Friday, May 1, 2015

Tour Divide Gear Preview - Sleep System

My sleep system consists of four items, all of which are stored in a 13L Outdoor Research compression drybag on my handlebars.
I chose the Miles Gear Bivy as a starting point in my bivy testing and never really moved on to anything else. I knew that I might not be comfortable sleeping in a true bivy, like a Titanium Goat Ptarmigan and my experience with a Nemo GoGo Bivy I own has been positive, other than some condensation issues. I considered the Nemo Elite Bivy but it had some downsides - the price was high, and it still needed guy lines and stakes to work well. I wanted something that I could set up quickly, in just about any conditions, with a minimal amount of fuss. The Miles Gear Pico Bivy is a hooped bivy, with the bottom made out of Tyvek and the top made out of DWR material. It has a bit of extra room inside, so I can store some gear, as well as me. It also has bug netting and a full rain cover. One change that I did make was to swap out the stock plastic bivy hoop out for an appropriate length of 12 gauge wire. It's only a few grams lighter, but it packs down much better than the plastic hoop does. The bivy weighs about 18 oz and packs down reasonably well. Definitely not as small as the more traditional "bag" style bivvies, but small enough for me.

As a side and stomach sleeper, I need a solid pad to sleep on. The newer frame based pads just won't work for me, and they won't insulate as well when using a quilt. The X-Lite packs down extremely small, and weighs 12 oz w/o the stuff sack. The women's pad is a little bit shorter, and lighter than the men's pad. As a bonus, it has a slightly higher R value. Even though the pad only goes to just below my knees, I haven't had any issues with cold legs/feet when using the quilt. 

The EE quilt is fairly light at right around 19 ounces and has proven to be more than warm enough in my testing. It may end up being too warm, but we will see. I've slept in a merino shorts and a t shirt at just under 40F and been more than warm enough. Using my down coat, merino hat, shorts and leg warmers, I should be good to well under 20F, if necessary. I have an older model of the EE quilt that has square baffles that allow the down to be moved to where you want it. That has proven to be a problem, as the down tends to migrate to the edges over time, and not stay in the middle where it can keep me warm. I'm going to redistribute the down where I want it and sew the baffles shut to fix this issue. The newer models of this quilt use a tube baffle design that makes this issue less likely to occur. I went with a quilt vs a bag to save weight, and also to make the best use of the weight being carried. I'm not laying on half of the down and crushing it, like I would be in a bag, and wasting most of its insulating properties. The quilt actually weighs less than the 40F down bag I was going to use. I have been packing the sleeping bag inside of the bivy to help keep it dry and speed setup. This has worked OK as I haven't had any real issues with condensation on the inside of the bivy. If the bivy gets wet inside, I will move the quilt to the seat bag, and shove the dry bag with my sleeping clothes in the front roll.

I bought the Klymit pillow after some talk with Mike Johnson (a TD 2013 finisher) and others about quality sleep. My original plan was to use clothes inside of a stuff sack as a pillow. However if all of my clothes are hanging up to either air or dry out, I'll have nothing to use as a pillow. The pillow only weighs 2 ounces and blows up with two mouthfulls of air. It has a nice hollow X in the middle to cradle your head and not put a lot of pressure on your ear. Waking up without a sore neck is nice, and it's worth the extra cost and weight in my book.

I have been packing a silk sleeping bag liner with me, in case I needed extra insulation or don't need the warmth of the quilt. It packs down small and might come in handy on the south part of the course, but I may leave it at home. New Mexico would be where it would be the most useful, but I can just sleep in clothes if the quilt is too warm.


Kate Geisen said...

I appreciate that you talk about where you're putting your gear as well as what you're taking.

Are you planning to primarily camp or do you think you'll do your share of hotelling?

Steve Fuller said...

My plan is to camp as much as possible and use commercial accommodations as sparingly as possible. Hotel use tends to delay getting on the road in the AM due to front desk staffing, splitting of room costs with other riders, etc. I'll get a hotel if the weather is truly dangerous or if I really need a soi.ld night of recovery sleep.