One-Uping the Cold MiserNov 9, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Sport and OutdoorThe Bottom Line Her firn line was much too high.
Cold weather camping can be one of the most enjoyable outdoor pursuits of them all. The clean, crisp, pest-free air is like taking a pipe cleaner to those alveoli; churning loose the smog deposits of industry. The pristinely powdered precipi, lay out virginally before you, beckoning. But you stay snuggled in comfortably warmed by your inspired decision to get yourself a sleeping bag that can actually keep warm and dry under even the most Jack Frostian of conditions.
The first thing to consider when contemplating an overnight excursion into the backcountry is what the lowest possible temperature could be—and plan for that. Each company’s rating suggests a degree to which it is suited, but should be weighed against your individual metabolism and comfort level.
Your sleeping bags’ primary insulating material should be derived from the light, fluffy undercoating of various waterfowl (a.k.a. Down.). These smallest of feathers are shaped something like a radial “gone to seed” dandelion heads whose individual filament count can exceed 2 million per ounce of raw material (it’s Fill Power will equal the number of cubic inches that ounce will occupy once fully lofted).
Incumbent properties of Down include its positively sloth-like thermodynamic disposition for heat transference (three times better than it’s synthetic brethren) as well as a veritable spring-like response towards its ultra packanatomicalizationist bent (you know, like those circus people who can stuff themselves in the tiniest of boxes. The 2001 Buskers Festival recently showcased the 5' 8", 135 pound Flex the Rubber Boy fitting himself into an 18 inch by 16-inch box). Exigent qualities indeed when your primary concerns are warmth, weight, and compactness. Down is also known for its resilience, and it better be, because it’s also about the most expensive fill material on the market. Yet, the hydrophilic nature of down manifests itself through a dramatic, if not total loss in its insulating qualities, so, don’t let it get wet.
This veritable gaggle of down is best circumscribed in a receptacle of mummyish morphology. Manufactures of note tend to outfit these moisture-wicking tombs with side and neck draft collars, as well as offer configurations designed to fit varied body and sleeping types (some even offer removable linings or “extension baffles” which extend their seasonal usability). Ingress and egress is typically facilitated through a heavy-duty side zipper whose “L”eft or “R”ight designation allows for mating between bags from the same maker (regardless of the bag size). The mating of bags, alas, may affect the perceived temperature rating of your sleeping bag, so, dress accordingly (and be careful not to spill the champagne).
The exterior shell fabric is most suitably constructed of Gore DRYLOFT® which works much like its older sibling GORE-TEX® (whose micro pores allow vapor out but keep rain from getting in) but allows more vapor to escape. This makes for a more efficient cold weather sleeping bag while still maintaining the utmost in water resistance.
Since down looses most of its insulative quality when compressed, you’ll require some sort of pad on which to sleep. Closed cell foam is the padding material of choice as it best hinders the transfer of heat away from your body. Manufacturers offer choices that vary from the most basic to the exceptional ornate. However, keep in mind that the $10 choice can keep you nearly as warm as those costing $150.
A sleeping bag like this can cost you upwards of $400. But, keep in mind that quality bagsmith’s are profuse, and the resulting competition keeps the playing field moderately level. Also, chances are that you’ll absolutely despise winter camping so the thing will look brand new year after year after year.
The review by TLBP offers some other valid considerations.
I’ll leave you with this;
Io. Not much can beat the zestly crisp mornings of Io. Snuggled deeply inside the wall-to-wall shag of a space kangaroo’s dendritic pouch, I was glad that I’d already started to acclimate to the atmosphere’s high cyanide levels. Tucking back into the bosomy comfort of my beta-wave radiator, my thoughts, again, drifted back to them. How could they ever expect to replace the king’s flobiboscis with a tranithantom, I wondered. And how would they ever get the colours to match?
--an excerpt from my forthcoming novella, Old Miss Jones had a Drone, I-O, I-O, O.
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