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 Centerfire bag is constructed of a two-tone 10 oz cotton duck shell with stylish riveted reinforcements giving the bags the look of a pair of work jeans. Other notable features include a “sip n’ zip” 20-inch zipper on the left side that allows campers to sit up and enjoy breakfast in bed or easily do other activities that require use of both arms without getting out of the bag, and a “downwind” zippered foot vent at the bottom of the bag for comfort. The bag also includes an integrated (detachable) carry duffle.