Showing posts with label sleeping bags. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sleeping bags. Show all posts

Sunday, December 22, 2013

AM on Field Sleeping in the Winter

AM replies to Field Sleeping in the Winter.
You can buy the gortex bivy shell from surplus stores for around 40 bucks, and the green foam pad for less than 10.

That is the best lightweight option to survive a night. If you want to be comfortable get any sort of sleeping bag rated for what you intend to be surviving in.

Field tip, put the foam pad INSIDE the bivy cover and sleep on it. You won't slide off the pad in the night and lose your thermal insulation against the ground that way. 

40 dollar bivy cover:

5 dollar sleep pad:

30 dollar inner bag:

30 dollar patrol bag:

I put it up on the main page because he links to some pretty good deals. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Field Sleeping in the Winter

Max talks Combat Patrol Gear and Info which got me thinking about different ways I have slept outside over the years. So today I am going to discuss that topic.

When it comes to cutting weight (to leave room for fun stuff, booze or tactical stuff depending on the trip) a tent is one of the first things to go. While most people like the creature comfort that a tent brings and some depend on the psychological shelter it isn't really necessary. I like them for comfortable base camp type setups but they are solidly a want not a need.

First I will talk gear. We will get to how I use it later. Let's look at some different budgetary price points.

Searching the couch for change- A synthetic sleeping bag or a large WOOL blanket and a poly tarp or piece of heavy plastic sheeting like painters use as ground cloths. A foam pad is a bonus. You can find deals on new or gently used off brand SYNTHETIC (shell and fill) sleeping bags in the $60 or less range. If you are really broke search mom or grandma's basement and you can probably find a wool blanket though that is going to be more of a 'don't die' than a 'comfortable nights sleep' solution. Total cost with a bag is probably $75. Cost with Mom's pilfered wool blanket is under $20 but you are going to be sucking if it's cold.

(Note that I specifically said a SYNTHETIC bag or WOOL blanket. If you can't figure out why the el cheapo Coleman cotton bag we all have in our garage/ basement is not good for anything but sleep over's or summer camp I do not know how to help you. Either you are ignorant and should find someone to teach you or are so stupid you can't be helped.)

You have a few bucks to spare- A military ECWS sleep system and a nylon tarp or military poncho along with a sleeping pad. The military bags are not exactly better than civilian ones but they are hell for stout and come in at a very aggressive price point. You must spend 2-3x as much to get a better civilian bag. However in the ECWS sleep system the bivy is really the prize. Those things are awesome. I have slept soundly in them during torrential downpours and snow. On more than one occasion I woke up in a puddle but inside the bivy was totally dry. The sleep system comes with a light bag, a heavy bag and the bivy as well as a stuff sack or two. By mixing and matching the system is good for weather warm enough that you lay on top of the bag all the way down to 0 deg far or even lower. Think it's reputed to work to -10 or something. For cost they can regularly be had around $200-220 brand new and nicely used from $130-150. Of course better deals pop up but you can't realistically plan based on the $40 bargain your friend Jimbo got at a garage sale.

For sleeping pads lots of folks like the thermarest inflatable type pads. I am not one of them. The damn things always break. Either they get punctured or the air nozzle thing breaks. I use the older military green foam pad. They are not as comfortable but short of getting run over by a lawnmower or tossed in a fire nothing stops them. The foam pad is bulkier but it doesn't weight anything so I don't mind it much. Other foam pads are a fine option also.

In this category the best shelter option is probably a surplus military style poncho or the civilian equivalent. Expect to pay around $50 for the shelter piece. Total cost assuming a good used ECWS system, a foam pad and a poncho is in the $200 range. Figuring a brand new ECWS system, a thermarest and a poncho it will be closer to $300.

Price isn't a concern- Military sleep system or high end bag inside a military bivy. Two poncho's or a larger purpose made nylon shelter cloth like a Swack Shack or a similar product. Whatever type of pad suits your fancy. Price starts from $230ish for a used ECWS system, a swack shack or 2 poncho's and a foam pad and goes up from there. On the top end a high end North Face bag with a commercial bivy and a Kirafu shelter could cost as much as my AR. I do not see a reason to spend that kind of money unless you're flush and want to.


