A new pieces of gear arrived this week: an inflatable sleeping mat. I have avoided inflatables like the plague for a variety of reasons, but finally decided to give one a try. If I don’t use it, Yak certainly will! Due to a foot injury (hopefully a quick healing one!) a hiking trip wasn’t an option this weekend. Is there anything worse than getting a new piece of gear and not being able to test it? So I decided to go with the backyard option. The temperatures were also perfect for testing the temperature rating on both the pad and my Feathered Friends Flicker. That is a crappy thing to test in the field, but perfect for the backyard. The pad is rated to -7C, and the Flicker to -6C and temperatures were calling for a -6C low overnight. Perfect!
I sleep fairly cold, especially my feet, so I generally don’t trust sleeping bag ratings whatsoever. My first bag, a Kelty Cosmic Down, was rated to -7C, but I would get cold around 0 or so. From past experiences with Feathered Friends bags I expected better, but this particular bag has a few complicating factors: it has no hood, the foot box is a cinch-with-draft-collar configuration, it is much too long for me (dead space), and it is a mens/unisex cut that I find to be a bit tight through the hip (compressing loft when I roll around in the night).
The Set Up
Predicted Temps: -6C
Actual Temps: -4C
Location: My backyard
Ground Conditions: Hardpacked snow covered with just a ground sheet
Shelter: XMid 1p fly only
Clothing Worn: Baselayer bottom and top, fleece sweater, hiking socks, hat, neckwarmer
Normally I would throw a foam pad under my primary mat anytime there is snow, but for the sake of testing the extreme case, I went without for this test.
I chose my clothing based on what I will have with me on the GDT should temps reach extreme lows. I went with the more ‘normal’ level of clothing, plus the hat and neck warmer because the bag is hoodless. I would still have my rain gear, puffy and mittens to add if I was cold.
The nice thing about working out of the backyard is that I can use ideal conditions: I was dry, well fed, and warm before I got into the sleeping bag. This provided a good baseline to extrapolate from.
The Nemo Tensor Insulated felt cool at times at these temperatures. I would definitely say this was about the limit on temperature for comfort for me with this pad. It was reasonably comfortable, but I’m not sure if the inflatable is that much more comfortable than closed cell foam to be worth the downsides for me. More testing required!
I was pleasantly surprised by the Flicker. This is the first time I’ve had it out in temperatures lower than 11C or so. My upper body was bordering on too hot (definitely could have lost the fleece), while my toes were cold. That isn’t unusual for me, as my feet are always the first thing to get cold. I found that the excess length was an issue, making the bag notably colder around my feet. I’m not sure if the foot box configuration played a part. It didn’t feel drafty, and the seal created by the draft collar is pretty good. The lack of a hood was not a problem at all. My hat and neck warmer were plenty warm enough. It was actually an advantage for the way I sleep too: I roll around a lot, and with my hooded bags that results in me getting all tangled in the hood as it sometimes ends up sideways or around the front. With no hood that wasn’t a problem at all. The bag is definitely tight through the hip for me, and I had to be careful with how I was laying in order to avoid compressing the down. It became clear if I did compress it, as a cold spot quickly developed. This has been a really solid bag for me, I just wish it were 6 inches shorter and a few inches wider in the hip!
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this setup in these temperatures. This is very much a summer setup and it was reasonably comfortable at the extreme end of temperatures I would expect under its use case.