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Topic: Any experience with TNF Dark Star, or other cold-weather synthetic bags?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 11:49 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello,

There are a couple grad students coming with me to Greenland this Spring.  This is their first time out on the ice (their first time cold-weather camping) and they need to invest quite a bit of $$$ in new gear.  They can't afford new -40 (or even -20F) down sleeping bags right now.  One alternative (at least for this year) is a synthetic bag, like The North Face Dark Star -40.

Weight specs aren't really a concern, we'll be traveling by snowmobile/sledge and an extra pound or few isn't a problem.  Anyone have any experience with this bag, or any other (relatively low cost) cold-weather sleeping bag?  -30 would be the lowest temps they'd be expected to see out there.  I'll likely be able to get Pro deals from the manufacturer, but having a few manufacturers in mind would help.

Just thought I'd check.  Thanks!

- Mike


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 11:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I really suggest going and looking at one before committing to it. One person here says he has used his at low temps but that is the only one I know of. All others have said no way. I looked at one at REI, spread it out, shook it, let it sit and never saw more than about 6 in of TOTAL loft (two layer). As insulation r-value comes mainly from its thickness I highly doubt it is more than a 0-10 F bag based on my years of experience using cold weather bags.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 12:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the feedback, Ray.  I'm wondering... do you know of any reasonably-priced bags (doesn't matter if they're 10 pounds) that might do well for truly negative temps?

The Google-fu is coming up mostly blank, with a lot of bags that "claim" -30 or -40 ratings but even the pictures online don't look anything like a bag at that true rating to me.  Any suggestions help.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 12:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Mike,

Have them take a look at Cabela's, they've got some 650 fill down bags rated to -40 for about the same price as the TNF synthetic.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 1:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Chuck D @ Jan. 31 2013, 10:51 am)
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Mike,

Have them take a look at Cabela's, they've got some 650 fill down bags rated to -40 for about the same price as the TNF synthetic.

Indeed they do.  At 4-5 lbs of 650-fill down in each bag, those might do it.

There's a Cabela's store here in Thornton (just north of Denver).  I might take a trip with them to check these out if they have them in stock.  Thanks for the tip!

- Mike


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 1:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey Mike,

I had one for one winter. At minus 10 I froze my a$$ off.

Now I have a Mtn Hdwr Ghost, and that's a very good bag. Mine's several years old, and I believe they've updated the newer version a little.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 2:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah I would look at those.

There are lots of Chinese-made bags on the web that claim to be rated to -40 but just looking at the pictures you can see that they arn't really. We just had six people test a bargain brand 0 F rated bags (two styles) and  most found them to be good to 20 F max.

Look for about 5" of top-layer loft Mike.

Good luck.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 3:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Mike when do you need them. I may be able to loan you to MB -20 UL Super Stretch bags

You pay shipping both ways


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 5:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm meeting with them Tuesday to have a long chat about gear.

They've been shopping online, and e-mailed me today asking about Wiggy's bags, specifically their "Antarctica" bag which is supposedly rated to -60*F but has less "average" loft than my -40 down bag has ("average" loft meaning apparently the loft isn't consistent and the spots with less than the "average" probably leave additional cold spots).  They said from searching online that Wiggy's bags seem to get "great reviews."

I'm not even sure how to explain Wiggy phenomenon to them, without going into an hour long conversation, lol.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 6:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I hear you can haul out a boned out elk in your Wiggy bag without it freezing solid at -20 and the blood washes right out in the washing machine.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 31 2013, 7:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Awesome. :D  That's just what we'll be doing out there.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 8:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Campmor presently has a sale on Mountain Hardware Lamina -30 bag. It is currently priced at $199.00 for the regular length, $20.00 more for the long. This is a great bag which I've used in UP and Canadian bush trips with good results. At this price, it is a lot of bag for the dollar. -30 Lamina, Regular Length

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 10:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Dennis Waite @ Feb. 01 2013, 6:13 am)
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Campmor presently has a sale on Mountain Hardware Lamina -30 bag. It is currently priced at $199.00 for the regular length, $20.00 more for the long. This is a great bag which I've used in UP and Canadian bush trips with good results. At this price, it is a lot of bag for the dollar. -30 Lamina, Regular Length

Dennis,

Just curious, how cold have you taken that bag, and how did it handle in those temps?

