Bag nights: 517
Lowest temperature: -14°F in Mongolia
Highest elevation: 17,200 feet in Nepal
Summer sleeping bags
Three-season sleeping bags
Winter sleeping bags
Boost warmth. Before bed, have a hot drink and do sit-ups. In the bag, wear dry socks and a beanie.
Slip-proof your pad. Dot the top with Seam Grip ($7; mcnett.com), especially in the hip and torso areas. Let cure for 24 hours.
Sleeping Bag Shopping Smarts
Upgrade Get a compression sack for easier packing. We like Granite Gear’s eVent Sil Compression Drysacks (granitegear.com).
Inspect the zipper While shopping, climb inside the bag and run the zipper up and down several times. Does it slide smoothly?
Add warmthConsider buying a liner to boost warmth by up to 15°F. We like Sea to Summit’s Reactor Thermolite ($55; seatosummit.com).
Trending: Duck Down
Goose down used to be the go-to insulation for high-end bags, but that’s changing fast. More than a third of the bags in this guide use duck down, and it’s showing up in apparel as well (see the Millet Langtang). The reason: Duck down costs less than goose, yet there’s no compromise in performance.
The International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory, an independent facility, states there’s no discernable warmth variance between birds of a different feather, as long as they have the same fill power. So why is duck down cheaper than goose? Because there’s so much more of it. Down is a byproduct of the food industry, and the world consumes much more duck than goose (duck is 80 percent of the market, compared to 20 for goose).
This year, the first ever 850-fill duck down sleeping bag, the NEMO Equipment Sonic, hits the market, and it’s nearly 30 percent less expensive than an equivalent goose down version. But don’t expect to see everything go the way of the drake; goose down will still dominate the premium pieces because high fill-power (like 800) requires larger down clusters, and geese produce more of those simply because they’re larger birds.
Trending: Ethical Down Standards
More and more bag (and jacket) companies are determined to help you sleep with a clear conscience. Although many duck and goose farms have ethical harvesting practices, there are still issues with live plucking, force feeding, and inhumane slaughtering (down is a byproduct of the meat industry). Hence, the need to know where your fluff comes from.
Fjällräven was one of the first to tackle the issue, in 2009, applying some of the industry’s strictest guidelines to their supply chain (they work with only one supplier and audit with their own vets). It’s called the Fjällräven Down Promise (see a video about the program). Mountain Equipment, another European brand, has an auditing program as well.
More recently, The North Face (with the Responsible Down Standard) and Patagonia (Traceable Down Standard) have cosponsored creation of varying standards for their own products that can be shared among brands. For example, Feathered Friends, which has long sourced ethical down from small farms (but without regular audits), employs 100 percent RDS-certified down starting this season.