The only option that is very different is the cheapest one. In this case you need to pay more attention to moisture as the bivy isn't there to protect your bag. The tarp or plastic sheeting needs to be put up into a hooch or something. If you fail to do so (like just laying it on top of your bag) the precipitation that forms on the inside can soak into your exposed bag. That can mean waking up at 3am awful chilly with a wet bag you do not have time or the ability to dry out.

This option can work fine if you stop and set up camp in a place where you can make a shelter.

For the middle and higher end options. The big advantage is that the bivy gives you a lot of leeway in shelter setup as well as bad conditions. Most of the time if it's not looking like rain or it's a go to bed late, wake up and leave, situation I don't bother setting up a shelter. I just pull out my bag with the bivy on the outside, wrap my ruck and boots in a poncho to protect them from dew or whatever then go to sleep. When my gear is sorted out I flip the top of the bivy over my head then go to sleep. This is sufficient for moderate rain though it is not the warmest option or the best for lots of rain.

If it looks like the weather is going to be bad or I am going to be around for awhile and the tactical situation permits I do like to set up a shelter. I'll just rig something up using a poncho, or even better the Swack Shack with some 550 cord to whatever trees or shrubs are available. This lets me keep the cover of the bivy partway open (vs over my head) which is nice and I don't have to worry if bad weather rolls in. Also it makes for a nicer morning with all my stuff dry. Since the shelter blocks the wind and sort of traps some air it makes for a warmer nicer night's sleep. I try to build a shelter that is suspended high enough to be off my gear but low enough that it can warm up with body heat. Typically this setup is usually just high enough at the peak to sit up.

With a small shelter (poncho sized) I will use the second poncho to wrap up my ruck to keep it dry since the ruck doesn't typically fit all the way underneath. Granted the ruck is packed so everything vulnerable is waterproof but I'd rather keep it dry. While the 2 poncho option gives more flexibility as I can have a poncho with me and have my ruck protected someplace else, etc a single larger shelter is a more comfortable setup.

So that is really how I do it. It's pretty comfortable if you choose a nice spot.

What is your field sleeping plan?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Quick Shout Out To Old Grouch's Military Surplus

My recent sleeping bag order from Old Grouchs Military Surplus arrived. They called them excellent and as far as I can tell it is new. I really like these sleep systems and it would be an uphill argument to say there is a better option out there anywhere near the same price point. They raised the price to $100 but they are still availableCommander Zero noted they are now selling the new MARPAT ILBE Rucks for $100.

I also picked up one of these to keep the NOD and a few other key electronics in. It would be pretty handy for a variety of scenarios.

Old Grouchs Military Surplus are a company I just cannot think of anything bad to say about. Their products are priced below or near competitors. Descriptions which are significant in the pricing and utility of surplus stuff are conservative if not outright generous in the favor of buyers. I am always surprised about how fast the stuff shows up. This time they tossed in a P-38 which is a nice touch.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Old Grouch Surplus Flash Sale

Old Grouch Surplus is having a flash sale. They have excellent used USGI ECWS Sleep systems for $79 which is almost half of their regular (and competitive price). I wasn't in the market for one but at that price just cannot turn it down.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a good week for preparedness here. We got some flips snap diapers and inserts at a great deal in preparation for having a second kid (at some point in the future). Also I picked up a pair of backpacks at a great price and a 3 piece ECWS sleep system. I tried to purchase one of these sleep systems awhile back but there was some issue with the order and it was never processed. Also we got a 5 piece 18 volt Ryobi power tool set gently used for $80. It has a drill, a circular saw, and a sawzall as well as a flashlight and a little vacuum. Also I stumbled through our house finding half empty packs of batteries organized the batteries. An inventory found a couple deficiencies which got filled.

Wifey mentioned that it would be good if I didn't buy anything for awhile. As we don't want our balance sheets to look like Southern Europe I agreed.

Along other fronts I kicked the running program into gear going three times and also hit the gym. Wifey started making bread again which kiddo and I have appreciated. Anyway that is what we have been up to.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question Of The Day

Dear TOR:

What is a wooby? What is a bivy? Thanks.
-Saddle Tramp

Saddle Tramo, Thank you very much for the questions. I am consistently suprised about how rarely I get questions. I think part of it is that there is a very macho streak in many survivalists so that unless they will actually die (Excuse me but where do you keep the Israeli bandages? I have a bit of a gunshot wound and could really use one.) I like questions because they show me that someone is TRYING TO LEARN. Any time one person has the guts to actually ask a question there are surely 5 folks who didn't know what was being talked about and were embarassed to ask.

