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Posted by Michael Strahan on May 01 2006
Interesting post. Hereís some things to consider:
There are many companies offering a lifetime warranty on their bags, not just one. I agree with you on the importance of a good warrantee.
There are many reputable companies that offer such features at no additional cost. Two of my bags have them. As to the need of a light you might have a point if Bruce was hunting in early August; but he didnít say when he was hunting the Arctic. Thereís a six-hour loss of daylight up there between August and September. I find a flashlight very handy in the Arctic when I have 11 hours of darkness or so. Besides, you donít want to buy a bag for only one hunt, right? Letís get one you can use in the dark too. I want to re-emphasize the draft collar idea too. All three of my bags have them and I donít know how I did without them (I have two other bags without draft collars and they remain in the shed). Some collars have a draw cord that allows you to close off the opening and further restrict the flow of warm air out of the bag when you move. Talk about warm and toasty!
Why not an ďinnerĒ bag, like a lot of the fleece liners out there? Youíll pick up another ten degrees of warmth with a liner without a significant increase in either weight or bulk. You'll also eliminate the need to wash the bag as often; just wash the liner instead. Another trick I use is to simply wear my long underwear and socks to bed. That probably adds another ten degrees of insulation too. As to outer shells, itís hard to beat a bivy bag that lets you sleep outside or in a wet tent, or even spike out without a tent. Not my preference, but bivys certainly have their fans. At any rate, there are many ways of regulating the warmth of the sleeper besides adding another bag.
Lots of candidates here, including both old technology and new technology. It pays for buyers to check whatís out there in synthetic fibers. But the original question concerned down vs synthetic. I still maintain that synthetic is better for an Alaska hunt, and it sounds like you agree. I donít have time right now to fully explore the Primaloft discussion, other than to say that itís the closest synthetic fiber to down. Itís very light and compactable like down, is warm like down, but remains warm when wet (unlike down). Any claims of it clumping, not holding its loft, needing replacing, etc. would have to be looked at in the light of similar attributes of down. If we are making head-to-head comparisons with down, that is. Which was the original question. I would be really cautious though with making claims that the stuff needs replacing or won't hold its loft. Lots of argument there within the industry and user groups. Here's a link that says exactly the opposite: < http://www.thru-hiker.com/MaterialDetail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=MG124&subcat=Insulation >. Who knows? It's been around a while and seems to be pretty good stuff. I can't comment on it from the user end though. But I'm sure some here can.
Itís regrettable that manufacturers are all over the map with their temp ratings, and that there are no accepted standards to go by. Take any three -20 bags and I guarantee you that some will be warmer than the others. So just because a company advertises their bag at a certain rating is no guarantee that youíll be warm in that bag at that temperature. Having said that, I can tell you without hesitation that I have NEVER been cold in my North Face Dark Star bag. Others have similar stories about other bags, which serves to illustrate the point.
FITTING THE BAG
We agree on this one; fitting the bag is absolutely crucial. Thatís why Barneyís Sport Chalet offers customers the opportunity to try a bag on at the time of purchase. I was really impressed by this level of service when I photographed the process three or four years ago in their shop. Bob really stands behind his stuff over there!
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