Thanks for the post...sorta... I could of done without the swimming in your own juices part...haha. What marmott tent do you use? I would like to try the bivy approach but can't convince myslef. I have done quite a bit of hiking, camping and hunting but not much cold weather solo stuff. I really prefer the thought of my 14x16 cabin tent but need to "get away". I would like a 2 man, 4 season tent that is packable.... The reviews I read online don't seem to point to a single winner. If you guys had to pick a small tent and sleeping bag combo to handle -10 for 4 days what would you pick?
Yeah, I don't think my juices are very pleasant, personally!
My Marmot is the roomy 2 man Swallow. One of the most versatile and easy to get in and out of tents I've seen or had. It generally gets used on coastal sea kayaking trips in the summer (or backpacking trips with my wife) as it has many zippers that open up large areas of the tent body for ventilation or can be closed up with the Force 6 or better winds from a north Pacific low. It's not a light tent, but made well and one of the most comfortable 2 man tents I've seen. However, it's not built up to the standards of a full on mountaineering expedition tent like most of the Biblers, for instance.
The Bibler I-tent is legendary in the climbing community for it's expedition proven lightweight, singlewall, breathable construction. 4.5 lbs for a small two person tent that has survived in some very harsh conditions. My Bibler Torre (now called the Tempest since it's now made offshore, I believe) can handle just about anything thrown at and with it's 2 built in vestibules it's fairly room for a 2 person, 6.5 lb tent. For hunting, I'd still prefer a Kifaru tipi like shelter (I like the one I made with it's built in floor much better than the idea of lying on the dirt, etc. personally) with stove any day, but Bibler or some other expedition proven design would be a second choice.
There are many choices of high quality down bags that have water resistant/breathable shells. For -10 weather, which I've personally not spent the night out in just so you know, I think I'd look for something rated to -30. Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering will make a bag to your dimensions that will max warmth while minimizing weight. Marmot and others have some good off the shelf bags. You might look for something with at least 700 fill power or higher (preferable 800+, there's some 900 out there the last couple of years if your budget will support it). The higher the fill power number the better quality the down, the lighter it will be for a given temp rating, the more compressible it will be and generally the higher the number the longer the fill will retain its loft over the years if the bag is treated right.
JMO. Hope this helps.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?" Thomas Jefferson - Notes on the State of Virginia
I'm using a synthetic fill sleeping bag from R.E.I. currently. I think it's filled with hollow-fill or quallo-fill. My synthetic fill sleeping bags are not high cost sleeping bags. I have one rated for -10 F that I use down to about 20 F. I have one rated to 20 F that I only use when the temperature isn't expected to fall any less than about 35 F. If these bags wear out or lose their loft, I'll replace them for $150.00 or less, which won't break the bank.
Yes, synthetic bags weigh a bit more than down sleeping bags for equivalent loft and they don't compact as tightly when packing them around. But I don't consider either of these items a hardship. By comparison, hardship begins after the game is killed and an additional 90-100 lbs of cape, horns, and meat now needs to be packed out, in addition to camping and hunting gear.
I will state right off that I've never purchased a gore-tex wrapped down sleeping bag, so I can't comment on these new down bags. But I have a goose down sleeping bag from R.E.I. rated to -25 F. I used it on a caribou hunt in Alaska in 1976 when I had to overnight away from our tent. We used a piece of polyethelene as a temporal shelter / cover. It snowed that night and I woke up with my head in a water puddle. I was so tired from packing caribou that day that I didn't wake up until there was a couple inches of water puddled under my head. If you've ever washed a down garment or sleeping bag, you'll know what I mean when I say if your down sleeping bag gets wet in a cold environment, you're dead. To my recollection, down sleeping bags were generally the preferred sleeping bags when I bought my down bag in 1974. Then synthetics became the standard sleeping gear in Alaska. To my knowledge, that's still the standard when hunting in unheated tents/camps. If you're going to pack a heating stove with you then you're not hunting sheep in the country I hunt. Also, if you're packing a heating stove, I don't think the type of sleeping bag you purchase is very critical by comparison to save weight, stay dry, or to keep you warm. Most Alaskan hunting camps don't have heated tents/camps, unless you go with a guide. You often hike or fly in to your hunting area and don't have the luxury of bringing in a lot of gear, unless you just want to set up a main camp and live there for the duration of the hunt. When sheep hunting, it's pretty common to hunt out of spike camps so you can cover enough ground to locate and kill a ram. No heated tents there unless you've paid a guide to take care of you. I learned on my own the hazards of goose down sleeping bags in wet & cold climates. A wet synthetic bag isn't any fun to sleep in either, but compared to a wet down bag, it would be like paradise.
