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Backpacker Magazine – 2010 Editors' Choice/Gear Guide

Gear Review: The North Face Hotlum 3-Season Sleeping Bag

This rugged down bag won't break the bank.

by: Casey Lyons

The North Face Hotlum (BP Photo Department)
The North Face Hotlum (BP Photo Department)

Affordable Down
If Craftsman made sleeping bags, they would look like this: functional, durable, and priced for the masses. The 600-fill down and 40-denier heavy-duty ripstop nylon shell stood up to bivy duty along rocky sections of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, and it delivered the promised warmth (15°F), even during shelter-less nights on snow. “Even after several months of use, it fluffs up as if you had just picked it off a hanger in a gear shop,” says one tester.

The hood cinches down to a custom fit using differentiated drawcords (a round cord pulls the overstuffed draft collar in close; a flat one controls the upper portion), and a generously insulated zipper tube kept out the nip. The cut provides roll-around room and interior space to layer-up in colder conditions. “I could toss, turn, and scissor my legs comfortably in the foot box without detecting cold spots,” says our tester in Shenandoah National Park.

The Hotlum’s untreated shell sheds minor moisture, but it doesn’t seal out rain like more expensive fabrics. When a leaky hydration reservoir caused a puddle inside a tester’s tent, he woke up with damp, cold feet. On warm nights, the full-length zipper opens wide enough to use the bag like a quilt. And while it doesn’t pack as small as higher-cost, higher-fill-power bags, it’s still fairly compact (about the size of a medium watermelon). And use care to avoid zipper snags. $199; 2 lbs. 15 oz.; 15°F

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