Gear Guide 2012: More Tester Picks - Three-Season Sleeping Bags

These 3-season sleeping bags offer packability, reliability and durability for wherever your adventure takes you.

Cabela’s XPG Evader

Our testers found this rugged, synthetic-filled bag perfect for basecamping, canoeing, and car camping. Pros: low price, snag-free zipper, and a puffy, overstuffed draft collar. Cons: bulk and weight. $130; 3 lbs. 8 oz.; 15°F; cabelas.com



Exped Dreamwalker 650

Our executive editor is a huge fan of this wearable 750-fill down sleeping bag. With a drawcord opening at the feet and zippered armholes, he says, “it’s the perfect multitasking solution.” Downside? You’ll get asked to get up and make coffee for everyone. $450; 2 lbs. 7 oz.; 20°F; exped.com



Feathered Friends Swallow 

“Way warmer than its rating.” That’s what one tester said after sleeping in the Swallow. It’s ultralight, ultrapackable (think soccer ball), and ultratoasty; our tester slept comfortably down to 15°F while camping in the Rockies. “I’m always cold,” she says. “But this bag felt like it was warmer than some 10°F bags I’ve slept in.” $439; 1 lb. 11 oz.; 20°F; featheredfriends.com



Kelty Lightyear XP 20

Based on its solid performance, testers were pleasantly surprised at this bag’s budget-friendly price tag. The Climashield XP insulation and thermally efficient cut kept our tester warm on chilly, tentless nights in Iceland and throughout New England. The bag’s a bit on the heavy side for its class, but its compression sack (included) gets it down to about soccer ball size. $150; 3 lbs. 5 oz.; 20°F; kelty.com



Lafuma GR20

Bargain alert: “The performance far exceeded my expectations,” said one tester after using it in Great Sand Dunes National Park. “The (proprietary) synthetic bag lofts well, kept me warm with lows in the 20s, and still packs down to two-liter bottle size.” $130; 2 lbs. 15 oz.; 20°F; lafumausa.com



L.L.Bean Katahdin 20

This bag’s durability impressed our testers after numerous tentless nights out in the Rockies. “Plus, the DWR* coating did a superb job of repelling light precipitation,” says one tester. The PrimaLoft Synergy fill only stuffs down to about the size of a watermelon, so it’s best for short-mileage treks or car- and boat-camping. $169; 3 lbs. 3 oz.; 20°F; llbean.com



Marmot Helium 15

This 2008 Editors’ Choice Gold winner is still getting rave reviews. “This thing really does loft like it’s full of helium,” said one tester after using this 850-fill down bag while cross-country skiing in Yosemite. “I slept comfortably right down to the 15°F rating.” The cut is wide enough to store some clothes that need to dry overnight, but not so large that skinnier hikers will have trouble keeping it warm. $399; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; 15°F; marmot.com



Marmot Plasma 15

Last year’s Editors’ Choice winner is still one of the best ultralight bags on the market. From Alaska to the Adirondacks and from the Tetons to Capitol Reef National Park, this 900-fill bag has kept testers warm down to and even below its rating. And with its scant weight and volleyball size when packed, you’ll hardly believe you’re carrying a shoulder-season bag. $499; 1 lb. 14 oz.; 15°F; marmot.com



MontBell UL Spiral Downhugger #1

Warning: This 800-fill down bag is so comfortable that you might not get out of bed before lunch. “I’ve never had a such a hard time,” says one tester. “I was just too cozy.” Credit the stretchy baffles* that move with you as you toss and turn, as well as the lofty, 800-fill down that surrounds you in a cocoon of warmth. $379; 2 lbs 2 oz.; 15°F; montbell.us



Mountain Hardwear ExtraLamina 20

Big guys liked the extra space this semi-rectangular bag has to offer. “On trips when weight and packed size weren’t a huge deal, it sure was nice to have the extra room,” says our 6’5”, 220-pound tester. The Thermic Micro synthetic fill kept him warm in the 20s, and when things heated up, he appreciated the option to unzip the footbox for extra ventilation. $200; 3 lbs. 3 oz.; 20°F;

mountainhardwear.com



Rab Infinity 500

Twenty straight nights in the Pacific Northwest will challenge most down bags. This one came through with a near-perfect record: “Possibly the loftiest ultralight I’ve tested,” says our tester of the 850-fill Infinity. Bummer: The wispy Pertex Quantum GL shell wet out easily from moist tent walls. $500; 1 lb. 14 oz.; 19°F; us.rab.uk.com



Sea to Summit Traverse Xt1

Problem: Waterproof down bags can lose their loft over the course of a long trip due to the buildup of moisture from sweat vapor in the down. Solution: Sea to Summit’s proprietary NanoShell, which has a DWR coating and a thin layer of continuous filament fill underneath. That allows sweat vapor to pass through while keeping external moisture out. Does it work? The 850-fill bag “maintained its loft after a week of subfreezing temps in Capitol Reef National Park,” says a tester. $499; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; 19°F; seatosummit.com



Vaude Ice Peak 400

The devil’s in the details? Not with this 650-fill down bag. “This had one of the better-fitting, simpler (via snaps) draft collars I’ve used. It didn’t feel constricting and still fully sealed out the drafts,” says one tester. “And the microfiber shell shed all moisture after I accidentally dumped water over it while camping in the Olympics.” Bonus: The stuffsack doubles as an emergency backpack. $550; 1 lb. 7 oz.; 25°F; libertymountain.com

*DWR Durable water repellent; a coating that makes water bead up and roll off fabric

*BAFFLES Chambers within sleeping bags that keep down from shifting around