Sleeping bag insulation

Waterproofing a down bag
I did a quick search and found this tip for waterproofing a down bag. Good luck on your bag search.

Down only
I stopped using synthetics two years ago and I’ll never go back. My wife tried my down and had to have down. Now I am paranoid about my bags getting wet, so I put the bag in a waterproof compression bag, then in a Seattle sport waterproof bag. It is still real small, Marmot 800 fill. Yes I’m the guy with supenders and a belt, but never had a wet bag even after riding on a motorcycle in the rain all day, bikes dont have hatches.

Wait till you have a problem…
We used to sell Wiggys for a couple of years till customers started having problems with them. All I’m going to say is he left a lot of customers ‘unhappy’ with the way he handled his ‘warranty’, if you can call it that.

There is a down bag made that
has a water proof, breathable cover. That seems the way to go. Can’t remember who makes it?

Another vote for down
I, too, was enticed by the marketing ploys of synthetic bag manufacturers when I began outfitting myself for a budding backpacking career. After a number of years lugging around a heavier, bulkier, and colder bag that I never once got wet, I decided to pull the trigger on a down bag.

I now own two down bags (a 15F and a 35F, the latter which I find myself reaching for more and more) and would never consider going back.

I also buy good tents, seam seal the heck out of them, and take steps to avoid condensation inside. This has resulted in NEVER having a problem with a wet sleeping bag, despite camping in the humid and often rainy Great Lakes region.

If you’re paranoid about your bag getting wet while transporting it in your kayak, just get a good waterproof stuff sack like a SeaLine Kodiak Window bag or others.

How small do the down bags compress?
I have 2 syn and they compresses down to the size of a 1 gal mike carton. One is 0 and the other is 15.

Respectfuly Disagree
I was the full time logistician for our wilderness program for 3 years. During that time I had plenty of interactions with the folks at Wiggy. Although I will say that a phone call points out how “grass roots” the company is, they have always been more than helpful and will graciously honor their warranty.

They are a small time company and do not offer the kind of “No questions asked” policies that larger companies can afford to offer. If the damage is from abuse they will fix it for a reasonable charge…but I’ve always felt that was more than fair

i can get my 1200 fill down bag into a thimble.

Every time we have this discussion
it gets ugly.

I use synthetic 20 degree bag. In Texas it rarely gets cold enough to need the extra insulation of down, and because I do a decent amount of camping on the Gulf coast in Fall and spring (for my stepson’s cub scouts - I prefer to camp in the hill country), when it is humid and often damp, I want synthetic.

I would buy a down bag for drier camping, but can’t justify the cost with the usage.

Many will tell you that down bags become bags of death when you get wet, but synthetic isn’t exactly comfortable when wet either. I know a lot of people who have seakayaked with down bags and had no problems. This is one of those issues like “skeg vs rudder” that will elicit a lot of angry debate, but when it comes down to it, just go with what you think fits with your budget and what you want to do, and either way, when you have a sleeping bag that has a potential to get soggy, it never hurts to keep a “space blanket” type bag as a backup.

Thanks - great thread- here’s what I did
I wanted down after reading all this but to get a great zero or sub zero bag, I was going to have to pay two to five hundred bucks. I found a new kid on the block, x-fiber synthetic down. I am taking a gamble, but it is less than $100. You see I am saving for a gore-tex dry suit and this means I can get it sooner by buying a less expensive bag. I hope I like it

No problems with
my hollofill , syth. bag. Great for winter camping up here. Used to use a Down bag, but it seemed after the first night my breathing would make the bag damp and colder.

Since I got my new syth fill bag, I have camped in colder weather more comfortably.

Down, down, down…
It’s amazing how synthetics try and try to imitate mother nature’s best, but they fall short. High altitude mountaineers use down bags and suits, and they are probably more in danger of getting wet (from spindrift) than us kayakers.

Come to think of it, I’ve ditched many of my synthetics for trad materials: chucked my composite paddle for a cedar GP, my fleece hat and pants for a wool watch-cap and wool Swedish army surplus pants, and my polarguard bag for down. I guess the sealskin boat is next…

But whatever. Choose a bag that fits your price-range and sleep well.