A bivy is a water resistant/ proof bag that goes over your sleeping bag to keep you warmer and dry in inclimental weather. Here is an example of one. They vary in size and exact patterns. Some are just a waterproof sack which goes over your sleeping bag and zips all the way up. Some have a small pole or two to kind of get the bag off of your head. Personally I can say the waterproof sack style bivy takes a little bit of getting used to; though the first time it really raint it is amazing how quickly you will pull the top cover all the way over your head. Unless you are truly clostrophobic (sp) I would say the ones with the poles aren't necessary. The advantage of a bivy sack instead of a tent is that it is much lighter. A bivy weights a couple pounds which is a heck of a lot less than most tents. Also they are a lot more compact.

A wooby is properly called a poncho liner. Here is a picture of them. They are a light quilted nylon/ poly blanket which is quite warm for it's weight and rolls up pretty compact (about the size of the big family sized Campbells soup can) They can in theory be attached by the little strings on the side on the inside of a poncho but I don't recall ever actually seeing anyone do that but I think it was a big thing back in Vietnam. In the last decade or so people just use them as blankets.

As the story goes they are called woobies because you would be cold without it. I bring one to every Army overnight trip I go on. They are great for slipping into your sleeping bag's stuff sack to make it a bit warmer or to put into an assault pack for a mission. In cold weather (below 35ish) a woobie alone will not keep you comfortable but it will be the difference between being somewhat cold and tossing and turning all night and slipping into the danger zone.

Also you have just until early Saturday morning to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Seriously you can get a whole bunch of free ammo for no money and a very modest investment of a few minutes of your time so hurry up and enter. Even if you don't have a good use for ammo cans you can just get a whole bunch of buddies to vote for you and win that way. Seriously enter already.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

We had a pretty darn good preparedness week. First we went and got a bunch of extra formula for Walker which was really good. We already had a stash but now it is a pretty solid stash. Next I put a small Gerber folding knife onto my keychain. I just about always carry a knife anyway but knowing that if I am out of the house I have at least one knife won't hurt. Next time I go to the clothing and sales I will get a small led light to go on there also.

After a lot of consideration I decided that instead of getting body armor at this point I am going to take care of a couple things that have been on the list for a long time and a couple recent additions to the list that we can just really use. I ordered a Bianchi 100 Professional IWB holster for my Glock 19. I really wanted a good holster for it to carry while I am home on leave. I have holsters (full sized Glock size) that fit the 19 but not perfectly. The difference between a real good fit and an OK fit is readily apparant in concealed carry.

When it comes to ancillary equipment for my AK I have been way off of my own desired levels (for a rifle like this 3k roounds and 20 mags) for a long time. For awhile it wasn't really even on the radar and after that it has been towards the bottom of the list. It has been on the list for awhile now and the ammo was even on this years New Years Resolutions or at least the first round of them. I should also be able to get a full case of 9mm JHP ammo by years end.  So I went ahead and ordered a case of 7.62x39 JHP Wolf ammo and 10 Eastern European surplus mags to round things out. I will go home and toss that stuff into an ammo can and aside from picking up a couple boxes now and then to go shooting not need to think about it.

Also I went out and ordered a brand new ECWS 3 Piece Sleep System. Now both Wifey and I have one. We have a couple other sleeping bags floating around but these things are a really good piece of kit.

I feel relieved to have the AK setup finally meet my own rather ambitious standards. Especially given that AK stuff is almost universally imported it gives me a lot of peace of mind to know I have a comfortable amount of ammo and plenty of mags put away. Before I had enough mags and some ammo for me to use but not much of a margin for field loss or helping a friend. Now I have that margin. Having another serious sleeping bag coming into the inventory is sure a good feeling.

I am going to let our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest go for a few more days as technological issues and life have put it, despite my best intentions, a bit onto the back burner. Seriously it amazes me how many people will gripe and complain about how expensive ammo is and how they can't afford it but won't put forth a little bit of effort to get a solid chance at willing a half case of the stuff for free. If you don't own any of the calibers you could stand to win (9/40/45) then enter anyway and sell or trade the stuff and buy something you want.

