Thoughts on Winter Gear – Part 2

This post deals with my thoughts on sleeping systems and by typing this, it helps me distill my thoughts so I will make the right decision – I hope !  As always I am glad to hear reader’s comments.

My criteria is

1. Good users reviews

2. Good value

3. Does not add significantly to weight compared to my existing system.

4. Ideally British designed (and manufactured) if possible, but not vital. I just like to support British companies and we do design some of best gear, even if we don’t always make it here now !

My current system is an Alpkit Pipe Dream 400 down sleeping bag and a  Themarest Prolite mat.

Alpkit PipeDream 400 with Thermorest Prolite

This combination to my mind is lightweight, packs down to a good size, good value and does the job to give a comfortable and warm night’s sleep.  As I said in my previous post, I have not been out in any serious way past early November, so this has proved more than satisfactory for the temperatures encountered.

To my mind there are several ways that I could go – using existing gear, purchase some additional items to boost the rating and finally looking at purchasing a winter bag or quilt.

Extend the season of my current sleeping system.

The Pipedream 400 is rated down to -3 degrees and weighs 750g,  I could add to this in several ways

1. Wear my PHD Minimus Jacket in the sleeping bag ( I will take this anyway so I am adding no weight)

2. Buy PHD down trousers – cost £142  and weighs 280g to wear with Jacket.

I not certain what this will add to the sleeping bag rating, but I am making the assumption of an extra 5 degrees – to bring it down to -8 degrees

3.  Buy a lightweight foam mat , such as Multimat Adventure cost £19.99 weighing 175g to go under my Prolite mat.

Additional cost £161.99.

Additional weight 455g

Buy new sleeping bag for winter period

I think that a bag with a rating of between -8 and -10 degrees along with the mat system should be enough for most nights.

Three sleeping bags look likely options:

Alpkit Pipedream 600 – priced at £150.00, weighing 950g – currently out of stock (seems to happen a lot!). Could use my eldest son’s one ( I got him one two year’s ago for a school trip to the Peruvian Andes).

PHD Minimus 500 – priced at £282 weighing 785g

Cumulus Quantum 450 – priced at £264 weighing 770g

Additional costs of between £150-282

Extra weight with addition of Multimat is 170g and 185g with the Cumulus and PHD respectively.  With the Alpkit bag option an extra 375g.

Look at a different sleeping system such as a Quilt system

Two products have caught my eye:

I am interested in looking at the Themarest system utilising the Prolite mat on top of a Multimat Adventure with the Haven top bag. The Haven bag is rated down to -6, weighs 624g and costs £144.49.

This is interesting, as it is lighter than my existing bag and movement within the quilt will less restricted.  The rating is not quite what I ideally what, but I guess the wearing of a down jacket would make up for this. I would probably need to add at 185g, the sleeping sheets that fix on to the Prolite mat to make the system more comfortable.

The total extra weight compared to my existing system would be 234g and cost £184

Golite 20 degree Quilt

A good write up on Hendrick’s blog on this. The quilt is rated at -7 degrees and weighs 561g.  But at present, no-one UK and Stateside seem to have stock of this product. Bit concerned about the unknown on Quilt sleeping systems. What I may do is to look at a Quilt system for lightweight summer use . I understand that there will be an interesting new range from Themarest next year.  If this is right for my needs, I will look at this system for colder weather at a later date.


Having reviewed things in my mind, the option which makes most sense to me at present is to purchase the Cumulus Quantum 450. This is a bit lighter than my existing bag and all I will carry extra is 175g for the Multimat Adventure.

The PHD bag also is a good option as it is similar weight to my existing bag and is designed and made in Britain.

All I need now is to figure, how to carry the mat as it will take up extra space. This will be discussed in my next post – Backpacks for winter use.

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18 Responses to Thoughts on Winter Gear – Part 2

  1. Blogger Zed says:

    Enclosing a summer bag in a bivy bag, even though inside a tent, is a long-standing tactic. It adds both warmth and protection from heavy dews. The warmth mainly results from keeping cold air away from the sleeping bag’s outer surface. My epic/silnylon bivy bag is very soft so no compromise to comfort. However, this isn’t going to be a cheap option, so…

    Silk liner bags add warmth and keep a down bag cleaner for longer. You could even wear muddy clothes inside your best sleeping bag with little worry. Personally, I’ve stopped using mine as I tend to get in a bit of a tangle, but the cost can be very reasonable.

    I have converted to a synthetic quilt for summer and have considered something from Jacks R Better for winter, but I would nearly always use a winter quilt inside a bivy bag because of the draft issue.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I have discounted a liner – I was looking at the Sea- Summit range, but I know I will get tangled up in it. I have a very simple bivvy bag from Alpkit, so that may be useful. Thanks for the info on Jacks R Better – I will have a look at that.

  2. blogpackinglight says:

    Just to put a spoke in the wheel here, my Cumulus Quantum 350 was quite a bit heavier than the advertised weight at 727g, vs 665g on web site, so get someone to weigh the bag before you buy! The Quantum is a lovely bag BTW. Alpkit and PHD seem to be very accurate on weights.

    Needlesports sell some thin tent underlay which I use 1.5m x 0.5m weighs 112 g and significantly boosts the warmth of inflatable mats (you will have to buy 1.5m x 1.0m and cut it in half).

    You could also wear polartech fleece leggings rather than down trousers. They may not be quite as warm but they are better under your body and can double up under overtrousers and are a lot cheaper.

    • Robin and Martin, thanks for your thoughts. I guess the options are a some what warmer bag than I have versus just adding extra down/fleece clothing to the existing bag. I still think I will need some extra insulation under my existing mat. I know both of you have the POE mat. Will you be taking that mat out this winter on its own ? or adding to it or taking an Exped ?

