Gear testing for Backpacker is a privilege, but that doesn’t always mean it’s Type One fun. It’s been cold and snowy in Colorado lately, and last weekend I headed out to test a prototype Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag, called the Bishop Pass 15°F, at roughly 11,200 feet near Berthoud Pass.
My first thoughts were to give kudos to the designers for quality construction. The bag’s soft polyester interior gives it a luxurious feel, it weighs just over three pounds, and it stuffs down to a bit smaller than a football. Plus the bag’s outer material, Gore-Tex Infinium, is a performance-oriented fabric that’s windproof and highly water-resistant. Its tapered mummy shape helps shave weight, but it still accommodated my 5’11” frame comfortably (if perhaps a little tight around the torso for larger-framed sleepers). At first sight, the Bishop Pass looked like a winner.
When it came time to test the bag’s warmth, the Bishop Pass underperformed. With temps inside my tent hovering around 26°F, I found myself waking up cold throughout the night. The Exped down pad I was sleeping on is plenty warm (although I might test on a foam pad to see if the results differ), but my body couldn’t seem to conserve heat. Nevertheless, my next testing cycle should come up soon, so hopefully the bag performs better next time. And I know that this is a prototype, so perhaps Mountain Hardwear’s designers are buffing the issue out as I write this.
– Uwe Satori, Active Pass Member