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Why don't sleeping bag manufacturers make the outer shells on their bags from the se materials used in waterproof-breathable jackets? Thanks for your time and answer. Steve Youngsville, Louisiana

Great Gear Guru: My hips hurt when sleeping on the ground, whether I've just humped a 60-pound pack or walked into my backyard. I currently use a Therm-a-Rest GuideLite sleeping pad. Do I need a new state-of-the-art pad, or should I just chalk it up to old age? Brad Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I own a Feathered Friends Swallow down sleeping bag with the regular nylon shell. I was wandering through the gear store the other day when I saw a product by Nikwax that was used to waterproof down garments, including sleeping bags. I would love to give my bag a waterproof treatment to keep the down perfectly dry, but I'm reluctant to do anything to my beloved bag in fear of daging it. What's your opinion of these products? Thanks Mike McLaughlin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

All-Knowing Gear Guy, I'm looking at buying a Marmot Pinnacle down sleeping bag and can't decide whether I should get it with the regular shell or with Dryloft. I enjoy sleeping outside (on a pad) when I can, and concerned about dpness if I were to do this over many days. Yet if I were to use it (unzipped!) in humid environments, I'm afraid a Dryloft shell might not provide enough breathability for the bag to stay dry and mildew-free over time. Any suggestions? Zach Isaacs Glendale, California

I bought a Marmot Massif XL sleeping bag because I'm somewhat claustrophobic and wanted a high-quality down bag with ple room. While it indeed has plenty of room, the extra space makes it far less heat efficient—it's rated at ten degrees and I'm barely warm enough at 25 degrees. What kind of liner would you recommend to add warmth for colder nights but not defeat the purpose of getting a larger bag? Neal Pratt Portland, Maine

My summer bag is an Integral Designs Andromeda Strain (40-degree, Primaloft); my three-season sack is the North Face Cat's Meow (20-degree, Polarguard Delta). Both are sweet bags. My question: can these bags be combined (summer bag inside three-season bag) to make a winter bag? Will I gain much, or will the inside bag be unable to loft up and therefore not provide much additional benefit? Thanks! Bill Stell Charlottesville, Virginia

I looking to buy a new tent for canoe tripping in the barrens of Canada's Northwest Territories. I expect lots of wind and rain so an expedition tent would be best. But what is an "expedition tent" anyway? Robert Guelph, Ontario

I camp in the desert in the winter when temperatures can range from zero to 90. My main concern is the wind, which can be downright chilling but also kick up sand. I'm looking for a tent that will shed wind and also not flap like the sail of a 12-meter yacht when it tacks. I'd really like to sleep without the noise. Can you suggest a suitable three- or two-person tent, preferably something on the roomier side? Chip Cairo, Egypt

I'm looking for a sleeping bag to use mainly for summer backpacking in the Northeast, something that's less than two pounds with a temperature rating down to about 30 degrees; I'd also really like a full-length zipper, so I can unzip the bag on those warmer nights. I've always enjoyed your gear wisdom, so I'm looking forward to any suggestions you might have. Kevin Boston, Massachusetts

I know you're not supposed to store your sleeping bag stuffed, but I need something to contain it in while I not using it. Will a garbage bag work, or should I buy some kind of mesh bag for it? Sarah New Canaan, Connecticut

I'm planning on hiking Vermont's LT, and because of past knee problems I'm trying to pack as light as possible. I've been considering buying the Mountain Hardwear Phantom sleeping bag, but I'm concerned about its down fill. Any thoughts? How effective is the water-resistant coating used on the superlight bags? Neil Westport, Connecticut

This July I climbing Mount Rainer. My climbing partners have told me that a synthetic bag is necessary because of the rain. They recommended a 25- to 40-degree bag. We are going light and fast, and plan on using open-air bivys, so I think a bag with a microfiber shell would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I not having any luck in my search for the perfect bag. I have stumbled on only a few bags that are synthetic and have microfiber shells. Integral designs makes one, but it uses Primaloft2 as its insulation material. I have been warned to stay away from short-staple fibers because the bags don't last very long. Do you have any suggestions? Mike Ads Newark, Ohio

