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[cdt-l] synthetic versus down bags ...

As an advocate for "down" I'd like to add a few things. Over the years I 
have owned around 10 sleeping bags. The first 7 were synthetic. I purchased 
synthetic because that's what "everybody" recommended when I got into 
backpacking back east. I have heard the arguments for both, but can clearly 
state from experience that the first time you stuff a synthetic bag it loses 
loft from compression. After a couple weeks of use the synthetic bag withers 
into little more than a sheet.

On the other hand down is lighter and warmer due to it's loft to weight 
ratio. For those who are paranoid of getting their bag wet there are some 
precautions you can follow to prevent "wetting" your down. First, stow your 
bag in a trash bag liner or waterproof, not water resistant, stuff sack. 
Another option is to purchase a down bag with a micro-fiber shell or 
equivalent. However I do not recommend Goretex due to condensation problems. 
Also, use a tent that ventilates if you are having condensation problems.

On the CDT it rained everyday non-stop for about 2 weeks from Glacier down 
to Rogers Pass. Despite the rain and fords my down bag has never gotten wet 
either from condensation or direct contact with precipitation. I slept 
comfortably every night on the CDT with a 20 degree down bag. The trick with 
bag ratings is that you need to look at loft and ignore the "rating" because 
there is no universal sleeping bag rating system, or at least there wasn't 
the last time I checked. This means that one company's 20 degree is anothers 
45 degree. The loft is what's important and the ability to continually 
re-loft is even more important. Therefore I suggest you find the highest 
quality down possible.

Another tip with down is to use a bag-liner. A liner prevents sweat and body 
oils from compressing the down which affects its lofing ability.

IMO, down is less expensive due to its longevity and lighter and warmer than 
any synthetic product on the market.


David Patterson
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