Holly’s in the kitchen and she’s just sung this, word for word: “I am Iron Man!, dum dum dumdumdum, da da da da da da da da dumdum”
There’s a tear in my eye right now.
Work was a dead loss today. Jimmy was bringing the boat back up the Clyde from Dumbarton after it being in the water for the first time yesterday, and that had to be assisted leading to nautical themed conversation (where I had to bluff like a mofo) at Bowling Basin with folk previously unknown, then cuppas, walking around the harbour with Holly and then an acceptance that the day was done.
So, I’ve been packing the gear for Monday (for that is the day we’re heading out). Rucksacks are fine, we had some trying-on and everyone is happy enough (I’ll do some gear stuff post-trip), even Craig the very tall reporter was sorted with adjustment set to “Stop Here”.
Sleeping bags though is a thing. I’ve got a lot of bags here, but they’re all filled with enough down that I know will keep me just warm enough. So, I’ve had to bring some golden oldies out of retirement that have a heavier fill so that the guys coming along who haven’t done this before will have a warm night at camp.
This has got me thinking about my own transition in what I use. I used to sleep in bigger bags, sometimes fully clothed and often felt on the limit. I went to lighter bags plus clothing and started to wake up to take clothes off to cool down, and now it’s light bags with base layers or less. I’m getting older, I’m not getting any fitter so what’s changed? The bags I’m using are better and lighter, the mats I’m sleeping on are lighter but not any better at insulating, so there’s no huge change in anything other than pack weight.
Is it confidence maybe? Have I subconsciously hit my camping “stride” and when it’s bed time I’m more relaxed and mentally in a happy place, or do I eat better, or maybe I’m so used to throwing on insulating layers when I stop that I’m keeping my core warmth better and a hot drink before bed stokes the boiler for the night? It’s probably a little of all of that, but some nights are still better than others, there is no real etched-in-brass scale for me to judge from.
So, this has me thinking about sleeping bag ratings. They really don’t help at all do they? I know I tend to look at fill weight and apply that to my own accrued data, but what the hell does someone looking for their first bag to carry into the mountains look for? What happens is they go to a forum to ask for advice and get even more confused/abused/depressed.
I can’t even think of a solution to this, it’s something you just have to learn for yourself, and it’s an expensive learning curve to ride your BigWheel round. As we’re looking to help folk with the idea wild camping, I really see this as the biggest issue from a gear, as well as a comfort and enjoyment perspective.
Anyway. I’ll be asking questions on Tuesday morning about how folk slept, how warm they were etc. It’ll be interesting to hear the differences, especially as a couple of the bags are rated into double minus figures.