Gear Test: Coleman Cloudcroft Sleeping Bag

May 22, 2006
Filed under Camping Gear, Sleeping Gear

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In a market of $350-plus price tags, what the world needs is a good, affordable down sleeping bag. Well, thanks to Coleman that wish has been answered. New to the Coleman Exponent line of sleeping bags is a series of six top-quality mummy bags filled with goose down and ranging in price from $120 to $215, depending upon size and temperature range selected. These Cloudcroft bags are available in regular and long sizes (31×80 inches or 32×88 inches, respectively) and in temperature ranges of 40, 20 and 0 degrees F.

The wonderful thing about down is its unexcelled warmth-to-weight ratio and its exceptional compressibility for easy stowage in a stuff sack. To be fair, down also has a negative side — when it gets wet, it loses its insulation value and the easily compressed down leaves you with almost no padding between you and the ground. Of course, there are ways to mitigate the problem areas. Don’t use a down bag where it is likely to get wet. Use it with a waterproof bivy bag or sleep inside a tent.

These bags are covered and lined with 310 Tactel nylon material that was chosen for its “downproof” quality that keeps the down from poking through the weave. Besides that, the material is very comfortable to the touch, evidenced by the fact that it is used for clothing, swimwear and even lingerie.

Construction includes insulated zipper gussets to keep the heat in and ground-level side seams to prevent rising heat from escaping. The 0-degree bag features a full-length draft tube and insulated chest baffle to optimize heat retention. Every bag has two cinch cords for adjusting the hood. The two cords are color coded and shap-ed differently (one flat, one round), so they cannot be confused, even in the dark. One cord adjusts the top, while the other one works on the lower portion of the hood. The foot box is trapezoidal, angled to allow a natural foot position while sleeping. The double-slide zipper provides easy ventilation adjustment, and a zipper guard prevents snags. An interior utility pocket is handy for small items.

I tested the largest and most expensive bag: The 0-degree long. The nearly full-length zipper made it easy to get in and out, and because the zipper can be opened at the bottom, it provided welcome ventilation for this very warm bag. For a big guy like me, the cut of the bag is a little tight around the chest and shoulders (I’m a bit claustrophobic), but the long is plenty long.

Overall, the bag is very comfortable. Even as compressible as the down is, it was still a struggle to cram it all into the stuff sack. Total weight of the bag I tested was 3 pounds, 13 ounces. The packed size is 8×16 inches, after a little “umph” to get it all in. For a 0-degree bag, that’s hard to beat. And at a retail price of only $215, this is what the world has been waiting for. Coleman: 800/835-3278; coleman.com

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