Gear Review: Mountainsmith Poncha 35 Bag

Carry about a pound extra,and save more than $100.

[killer deal]

Mountainsmith Poncha 35

Here’s a clear value equation: Carry about a pound extra, as compared to ultralight 35°F bags, and save more than $100. In other areas that really matter—warmth and durability—the Poncha 35 cuts no corners. “I was shocked at how lofty and well-constructed this bag is for the price,” said one tester after a fall trip to Enchanted Rock in Texas. It’s filled with a synthetic insulation that, though bulkier than more expensive fills, proved warm right down to the mid 30s. The snag-free zipper extends to about mid-calf for easy venting on warm nights, and it’s backed by a puffy draft tube (not always found on bags in this price and temp range) that takes the sting out of chill breezes. The shallow hood opens wide, so it’s cozy without being stuffy in mild weather, but it doesn’t cinch snugly like a true cold-weather hood. (If you push this bag to freezing temps, wear a hat and use a puffy jacket to fill in the extra space around your head.) Restless sleepers loved the extra wiggle room of the relaxed mummy cut and contoured footbox. And the 75-denier polyester shell is dirt tough; the taffeta polyester lining, while soft, felt clammy in temps above 60°F. Other than weight, the only major tradeoff is bulk; it’s the size of a basketball when crammed into the included compression stuffsack. Bottom line: If your priority is saving money, it’s hard to beat the warmth-to-dollars of the Poncha 35. $89; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 35°F