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Gear Review: Exped UltraLite 500 Sleeping Bag

Whatever tough adventures you dream up, the Exped UltaLite 500 is up to the challenge.
BP0413BAG_Xped_UL500_445x260.jpgExped UltraLite 500 (Andrew Bydlon)

[light and tough]
This cloud-like mummy proved itself such a workhorse, it earned props from one of our pickiest (and most punishing) testers. “Everything about this bag—from its seams to the fabric and the 840-fill down—seems very, very well made,” she concluded. Its durable construction survived bivies on New Mexico’s obsidian-studded volcanic rock, and never lost a feather (credit the ripstop nylon, which is tougher than many 20-denier fabrics thanks to its unusually dense weave). “The lofty baffles look like they’ve been inflated by an air compressor,” she reports. So does the draft tube, which is fatter than most and seals in the bag’s impressively even heat.

The UltraLite is long enough for 6’1” sleepers, but they need to be slim to be comfortable: The fit is trim, with a 57-inch shoulder girth and an efficient cut throughout that saves weight and boosts warmth (our tester estimated its comfort zone at five degrees better than its stated rating). Even the zipper is unusually skinny, but its three-quarter length vented sufficiently, and its performance is snag-free—even in dusty conditions. The waterproof compression sack (included) squishes the bag to the size of a bike helmet. But compression doesn’t happen instantly: The fabric’s dense weave slows air loss, so packing up requires several minutes of sack-cinching. Breathability also suffers (our tester reported feeling clammy even in dry, breezy weather). $399; 1 lb. 11 oz.; 30°F; exped.com

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