Timmermade Wren False Bottom Sleeping Bag Review

Timmermade Wren Sleeping Bag Top
Timmermade Wren False Bottom sleeping bag custom printed with my Stars Over Wetterhorn photo.

Several years ago my wife and I replaced our two-zippered-together-mummy-bags sleeping bag setup with a Feathered Friends Spoonbill double bag. This was a game changer for our frequent backpacking trips, reducing our sleeping bag weight from over 4 pounds down to an incredible 2.5 lbs with the same or even better warmth. How was this possible? The secret is the false bottom. Since down insulation is mostly compressed (and thus useless) when you’re laying on top of it, you might as well just get rid of it altogether on the bottom! This is what Feathered Friends did with the Spoonbill – the top and sides are full of high loft 950-fill down, while the bottom is simply a thin fabric sheet. The result is a massive weight savings without hardly any warmth penalty (assuming you have a decently warm mattress).

Recently while rethinking my solo backpacking setup, I wondered if I could cut some significant weight with a similar false bottom solo bag, instead of the normal standard mummy bag design I’ve been using for years. After extensive research I stumbled upon the Timmermade Wren false bottom sleeping bag. The specs boasted a 19oz weight for a 20º rated bag – impressive considering my 15º Western Mountaineering Apache bag weighs 33oz! Plus the pricing was competitive with comparable high end sleeping bag brands – also impressive considering that the Timmermades are custom tailored bags. After discussing some questions and options with the owner/maker Dan Timmerman we got the order rolling. What you see here are the results: the Timmermade Wren False Bottom sleeping bag, 20º rated, 950 fill down, 19oz (1lb 3oz), $420, with custom printed fabric.

Read on for my full review and impressions of this unique ultralight sleeping bag. Continue reading “Timmermade Wren False Bottom Sleeping Bag Review”

Smoky Reflections

Colorado, Needle Mountains, Pigeon Peak, San Juan Mountains, Turret Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, reflection
Smoky Needles Reflection : Prints Available

A smoky sunset on a warm August evening in the Weminuche Wilderness. The Needle Mountains show through the haze.

It’s been a beautiful summer in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado this year, with a long-melting snowpack, fantastic sunsets, lush greenery, and none of the wildfires and smoke that plagued us during last year’s super dry summer. So while we were camping near a remote lake in the Weminuche Wilderness last week, we were surprised when it got hazy and we started smelling wildfire smoke in the air. My fears of another devastating wildfire were relieved when I found out later on that it was just smoke from a large prescribed burn on the west side of the San Juans. Whew!

While the smoke robbed me of the typically crystal clear scenes, it did provide unique photographic conditions with the hazy light and soft pastel colors at sunset.

Colorado, Needle Mountains, Pigeon Peak, San Juan Mountains, Turret Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, reflection
Smoky Needles Dusk : Prints Available

Sunset light on Pigeon and Turret Peaks as seen from a remote lake in the Weminuche Wilderness.

By morning the haze had cleared and interesting cotton candy clouds motivated me to get out my cozy sleeping bag to go shoot sunrise too!

Colorado, Needle Mountains, Pigeon Peak, San Juan Mountains, Turret Peak, Weminuche Wilderness, reflection
Cotton Candy Sunrise Reflection : Prints Available

Cotton candy clouds at sunrise above the Needle Mountains.

Roaming the Uncompahgre

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Basin, Wetterhorn Peak, wildflowers
Wetterhorn in Candyland : Prints Available

Rich sunset light on Wetterhorn Peak (14,015 ft.) amidst a glorious field of Indian Paintbrush wildflowers. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

Colorado, Dragonsback, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness
Dragon Dusk : Prints Available

A long 20-second exposure captured the dusk glow on a rugged volcanic spire in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

During the first two weeks of August I revisited several of my favorite backpacking treks in the Uncompahgre Wilderness in the northern San Juan Mountains of Colorado, for a total of 8 days of hiking through a good portion of the wilderness. See all the photos here >>

High Above Ouray

Colorado, Ouray, San Juan Mountains, panorama, sunset
Ouray Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

A spectacular sunset over Ouray, Colorado. The ‘Amphitheater’ is prominent on the right side, with Highway 550 – the ‘Million Dollar Highway’ – below leading eventually to Silverton.

