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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2013

Gear Review: More Tester Picks Sleeping Bags

Find the bag that fits you best with this plethora of reviews.

by: Kelly Bastone

Columbia Moonstone 15 (Courtesy)
Columbia Moonstone 15 (Courtesy)
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Igniter 15 (Courtesy)
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Igniter 15 (Courtesy)
Rab Genesis 3 (Courtesy)
Rab Genesis 3 (Courtesy)
Mountain Hardwear Wraith -20 (Courtesy)
Mountain Hardwear Wraith -20 (Courtesy)

Eastern Mountain Sports Mountain Light 35°
This mummy is cut generously through the lower body, allowing testers room to cross their legs. The 800-fill DownTek feathers compress to kickball size. And it kept our tester warm during a 32°F night when he camped below Long’s Peak in Colorado. $329; 1 lb. 8 oz.; 35°F;

NEMO Rhythm 40
Using continuous-filament PrimaLoft Synergy, the Rhythm is the synthetic-fill version of this year’s Editors’ Choice award-winning Nocturne (see the EC reviews starting on page 23). It also features an innovative “spoon” shape, which allows more room through the shoulders and legs—yet weighs less than comparably rated rectangular bags. $229; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 40°F;

Big Agnes Bellyache Mountain SL
With vertical baffles stuffed with 700-fill DownTek, this cozy bag proved invulnerable to condensation-soaked tent walls along the Pacific Crest Trail. The cut is roomy enough to accommodate our 6’4” tester (who found the regular-length bag to be a perfect fit). And a panel of stiff fabric on the zipper’s draft tube provides snag-free operation. $300; 2 lbs. 7 oz.; 17°F;

Big Agnes Saddle Mountain SL
This two-person bag kept one couple cozy on a late-fall trip to Moab, Utah. Stuffed with 700-fill DownTek, the bag has a sculpted draft collar that seals in heat around both necks. But dimensions are tight, making this best for couples who truly want to spoon. $570; 3 lbs. 13 oz.; 15°F;

Columbia Moonstone 15
It looks like a disco party on the inside, but when it comes to heating up quickly, this bag is all business. Thousands of tiny silver dots on the liner reflect body heat: Testers warmed up faster in this bag than any other, and the fabric still breathed well enough to prevent clamminess. But testers felt the chill at 15°F, and estimated the true comfort rating to be closer to 25°F. $500; 2 lbs. 5 oz.; 15°F;

Exped Comfort 600
Tired of coffin-like mummy bags? Try this 840-fill down toaster, which kept our tester cozy and unconfined in Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness. The extra-long zipper lets it open to serve as a comforter. And a separate zipper on the footbox provides welcome venting on warmer nights. Says one user, “The huge loft and the anatomically shaped hood kept me warm right down to the rating.” $449; 2 lbs. 4 oz.; 21°F;

Feathered Friends Swallow UL 20
“Way warmer than its rating,” said one tester after sleeping in the 900-fill Swallow. It’s ultralight, ultrapackable (soccer-ball size), and ultratoasty; our tester slept comfortably down to 15°F in the Rockies. “I’m always cold,” she says. “But this bag felt warmer than some 10°F bags I’ve slept in.” $459; 1 lb. 12 oz.; 20°F;

First Ascent Igniter 15
Thanks to continuous-filament Climashield Apex insulation, this synthetic proved true to its rating in Washington’s outrageously soggy Olympic National Park. Testers also appreciated the extra-tough, 30-denier Pertex Endurance shell, which weathered everything from rocky beaches to granite stargazing parties without a rip. Nitpick: The zipper repeatedly jammed on the draft tube. $219; 2 lbs. 11 oz.; 15°F;

Marmot Cloudbreak 20
Poor compressibility is the bane of many synthetic bags, but this mummy uses two types of short-staple insulation (a shingled, high-loft fill throughout the bag and a squishy, finer-denier fill in the torso and feet) to give it 6-inch loft and a reasonably small packed size (a medium watermelon). The gradual taper—hip circumference is a generous 57 inches—is best suited to big folks. $199; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 20°F;

Rab Genesis 3
Every component of this synthetic sack is optimized for eco-friendliness. The short-staple insulation is made from recycled polyester, as are the fabrics, threads, and even the Velcro. The green approach doesn’t compromise warmth, say our testers, but it does boost weight and bulk, making this a comfort-oriented pick for car- and boat-camping. $160; 4 lbs. 2 oz.; 19°F;

REI Igneo/Joule
Talk about a killer deal: This 800-fill down mummy delivers near-waterproof weather protection (the seams aren’t taped), thanks to a waterproof/breathable shell that kept testers warm and dry through windy bivies in the Sierras, subfreezing temps in Wyoming, and campouts in the perennially soggy Pacific Northwest. Reports one, “The rating is dead on.” m’s Igneo: $339; 1 lb. 15 oz.; 19°F; w’s Joule: $359; 2 lbs. 2 oz.; 22°F;

Sea to Summit Talus TS I
This featherweight was a hit with warm and cold sleepers alike. According to one tester who “sweats like I’m in a hot yoga class when I sleep,” the Talus ably handled his excessive moisture, even during humid nights in the Pacific Northwest. Credit the combination of water-resistant 750-fill Ultra-Dry duck down and the highly breathable, 30-denier nylon shell fabric. $349; 1 lb. 13 oz.; 23°F;

Mammut Sphere Ultralight Winter Get max warmth for minimum pack space and weight. This 850-fill down mummy pairs a trim cut through the legs with wider torso dimensions to accommodate a puffy jacket (outfitted thus, our Mt. Hood tester found the 5°F rating accurate). Mammut’s 20-denier prolightTX shell is extremely breathable, but the lightweight fabric requires TLC to avoid rips and snags. The 14” x 14” mesh pocket in the torso area proved perfect for drying damp liners and clothes. Note: The name of this bag used to be the Sphere Alpine Winter. $529; 2 lbs. 8 oz.; 5°F;

Mountain Hardwear Wraith -20
Shelter and insulation rolled into one super-cozy package: That’s the Wraith, which kept our tester warm (down to -20°F) and dry through a five-week stint on Denali. “It was impervious to the rain-snow mix I subjected it to while sleeping outside my tent, but it dried quickly once I returned to shelter,” he reports. That’s because the shell is made with TK waterproof/breathable material. Bonus: The 2013 version’s 800-fill goose plumes are treated with Q.Shield (think DownTek) for extra water-repellency and loft in damp climates. Of course, you pay for this kind of Arctic protection. $900; 4 lbs. 7 oz.; -20°F;

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