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Meet our Director Basic info the promoter of the company. I was thinking about using eVent or HyVent material on both sides.
This should prevent moisture from passing thru the material into the down. It in theory would also allow for any moisture that did reach the down to pass thru the material when I hung it up to air and dry out.
Both are three layer materials which make them slightly heavier oz per square yard. Weight is not the primary concern. In an emergency this setup could be used alone as a bivy or an injured person could be put in the bag and onto a sled for evacuation.
One concern is this may lock in too much vapor. I normally sleep in just a base layer and vent the bag when I get warm. Clothes, and water bottles are kept in the bag to prevent freezing at night.
Leaking water bottle a potential but so far has not occurred. Your understanding of these fabrics is inaccurate.
Huh, what? In reality, these fabrics do breathe, albeit not nearly as well as, say, a base layer shirt or the lightweight shell fabrics you see on most sleeping bags today.
So when you perspire at night, this perspiration will pass through the inner fabric, into and hopefully through the insulation, and through the outer fabric, where it will evaporate.
Fabrics that breathe as such, even at a restricted rate, do NOT function as vapor barrier liners. A VBL fabric performs more like the 30D silnylon you are planning to use for a floor — it is waterproof but not breathable.
Personally, I prefer bags that use highly breathable nylon or polyester shell fabrics. When I first started using a VB sleep system several decades ago, it was a coated nylon liner, summer down bag, and a homemade bivvy sack under a flat rectangular tarp.
The combo of VB layer and biv sack keeps the sleeping bag or quilt dry and clean, even if you bump against a frosty tarp.
So, I have been reading that insensible perspiration does not stop with VB use. And I am reading that it can not be regulated, it is a constant.
Then does anything decrease insensible perspiration? For example, body temp? Can it be regulated by body temp?
Same if I sit outside on a coolish day: as long as I am not wearing too many- or perhaps any other- layers, I do not accumulate moisture inside the VB.
Same when I sleep outside in winter in my hammock, inside quilts, wearing my VB shirt: though I feel much warmer than without it, unless I add enough layers to actually over heat, I am not aware of sweat.
One exception is my feet. They are usually so warm I feel like they are sweating. As opposed to so many who complain of cold feet while hanging in a hammock.
I normally ignore it and just sleep with overheating feet. But when I take off the VB socks the next morning, though my feet do indeed feel toasty warm to the touch, there is usually no perceptible liquid.
It just feels super humid and everything dries very quickly. Now, I have produced sweat while exercising in VBs. So, I know what that feels like, actual liquid.
Why am I not finding little pools of water even in my VB socks after a nigh of sleeping with the feeling that my feet are overheating and actually sweating?
The provides to an extent a VBL effect, which Skurka has also written about and is worth […].
How about using a space blanket as a liner for sleeping bag? There is possible to buy it as a sack. It is very light. If needed, using lightweight pack tape, you can built in some cord for tightening around a neck.
We can also make a suit from the space blanket. Just using pack tape. Everything will be light, and cheap. It looks like it will not last for a long time, but maybe enough long.
In such a case, moisture produced by the body would not enter the insulation in the morning, the accumulated inner moisture could be wiped dry by a lightweight towel to then be frozen followed by a defrosting-by-shaking.
At least one side of the bag would need to be breathable, or else the bag would resist lofting after being compressed, or compressing after being lofted because a non-breathable fabric does not allow air to pass through it, so basically air flow would be limited to the seams.
This breathable side could not be on the inside, adjacent to the sleeper, since moisture would accumulate inside the bag against the non-breathable layer.
The breathable layer could go on the outside, and the non-breathable layer adjacent to the sleeper, but the problem here is that the sleeper would not be able to wear any clothing to bed besides a base layer.
Otherwise, perspiration would collect inside their clothing system, e. Given, Im still in round Naive. But sure — nano-technology will probably come along and make the above line of reasoning a completely irrelevant approach before I come anywhere near achieving an ultralow-degrable cold weather sleeping solution.
At least the down i invest in this little project can always be recycled into something actually useable.
Unfortunately for Mr. Here is my problem. My feet are always cold when I ski. I have had three ski boots and at the end of the day my feet are wet or dam.
I presume its due to sweat which makes my feet cold. Which is a better solution to warm my feet. Vapor barrier linings or hotronics foot heaters?
How will vapor barrier liners work in a ski boot which is totally enclosed? Thanks for your help.
