Model: Dreamwalker 650
Eighty bucks for a bag that can take on the hardest miles along the AT? Sold. Our tester packed this synthetic sack for the northern end of her thru-hike—all of New Hampshire and Maine in July. She came home impressed by the packability (cantaloupe size, which, while not as small as the much pricier Plasma 40, left, is still extremely rare for such a bargain bag) and the accuracy of the 45°F rating.
How do you squeeze so much performance into an affordable package? Lafuma used its most compressible (proprietary) microfiber to create one blanketlike sheet of short-staple insulation* for the whole bag, which eliminates sewn-through seams (read: cold spots). The construction saves weight and bulk, and still kept our tester warm during a chilly period in the Mahoosuc Mountains, when lows hit the bottom end of the bag’s rating. And it’s also comfortably cool at the other end of the spectrum, thanks to a roomy fit and full-length zipper; our AT tester could open it wide for increased comfort on muggy nights, with temps up to 70°F.
Bummer: One tester wished there was less material in the hood, as it bunched up and caused gapping when she tightened it all the way. Bottom line: This superaffordable bag gets the job done without any unnecessary glitz or glam. $80; 1 lb. 5 oz.; 45°F; lafumausa.com
*SHORT-STAPLE INSULATION A synthetic fill made from short strands of densely packed fibers that maximize loft and compressibilityfront zip bag, can be opened into a blanket, bottom of bag opens to allow walking in camp