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Backpacker Magazine – March 2008

2008 Three-Season Sleeping Bag Reviews

by: The Backpacker Editors, Photos by


Best for the Wet
Mountain Hardwear Spectre SL 20
Five years after this 800-fill, 20°F bag won an Editor's Choice Award (4/03), it continues to set the high-bar in weatherproof sacks. Credit goes to the ample high-quality down, efficient yet roomy cut, welded baffles, and seamless waterproof/breathable Conduit cover. The construction eliminates cold spots and stops water dead. Compared to the competition in this rarified category, the Spectre is amazingly effective at shedding full-on rain–as well as snow, frost, and condensation–thanks to details like overlapping double zipper flaps and a Conduit-lined hood that wards off moisture from exhaled breath. Our only (minor) gripe: The hood doesn't lay flat for venting. $390; 2 lbs. 12 oz.; 20°F

Best Synthetic
Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15
The women's version of this bag kept our coldest-sleeping female tester warm right down to its rating on autumn trips on Utah's Awapa Plateau. One reason she stayed so toasty is the sack's laminated construction, which avoids baffle seams–and the accompanying cold spots–by gluing the Thermic Micro synthetic insulation directly to the shell and liner. Testers also raved about the dual half-length zippers that run down each shoulder. "They were good for creating more space when I didn't want to zip in," one tester commented. "And they make great armholes for cooking or reading." Bottom line: An amazingly versatile synthetic at a good weight and price. $195; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 15°F

Best for Couples
Big Agnes King Solomon
Our staff newlyweds were happy to test this two-person bag on car camps and treks in the Rockies. The verdict? "It's more comfortable than the last bed we owned." With two thick self-inflating pads underneath, they said the 600-fill down bag was plenty warm–almost too warm–on nights that came close to the King Solomon's 15°F rating. Downside: It's bulky, so it's best for car camping and paddle trips. For backpacking, use it with a big-load pack (more than 4,500 cubic inches) and put it in a compression sack. $320; 5 lbs. 3 oz.; 15°F

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