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2008 Sleeping Bag Review: Summer Sleeping Bags

Best All-Around
Sierra Designs Nitro 30

Here’s a rare find: a premium down bag that’s rated 30°F, costs less than $300, and kept our tester warm below its temperature rating. All that, and it weighs well under 2 pounds, thanks to a half-zip and light but lofty 800-fill down. The Nitro (Spark 30 is the women’s version) kept our tester toasty on a fall trek in Idaho’s Sawtooths, when lows dipped into the high 20s and chilly gusts snuck under his tent’s fly. The torso region atop the half-zip bag has stretch baffles that eliminate dead space, yet stretch when you stretch. A zip in the footbox allows venting on mild nights. Our only minor complaint was the hood, which bunched a little around the face when it was closed down to blowhole size. $259; 1 lb. 10 oz.; 30°F

Top Ultralight
Rab Quantum Top Bag AR

Making premium down bags lighter is a lesson in diminishing returns. Start with 850-fill down and Pertex Quantum water-resistant shell fabric, as this bag does, and the only way you can cut weight is to make it smaller, colder, or simpler. The Top Bag AR does all three, and we’re not complaining. For starters, there’s no zipper, no draft collar, and no down under the torso (there’s a sleeve for a 20-inch-wide mattress). The cut is efficient and the simple, shallow hood closes with a drawstring. Result? “It packs smaller than a grapefruit and kept me warm at 40°F,” says our tester, who found the 32°F temp rating slightly optimistic. If you’re ruthless about weight–we’re talking to you, adventure racers–this bag is a great deal. Note: The one size is best for folks 5’9″ or shorter. $200; 1 lb. 2 oz.; 32°F

Most Versatile
Exped Wallcreeper

Think of this 750-fill down sack as a floor-length, hooded vest. It has a full-length front zipper, handwarmer pockets, a snug parka-like collar, and zip armholes that let you wear the bag while cooking or reading. “On some warm-weather trips, it’s all I take other than shorts and a T-shirt,” remarked our tester, who said the 35°F temp rating is right on. The hood is roomy enough to fit a helmet for climbing bivies, yet it adjusts down with a bungee cord to fit pinheads. The drawstring foot opens wide enough so you can lace your boots without leaving the bag, or you can cinch it high to create a thigh-length jacket for walking around. Size tip: If you’re taller than 5’7″, buy a long. $230; 2 lbs.; 35°F

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