Gear Guide Spring 2017: Sleeping Bags & Pads
Go ahead and plan a big backcountry day. But if you don't get a good night's sleep first, it's gonna be rough. Our testers found the solution, including an ultralight synthetic bag, a custom quilt, and more.
Nights out: 552
Bags tested: 33
Longest day: 17 mi. (Kepler Track, New Zealand)
Most nonstop rain: 3 days (South Island, New Zealand)
Coldest temp: -5°F (Kenai Mts., AK)
Highest trip: 14,429 ft. (Mt. Massive, CO)
How to Buy Sleeping Bags
Get in: Sleeping bags are like shoes: They should fit. In the store, crawl in, stretch out, curl up, run the zipper, cinch the hood. A tight-fitting bag saves weight, but that won’t matter if you can’t sleep.
Check features: Do you like to sleep under the stars? Make sure the shell has a DWR treatment. Full-length zippers are better for venting but add weight. A snug-fitting hood adds critical warmth when it’s cold.
Choose your fill: Down typically packs smaller, but synthetics are best for extended wet (even compared to water-resistant down), and they’re catching up in warmth-to-weight ratio (see TNF Hypercat).
How to Buy Sleeping Pads
Check r-value: Sleeping pads use a numerical rating called R-value to measure insulation: the higher the warmer.
Go big: In general, choose the thickest, most cushioned pad you can justify carrying. Your back will thank you.