What type of bag would you recommend for climbing Denali? Down or Polarguard insulation? What specific bag would you recommend? What about as far as clothing—layers, brands, models etc.? Would you recommend a full down suit? Or a down jacket and either down pants or a shell with layers? Bob Grish Boise, Idaho

What's the best and most reliable lighter to take on a camping trip? The top candidates seem to be Colibri and Windmill lighters. Is there much of a difference? John New York City

I'm fairly well equipped for three-season travel with a Lowe pack, Merrell boots, a Sierra Designs down bag rated to -5, a 3/4-length Therm-a-Rest, and two tents: Mountain Hardware's Glacier and the Slickrock from The North Face. But on a recent June trip in the B.C. backcountry, I pitched the Slickrock on a snowfield and the down bag got wet. What do I do to remedy the situation? Buy a synthetic bag, or a down bag with at least a partial waterproof shell? Buy a full length Therm-a-Rest, which keeps the whole bag off the ground? Get a person four-season tent? Where do I throw my hard earned (and continually depleting) gear dollars? Scott Nelson Vancouver, British Columbia

I'm in the market for a new sleeping bag and would like to give a down bag a try, mostly because of space and weight issues. I'd be using it primarily as my summer bag, so a 30-degree rating should be enough. Do you have any advice for a good down bag? Andy La Crosse, Wisconsin

What's your take on Backpacker's Pantry Outback Oven? Does the Outback Oven really bake well and also conserves fuel for cooking traditional grub? After a zillion meals of mac and cheese, ren, gorp, and dried fruits, the Ziplocs carrying the food start looking more appetizing then the food within. The idea of dining on hot cinnon rolls, fresh pita bread, pot pies, or (gasp!) brownies does make me wonder if the Outback Oven really works or if it's just another ravenous hikers delusions? Ed Beaudry Laurel, Maryland

My family and I enjoy car camping in Alaska's interior. However, as I get older, I'm finding that my back gets stiffer using my old sleeping pad and that my air mattress doesn't give enough insulation. What type of pad or combination of pad and air mattress do you recommend to minimize back pains, provide insulation, and allow for a comfortable night's sleep? Shane Juneau, Alaska

Greetings, greetings, greetings. I have a five-year-old down-filled North Face sleeping bag. I think it's called the blue moon. I've used it over 100 nights so far and I haven't washed it yet (I know). Anyway, I wanted to know two things. First, what is the best way to wash it? The inside is starting to get, um, for lack of a better word, crusty. I want to wash it myself as I don't trust dry-cleaners. My second question involves the fill. This bag is rated to 20 degrees, so there isn't too much fill to begin with, but now there are some "empty spots" on the bottom. Is there a way to move the fill around? Jeff Dobozy Lake Tahoe, California

I've been reading your archived responses regarding water-resistant sleeping bag shells with great interest as I'm trying to decide between down bags from several of the companies. After your initial (and maybe continued) ambivalence about Dryloft, I was surprised by your negative view of Epic. Especially since many manufacturers seem to have jumped on the Epic bandwagon as having better breathability. On what basis do you believe that Epic is "a condensation trap" in sleeping bags, and why do you think so many are suddenly using it if indeed it doesn't breathe well? Is it just a fad, too early to tell, or should I stick with Dryloft? I look forward to your reply, if you care to go another round on this topic. No Name Given

My wife and I will travel overland from Vietn to Turkey in 2003. We cannot decide what sleeping bags to take, as it will be very hot and wet in Vietn during the monsoon season, but cooler and dry when we are in Central Asia. Space, weight, and price are all issues. What do you think? Is there a light, extremely compact bag that will work when hiking in the jungle and also keep us warm in colder, alpine conditions? For the record, the tent we plan to use is a 1.3-pound mosquito net, with a fly and pegs if things get a bit windier. Andrew Darwin, Australia

