Sunday, July 12, 2015

Burrito Bedroll Sleep System

It’s important to sleep warm when camping in cold weather. That means a warm sleeping bag, a good pad, and probably layering up your cloths when sleeping if temps really drop. That was my old plan.

I even carried (and still do) Hot Hands warmers for some extra heat when things are really cold. For a long time I also carried a SOL emergency (heat reflecting) bivvy to put over my sleeping bag if temperatures ever dropped significantly more than forecast. Then one cold November weekend I got the chance to test the bivvy...and I was amazed.

I was expecting temperatures to drop to around 15-degrees overnight; but that night it ended up going down to about 2-degrees. I was fully dressed within my 20-degree bag, with Hot Hands tucked in my socks, and perched on my Z-lite Sol Pad. Around 2:00 I awoke with quite the chill. I had a bite to eat, did some in-the-bag calisthenics to warm up, then tossed and turned for about an hour, just getting colder. So, I reached in my pack and broke out the reflective bivvy sack and put it over my sleeping bag. Within 15-minutes I was warm, and drifted back off to sleep.

In the morning, still hovering around 0-degrees outside, I was snug in my bag. I did notice that is was starting to retain moisture from the humidity of my body, because the bivvy sack did not breath. When I got out of bed, the surface of the sleeping bag frosted over and the condensation inside the bivvy froze. I was able to brush off the bag and shake out the bivvy; but that would not be a good solution for multiple nights running.

That’s when I picked up one of SOL’s Escape Bivvy sacks. It is not only heat reflective, but also breathable so it lets moisture escape. It also has a generous cut and a sturdy zipper. So, not only can I fit my sleeping bag inside, but also the Z-lite pad (so that I don’t slide or roll off of it at night). It is like stuffing a burrito. And just like at Chipotle, I wrap the whole thing in foil - using a homemade Reflectix ground cloth under the burrito bivvy.

The multiple layers of reflective insulation worth well together, so that each component provides peak performance. While the Reflectix is thin, it still keeps the bivvy off the ground or tent floor, and helps reflect heat. The Bivvy keeps the Z-lite pad in place and with the reflective surfaces, the egg-carton dimples in the Z-lite Sol pad insulate on both sides and really traps heat (without moisture). My 20-degree bag (survival rated to 11-degrees) now feels like a 0-degree or warmer bag. Now wearing more clothing layers to bed is less common, and an extra level of insurance - just like the Hot Hands.

All this war
mth and comfort for just about 4 lbs and less than $200: bag, pad, bivvy, ground cloth, and Hot Hands. Burrito style!

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