Modern fabrics and the latest technologies help you slip into something more comfortable.
By Stephen Regenold
Photographs by John R. Fulton Jr.
Lean back, breathe out, and close your eyes. It’s 11 p.m., the end of a hard day, and time for bed. Your sleeping bag is cinched shut, with warmth seeping in, and your pad a buffer above firm ground. Believe it: A quality sleeping bag can feel more comfortable than a bed. Add crisp night air, stars, and a full belly from the Dutch oven peach cobbler, and you’ve got a formula for a good rest in the great outdoors.
So here are our choices for five new bags, from a summer-weight cover to a mummy made for 30-below, guaranteed to keep you cozy in any season—all night long.
Sierra Designs Wicked Hot
Rated to 45°
Backpackers going light on the summer trail will love the Wicked Hot, a bag that packs small and provides enough insulation for nights down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It weighs a mere 23 ounces—lighter than a single hiking boot. On warmer nights, a zippered foot vent opens to provide air for your toes. Eco bonus: The Wicked Hot comes stuffed with a PrimaLoft insulation derived from used plastic bottles. They’re shredded, spun, and born again for life anew inside the bag.
Rated to 25°
Made for spring, summer, and fall, this versatile Zen has a mummy hood and a face shell of rip-stop nylon for durability on the ground. A roomy foot box and full-length zipper with draft protection add comfort and warmth. Pad loops provide attachment points to keep you from rolling onto the tent floor. The entire package, which employs synthetic insulation rated for 25-degree nights, crams into a basketball-size stuff sack for transport on the trail.
Rated to 35°
This classic rectangle sleeping bag has served campers like you for decades. But Kelty has updated the old design with a two-layer quilt, offset to eliminate cold spots. It’s rated to 35 degrees, using a soft polyester-cotton liner and hollow-core synthetic insulation to keep you toasty warm. For more temperate nights, unzip the Eclipse to convert it into a large, cushy blanket. Extras include a pillow pouch and a pocket for the flashlight or other necessities you need to keep close at night.
Mountain Hardwear LAMINA
Rated to minus-30°
No featherweight, the LAMINA weighs in at 5.5 pounds. But it’s warm. Mountain Hardwear rates this mummy for nights to minus-30 degrees. A wide cut and billowed synthetic insulation helps retain body heat. Offset quilting and welded seams eliminate cold spots. And for your head and face, a hood and draft collar seal in warm air.
Big Agnes Skinny Fish
Rated to 20°
Bags from Big Agnes have gained fame for a system that mates sleeping bag and pad via an underside bag-length sleeve. Inflate your pad and insert it into the sleeve. The result: a bed-like platform that you cannot roll off. The Skinny Fish, a three-season bag, is good down to 20 degrees. It’s also a feat of sustainable design, incorporating 100 percent recycled-content insulation with a 100 percent recycled rip-stop nylon shell. Comfortable and eco-conscious.
Stephen Regenold writes "The Gear Junkie," a column on outdoors equipment at www.gearjunkie.com.
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September - October 2009 Table of Contents