[best women’s bag]
“Hands down the loftiest 15°F bag I’ve ever used,” declared our tester after using the Xenon on a September hike in Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness, where her companion grumbled, “It practically fills the tent.” Credit the 850-fill goose down—and lots of it: Marmot crams 20 to 25 percent more down into this women’s model than a comparably rated men’s bag (because many women sleep colder than guys). Much of that extra insulation gets loaded into horizontal baffles at the core and foot, which helps this bag deliver on its 15°F promise: On a 20°F night camped on alpine tundra, our tester never even felt the chill. The comfort-cut mummy is wide through the shoulders and hips (our curviest testers called it “efficient but unrestrictive”), yet tapers sharply at the foot to reduce dead air space around cold-prone toes.
A plump draft tube eliminates cold spots along the full-length zipper, and a superfat draft collar “feels cozy and snug,” reports one tester. The sculpted hood (shaped with six baffles) seals out drafts, and adjustment is simple: A single pull cord tightens both hood and collar (some users liked the ease of use, others wished for the ability to fine tune). The water-repellent Pertex Microlight shell and lining fabric feels silky but resists snags—dragging it over alpine grasses didn’t send feathers flying. Bottom line: The Xenon strikes a good balance between weight, warmth, and durability. Size check: Women taller than 5’6” won’t fit. (For more women-specific gear, turn to page 142.) $399; 2 lbs. 9 oz.; 15°F; marmot.com
The "La Fayette", introduced in the Valandré sleeping bag line in year 2000, was the pioneer in the second generation of our Tubular bell construction. The design concept was very simple: to conceive the ultimate superlight high altitude expedition bag, to be used together with the Combi suit. The La Fayette is a tubular bell construction, using pre-cut circular baffles (not anatomical). All stitches are tuck-stitched from the inside. The tuck-stitch technique has the advantage of being stitched though a double layer of fabric, producing a very strong and solid seam.
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