2008 Sleeping Bag Buyer’s Guide

May 29, 2008
Filed under Camping Gear, Sleeping Gear

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KELTY FORAKER 15There’s nothing like a sleeping bag when it’s fresh and fully lofted up, with all the insulation evenly distributed about you. But, after a night or two of being slept in, bags often become lumpy or flattened out, and not all that comfortable. Luckily, between the increased use of dual-density synthetics and creative baffling in down fills, many of the new sleeping bags are more even-keeled – and did we mention eco-friendly – than ever.


Designed and tested in collaboration with Alaska Mountain Guides, the Apex Series Foraker 15 from Kelty thrives in demanding environments. It features a DWR-finished body and welded Stormstopper waterproof breathable material in the hood and foot areas so it sheds moisture effortlessly while keeping the bag’s fill dry. Insulated with 750-fill power down, this lightweight three-season bag also includes a top baffle collar and ground level side seams for warmth and comfort all night long. MSRP: $300 (15 degree F bag; 2 pounds, 13 ounces). Kelty: 800/423-2320; /kelty.com/.


An eco-friendly bag new this spring is Big Agnes’ Skinny Fish – 96 percent of the bag is recycled; only the thread and zipper are new. Featuring Climashield HL Green 100-percent recycled insulation with a 100-percent recycled ripstop nylon shell and polyester taffeta liner fabric, this semirectangular bag also boasts other recycled components, like the cord, cord locks (50-percent PLA or corn starch plastic), mesh storage sack, stuff sack and interior liner loops. Performance amenities include a draft collar, draft tube and pillow pocket, plus A-Flex construction that increases loft and trapped air space. These bags also come standard with Big Agnes’ integrated pad sleeve so you never roll off your pad again. MSRP: $180 (20 degree F bag; 3 pounds 14 ounces). Big Agnes: 877/554-8975; /bigagnes.com/.


Marmot is also jumping on the green bandwagon this season with its EcoPro 15 sleeping bag. The EcoPro series of sleeping bags are filled with UpCycle insulation, 80 percent of which is made from recycled soda bottles, and include an UpCycle PET polyester shell, constructed entirely from recycled soda bottles. Both the liner and shell are treated for water resistance. Other features on the bag include a single stash pocket, Velcro-free face muff, hood draw cord, snagless draft tube, two-way zipper sliders, and two hang loops. Constructed with a traditional wave construction, the classic mummy bag also features a trapezoidal footbox. MSRP: $165 (15 degree F bag; 3 pounds). Marmot: 888/357-3262; /marmot.com/.


Golite takes weatherproofing to a new level this spring with waterproof, breathable Pertex Endurance Arid Zones featured in the hood and foot boxes of the Adrenaline 20. With emphasis on protection from the condensation that can seep from tent walls, this mummy bag also features another new trend: a mixture of vertical and horizontal baffles, which optimize the distribution of the 800-fill down. Designed with a trimmer mummy shape for higher warmth efficiency, this model comes with a close-fitting SkullGlove hood, front-half zipper for better insulation and temperature control, and soft polyester micro fiber lining and an even distribution of fill. MSRP: $325 (20 degree F bag; 1 pound 14 ounces). GoLite: 888/546-5483; /golite.com/.


Exped uses horizontal- and vertical-baffle construction in its new Woodpecker sleeping bag. Made with ultra-light, water-resistant and breathable Texped ripstop nylon, the Woodpecker is insulated with 750-fill down that’s evenly distributed in horizontal and vertical tuck-stitched baffles. This classic mummy bag is also lined with a polyester ripstop fabric. Its simple but elegant design also features 3-D oversized draft collars, full-length zippers and an inner pocket for small storage. MSRP: $280 (20 degree F bag; 2 pounds 4 ounces). Exped by Outdoor Research: 800/421-2421; /orgear.com/.


Slumberjack has introduced something camping couples will really love-a new airbed-compatible two-person sleeping bag called the Sympatico. This rectangular two-person bag can be used on its own or in conjunction with a traditional queen-size inflatable airbed using an elastic cord that fits snugly around the mattress. The bottom of the bag has an insulated layer, which provides a warm, comfortable barrier between the cold mattress top and the sleeping bag’s occupants. Filled with resilient and lofty Thermolite Extra insulation, the bag is lined with a plush, poly-cotton liner while the shell bag is made from a water-resistant and durable diamond ripstop material. It also features an insulated draft tube, hook and loop closure and anti-snag zipper protection. MSRP: $130 (40 degree F bag; 8 pounds 4 ounces). Slumberjack: 800/233-6283; /slumberjack.com/.