It is a good price, gotta say. I'm just curious how accurately it's actually rated.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 1:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i might be the one who has successfully used the TNF Darkstar in cold weather, down to -20f.  i sold the bag and switched to down b/c it took up so much pack space, and because i started to wonder whether a lot of use had compromised the loft.

i initially used the bag with some kind of fuzzy bag liner and wearing a base layer on the bottom, base layer and mid-weight second layer on top. fleece beanie too.  at -20f, i was too warm with that setup, ended up ditching the top mid-layer and pulling the fuzzy liner down to my waist.  i sleep warm, warmer than most.  

it's a pretty roomy bag that can accommodate layering.  using the darkstar plus a down sweater or vest, i think it would be fine to -20 or -30 for a lot of people.  someone who 'sleeps cold' might want to think of it as a -10 to -20 bag, though, and might find it uncomfotable at -30f.

i switched to a -40 down bag, the MH Ghost.  haven't yet seen temperatures much below zero in it, which means i have had to use it with virtually no layers and partially unzipped to avoid overheating.  i think it's meaningfully warmer than the darkstar.  i'm taking a short trip to the white mountains in new hampshire next week - i figure evening lows could hit -20 or -30, which is why i got such a big bag in the first place.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 2:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Mike,

I asked a bunch of folks up in the ADK environ about the MH Lamina -30....

Ringing endorsements from all.
I ordered one the other day, not in yet but all the feedback I got from here and local was very good.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 2:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I used the Lamina to about -5, and slept with base layer only and occasional ventilation (I'm a warm sleeper too). I sold it to a friend and he has used it comfortabily to about -18. I think the -30 rating is reasonable, at least for my body. I used a NF Tundra rated to -20 (now the Dark Star -20) to -38 before I bought my present Dark Star -40. My feet got uncomfortably cold that night; should have put a hot water bottle down there! Needless, I got the Dark Star before my next trip.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 2:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

ps - size-wise, the Dark Star is comparable to the Marmot CWM around the hips and shoulders, it has a fair bit of room inside, particularly for the long size.  Mountain Hardwear bags are 'average,' but not quite as roomy for layering.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 2:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Jan. 31 2013, 4:51 pm)
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I'm not even sure how to explain Wiggy phenomenon to them, without going into an hour long conversation, lol.

I might pay to sit in on that one.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 4:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Dennis Waite @ Feb. 01 2013, 12:15 pm)
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I used the Lamina to about -5, and slept with base layer only and occasional ventilation (I'm a warm sleeper too). I sold it to a friend and he has used it comfortabily to about -18. I think the -30 rating is reasonable, at least for my body. I used a NF Tundra rated to -20 (now the Dark Star -20) to -38 before I bought my present Dark Star -40. My feet got uncomfortably cold that night; should have put a hot water bottle down there! Needless, I got the Dark Star before my next trip.

That's good info, thanks.

Like you, I'm a very "warm" sleeper (my wife calls me her furnace in bed at home), which helps.  I can take an accurately-rated -20 bag and probably sleep to -30 with just a couple extra layers on.  I doubt my -40 bag will even be tested this trip to Greenland.

The folks I'm shopping for are both quite thin (probably 110 lbs wet) and I doubt generate that type of body heat, so I'm having to estimate pretty conservatively on bag ratings.  They can of course supplement with down jackets and the like when it's really cold if the bag is roomy at all, so there will be a bit of wiggle-room, but not too much.

Thanks again.  I've gotten a couple offers for loaners after posting this thread that might have already solved my problem, but it's all good food for thought.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 4:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Since this is a scientific expedition related to global warming, have them contact TNF, etc. and see if they'll donate bags to the expedition. Didn't National Geographic or Discovery Channel or similiar take video of you guys last year? That wouldn't hurt to mention.

Even local retailers such as REI, EMS, etc. have a great deal of latitiude for such donations.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 4:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(WalksWithBlackflies @ Feb. 01 2013, 2:38 pm)
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Since this is a scientific expedition related to global warming, have them contact TNF, etc. and see if they'll donate bags to the expedition. Didn't National Geographic or Discovery Channel or similiar take video of you guys last year? That wouldn't hurt to mention.

Even local retailers such as REI, EMS, etc. have a great deal of latitiude for such donations.

I could try for donations.  Discounted Pro Deals from the manufacturer (wholesale prices, basically) are a lot more common and likely.  And I'll go for those, definitely.

Yeah, we did get some press last year from the Weather Channel (supposed to air in some miniseries this Sept 2013).  It wouldn't hurt mentioning, although I'm not sure yet if there will be any press visits this year (I wouldn't bother mentioning that, lol).


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 9:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have to say that my expierience with north face bags is that they are never as warm as they say they are.  Never.  Always cold in there bags, despite there ratings.  Not just me either, but everyone else I hike with.  I havent used the darkstar, but have had several of their bags over the years.  The price is good on them, but they get cold well before their temp ratings.  That being said, they are usually a good price, and if you ad a good bag liner, you can keep warm in their bags at low temps

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