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 Thor 1350 leads the Valandre collection as our heavy weight winter bag. The Thor is designed to perform in conditions where there is no room for compromise.
Valandre’s Tubular Bell construction gives the Thor its amazing thermal qualities. The inner and outer fabric (51 total pieces) are connected with baffles that are shaped to fit a persons anatomy perfectly. This maximizes heat retention and provides amazing comfort.
The outside of the Thor is impressive but its the draft collar that lets this bag reach deep into the heart of winter. The collar is designed to gently seal around the neck by pulling the adjustable drawcord positioned on the inside of the bag. The hood completes the lifesaving insulation properties of the Thor. It wraps around the head with a unique half moon shaped fabric so it keeps the maximum insulation to the very tips of the hood. No more cold foreheads at night!
Valandre only uses down from the French Fat Grey Goose. A bird capable of migrating at altitudes of 33.000FT (10.000M) in –58°F (-50°C) temperatures for days on end. The down is harvested right before the traditional migration time, when it is fresh, clean and at its plumpest. Then, Valandre fills each compartment of the sleeping bag with the perfect amount of down to ensure warmth in the harshest of conditions.
All of these technical advances of the Thor make it capable of reaching deep into the arctic heart of any mountain in the world