Why not try out both your suggested solutions VBL and Hotronics and see what works best, if at all, for your feet? Nothing like field tests to move beyond metaphysical deduction.
Lofts well enough and weighed the same in the morning after I spent the night camped out on one of my balconies as it did when I hit the sack 8 hours earlier.
I tried it out on a night I had a flash fever from some flu-ish bug. I chomped down some paracatamol an hour after hitting the sack and sweated off the fever in the bag.
The night temp was approx. Yes, I was damp come morning — but comfy so. Far from proof of concept to be sure, but not too discouraging either.
A week in Svalbard next! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with those of us who are less experienced. I am currently in the planning process of making my own vapour barrier clothing.
Are elastic hems sufficient? Or should I be using a slip lock buckle to obtain a tighter fit? I thought a slip lock buckle or piece of cord might be a good way to go, however, I was concerned that I might reduce my circulation in obtaining and adequate seal.
How essential is this seal? Also, have you made yours so that your pants and top can zip together?
Or is this somewhat unnecessary? The suits are made out of a material called Tychem, which is Tyvek treated with some sort of gas-proof coating.
Do you think that would create any problems? They take a bit more time to put on than if you were to just slide into a mummy.
For a cheaper, silnylon DIY mummy liner buy a silnylon tarp e. Pretty simple. Weighs about grams. Typically, in a frozen environment, rain will not be an issue, but it can rain in your tent… more on that in a bit.
That being said, you will invariably fluctuate between being warm and wet to being cold and dry. You begin your day with a thin layer of polypro or wool between your skin and your VBL.
Throughout your day of exertion, you vent the best you can to keep your under layer comfortable and when you reach your camp, continue venting your VBL while you cook and set up camp.
When you wake up, you will have warm dry longies to change into. When you reach camp, you will have dry longies again.
Now the tent thing. I disagree. The tent is to keep you dry and out of the wind. Even without wet clothes, your tent will become wet inside if you keep it sealed up in an effort to stay warm.
Keep plenty of outside air moving through your tent, and rely on your fluffy dry insulation to keep you warm. When the desiccant becomes saturated, spread it into a pan and dry it on your stove during your snow melting ritual.
As long as the only thing that ever gets wet is your thin under layer, having a spare and a way to dry the wet ones will carry you for many days or weeks.
Andrew, do you see yourself possibly doing some things differently in retrospect on some trips and in some situations had you greater employed hydrophobic down in a sleep system?
In non-extreme circumstances, hydrophobic down may buy you more time, i. Maybe more on par with synthetic insulations? The exact effect will depend on the down and the conditions.
In conditions where I would consider a VBL, drying is usually not an option. Thanks for the excellent article. As a geezer, nearing 70, my hands and feet are sometimes cold whilst snowshoeing here in Northern Ontario and Quebec.
There is no question about it, using a vapour barrier is great and keeps the feet warm and insulation dry. This is only after 7 hours of show-shoeing.
Have you ever suffered from a similar situation? Any thoughts. The outside of a wool shirt-jacket may be white with frost, but it is drying.
When I was a kid, everyone hung their wash out in winter here. Sure it would come in frozen but it would have much less water content because of sublimation.
Is it from friction or moisture? Good point about the sublimination. You are better off preventing things from getting wet.
Andrew Skurka has a good summary of their use here. However, an independently unfortunate property of cotton is that it loses all insulation when wet.
I was interested in trying to incorporate your idea of a VBL to help extend my gear and reduce my overall pack weight.
Many of them come with front zips and some even come with side leg zips. Thank you in advance.
Aside from the noise issue, at least initially it seems like a good idea. Though I wonder if the fact that it reflects body heat will make me sweatier.
Terrible idea. Very poor durability. And as you suspected, it will trap all your perspiration due to it being non-breathable. I actually think MB1 was on to something, assuming some means on the sides he later mentioned event to allow compression, or the use of VB clothing or liner.
Because there will be little or no vapor or sweat coming from the body that needs to get to the exterior. As it will be stopped by the VB, or almost all of it.
I have been amazed at the wide conditions I have managed to use these in, especially since I lack pit zips and such for venting.
Just remove layers quickly! Or sometimes VB clothes. Though the SB is not a perfect VB since it might allow some moisture to drip down the side of the hammock, as it simply lays on top of the pad under the hammock, it has done a fine job of keeping the OCF pad and any added insulation bone dry from the inside.
Net result: dry and warm due to a VB outer and inner layer. Worst case scenario, on the coldest nights, has been a few drops of water at the low point of the space blanket, which might have been sweat.
