Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

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Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Fernn » Mon 20 Jan, 2020 10:41 pm

Hi all

I'm have a dilemma in finding a sleeping bag I feel comfortable purchasing. I'm vegan and won't purchase anything using down. On the other hand, I'm predominantly vegan for environmental reasons, so I'm also not too keen on purchasing a synthetic sleeping bag either (i.e. plastics/micro-plastics).

Are there any alternatives to these two options? Maybe a small aussie business that creates sleeping bag fill from a nature material or something? Done some research and searched through this group to no avail.

Any recommendations would be amazing. Cheers!
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 6:39 am

Well the old alternative is a blanket or in cold weather a multitude of blankets. Blankets are heavy and bulky and a sleeping bag using wool insulation equal in temperature rating to a 1 kilo down bag would be many times the weight and cost. There were some silk filled sleeping bags a while ago but silk involves the killing of millions of silk-worm grubs so I assume that would also be not vegan
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 7:15 am

50 years ago I had a kapok filled sleeping bag. Kapok comes from a tree so may suit vegans. No idea if it is harvested sustainably or not.

All I remember of the bag was it was bulky and heavy. It didn't compress and practically filled the whole rucksack. I don't remember being cold in it but it was a long time ago.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby timh » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 7:18 am

Wool, apart from being heavy, isn't vegan either. Sheep aren't really treated that well, don't google mulesing. Seriously, don't.

I'd suggest going with a good quality synthetic and keeping it for a long time to minimise it's impact, then disposing of it thoughtfully when required.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 7:24 am

There is DuPont Sorona but I have no real working experience in it although ALDI do use it in ski clothing
https://www.picture-organic-clothing.co ... nt-sorona/
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby slparker » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 9:17 am

You are faced with choosing the lesser of many evils, there is no paragon to choose from.

Second hand synthetic or new synthetic made from recycled polyester fill is probably your most ethical option. Second hand always has is the prima facie best case for sustainablity.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Franco » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 9:31 am

"Sorona is a polyester microfiber made of 37% plant-based component (corn glucose)".
is that over 1/3rd guilt free ?
my first sleeping bag (50 years ago) was made of camel hair. One of the names for sleeping bag in Italian still is "sacco a pelo" (hair bag)
I see that Vaude has/had some clothing made using kapok for insulation.
I understand it was used before down and then synthetic started to be more commonly available.
There was a very funny thread at a now defunct forum about making a quilt out of kapok.
After many lofty (!) claims (cheaper/lighter/longer lasting...) the project was abandoned because it would have been too bulky/heavy for backpacking.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 9:49 am

Over on BushcraftUSA we did a thought experiment on duplicating a winter sleeping bag using all natural fibres and wool insulations, it was interesting to say the least, big heavy and very expensive but kapok was never mentioned although cat tail fluff was. There is a kapok tree in the Melbourne Botanical gardens if anybody wanted to experiment. However the worlds best insulation is both natural and ethically sourced. Eider down is hand collected; it is very very expensive.
https://icelandicdown.com/
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/ ... eider-duck
https://www.nordicstore.com/collections ... nd-pillows
https://www.plumeriabay.com/comforters/ ... s-ecq.aspx
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Nuts » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 12:19 pm

A friend has a bag made with that wild sourced goose down. I know it doesn't eliminate the ethical dilemma but may be the most environmentally friendly/animal neutral source. And the weight savings of down are still the benchmark for most walkers.

Then there are companies using recycled 'eco' fill: https://www.marmot.com/trestles-elite-e ... gs#start=1 but then it all still ends up as micro waste.

I'm not aware of an Aussie company offering anything, at least where the source or mill is also aussie, and exotic fibres could do long transport miles.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Drew » Thu 23 Jan, 2020 8:20 pm

Even if you found a natural, non-animal sourced file material, you'd still have the shell to figure out - they're all made of synthetic materials because that's what performs well at a low weight.