Synthetics don’t last!
I use synthetic bags because they are cheap and less prone to moisture problems.

But they aren’t really cheap. Mine last about a year and a half before they lose most of their loft, and I buy another one. I have heard people can get 20 years out of good quality down. That will be my next bag. Plenty of ways to protect it from moisture, too.

I own a down Marmot
"Never Winter" that is good to freezing. It’s a great bag and packs to the size of a loaf of bread. I bought one of those cheap fleece Coleman sleeping bags and use it as a liner when it’s really cold. I always put my bags in a plastic bag so getting them wet is never a problem.

depends on what you mean by "last"
my 12 year old mummy bag with Liteloft is no longer good to freezing, but makes for a great summer bag now, and packs even smaller. it may have lost nearly 10 degrees © off it’s rating but has moved into another use category. it’s ratty but i like it and don’t worry about abusing it, and is plenty warm enough for when i take it out.

Synthetics don’t last

– Last Updated: Feb-24-06 3:47 PM EST –

If you tightly compress a synthetic bag to fit in a kayak hatch, it will quickly break down its loft. In an average of 30 - 45 days use the loft will be reduced to approximately to 55 - 65% of the original loft and then stabilize at this level. Since loft primarily determines warmth, a typical 20 F degree synthetic bag will average about 2 - 2.5" loft (thickness for the top layer) when new. After 30 - 45 days of kayaking use it will stop loosing loft and remain at about 1.5 to 1.25 inches of loft. Each reduced 1/2 of loft will change the temperature rating by about 20 F.

I challenge you to measure your current synthetic bag’s loft and see how close it is now to its original rating. If you don't remember the original loft, go to a shop and measure the top layer thickness of a comparable bag.

A good down bag will remain at about 90% of its original loft after about 10 years of comparable usage assuming you don’t store it compreessed.

Wiggs Bags

– Last Updated: Feb-24-06 4:00 PM EST –

Wiggy Bags - The insulation they use is Comfort Fill 7. It is the same as the original Polarguard Classic.

In summary it is extremely durable but not as light or compressible as the more recent Polarguard insulations or Primaloft. I think it would be a poor choice for someone who had small kayak hatches and wanted a warm bag.

Two materials worth mentioning
If ultra compactness and ultralight do not matter the most go seriously consider these two materials:

Polar Guard Delta and Prmaloft. Why? They both retain almost if not 100% of their insulative capacity when saturated. They also dry out very quickly, and have very good compressability and rebound, i.e., long lived when packed.

Like all products, down and synthetic, but especially for synthetics, simply do not over compress them and keep them stored compressed more than necessary.

I use down in a number of backpacking situations where on thru-hikes weight and compactness are huge factors and I can insure the down staying dry with a tarp and ultra-light bivy bag, but for kayaking, I go with a high quality polar guard delta bag.


“They both retain almost if not 100% of their insulative capacity when saturated. They also dry out very quickly,…”

WMI hypothermia experts disagree with the first statement and I certainly disagree with the second. While PolarGuard D may dry faster than other synthetics, I would never refer to its drying time as ‘very quickly.’

I hear this kind of sentiment about synthetic bags quite often but I’ve yet to meet someone who has actually slept in a saturated synthetic and felt comfortable in it.

I categorise these kinds of statments along with other outdoor myths such as; ‘The greatest source of heat loss from the human body is the head.’

Thirty years of adventure have taught me the value of down and the need to keep my bedroom dry regardless of its construction.


Down or Primaloft are most compressible
I chose down for my kayak camping sleeping bag, after having owned and thoroughly used at least four synthetic bags.

The thing not only compresses much, much smaller, it is way EASIER to compress. There is no comparison with other synthetics, with the possible exception of Primaloft. I have never owned a Primaloft bag but I do have a Primaloft jacket. It definitely compresses smaller and more easily than any other synth I’ve handled. Not quite as much as down, but closer to it than anything else. Price is still high, and there are many more down bags manufactured than Primaloft bags.

I don’t think wetness is a big deal, because I always stuff my sleeping bag into a compression dry bag anyway, and then it goes in the hatch. That’s two barriers against water, which is enough to gamble on.

Consider me a down sleeping bag convert.