      Robin will you use your 350 right through the winter ?
      Sorry for all the questions !

  3. Martin Rye says:

    Fleece trousers and a cheep mat under your current one. Wear the down Jacket on cold nights in the bag. Again how many really cold night below -7 will you be out in? I expect not many. If it is -18 to – 20 you wont want to be out in it.

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    I have a Golite quilt Mark and its all I use all year round. Mine is the old version and I can verify it will go down to -7deg C (mat depending of course) and only 520g. I have heard the newer version is heavier and not rated as low? I wouldnt go back to a sleeping bag now that I have sampled a quilt. Its not to everyones taste but I really love it

    As to extending your current bag. Optimise the sleeping mat which you have mentioned. Try a few tricks like putting a reflective “space blanket” under your current mat, use a bivvy bag cover and put items of clothing on or over you

    I personally use a Gossamer Gear thinlight most of the year with an additional torso piece of foam for deep winter, sometimes its the duomat from my OMM sack.

    With regards to clothing I dont ever wear down in the quilt as it tends to get squashed so I usually use my down jacket as a throw either over my feet area or over my torso depending on how cold it is.

    Experimenting is the best way of finding out and if you are not sure take extra bits just in case. Its a matter of trial and error and sometimes it really is an error!

    My winter set up is the golite quilt (520g), plus GG thinlight (150g), GG nightlight torso pad (100g) MLD soul bivvy (200g). The bivvy is a combination of back up for tent failure as well as an extra layer for draught perevention. Combine with a “throwover” of my evening Montane antifreeze jacket (400g) and this has kept me warm and sane down to -9deg C but I do tend to sleep warm not cold

  5. Some sound advice – thanks. The cost of all the new kit may mean I will start the experiment route. I have to pay for the Soulo first ! and then I need a winter back pack. I will not get all my winter gear in my Jirishanca. I will see how much money I have left 🙂

  6. Mark Roberts says:

    I have the new version of the Golite quilt – it is indeed a little heavier, but I was under the impression that as well as improving the materials they also added more down.

    I like the quilt, but I’m not really sure I’d like to use it in winter. I love the idea of a quilt, but at least where I tend to go (lots of snow and temps in the -20s) I prefer to snuggle up in a sleeping bag. For me quilts are more beneficial in summer (especially quite cold summers), although I know others use them all year around. I have a WM Antelope for winter, a multimat, and an inflatable on that (I’ve not tried the Ether Elite in winter yet).

    Does anyone use down hoods in winter? I was thinking of getting one to complement my sleeping bag and/or quilt.

  7. Mark – I think that if I try a quilt I will like the freedom of movement in them for summer use compared to a sleeping bag.
    I have used the detachable hood from my PHD Down jacket with my Alpkit Pipe dream 400 sleeping bag – as the hood is not that great on this. I found it a bit warm, but on a cold night I am sure it would make for a comfortable nights sleep.

  8. Mark Roberts says:

    Absolutely. For summer use I love the quilt. For winter I might try the down hood as I never really get on with the hoods on mummy bags.

  9. blogpackinglight says:

    I will probably use my Quantum 350 but supplement it with a jacket and fleece trousers. I think the POE Ether Elite should be OK with a thin foam mat beneath it.

    I’ve also got a Pipedream 600 and an Exped Downmat 7, which I will use at base, but I would consider if it was very cold (but it’s unlikley that I will doing anything in Dec/Jan)

  10. Hi Robin I think having a comfortable nights sleep is important. So I would agree that having a extra mat or clothing can make all the difference. I like the pack size and weight of Poe mat. Good reviews so far.

  11. -maria- says:

    I know some people combine a three-season sleeping bag with a summer sleeping bag to create a winter bag. That of course requires that one them is not a tight mummy style bag!

    I wonder whether you could use your existing bag with a summer quilt? I really don’t know if that would work ok, and I’m not a specialist on this, but just a thought. I mean if you are interested in buying a summer quilt anyway.

  12. Maz says:

    My 3-season bag is a Western Mountaineering Summerlite – rated down to 0C – which I can supplement with my Patagonia Nano-Puff or, in really cold temperatures, a PHD Ultra or similar. I am by no means convinced I, for example, need a -7C rated bag at the moment. If I were, I would strongly consider the WM Ultralite which weighs in at 820g (but my Summerlite was heavier than the advertised weight). Martin makes a good point – how frequently are you going to be in temperatures that low anyway? Is it worth spending money on a serious bag which you use once or twice in a 2-3 year period…?

  13. Hendrik says:

    I’d first test what you have and then buy. If you’re serious about a quilt, check out Katabatic Gear as they make some fine quilts as well.

    The combo Maria suggests is good, Jörgen from Fjäderlätt used a synthetic quilt over a down quilt last winter down to -18°C. Syn over down is important, as then the dew point lies in the syn quilt and you keep your down gear dry.

    I use a Klättermusen Hodded Pullover (Loke) in my quilt, with great benefit. It adds a few degrees to the rating and provides me with a nice hood, and it is just nice to wake up in the morning and be immediately warmly dressed! I also find a bivy excellent to add a few degrees and protect from drafts & blown snow/ rain.

    btw, my Multimat Adventure, after taking out the metal rings, is 130 g.

    • Hendrik – I am coming to the conclusion from yours and others comments, that I need to experiment a bit before I buy. I like the idea of quilts and again you posted a good review on the Golite. Maria’s idea is a good one, but I cannot seem to find a summer quilt to put around my sleeping bag as the sites I have found are onto winter stock – for obvious reasons I guess. I will look at the Katabatic Gear site.

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