Whether it's down or synthetic a second hand bag is likely theost sustainable way to go.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby crollsurf » Fri 24 Jan, 2020 12:57 pm

There are companies that source "ethical" Down. Not sure what that means and if that could be an answer.
Also if you already have clothing that will keep you warm while sleeping, you could just forget about even bothering with a sleeping bag.
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Franco » Fri 24 Jan, 2020 1:10 pm

And what are those clothing that can keep you warm whilst asleep made of ?
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby skibug » Fri 24 Jan, 2020 2:38 pm

Fernn wrote:

"Hi all

I'm have a dilemma in finding a sleeping bag I feel comfortable purchasing. I'm vegan and won't purchase anything using down. On the other hand, I'm predominantly vegan for environmental reasons, so I'm also not too keen on purchasing a synthetic sleeping bag either (i.e. plastics/micro-plastics).

Are there any alternatives to these two options? Maybe a small aussie business that creates sleeping bag fill from a nature material or something? Done some research and searched through this group to no avail.

Any recommendations would be amazing. Cheers!"

I'm interested in your other equipment choices - particularly tent, but also pack, mat, cooking equipment and clothing, to name just the "big" pieces. Although I admire your ethics, I can't imagine many modern camping items fall into the "environmentally friendly" category (Ironic, I know!) - plastics, synthetic fibres, fossil fuels used in stoves, the carbon footprints of production and distribution, etc. Not to mention the travel to any camping venue is CO2 producing as well.

Not trying to be critical - just pointing out that anyone living in Western society today is responsible for negative environmental outcomes, and camping is just another environmentally damaging activity - though in general, low on the scale compared to 4 wheel drivers, waterskiers, any type of motor sport, anyone using an aircraft, skiing - even golf ( https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... gainstgolf )!

Back to your question - there are canvas, cotton-fill bags on the market, eg. https://www.snowys.com.au/cotton-canvas ... ookies=yes , though even cotton has huge environmental impacts - but at least is technically vegan.

Good luck,

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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Fernn » Fri 24 Jan, 2020 9:29 pm

Thanks all for your contributions! At this stage it's looking like second hand will be the way to go. Will be looking into all the links provided here too.
'Ethically' sourced down is a very debatable topic, I just want to avoid the animal industry altogether.

And Skibug - totally get it. I think it's really important to be critical! Currently a sleeping bag is all I require because I already owned all my gear before I went vegan. My (very) old sleeping bag has gone beyond repair. When it comes round to needing to replace other gear, I'll tackle it as I go. It can be incredibility difficult to get something that ticks all the 'environmentally friendly' boxes. As a consumer, it's good to put my money to businesses that support the same views that I have. And be local. But it's just not always attainable, like in this situation, in which I'll go second hand. It also takes lots of research and time to build a knowledge base on what is actually 'environmentally friendly' especially in a culture where there are a lot of big businesses dominating that narrative. It's never really black and white

Cheers again everyone for all the info!
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby crollsurf » Fri 24 Jan, 2020 10:02 pm

Tell us how it goes fernn. Vegan or not, most us are looking at better ways of minimizing our footprint.

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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Heremeahappy1 » Sat 25 Jan, 2020 2:56 pm

"Vegan or not, most us are looking at better ways of minimizing our footprint."

+1
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Re: Alternatives to down and synthetic sleeping bags?

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 25 Jan, 2020 3:56 pm

crollsurf wrote:Tell us how it goes fernn. Vegan or not, most us are looking at better ways of minimizing our footprint.

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+2
I have always thought that one of the better ways to minimise our footprint was to buy good quality and use it until it wore out. It is very tempting tho to trade up to something better and half the weight. I guess a lot depends on how cold the temperatures at which you will be sleeping and how much weight and bulk you are prepared to carry. A cotton shelled wool insulated sleeping bag good down to 10C wouldn't be prohibitively heavy [ although physical size will have a definite bearing on final weight] but it's when you start getting into snow and Alpine that the weight and bulk would get greater fast. I was thinking about this issue over the last few days and if you could knit then perhaps you could knit the insulation into the right size and shape and then sew a LW cotton shell
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