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Backpacker Magazine – October 2008

6 Sweet Sleeping Bags

From ultra-warm to ultralight, here are the year's best-performing bags in every category.

by: Shannon Davis, photos by Brooks Freehill

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15.
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15.
REI Polar Pod
REI Polar Pod
Exped Arctic Goose WB
Exped Arctic Goose WB
Big Agnes Nugget 45
Big Agnes Nugget 45
MontBell Ultralight Alpine Downhugger #5
MontBell Ultralight Alpine Downhugger #5
Marmot EcoPro
Marmot EcoPro

We tested nearly 50 sleeping bags to find these top choices. To winnow the field, our crew risked their zzzzs from the arctic cold of Alaska's glaciers to month-long treks in China and Nepal. No matter what type of bag you need, we found the best in class.

3-Season | Bargain | Winter | Waterproof | Summer | Green

3-Season
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15

"It's like sleeping in a superheated cloud," said one tester, describing why this bag was a unanimous favorite for all-purpose performance. Ultralight materials–800-fill down and a 15-denier, DWR- treated nylon shell–make the warmth-to-weight astounding, and it's still plenty durable and resistant to condensation. The double-yoked, cinchable draft collar prevents cold air from jetting into the bag when you roll over. A zippered pocket at collarbone level keeps an alarm within earshot. And the shape is efficient, not constricting, with zero cold spots. Bonus: The shell fabric is more breathable than with previous versions, eliminating clamminess. One gripe: The zipper sticks where it curves around from shoulder to cheek. Reader Service #101

> Sizes men's 78"/84"; women's 70"/76"
> Rating 15°F
> Weight 2 lbs. 3 oz.
> Price $355
> Info mountainhardwear.com

Cheaper: Mountain Hardwear's synthetic fill Ultra-Lamina 15 has welded seams to reduce bulk and improve moisture resistance. $195; 15°F; 2 lbs. 13 oz.; mountainhardwear.com. Reader Service #102

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FULL PRODUCT SPECS: Women's Phantom 15

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FULL PRODUCT SPECS: Polar Pod +20


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6

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Phil R
Dec 30, 2010

I have had a Phantom 15 for about 6 years. The down on the bottom got thin and created a huge cold spot on the back. I ended up washing it (quite a procedure to wash a down bag) and spent time getting the down redistributed properly. Now the bag works as designed. My zipper sticks more than any other bag I have ever owned. To me the secret to staying warm is a good insulated ground pad. I use a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core covered with a thin closed cell foam pad. The foam pad is now one of my essentials!

Frank
Mar 31, 2010

" makes it better suited to back sleepers than to side sleepers." Are you crazy ?!? The Big Agnes bags are MADE for us side and stomach sleepers. With a big Agnes 2.5 inch pad in the sleeve, you can lay on your side or stomach and there are no pressure points, and as you toss and turn the bags stays put!

Bob J Perkins
Dec 11, 2008

I love every sleeping bag that keeps me off the cold hard ground. "RANGER UP" and stop your complaining.

PT
Dec 08, 2008

Here, Here to Nov 26, 2008 Richard: I bought my first Wiggy's bag in 88. Easy to care for and served me well for almost ten years in the Army. Far dirtier and rougher conditions than I ever got backpacking.

ashe
Dec 08, 2008

i own one of REI polar pods and i love it! although the review lists the roomier fit as a downside, i'm 6'1" and 230+ lbs and the generous fit is a hit with me. i mostly use my abg for camping and over-night stays away from home, but i've tested the bag down to mid 40's and stayed very comfortable.

Eric B.
Dec 06, 2008

I dunno. I once bought a Mtn. Hardware Phantom 32 from REI. Got it home & realized it had WAY too little loft. Took it back & went to another source and, for another $100., bought a Western Mountaineering Megalight that, by my test, kept me warm in a breezy TarpTent Contrail on a 22F night. I wore thin poly long johns & medium socks.

So I'm a bit skeptical of Mtn. Hardware claims for their down bags. That said I have a Mt'n. Hdwr. -20 Polarguard Delta bag that IS good at that temperature.

Doug
Dec 04, 2008

I bet my old army surplus down bag, at $45.00 is just as warm! it has a waterproof bottom. check out sportmans guide.com for much thriftier prices.

Jam
Nov 28, 2008

While I'm sure the Exped bag is a nice piece of equipment, the Moutain Hardwear Lyell -15F down bag weighs about a pound less at half the price (I got mine for $265 thru Campmor). It too has a waterproof-breathable (Conduit) shell.

Richard
Nov 26, 2008

With no mention of Wiggy's- certainly at the very least one of the best around-I doubt your surveys even more. Wiggy's bags are a bit on the bulky side, but other than that they are clearly one of the best--esp. for wet conditions.
R Dubiel

Dennis
Nov 26, 2008

How did the reviewer had an inch-deep puddle of slush underneath at very cold temperatures? Not frozen?

Semifatboy
Nov 15, 2008

Mr. Myers may I ask which bag you are referring to?

Doug Myers
Nov 01, 2008

I can believe this bag inside a bivy keeping you warm to mid 30's, however going cowboy style you'd freeze. I use a layering system now when sleeping; silk liner, down hugger, bivy and have been able to use this as a three season bag. Also the bivy takes care of any snag issues.

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