I'm really getting into ultralight backpacking, and I hope to do a through-hike of the AT or PCT in the next few years. I do all of my backpacking in the summer, but my Marmot sleeping bag is too heavy (and warm). What choices are there for a light, compressible bag costing less than $100? If there are no bags in this range, would you recommend removing some of the down from my Marmot bag to make it lighter? Tom Bellevue, Washington

I would like to know what the difference is between Marmot's 800-fill Couloir and 600-fill Never Summer sleeping bags if they both have a rating of zero-degrees. I'm going to Patagonia in January and would like to know which bag you would use, although I'm not yet sure what elevation I'll be at. Hans Norton, Massachusetts

What's the best car-camping tent for me, my wife, our daughter, and, if he's good, a dog? We prefer two doors and an aluminum frame, but we're flexible. Henry Davis Willisville, New York

What type of sleeping bag gives better value-for-money, down or synthetic? Norm Cpbell River, British Columbia

Most high-end down sleeping bag manufacturers state that THEIR shell material is the best for both breathability and water and wind resistance. After reading the specs on all the different shell-fabric brands, I'm left feeling dizzy. A friend says that Gore DryLoft is best, but then other reputable companies say Conduit, Hyvent, G3, Pertex, or Epic is better. Help! Which one would you choose? David Sparta, Michigan

I in urgent need of a warm sleeping bag for use on an upcoming desert running race I entered in, the Marathon des Sables in Morocco. Although this conjures up visions of heat and sleeping under wispy silk fabric whilst warm winds blow, the reality is that at night, temperatures can plummet to freezing. I'm not too concerned about cost and need a bag which is at least good for about 32 degrees, and most importantly, LIGHT!! It has to be carried and raced with for over seven days. Please recommend waterproof varieties or appropriate techniques as it can pour. Dio Wong Hong Kong, China

My wife and I like to share a cozy sleeping bag while kayak camping, but we both own "pre-marriage" bags that don't zip together. What we want is one bag wide enough for two, made from synthetic material (since it might get wet), and with a temperature rating of about 20 degrees. Also, as we're both about five-foot-five, it would need to be on the short side. Is our only choice to have a bag custom-made? Andy Kirkland, Washington

I'm going to be spending a year working in Kenya and need to find a sleeping bag. I need to get a synthetic bag, but I want one with mobility since I move around a lot when I sleep. I don't like the constriction of most bags. It also needs to be fairly compact. What do you suggest? Paul St. Louis, Missouri

I'm looking for a lightweight, compact "kitchen" for holding dishes and utensils while car camping. Can you recommend some sort of canvas or nylon box thingy? Vickey Freedonia, New York

I'm looking for a decent sleeping pad to use when backpacking. Cascade Designs' Therm-a-Rest seems a good buy, but I'm not sure. Does the three-quarter pad mean my legs will be hanging off the end? Does that even matter? What are the benefits of the larger, wider pads versus the ones that fold in half length-wise? Matt Albuquerque, New Mexico

Any recommendations for a two-person backpacking tent big enough for a six-foot, five-inch, 250-pound camper? I already have a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight two and it seems a bit small for just one person (me), especially after more than two nights of foul weather. Jim McGowan Charlotte, North Carolina

I was thinking about combining my expandable Mountain Hardwear Galaxy SL sleeping bag with the maker's 40-degree Down Upgrade bag. What do you think about combining these two sleeping bags for a Denali summit attempt? Rob Boston, Massachusetts

In answering the question, "What's the lightest three-person tent available?" a few weeks ago, you missed by far the lightest candidate: the Stephenson WarmLite! It can weigh as little as 3.25 pounds and has 52 square feet of space! Dave SteinerNew York

I just read your reply in reference to a question about sleeping bags for a big guy, and I have similar question. I only five feet, ten inches tall, but I have broad shoulders. I trying to find a mummy bag that is roomy enough through the shoulder area to move in. Do you have any recommendations for good but not too expensive down bags like this? Tad C. Helms Tallahassee, Florida

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