We all come in different shapes and sizes, and designers at Eureka! created the Casper 15 mummy bag for women. This model adds more room through the hip area and extra insulation in the chest and foot area, where women loose the heat the fastest. Using a durable, water-resistant polyester diamond ripstop shell and a wicking polyester taffeta lining, this lightweight mummy features the highly compactable, durable and lofty Rteq synthetic filling, which is bound together using double-layer quilt construction. Complete with a fully adjustable contoured hood, full-length draft tube, trapezoidal foot box and an inside stash pocket, this bag embodies functional comfort. MSRP: $90 (15 degree F bag; 2 pounds 12 ounces). Eureka!: 800/572-8822; /eurekatent.com/.


Coleman introduced its first series of women’s mummy bags to its line this spring, which includes the Exponent Klickitat X40. Filled with exceptionally warm, lightweight and compressible Climashield XP insulation (with extra in the footbox and torso areas), this performance mummy also features a water-resistant and durable nylon ripstop shell and a soft nylon liner that includes an antimicrobial treatment to slow growth of odor-causing bacteria. This three-season bag includes a full-length draft tube, insulated chest baffle, angled trapezoidal foot box, and ground level side seams that prevent rising heat from escaping. MSRP: $120 (40 degree F bag; 3 pounds 8 ounces). Coleman: 800/835-3278; /coleman.com/.


For the larger-than-life camper, Lafuma introduces the Outdoor XXL, which measures 88 inches long and 39 inches wide. Insulated with Aero 1 synthetic fill, this rectangular poly-cotton sleeping bag is lined with traditional fuzzy flannel and outfitted with a removable hood, pillow pocket, interior pockets and full-length two-way left and right zips. MSRP: $60 (35 degree F bag; 4 pounds 10 ounces). LaFuma: 800/524-4807; /lafumausa.com/.


For kids venturing into the great outdoors, Wenzel hips up their Camo Rectangular bag with pink or blue graphics. Using quilt-through construction, this bag features non-allergenic Insul-Therm performance insulation with a polyester shell and lining as well as self-repairing zippers. MSRP: $15 (40 degree F bag; 2 pounds 8 ounces). Wenzel: 800/325-8362; /wenzelco.com/.


Snug and warm, the Bass Pro Shops 0 degree Mummy Sleeping Bag features a shell made from rugged polyester, with a soft cotton percale liner, and is filled with 56-ounces of non-allergenic solid core insulation. The bag’s double-layer offset quilted construction helps to eliminate drafts; and the oversized, fleece-lined foot section makes for warm toes at night. A sculpted hood, two-way zipper with draft tube, and an insulated collar are also featured. Includes stuff sack. MSRP: $50. (0 degree F bag; 5 pounds 8 ounces). Bass Pro: 800/BASS-PRO; /basspro.com/.


Sierra Designs’ new ultra-light Lazer (or women’s Flare), is filled with Primaloft’s new Recycled synthetic insulation. An Earth-friendly insulation developed from recycled plastic bottles to create Eco Spun fibers, this fill is durable, weather-resistant, lightweight, compressible and soft to the touch. The Lazer also uses Flex construction, which are elasticized baffles stitched into the mid-section of the bag that provide optimal thermal efficiency and unrestricted movement. Though the ultra-light series is stripped of everything but the necessities, other new Sierra Designs sleeping bags feature waterproof-breathable Drizone fabric for cold weather, stormproof Welded Seam Construction, Funk!Off Liner treatment that lets sunlight naturally break down dirt and oils, and Expedition Jacket Hoods that lock in warmth and block light. MSRP: $199 (30 degree F bag; 2 pounds 2 ounces). Sierra Designs: 800/635-0461; /sierradesigns.com/.


Sleeping Pads

Designed for kids, the new Coleman Nightlight Airbed ($27) features a built-in battery-powered nightlight. The three-LED light fits snuggly into the airbed’s built-in light pocket, and floats if dropped into the water. Big Agnes’ new Diversion Insulated Air Core pads ($85-95) feature 100 percent recycled ripstop nylon shell fabric, Climashield HL Green insulation, and a recycled aluminum valve. Or update your old pad with Big Agnes’ sleeping giant memory pad upgrade kit ($60-80). The Eureka! RapidAir Pad ($60) is the first self-inflating camp pad on the market to offer a dual-valve system, making both inflation and deflation fast and easy. The clearly marked valves keep the air in when you need it, out when you don’t, and it’s available in three sizes.

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