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Camping Equipment and all Clothing Tents, sleeping bags, stoves etc. Riding clothing, boots, helmets, what to wear when not riding, etc.
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Old 4 Sep 2003
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: East Sussex, England
Posts: 47
Sleeping Bags: Down or synthetic?

I need to replace my old synthetic bag. I've never had a down bag but am tempted by the smaller pack size and weight than synthetic.

I am concerned that down will need more care - especially to avoid dampness. (what if I decide to sleep out without a bivvy?)

Additionally I'll be paying 80% more on the cost of synthetic. Is down worth the extra cost?

Second question:
What temperature rating should I consider?

I expect that my most extreme use will be frosty mountains (Spain , Marocco) during the winter mounths
Winter camping in the UK is very unlikely
Will a -5 degree bag be adequate? Or should I go a step lower to a -12degree? (I know it's very subjective but some comments from personal experience would help)

I'm considering the Mountain Equipment range of bags:
Down: Dreamcatcher 500 and 750
Synthetic: SLeepwalker I and II
Any comments\recommendations are welcome?

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Old 5 Sep 2003
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Eureka, CA USA
Posts: 326
Down or synethic... humm a personal choice.IMHO If you are backpacking alot the extra cost may be worth it. Me I am cheap and would go synethic unless you are trying to cut every ounce and inch. Saying that you can not go wrong either way. Find a bag that fits you ie crawl in before you buy. No one can make that choice for you. They can recommend but only you know how it feels, and we are all built diffrently and sleep diffrently. As for the rating if in doubt get the warmer bag ie the -12 deg. If it is to warm you can unzip it and ventilate some of the heat out. If you opt for the other bag and it is to cold it is harder to get warm than cool down in that situation. Been there done that it is miserable. Have fun and happy camping

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Old 5 Sep 2003
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Hi David

I've had a few down bags - mainly Mountain Equip' and they are good, especially having the synthetic coating to help keep the damp out. That said I've converted to synthetic and haven't regreted it. I found that even with the coating for down bags they still got damp and lost their thermol properties - worse they started to get mold which really knackers them.

Synthetic bags are a little heavier and take up more space gram for gram but not enough to make any difference if you're buying a quality bag.

As for temp range, a really good bag for between -5 and -12 is the North Face Cats Meow. Stupid name but a really good bag. It'll take you down to -7 OK and has a 'silk like' liner so you don't sweat like you do in nylon bags. It also has an internal pocket to make a pillow for your head. They come in 2 lengths depending on how tall you are as well. The question is - do you sleep hot or cold? If you sleep hot you'd be OK with a lighter bag, if not go for a higher rated bag of -7 to -12. If you're 6ft plus have a look at the Rab sleeping bags. They're good kit and a bit longer than most bags. As with the last post - get in it and give it a go. If the shop won't let you then go somewhere else.

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Old 6 Sep 2003
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Location: London, UK
Posts: 254
Hi David

My preference is synthetic as I prefer the flexibility of not having to worry if it gets wet. You have to make sure that a down bag is dried properly or as stated above it'll go mouldy.

The weight and space savings are minimal.

The North Face Meow is an excellent sleeping bag or the mountain equipment range are also good value.

Try different ones out to see what you like best, which is the most comfortable or if you want one that expands to allow better movement.

Drop me a line at Overland solutions when you decided on what you'd like and we'll see if we can get you a better price on it.


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Old 12 Sep 2003
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Location: East Sussex, England
Posts: 47
Thank you all for your very useful responses. Synthetic it is!

The North Faces Cat's Meow is ideal (-7 and 1250g approx) but it is significantly more than the Mountain Equipment bag. (which is only a minus 5 rating. I suspect with TNF I'm paying for the label two

Thanks especially for the tip to try them out. That will keep the other cutomers amused!

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Old 24 Dec 2003
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: sydney australia
Posts: 174
i have been preparing for a long rtw trip next year and have been doing allot of camping lately. i bought a very warm and comfortable sleeping bag (synthetic) that was brilliant.
i then went on to buy my girlfriend the same bag...on its first outing she let the bag blow into a large fire and it was totally ruined...arrhhh

yesturday i went to the shop to buy a replacement for her and walked out with two new down bags one for each of us...the reason was the size difference is huge, about half the size for the same warmth.

if you are after extra storage space which is almost always the case on a bike go for the down..
now i wish i had bought this one in the beginning ...but ..its a natural progression. horses fo coarses....phil.
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Old 26 Dec 2003
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Location: Wolverhampton, UK
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Howdy, just thought I'd sling in my two 'penneth:
I've quite a bit of camping round Spain and Italy (also a fair bit here in UK) and I have found (for me)a very good solution to this perennial problem. I bought a double duvet and sewed a long zipper along the bottom and side, it will then slide nicely into a single duvet cover. It makes a really comfortable and warm sleeping bag. The reason for this D.I.Y. was that I couldn't find a bag that I felt 'at home' with - so I made it myself. True, you get what you pay for, (and mine was not expensive) but it has served me well. On the road it stores into a smaller space than any other bag I've had because after use I roll it and slide it into a plastic carrier bag, then evacuate the air with a small 12v air pump (run from the 12v plug on my Wing). This may not be everyones ideal solution but inside the vacuumed plastic bag it has never got wet, even thru torrential rain.
Have fun, George (Oletimer)
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