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Sleeping Bag Buyer’s Guide
You can sleep easy in any of these top-notch sleeping bags
From the pages of Camping Life Magazine
You can rest easy now knowing that this year’s sleeping bags are greener and a better value than ever, offering real worth for less money. By using more sustainable fabrics and fibers, companies have found new ways to make lofty, lightweight, and compressible family bags at affordable prices so everyone’s comfortable in camp.
Take for instance Kelty’s Forecast 20, a three-season made of 60 percent recycled Climashield Green continuous filament insulation, while the shell and liner are made with 100 percent recycled polyester, and zippers made with 55 percent post-consumer recycled. Offered in both men’s and women’s, it features external snaps for use as a liner inside another sleeping bag, as well as a top baffle collar, hood baffle and ground level side seams for maximum heat retention. The Forecast also uses a two-way hip length zipper and zippered foot vent for further temperature regulation. MSRP: $150. 20F, men’s; 3 pounds 9 ounces;
Sierra Designs’ Verde 40 is another great example of affordable eco-friendly sleeping bags with high performance features in a lightweight package, this time using 100 percent Climashield Green continuous filament insulation, 100 percent recycled EcoSensor polyester shell, and a naturally anti-microbial Cocona liner made with mix of recycled polyester and embedded with activated carbon yarn that pulls moisture away from skin all the while attracting and trapping odors until they’re released in the wash. Using continuous baffle construction that keeps insulation from migrating, the Verde also features an insulated draft tube along the full-length zipper, ergonomic hood and footbox, as well as a convenient chest pocket. MSRP: $159 ($179, long). 40F; 2 pounds 10 ounces. Sierra Designs: 800/635-0461;
Featuring Primaloft’s new lightweight Infinity continuous filament synthetic fiber, the Boreal 20 from Eastern Mountain Sport (EMS) is another example of how synthetic technology is changing from short staple fibers (flexible fibers now used mostly in gloves, shoes, and garments) to continuous fibers in sleeping bags for better loft, compressibility, and durability without clumping or shifting. It also features a DWR-treated 40D nylon ripstop shell that repels spills and tent condensation, a 3/4 length two-way zipper for ventilation, draft tube, ergonomic hood, sleeping pad loops for the optional addition of webbing to secure a sleeping pad as well as webbing foot loops for hanging the bag. MSRP: $149. 20F; 2 pounds 9 ounces. EMS: 888/463-6367;
REI however, uses two insulations to provide durable, lightweight and compressible comfort in the Zen 25, which is also offered in women’s and youth models. Using their exclusive Z-baffle construction features shorter baffles of large-denier fibers for retaining body heat, and longer baffles of fine-denier fibers for reflecting body heat back to you. This triangulated structure increases shell and lining support for increased loft and durability. This roomy mummy with a ripstop shell and nylon taffeta liner also features a hood, draft collar, full length zipper draft tube and ground level seams, as well as an external chest pocket, pillow pocket, sleeping pad loops, differentiated drawcords for easy identification. Unlike most bags, REI’s Zen also boasts the pricey EN (European Norm) standardized rating in an affordable package. MSRP: $159. 25F; 3 pounds 4 ounces. REI: 800/426-4840;
Another trend this year is hybrid shapes is exemplified by the Coleman Tasman X32, which bridges the gap between comfort and warmth by combining the roominess of a rectangular bag with the performance of a mummy. This bag is made with a polyester diamond ripstop shell and features a PerformX liner with moisture-wicking technology and antimicrobial treatment that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Using Coletherm synthetic fill in an offset-quilt construction, this bag also features a sculpted hood, easy to distinguish Which-One pull cords, ground-level side seams, full-length insulated draft tubes a roomy, comfortable oval foot compartment. MSRP: $60. 32F; 4 pounds 7 ounces. Coleman: 800/835-3278;
Last, but certainly not least, Slumberjack offers a full range a high-quality, value-priced bags for adults, but this year blew out the stops with an expanded line of great bags for children and youth, including the new girl’s Go-N-Grow, which features an expandable foot box that extends as a child grows making it ideal for toddlers all the way up to preteens. Using double offset, differential-cut construction that keeps insulation from clumping together and eliminates cold spots, this polyester taffeta bag also features an insulated draft tube, anti-snag zipper protection and a compression stuff sack that doubles as a backpack. MSRP: $55. 30F; 2 pounds 14 ounces.
Not a Bag
The Selk’Bag from Lippi is not a sleeping bag; it’s a sleep suit. The Slek’Bag offers insulation that separately surrounds the torso and the limbs, and more freedom of movement than a typical sleeping bag, making it much easier to find a comfortable sleeping position. Available in multiple sizes, two versions of the Selk’Bag are available. Selk’Bag 1 is rated to 32 degrees F. The Selk’Bag 2 is slightly lighter, and has a rating of 14.4 degrees F. The bags weigh 3.7 pounds (Selk’Bag 1) and 3.5 pounds (Selk’Bag 2) is 3.5 pounds), and a good choice for base campers. MSRP: $149 (1) and $229 (2). Lippi USA: 888/74-LIPPI;
In almost every instance, you need an insulating and cushioning sleeping pad to go under your new sleeping bag. Directed toward family campers is the new self-inflating REI Camp Bed, in two widths (2.5- and 3.5-inch), each available in regular (72x25-inch) or extra large (78x29-inch) sizes. The plush REI Camp Bed 3.5 provides an R-value (insulation index) of 7.0; other pads typically have an R-value in the 3.0 to 4.5 range. Cascade Designs offers the new Therm-A-Rest NeoAir (/thermarest.com/) inflatable (you blow it up) mattress, an ultralight and compact (2.5-inch thick) sleeping pad that features a reflective barrier to bounce back body heat and a matrix core with lots of internal air cells to trap heat. LaFuma’s (/lafumausa.com/) Max Comfort is another sleeping pad increasing comfort with a built in pillow and a micro suede top cover, as well as Velcro for pairing and two valves for easier inflation and deflation. Mammut’s women’s Bi-Core features soft stretch surface fabric that molds to the body’s contour while the ergonomic construction features Thermo Foam for extra support and insulation in pressure zones and weight saving Bi-Core Foam in the head and foot areas.
An alternative to the traditional sleeping bag, Cascade Designs’ Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter is more like a big fluffy down blanket that you wrap around yourself, and it can be used in conjunction with a Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad (using the company’s Mattress Snap Kit) and Fitted Sheet. Filled with 650 European down, the Ventra carries a 40 F degree rating.
Sleeping bag liner products such as the Cocoon Mummy Liners (
) available from Design Salt are a must-have for any serious camper, as the liners (choose from cotton, silk and other fabrics, in a variety of sizes to fit all bags) can be easily removed and cleaned separately, keeping the inside of your bag from getting dirty. Liners also add another layer of insulation.