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Old 05-05-2020, 11:25 AM   #1
WinterWarlock
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Sleeping bags...

I am pretty well covered for myself, but looking for a bag for my wife on her first potential backpacking trip into Pharaoh...what temp rating are most people using in spring/summer? Any recommended bags? She hates the idea of a mummy bag because of the confinement, so I'm thinking maybe either a Big Agnes, or maybe even a quilt...

Thanks.
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Old 05-05-2020, 12:24 PM   #2
DSettahr
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35 degrees gets me through the full summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day) and even into early September in the Schroon Lake region without any issues. I might suggest going a bit lower, though, for several reasons. I'd probably be looking at maybe something in the 25-30 degree range for her for summer use- there's still plenty of options rated to this temperature that aren't mummy bags and also aren't super expensive and/or heavy.

First off, women tend to sleep a bit on the chillier side. Make sure that you're looking at the appropriate woman's temperature rating for the bag- under the new standard for sleeping bag temp ratings, this is equivalent to the given "Comfort Rating," which is the rating at which the average woman will sleep comfortably in a relaxed position (the bag may be advertised with a general rating that differs slightly from this). And even after taking this into account, going a bit lower gives you a little bit more of a buffer (and less cause to worry about the occasionally chillier-than-expected night).

Also, Pharaoh is at a lower elevation than most backcountry areas in the Adirondacks. If you're thinking about also doing trips across the rest of the Adirondacks, a 35 degree bag is going to get... chilly in other areas that are at higher elevations by about mid to late August. I've had some pretty cold nights in my 35 degree bag on or shortly before Labor Day weekend in the past in places like the High Peaks and the West Canada Lakes. Not cold enough that I was in danger, but definitely circumstances where my comfort was lessened as a result of my steadfast refusal to break out my autumn bag until after Labor Day.

Also worth pointing out that the new sleeping bag temperature rating system assumes two things: That the occupant is wearing long john tops and bottoms, and that a winter sleeping pad is being used (even for bags rated to summer temperatures). Specifically, the testing to determine the temperature ratings is done with a sleeping pad with an R-Value of 4.8. So if she is using a sleeping pad with a substantially lower R-Value, it's good to assume that the equivalent temperature rating of the sleeping bag will be substantially higher. And honestly, if she doesn't have a high R-value pad it might be worth getting one for her to maximize her comfort at the beginning and end of the summer season.

You might also look at sleeping bag liners- these can add a lot of warmth and also extend the usable range of a sleeping bag at the beginning and end of the summer season. She may not like some liners if she's not a fan of the restrictiveness of a mummy bag, but liners can also be effective without pulling them up over your head. There's also fleece liners available that give more room to move around in.

I will also add that Pharaoh Lake is... kind of a good place to avoid in July/August, at least on weekends. The lake can and does occasionally fill to capacity (and even well above capacity every once in a blue moon), and it's also a bit of a party spot. I've counted as many as 85 people camped on the lake in a single night- it beats Lake Colden in terms of popularity, and I think it even gives Marcy Dam a pretty solid run for its money for the title of most popular backcountry camping destination in the Adirondacks. It is a big lake and it can handle a lot of people, if they spread out and if they behave themselves... but those are two pretty big "ifs" for Pharaoh Lake sometimes. Usually it's not too bad but I've had a few backpacking trips on Pharaoh where my experience was serenaded by regular gunshots (and also one trip where a group of ~35 people showed up at Watch Rock at about midnight and proceeded to party until sunrise, waking up every single other group on the lake in the process). Mid-week is usually better, but mid-week is also the domain of summer camps, so use levels may not be as low as you might otherwise expect. Summer camp groups tend to be well-behaved, at least... usually.

Anyways, my point in mentioning the usage patterns of the Pharaoh area is to emphasize that you might be well-advised to anticipate taking trips elsewhere in the Adirondacks during the height of the summer season, and/or plan on being able to visit Pharaoh on overnights earlier and/or later in the season when use levels aren't at their highest. Since both of these options warrant being prepared for potentially cooler temperatures, again, looking at something in the 25-degree range or so might be a good idea.