But the insulation has been dry. Unless I have done away with the space blanket, which at least once resulted in the foot of the HH under pad and my bag being soaked with condensation.
Naturally enough, since the outer layer was a cold VB, and body vapor loves to condense against a cold, WP surface. But I can also see how that might be a big assumption.
There was also mention by Kate of sewing 2 space blankets together to make a sleeping bag VB liner. Andrew felt it would not be a good idea due to lack of durability and because it would cause sweat and trap all moisture due to not being breathable.
OK, I see that it would be fragile. But I thought the entire idea was to be non-breathable and trap any moisture that might occur vapor or liquid sweat in order to keep it out of the insulation?
I think as far as a VB function, it would work just fine. They last for years in my HHSS, but probably would not last long as a bag liner, as pointed out.
Thanks for reading! My experiences camping, Dec. And my sleeping bag stayed dry and light. Nice write up. I go out in nice, cold weather, down to twenty belowish F, for fatbike rides.
As long as I reach my destination or the end of my workout without incident, all is well, but I worry about crashing or having mechanical difficulties.
Your situation reminds me of my winter runs, where my output level is beyond the threshold for not sweating. My solution is to carry multiple sets of clothing e.
I was curious to hear your thoughts about VBL suit that the racing industry uses. Andrew, thanks for the in-depth explanation of the VBL technique.
I winter camp in northern Minnesota, so the temps definitely warrant a lot of thought on gear, clothing, and techniques of keeping warm.
Do you get so wet that your next-to-skin layers have to be changed each morning and dried out? Do you just wake up and jump into another change of base layers?
Do you get wet enough that you have to dry off with something? Or do you kind of just stay in a perpetual state of moisture?
Thanks for all the great info and responses! I prefer VBL clothing so that I can sleep with all of my clothes on and not have to change in the morning.
I saw some people are doing a work-out in a gym wearing a weight loss suit. Is it a good VBL suit for a wilderness? A very intersting article.
In some ways what is old is new again. The beauty of the Synergy Works system is that everything was integrated together. The pit zips on the shell matched up with the pit zips on the pile jacket which matched up with the pit zips on the vapor barrier shirt.
In many ways this was ahead of its time. In terms of developing a personal vbl system, would something like lighter rain gear work for a vbl jacket and pants?
Something like Marmot precip comes to mind. Relatively cheap and an easy way to try out a system to determine if it suits a person. Have you posted a gear list from your Superior Hiking Trail winter trip?
Since I carry waterproof clothing e. Unfortunately, it does not work this way. Thank you Andrew. I wanted something comfortable I could use for ten days, as a first layer.
I have a few questions. My application for this this sort of system would be multi day high output alpine climbing in cold and snowy conditions.
Anyway, if i was to include a full VBL suit in my setup, would that mean that i could overlook the use of a fleece and instead opt for a lightweight down jacket as my active insulation layer?
As such, i seldom wear any insulation on my legs while moving apart from some midweight base layer bottoms.
I could imagine a system where i do all my high output activities wearing only a base layer and a breathable shell layer on my legs.
As soon as i stop and find the need to put on my down pants or go into my sleeping bag, i could throw on a pair of rain pants as a VPL.
This could potentially avoid all the mobility issues that come with a lack of stretchy VPL fabrics.
I would appreciate your feedback on the subject. Yes, if you have a VBL top, the breathability of the fleece is irrelevant, and a low-profile insulated piece would give you more warmth for the weight.
I relate to this. Otherwise, leggings and lightweight shell pants have been adequate. To make VBL pants from a pair of shell pants, coat the interior with a PU-based coating, which will eliminate all breathability.
I found your use of a PU coating on the inside of shell pants very clever. The only reasoning behind using breathable soft-shell pants and a separate VBL pant is that i tend to sweat profusely in my pelvic area and often run into chafing and maceration issues.
As such, i will need to do some testing this coming winter with a pair of non breathable rain pants. One more thing.
Where is a good source for a PU-based coating like the one you describe? I have a training jacket from Mountain Hardware which weighs only 3 oz yet is non waterproof.
Im thinking it could make a perfect ultralight VBL top if i were to add such a coating to the inside of the fabric.
Many thanks. Why coat the interior of the pants instead of the exterior? Thank you so much for this blog post and your support.
I learned a lot on this page and want to thank you for that. I am writing you because I have a trekking honeymoon adventure scheduled this July in Iceland, and I care to be safe, comfortable and as prepared as is possible.
