If it seems like every down bag with legit winter warmth is a budget breaker, you’ll love this steal. It kept one female tester warm down to zero on stormy nights in Vermont, and our coldest-sleeping tester (who packs a winter bag on spring and fall treks) stayed warm in the 20s high in the central Andes.
How does REI achieve the low price-to-warmth ratio? A little more bulk and weight than you get with the most expensive materials. The down is 650-fill, for example, which is just as insulating as the premium stuff but not as light and compressible. And the low cost doesn’t mean there’s any feather rationing: The top baffles (60 percent of the insulation is in the top of the bag) are stuffed to near bursting.
Testers liked the relaxed cut, which has a bit of extra space in the shoulders and hips to allow for rolling around or stuffing in extra clothes. Guys: Score a similar bargain with the Marmot Never Summer ($289; 3 lbs. 14 oz.; 0°F; marmot.com), a 600-fill toaster with an exceptionally well-shaped hood and impenetrable draft protection at the neck and along the zipper. $299; 3 lbs. 9 oz.; 1°F; rei.com