In terms of comfort but not related to temperature so much: It's also worth emphasizing being prepared for bugs in the Pharaoh area. Pharaoh has hands down, the absolute worst mosquitoes of the Adirondacks. Seriously, this cannot be understated. During the day on the lake, there's usually a nice breeze keeping them at bay, but at night once the breezes die down and they come out in force, they can be absolutely nasty. Don't skimp on the preparations in this regard- bug spray, bug nets, long-sleeved shirts, etc., are all good things to consider. If I'm base camping on Pharaoh Lake, I'll even haul out a bug house that I can set up on a ridgeline between two trees (a design similar to this one, without the poles). Because it's an easy hike into Pharaoh by way of Mill Brook, the added weight isn't too bad- and it's worth it for the added comfort of being able to hang out in camp without constantly having to swat bugs or needed a smokey fire going at all times. (On the plus side, Pharaoh doesn't have no-see-ums, at least.)

I know I make it sound like Pharaoh is a horrible place I will close by adding that it's absolutely a place worth spending time in. Even a "bad" campsite on Pharaoh Lake is still a "good" campsite by overall standards (if only campsites in the High Peaks were all so nice...). And Pharaoh Lake I think has some of the best backcountry swimming in the Adirondacks (just watch out for the nibbling fish... I think the sunfish have been crossbred with piranhas).
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:49 PM   #3
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One possibility is REI's "Outlet" section on their website.

Nice selection of bags in all manner of sizes, shapes, temp ratings, insulation materials and weights. I have purchased several bags from them - most recently a 0 degree Marmot for not a whole lot of money and it came with a compression sack.

My wife prefers a 4 season bag for every month except July and August. She has a North Face 30 degree bag for these months and a Kelty 0 degree for everything else. She sleeps cold - really cold - and this combo has worked very well. She will now venture out in May and September so it has extended her season and my time in the woods with her.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viking View Post
My wife prefers a 4 season bag for every month except July and August.
A close female friend of mine who backpacks somewhat regularly uses a -20 bag for any camping in the off season... Labor Day through Memorial Day.
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Old 05-09-2020, 09:02 AM   #5
Dave Bourque
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Over the years I've owned quite a few mummy style sleeping bags. As with your wife, I also am not fond of being confined within a mummy bag. I tend to shift positions while sleeping and fight with the bag as I do. I am also a very warm sleeper and tend to overheat even on cold nights. Typically I end up sleeping directly on my pad with the unzipped sleeping bag over me as a quilt. If need be I can always zip it back up and climb in. If weight is a concern, remember you can always put on your puffy jacket to extend the comfort rating of the bag. I actually look forward to those cold nights when I have to bundle up.
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Old 05-10-2020, 07:02 AM   #6
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One more quick note I forgot to include on my earlier post. May or may not be applicable -

I also hate the confinement of a mummy bag, plus I am a stomach sleeper with no chance of sleeping any other way. In the warmer months I most often unzip a 30 degree bag and use as a quilt. Plus, I can then throw it over my dog. (if you have never had the opportunity to spoon with a collie, I don't recommend it, but hey, he's my dog.)

For the colder months, I purchase mummy bags big enough to allow me to still sleep on my stomach. I am 6' 2" and 260lbs, but a long/wide bag will allow me to sleep on my stomach just fine - I just pull it up over my head with no issue.

Wouldn't do it on a backpacking trip as the bag ends up weighing closer to 5 lbs, but if weight isn't a huge driver this works very well for me.

Good luck
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Old 05-10-2020, 07:11 AM   #7
WinterWarlock
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Thanks Viking...appreciate your input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viking View Post
One more quick note I forgot to include on my earlier post. May or may not be applicable -

I also hate the confinement of a mummy bag, plus I am a stomach sleeper with no chance of sleeping any other way. In the warmer months I most often unzip a 30 degree bag and use as a quilt. Plus, I can then throw it over my dog. (if you have never had the opportunity to spoon with a collie, I don't recommend it, but hey, he's my dog.)

For the colder months, I purchase mummy bags big enough to allow me to still sleep on my stomach. I am 6' 2" and 260lbs, but a long/wide bag will allow me to sleep on my stomach just fine - I just pull it up over my head with no issue.

Wouldn't do it on a backpacking trip as the bag ends up weighing closer to 5 lbs, but if weight isn't a huge driver this works very well for me.

Good luck
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