Down bags may be making a resurgence with the gore-tex like fabrics, but I still don't see them in common use for the remote on-your-own type of hunts experienced in the wet, windy wilds of Alaska. I could accomplish the same thing with my down sleeping bag and a gore-tex bivy sack, but I don't. I use a decent tent or bivy-type tent that increases my odds of keeping my sleeping bag and gear dry in wind, snow and rain, AND a synthetic fill sleeping bag, just in case the bag gets wet in spite of my best efforts to keep it dry. If you get stuck out in bad weather for several days, you'll find it difficult to keep your gear and bag dry. They may not get soaked, but they will pick up moisture.
No matter which type of sleeping bag you decide to purchase, it's critical to keep that bag dry, should you hunt in a remote area where you are truly on your own after the plane drops you off and flys away. I don't take many chances that risk getting my sleeping bag wet, but if it does get wet, I have a chance of surviving in a synthetic. Just one man's opinion.
Here are some thoughts on this thread and other suggestions.
1. Those Cabelas meat pack/backpacks are very heavy and don't shoulder a load very nice. My solution is a high end internal frame pack. I use an Arc Teryx. I have put the hind quarters from elk inside ( one at a time) of that style of pack many times and it works fine.
2. Down sleeping bags are warm but lose their loft when wet, which sucks. The North Face probably makes the best synthetic sleeping bag. I use the "snowshoe" for my hunting. It is light and packs small enough. If I were not allergic to down, I would use that but I have come to like synthetic.
3. I used to carry a PUR brand filter which was heavy, I started using the chlorine tabs and they are pretty nice, make sure you have a few extra bottles though as they take 4 hours to work.
4. Tent. Single wall tents are bad ass now days and if you've got the budget there is no equal to Bibler. They are a little heavier than some of the others but they are bombproof and made for winter camping. I used to have one that got stolen out of my truck and am now very happy with a single wall Black Diamond that is really only made for 3 season camping. It packs smaller than a loaf of bread and is almost as light.
5. Your body loses more heat through the ground than the air so make sure you are prepared with a full legnth sleeping pad like thermarest or whatever you like.
6. I own a bivy sack but rarely camp in it. They really increase the temp rating on your sleeping bag and for minimal weight. You can make a 15deg. bag a 0 deg. or similar with a decent bivy. Also good for spike camp on top of some ridge where you just know there will be elk at first light.
7. I prefer a butane mix stove that I don't have to prime or worry about fuel spilling on my stuff. Butane fuel costs more and is harder to find but I like it better for cooking.
If you were to outfit yourself for backpacking through cabela's, in my opionion, that would be about the same as through wal-mart, which is to say that you would get a bunch of heavy gear with questionable durability. Look to companies that specialize in backpacking and climbing gear which may or may not be in your area. If you check out backcountry.com or their counterpart steepandcheap.com you can find killer deals on overstock high end backpacking equipment.
I disagree with Troutslayer on the frame/pack issue. Iíve used Cabelaís Alaskan outfitter model for years and have nothing but good things to say about it. It doesnít weigh more than most internal-frame packs (which in my opinion are worse for shouldering heavy or oddly-shaped loads), and I can use it for other jobs internal frames arenít neccesarily suited for. For example the past two seasons Iíve used the frame to haul a Double-Bull blind onto BLM land to hunt speed-goats over water holes during archery season. They also come with a sweet guarantee. Sounds like TS simply has an axe to grind against the company and is offering an opinion on something heís never tried.
Also, water-purification pumps are light---much lighter than carrying around bottles of water for 4 hours waiting for the tablets to take effect. If youíve been sweating and are dehydrated, a pump produces instant results.
But I do think everyone is hitting the nail on the head when it comes to warmth and comfort back at camp. A lot can be said for a solid sleeping bag (itís worth the $$$ to get the best), a lightweight tent to keep you warm and dry, and a sleeping pad. A good nightís rest can make a big difference if youíre logging several miles a day.
Spend the money and get good quality. Like down sleeping bag that you can stuff, very light, very warm, get a good back pack, and good clothing. Good waterproof boots, and some type of shelter. Don't spend a bunch on money on gadgets and gizmos, just get what you need, but don't skimp on quality. It could be the difference between life and death!