Valandre Lafayette

An affordable, high-performance sleeping bag that keeps you warm and dry in the harshest of elements.

Brand: Valandre

Model: Lafayette

[best all-around]

You won’t find a better deal on a sub-two-pound, weather-resistant bag unless you get lucky on Craigslist. Indeed, we’ve seen bags that cost at least $150 more and don’t have the performance or durability of the Igneo and Joule (the women’s version). The 800-fill down and waterproof/breathable ripstop nylon shell (it uses a rolled-on coating, not a membrane) kept testers warm and dry in everything from windy bivies in the Sierras to subfreezing temps in Wyoming to the perennially soggy Pacific Northwest. (Note: The bag itself is not completely waterproof because the seams are not taped.)

Moisture from one tester’s single-wall tent didn’t faze the shell, and another tester slept sans shelter through 20-plus-mph winds without feeling chilled. He also got in and out of his bag repeatedly that same night to take photos during an adventure race, and even though he returned to the bag overheated from the exertion, the sweat vapor passed through the shell and he awoke fully dry for each shoot. “The temperature rating is dead on,” reports one tester who slept comfortably on 20°F nights in Montana’s Medicine Bow National Forest. “The differential drawcord on the hood (one flat cord and one round cord to provide better shape around the face) seals nicely, and the draft collar is effective without giving me that restrictive, claustrophobic feeling.”

Durability is high, too: One tester dragged the sack around like Linus while bivying on granite in the northern Sierra, and the shell showed no sign of wear. It packs to volleyball size for easy stowing. Igneo: $329; 1 lb. 15 oz.; 19°F; Joule: $339; 2 lbs. 2 oz.; 22°F; rei.comThe La Fayette is the leader in fast, high and light expeditions. The La Fayette is designed to be used in conjunction with our Combi expedition suit. When the Combi suit is worn inside the La Fayette you have a truly capable survival tool

One of many features, The main zipper of the La Fayette is centered on the chest section of the bag allowing you to sleep on your side to keep your core off of the cold ground. And the center zip makes for a more enjoyable life inside your tent. Simply draw the waist cord tight, get your arms out of the bag, tighten the hood cords and you can stay warm while working in the tent

The power inside the La Fayette is the French Fat Grey goose down. This goose is capable of migrating at 30,000 feet (10.000m) in –60°F (-50°C) temperatures for days on end. The down is harvested right before the traditional migration time, when it is fresh, clean and at its plumpest. Then Valandre selects only the lightest down and fills each compartment with just the right amount.

The down is held in place by Valandre’s Tubular Bell construction method. Each compartment of the sleeping bag is tailored to perfectly fit around the human form. Including an often overlooked area, the knees, Valandre has put extra down on the knee section to protect as the sleeper assumes a fetal sleeping position. And when these compartments are filled with the French Fat Grey Goose down they are “inflated” and will actually lift off of your body as the bag warms up. The fabric isn’t just a container for the down, it is a technological marvel with all of the components working in harmony to provide an amazing warmth to weight ratio.

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