If you would please continue to be generous with your time and let me know if I learned as much here as I hope:.
Please let me know if any of this appears incoherent or naive. Thank you in advance for your time and attention! Eliminate the Gore-Tex bivies.
They will trap as much moisture inside your sleeping bag as they will protect you from. The MSR Dragontail is too much.
A double-wall tent designed for 3-season conditions would be a better choice: a few pounds lighter, and the inner tent will protect you from condensation that collects on the inside of the rain fly.
Big Agnes, Sierra Designs, and several other brands offer tents with similar features at similar weights and costs.
I appreciate the time it took to respond. Regarding the set-up you describe as overkill and it may totally be , I intended to use that for degree Fahrenheit weather either near or atop a glacier.
Historical averages for July: Rekyavik — 47 to 55 F; record low, 34 Akureyri — 45 to 58; record low, 34 F.
Normally you can assume 3 degrees per 1, vertical feet of vertical change. I hiked your entire route in , and afterwards traversed the entire island east to west.
Maybe I missed it, but I believe I read somewhere that once you saturate the microclimate inside your VBL insensible perspiration through your skin direct evaporation stops.
For sleeping when you are not generating heat that means the moisture level should reach a state of stasis rather than continuing to get wetter.
It also means less moisture loss, though you still lose a lot through respiration. I want to go snowshoeing in Minnesota ideally for about a week before heading to town.
What kind of shell do you use with VBL clothing? Should I stick with the semi-breathable Gortex shell I have, or should I get a shell that also passes no water vapor?
Would shell layers change if it was warmer and more humid, say just above freezing during the day with sleet? In really cold weather, however, you can get away with more of a windshirt because the snow is so dry.
Thank you. In terms of performance, no. Personally, I would use an older windshirt that has had its DWR scratched off; and a coating of PU would probably stick better on the untreated inside than the treated outside.
Thanks for the replies. Unless for some reason the coating stuck to one garment better than another? But I guess you could test a small area of the wind jacket and see if the coating seems to be working?
What do you think about using light and semi-tight rain-wear as a VBL? BTW, I have used oven bags in the past while skiing for my feet and …it works!
Modern rain wear is normally made of waterproof-breathable fabric. Even though the breathability is limited, it is breathable, and thus will not function like a VBL.
Fred: unless, of course, you get some totally non-breathable rain gear, which you can probably find and which might be inexpensive. VBs with fuzzystuff lining.
This has worked great for me. I think it has worked a bit better than my previous VBs where I used a very thin Longjohn layer of polyester or polypro against my skin, I think it is even more comfy.
Interesting article and thanks for the read! How do you manage the moisture from your breath when you are sleeping? Sorry for a little off topic but I soaked my sleeping bag last night in C weather feet and head area and came here looking for moisture management skills!
Regards, Kin. Respiration is a tough one. At one point I contemplated some type of breathing mask that would expel the moisture away from my gear, but never went through with it.
Overall, I think the amount of moisture is trivial, and it tends to frost up on the exterior of your parka and sleeping bag, making it easy to wipe off.
For feet, VB socks. For breath, much tougher, what has worked well for me so far is something known as a frost bib. I usually am in a hammock under a tarp, with a nylon ridge line above me.
From this hangs a piece of fleece with a head hole put your head through the hole, then the fleece hangs loosely between you chin and the ridge line.
Or, I have skipped the head hole and just more or less tucked it somewhere around my neck. The fleece frost bib was pretty soaked.
Obviously you would have to rig something for this to hang from in a tent, but the idea is simple. Just have a piece of fleece hanging somewhere around chin level, drappe over or tucked into the neck area of your bag or quilt.
Vibram has recently released an insulated ascent model. I would then pair these with Kahtoola KTS flexible crampons, and voila — a lightweight mountaineering solution for summer climbs.
Thanks in advance for your advice. A VBL lock with 5-finger design sounds extremely impractical. Hard to believe that something from La Sportiva, Scarpa, Addidas, etc.
It makes perfect sense that the suit would be better than the VBL bag. The synthetic quilt option is not a sustainable solution to moisture build-up in winter conditions.
It works for a few days, but it will fail long-term. Coincidently I have the green versalite and red hotsac. The feet area in the versalite still picks up some moisture with the hotsac as a liner.
A true vbl is needed for extended winter camping. Which products do you recommend for the suit? You might check out some of the cottage companies, some of whom are making rain gear out of sil-nylon.
