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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2011

Gear Review: L.L. Bean Katahdin 20 Sleeping Bag

Knock-around durability, easy-care synthetic insulation, and a no-brainer price.

by: Ben Fullerton

L.L. Bean Katahdin (BP Photo Department)
L.L. Bean Katahdin (BP Photo Department)

[killer deal]
Knock-around durability, easy-care synthetic insulation, and a no-brainer price make the Katahdin a perennial favorite among our more utilitarian testers. It’s not ultralight sexy or equipped with a shell material that repels snoring, but no-nonsense construction is what makes it appealing. Batts of continuous-filament* PrimaLoft Infinity insulation—which is warmer and faster-drying than down if it gets soaked—are shingled on top of one another to amp up the loft and prevent cold spots.

“I stayed toasty right down to 20°F on a tentless trip in the Rockies,” says one warm-sleeping tester. The full-length, two-way zipper never snagged, thanks to stiffened fabric lining on both sides, and a stout draft tube seals out the chill. The contoured hood has a full-circumference draft collar and one-hand-adjustable drawcords that further lock in the heat. “When I had it all cranked tight, it was like being in an isolation booth,” says one tester. Another raves about the 30-denier polyester lining. “It was so soft and warm against my skin, almost like jersey-knit sheets,” he says. “And on warmer nights, it did a great job of wicking and breathing.”

The 30-denier ripstop nylon shell’s DWR coating repelled light precip and tent condensation, and the fabric showed no signs of wear after many tentless nights in the Rockies. It’s bulky (think average watermelon size), but one tester summed it up: “It’s ideal for river trips, moderate-distance backpacking, and all types of throw-down camping.” $139; 3 lbs.; 20°F

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Matt
Aug 07, 2011

Worked really well at Philmont in July.

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