Want the space-heater warmth and long-term durability of a down bag—without the, ahem, lofty price? The Light Year delivers. “It was like sleeping in a warm hug,” said one tester after a trip in the Rockies, with temps right down to the bag’s 20°F rating. Kelty keeps the cost in check by using 600-fill down, which means you’ll carry a little extra weight and bulk compared to a premium down bag, but still come out ahead of a similarly rated synthetic bag—and still get the puffy magic that makes down so effective as an insulator. “This bag lofted up like a bag of microwave popcorn!” exclaims a Colorado tester.
Offset horizontal baffles boost warmth, because the exterior and interior seams are staggered to prevent cold spots. The full-length zipper allowed one tester to open the bag wide on a mild September trip in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. And later in the fall, the spacious torso dimensions allowed her to curl her knees up—her preferred sleeping style—inside the bag. The well-designed hood proved a godsend on the chilliest nights, thanks to a full draft collar around the neck and another puffy tube around the face, which allowed our tester to form a heat-trapping seal.
The exterior chest pocket is large enough for both an iPhone and a headlamp. And the 40-denier ripstop nylon shell is tough enough to handle years of bivy throw-downs. Plus, despite the discount down, it compresses smaller than a gallon milk jug in the included compression sack. As for the Cubist’s creamsicle design, our vote was split. $190; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 20°F
The unique features of the Rock Wren make it a favorite for bicyclists, light hikers and for use in a bivy bag. A drawstring closure at the bottom of the bag allows you to pull the bag up and walk around camp. The main zipper comes halfway down the bag and there are two zipped arm openings, so you can actually wear the bag for cooking or reading. It is fully baffled and work great in combination with a down jacket for colder weather.
The Winter Wren model has more down and a 25 degree F rating.