Theoretically wouldnt a full neoprene suit work? Stretchy, waterproof, and many have a fleece or light liner already.
Of course it would probably be heavy as all hell but aleast youd also get some insulation out of it. Theres a few 0.
If you were wearing it all day and all night though would the extra weight really make that much of a difference?
So any moisture that gets into the material would probably stay in it. Seems like there must be some sort of similar material that could be used.
Maybe a custom made even thinner neoprene suit? Even 0. Maybe your active layer could be sized up thinking like a baggy nano air jacket and pants that you could throw over your puffy also when stopped.
Well there are a lot of different ways to get it done. VB shirt SWL. If I have a thin LJ top with me anyway probably do , that can be one more layer to go over the VB shirt for extra insulation, assuming it is large enough.
Or added down below to my hammock insulation. And I find it very comfy and low odor. What it lacks is vent options such as pit zips so hiking can really require a lot of VB skill for sure.
I do have their socks and gloves, and they work just fine also. They originally rated it at 20F, but a lot of folks said that was really optimistic, and I noticed their newer models at the same weight and size were rated at 40F, so who knows.
I always thought of it as a 30F TQ for me. And a fleece jacket and a thin layer over the VB shirt. Also wool socks and PG booties over the VB socks.
After a few hours, I added a torso length piece of Walmart blue CCF pad sit pad that I always have with me under my legs, to deal with a slight chill under my calves, but mainly to deal with an uncomfortable calf ridge that had developed- pad solved both issues.
No condensation! There was no other condensation inside the sock. No weight added to any of the insulation from moisture.
I was so warm I know I could have gone another 5 or 10 degrees or maybe more. A lot of folks complain of cold feet- as well as cold butt and back- in a hammock, even when temps are only in the 20s or 30s.
But my feet were over heating. I felt like they were sweating. I thought about removing either the booties or wool socks, but in the end I just let it go.
But, though I was warm enough, I was never this warm, even though I wore much thicker layers. Part of the problem was a lot of breath condensation on my Golite TQ near the neck area.
But I had never gone lower than 14F using my HHSS, and always had more added insulation below the hammock, and was never this warm. I credit part of this success with the HHSS over cover adding warmth on top, and also the frost bib catching a lot of the condensation.
However, considering how warm I was- top, back, butt, and feet- at my lowest ever temp in a hammock, I have to think that the SWL VB clothing was a big, big help.
In both warmth and dryness. I was also very comfy with no sensation of damp inside the VB, except for my over heating feet. As I understand the unlined versions have about the same insulation as 2mm neoprene.
I have no interest in promoting this fabric — I just thought it might provide a solution based on my limited knowledge about and experience with the stuff.
I also have some Aquatherm wader socks. I found them to be remarkable in my boots. I use RBH liners. So, what about the rest of the body?
I recently tried my first ultra race. I made it 20 miles and quit. Temp at my end time was 8 below. I was soaking wet. And I generally do sweat a lot and easily.
Everyone says to dress lightly to allow the sweat to evaporate. Not much luck at those temps and humidity.
I was soaked. Baselayer, second wool layer, puffy vest, and then a breathable jacket. I feel like I would be better off containing the sweat.
Maybe a light baselayer, followed by a full vapor barrier for upper and lower body. Do they make a vapor barrier for the torso and legs that would work for me?
Thanks so much in advance for any help you could give. Matt, 18 below Fahrenheit or Centigrade? Either way, wow, that is a cold bike ride!
And that point being: no matter how breathable, with enough activity I am going to sweat, even when it is very cold. Especially when carrying a pack.
Where we hope it keeps on going through our breathable layers into the air, but where it sometimes hits a cold spot and condenses into liquid.
Your example for all of that- even at 18 below — is a great teaching point. So, for me the question became long ago: which is worse?
Feeling soaked inside a VB as it contains the liquid I am going to produce anyway? Assuming I overheat and produce sweat, which is now even much easier to do with the VB?
Or to allow that sweat to soak- or at least dampen- my insulation? If the most important goal is to avoid hypothermia, the answer for me is obvious.
VBs add so much warmth that I find it extremely tricky to even walk during this cold snap single digits in the south without sweating.
I have been trying to learn the art of ventilating at first sensation of moisture, but it is tricky. But, regardless, I was never cold and though my skin was wet, my insulation was bone dry.
When at full output in temps of 10 below, I bet you could get away with just three layers: a very light base, a VBL layer, and then perhaps a fleece or very light insulation.