Also if you want extra special reader points (redeamable for all kinds of great prizes and trips) then please mention this blog to a friend, family member, gun buddy or like minded individual. Send them a link to your favorite post or just the blog itself or tell them our name and let them look us up on google.

I have some awesome stuff in store for next week so stay tuned. Got one in my head about staple cooking. Another one about chest rigs and gear. Maybe one about knives too. Probably something or another about money or home finances. Best of all you just might hear from Wifey.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I did a few things this week. Replaced my worn out sleeping mat with a new one. Seeing as I got it surplus at 13 or so and have used it regularly since I would say I got my dad's money's worth. Also had to replace my EDC knife. Through no fault of my own my Cold Steel folder left my presence during the last field rotation. Still fuming about it. Anyway I bit the bullet and replaced it.

Also took delivery of a nice new ACOG which I am really excited about. We went through our car bag and made sure it has what we want it to have. Got to make sure the stuff is current and fits your goals. Been plugging away on The Long Emergency and should finish it this week.

We got to watch Suze Orman yesterday which was pretty nice. Talking and thinking about money together in a relaxing setting is a positive way for us to air any issues we may have and  get rejuvenated about meeting our goals. Things are going well along those lines. Another paycheck and another principal payment closer to being debt free.

Got all caught up on email as well as reading and various other blog stuff. If you sent me an email and haven't heard something by now it was probably lost in the sauce so you might want to send it again. 

What did you do to prepare this week?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Army Sleep System

I got an email asking about the new sleeping bag with the bivy we are using in the Army now. Since I get to use this stuff at no cost to me in realistic conditions for long periods of time I am in a good position to evaluate it for you folks who would spend their hard earned dollars on it.

Anyway a bit of background. For a long time the Army used these big sucky green sleeping bags. They are equivalent to that big fluffy Coleman brand square sleeping bag we all used as a kid. They work pretty good if you don't have to carry them (they are heavy and very bulky) and they don't get wet (think sponge). Good for a sleep over in your uncles cabin but not for real world use in primitive conditions.

Enter the EWCS modular sleep system. This was a huge update in technology and unlike the MOLLE rucksack they didn't go just part of the way. These things really are a home run. Basically they consist of a light "patrol bag" a heavier bag, a Goretex bivy and a stuff sack. A wooby fits easily into the stuff sack and anybody with an iota of common sense adds one to their personal sleep system. You can mix and match based upon the needs of your upcoming mission/ trip and go with just the light bag, the light bag and the bivy, just the heavy bag or whatever combination suits your fancy. I am very happy that we use these systems at work. I have found them to be rugged, reliable and a great piece of kit. In particular the zippers are quite rugged. I have gotten them hopelessly stuck and through brute force unstuck them without them breaking. Seeing as zippers are a real weak point in sleeping bags this just goes to show the quality and durability of the system.

These things are fairly light, pack up compactly and work really well. The bivy is good for keeping dry unless you are sleeping in standing water or there is a truly torrential downpour. Have a poncho to toss over your backpack/ boots and for traveling light a tent is not needed. With the thin bag and a woobie it is very compact and for me comfortable to 30ish. With the heavy bag I've slept soundly, without waking up freezing in the middle of the night, down into the single digits (F).

[The ratings for sleeping bags seems to have little to do with a comfortable nights sleep and are more about not freezing to death. Kind of like how a 3 foot wide tent is rated to sleep two people (if they REALLY like each other in a grown up sort of way). Knowing if a bag rated to 20 degrees is good to 20 or 30 or even 40 degrees for YOU is something that must be found out for yourself. I don't think this system is good to -10F.]

As for the more nebulous question of if they are worth purchasing for you guys and gals. That depends a lot on the cost. I have seen these systems for sale brand new for a few hundred dollars. At that price it would be a hard sell for me. The camouflage bivy is probably the most important single component. Getting one of them and putting it over a quality mummy bag of any color which you already own that is suited to your area would work fine. If you live in ridiculously cold Alaska or Minnesota then getting a heavier sleeping bag would be a must anyway. However if you look around finding one, just be sure it is in good condition and truly Mil Spec not a far inferior knock off, for under $200 doesn't seem difficult. I found 3 for $150 in under 2 minutes. If you are in the market for a sleeping bag you would be a fool not to buy one of these. To put my money where my mouth is getting a complete one of these systems for each member of our family is in my long plans.
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