Last night I camped up on a high ridgeline in the San Juan Mountains about 4,000 feet above Ouray, Colorado, and enjoyed a fantastic sunset and sunrise from my airy perch. Continue reading >>

Summer Green in the San Juans

Colorado, Engineer Mountain, San Juan Mountains, sunrise
Sunrise on Engineer Mountain : Prints Available

Sunrise on Engineer Mountain (12,968 ft.).

After the enormous winter of 2018-2019 in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, by the end of July the snowpack has finally melted off enough to call it summertime in the alpine now. Last weekend we hiked a very pleasant three-day shuttle route through the vibrant green mountains west of Silverton. Continue reading >>

Mosquito Warfare in the High Uintas, Utah

Bear River, High Uintas Wilderness, McPheters Lake, Middle Basin, Mount Agassiz, Stillwater Fork, Uintas, Utah
Mount Agassiz Reflection : Prints Available

Dramatic clouds over Mount Agassiz (12,428 ft.) in the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah.

In late July we backpacked into the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah, to a couple high basins at the head of the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River. We had optimistically planned a three-night outing, but the mosquitos were so abominable up there that we bailed after two nights! Though we had expected the mosquitos, we didn’t quite comprehend what a struggle it would be with clouds of hundreds or thousands of the vampire drones swarming around us at all times. Despite the relentless mosquito warfare, we still managed to enjoy some amazing scenery up in the high basins with their many lakes and ponds. Continue reading >>

Classic Colorado

Colorado, Mears Peak, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, aspens, lupine, rainbow, wildflowers
Mears Peak Rainbow : Prints Available

A rainbow shines in front of Mears Peak as rain showers pass over the Sneffels Range, Colorado.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak
Wetterhorn Breaking Storm : Prints Available

Clouds swirl off of Wetterhorn Peak after an intense thunderstorm.

Here are some photos from a few recent hiking and backpacking trips in the San Juan Mountains near Ridgway and Ouray. The snow is still melting up high but the lower elevations have been glorious this last month! See more recent photos here >>

Happy 4th of July from Ouray!

4th of July, Colorado, Ouray, San Juan Mountains, fireworks, Mount Abrams
Fireworks Over Ouray : Prints Available

4th of July fireworks over the town of Ouray with Mount Abrams behind. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

4th of July, Colorado, Ouray, San Juan Mountains, fireworks, Milky Way
Ouray Cosmic Fireworks : Prints Available

4th of July fireworks in Ouray, Colorado, with the Milky Way galaxy above. To create this photo I first photographed the fireworks then left the camera in the same exact position for about an hour after dusk then photographed the stars, and combined the two photos.

For my fellow American readers, I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July! Here’s a few photos of the fireworks over Ouray last night.

One thing I’m feeling pretty patriotic about is our kick-ass U.S. women’s soccer team about to play the Netherlands team in the World Cup finals on Sunday! It’s been so fun watching the tournament so far.

My Backpacking Gear (Updated 2019)

Originally published October 2012. Last updated in July 2019 with lots of new gear selections and a new section on sun protection. Many of the product links are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something after clicking one of my gear links, I will get a small cut of the payment and it won’t cost you anything more.

Mountain goats, Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, tent

Mountains goats check out our campsite in the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado.

Backpacking into the mountains is a great joy of mine. It feels adventurous and liberating to venture into the wilderness with everything you need to survive (and even stay comfortable) on your back. By backpacking you have the means to “live” – albeit briefly – in paradisiacal locations that boggle the mind and soothe the soul. But, first you need to have the gear to do it.

As Terence McKenna observed, humans are probably better categorized as crustaceans, since we basically live our lives moving from one shell to another, whether it’s a house, car, office, or a tent. Which is to say, we can’t just wander off naked into the woods and expect to be one with nature! Fortunately for the modern adventurous crustacean we have an almost endless array of high tech, lightweight clothes, sleeping bags, shelters, and tools to keep us alive and happy while walking in the wilderness.

Recently I’ve received a bunch of emails asking me about my backpacking gear. I realize that it can be a bit daunting for someone who is interested – but not experienced – in backpacking to figure out what equipment they need to bring into the mountains for an overnight or multi-day camping trip. You need to travel light, but you also need all the stuff to keep you warm and dry. In this post, I’m going to list and explain all the gear that I use on backpacking treks. I will also include some helpful tips along the way.

Continue reading “My Backpacking Gear (Updated 2019)”