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For the ultralight purists out there, there are down quilts. For backpackers looking for a little more room, innovative venting, or versatility, these five bags all bring something new to the table.
NEMO Kyan/Azura 20°
NEMO’s new synthetic, patent-pending FeatherCore insulation in the Kyan and Women’s Azura 20° ($220) is compressible and warm, but still has the benefits of synthetic materials. The mummy shape keeps heat inside while zip-down sections help regulate temperatures.
Sea to Summit Ascent AC
The 25°F Ascent AC sleeping bag ($329) from Sea to Summit takes a rectangular-shaped bag and tapers it to balance space and warmth. The half zipper on the right side of the bag allows for easy ventilation without losing heat.
Big Agnes Lost Dog 15
Big Agnes new bag ($190) features its new FireLine ECO Synthetic Insulation, which is 100 percent recycled. The footbox is not attachable to the pad, as most Big Agnes bags are, to allow for comfortable movement.
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Duo 35°F
This 2-person sleeping bag ($400) includes an oversized comforter that allows movement and insulated pockets that side sleepers can slip their hands in. A self-sealing foot vent lets you kick out your toes for some ventilation.
The North Face One Bag
For indecisive campers, The North Face made the One Bag ($289). The synthetic-fill top layer is rated to 40°F; adding the down-filled mid-layer bumps it up to 20°F. The down layer can be removed and used as a blanket, and the fleece-lined compression sack doubles as a pillow. Bonus: Get an inside look at the One Bag with our Facebook Live.
Sleeping Bag Trends We Saw at Outdoor Retailer
Synthetics on the Rise
Historically, goose down has been king in terms of weight and compressibility. But that’s changing fast, says James Herrod, salesperson at Ozark Outdoor Supply in Little Rock, Arkansas. He says synthetic fills are catching up: “They’re more hydrophobic, which means that that they’ll retain heat value when wet, whereas goose down will not.” As companies up their synthetic insulation game, campers can still walk away with the warmth of a down fill without making sacrifices in weather protection.
Give a Little
Mummy bags are great at maintaining heat, but they can feel claustrophobic to some campers. Laura Hays, assistant manager at Rock/Creek Outfitters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, says companies are adding space only where it matters so bags can remain lightweight. “Some are making toeboxes taller so that your toes and your whole foot have room to chill out,” she said. Increased shoulder space leaves room for rolling around.
It’s OK to Vent
“People want one bag for a greater range of temperatures,” says Sheridan Braun, camping buyer for Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To create versatile bags, venting options—like NEMO’s “gills” that allow users to zip open sections on the top of the bag and release extra heat—and toeboxes that open for airflow are, er, hot right now. Customers want bags that can be used comfortably in the majority of seasons and terrains.