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It is possible to have too much clothing on a end up inhibiting blood flow...

We find at times that all that clothing and fleece kind of inhibit the insulating properties of the down bag for some reason. I think less clothes tends to keep me warmer in the down bag. That sounds odd but it works for both of us.

If your feet were warm then I'd try less fleece and see what that does. The Tarptent I have has mesh all around the bottom and does keep out the breeze down there. I have much better tents for colder weather. Like some have said, the pad can also be more insulated than 4.5 but that does not sound terrible to me.
 

kimbur96

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Thank you all for your replies. After some more reading last night it would appear I have multiple things not working in my favor right now: age, metabolism, sleeping on my side compressing the butt area of my bag, temperature loss from mesh tent. I will try some options: ordered a solid inner tent last night for my tent, may pick up a fleece bag liner, loose some weight and boost my metabolism. And just keep trying


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

regehr

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A few thoughts...

When you buy a top of the line sleeping bag, you're buying good workmanship and also the lightest possible bag that meets the temperature requirement -- but I don't think there's any reason to think that it'll be any warmer than a cheapo 20 degree bag. It's just lighter, more compressible, more durable, and all-around more lovely of a product.

Even disregarding differences between individuals, I'm not sure that the temp rating of a bag actually means anything, other than to give some general guidance about the relative warmth of that bag compared to other bags made by the same manufacturer. So you definitely want to take extra gear along until you have the relative warmth of yourself + this bag dialed.

A water bottle filled with hot water and placed towards the bottom of a bag can make you feel warmer for a surprisingly long time.
 

Kyle P

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Has anyone heard the myth of sleeping with less clothes will keep you warmer? Something to do with your clothes preventing the sleeping bag from properly insulating your body. Any truth to this?
 

IntrepidXJ

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Has anyone heard the myth of sleeping with less clothes will keep you warmer? Something to do with your clothes preventing the sleeping bag from properly insulating your body. Any truth to this?

A recent answer to this question over on 14ers: http://www.14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=49285&p=602112

There was a time in history when wearing less clothing before getting into a sleeping bag had merit. Polar explorers used to consider it dangerous to get into a sleeping bag fully clothed because their sleeping bags were made of reindeer skins and every tiny bit of moisture brought into the sleeping bag would soak into the leather, never dry, and would build up over the days, weeks, and months.

For example, the book Conquering the Arctic Ice, written by expedition leader Ejnar Mikkelsenin in 1909 about the 1906 expedition, says the following:

Being absolutely safe, one can undress and get naked into the sleeping bag, and thus avoid carrying in moisture from one's clothes.

In the accounts of the 1912 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Douglas Mawson alludes to something similar as well, though he doesn't mention sleeping completely naked (they were actually using three person sleeping bags, and Mawson was upset when one of the members got into the sleeping bag while clothed).

So, 100+ years ago the idea of removing clothes before sleeping in order to stay warm in the long run did have merit. Unless anyone is still sleeping in heavy reindeer sleeping bags for weeks or months on end, it no longer holds true.
 

John Goering

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Yep, that has been my experience over the years-spanning 6+ decades I might add. You would have to have a very tight fitting bag to have additional clothing layers actually be detrimental. I usually wear light weight longjohns and a clean pair of socks, but have used a light down and fleece jackets when things got extreme. It works.

Perhaps the best solution to this problem is just to get a lower rated bag. You can always leave them partially unzipped when it's warm and in fact, I have used my unzipped bag as a throw blanket on a number of occasions with only the mattress beneath. My wife routinely uses a zero rated bag all summer long (and I don't recall it ever being unzipped.
 

pstm13

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Another thing to consider is that when you're pressed up against your bag, it kinda smashes the down temporarily, and that reduces its ability to insulate since it's not as thick. So if you're on your side and your butt is pressing on the bag a lot, that could be why you got cold there.
I agree with the reduction in loft theory. It acts like laying on your bag which eliminates loft and therefore the ability to insulate.

Another possibility is that your butt is cold from sitting before you get into the bag. You put on thick long johns and without circulation your butt is going to stay cold especially if there is a cold spot caused by how you sleep.

I had a similar thing happen to me with a high end 0 rated bag when it was in the mid teens. Since then I put a hot water bottle in the bag to pre heat it. I also use a very light 45 degree bag as a liner if it gets close to the temp rating.
 

gnwatts

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I have an almost 20 year old 20 degree Puffin Feathered Friends bag, semi-rectangular. I sleep cold due to poor circulation, especially my feet. I asked them to add extra down at the feet and around my chest area, they said it added about 10 degrees to the bag. I don't wear extra clothing. I also sleep warmer after alcohol consumption. That is opposite of what I read about alcohol, maybe it is my imagination.
You have one of the finest bags available.
 
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