Gear: Sleeping Bags

For Christmas 2011, I was travelling in Te Anau, New Zealand with a close friend , and we both decided to buy each other just one present. So, a few days before Christmas, we drove into town and gave each other an hour or so to find something for the other person. I had already decided I was buying a sleeping bag, and headed to an outdoor gear store on the main street, but I accidentally saw my friend leaving the store.

When I walked in, I asked the sales assistant what he had purchased – a sleeping bag. So on Christmas day, my friend was shocked when both of us opened sleeping bags.

I had gotten Kiwi Camping’s Bounty, at less than 2kgs, and -7 to -12 celsius temp comfort range. The idea was that since I often was cold at night, the temperature range was the most important specification considered. When purchasing my friend’s bag, I looked at the packed size and weight as the most important.

The sleeping bag has never let me down warmth-wise, but I can’t get over the large packed size. I’m not sure if this is enough to set me back the price of a new one, but it’s worth looking into.

Obviously packed size and weight are important, but so is insulation and temperature range. Packed size and weight is pretty dependent on the type of insulation; down or synthetic. Down is light and compressible, but expensive. Synthetic is warmer, less compressible but cheaper. It’s a bit of give and take.

I love my current temperature rating, since it doesn’t get colder than that in Australia anyway, and I’m not using it for a winter sleeping bag (where I’d recommend getting -10 degrees celsius and lower range). A lot of women’s model sleeping bags are now made slightly lower range in terms of temperature than men, as well as being shorter, wider at the hips and narrower at the shoulders.

My contenders so far:

1. REI’s Igneo at 800-fill down, waterproof, able to be ‘lowered’ to -13 degrees celsius and sits around 350 bucks. Outdoor Gear Lab Review

2. Sierra DriDown Zissou 6 Degree 860gs packed weight, temperature to -14 degrees.

3. Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15  800-fill down, 930gs packed weight, temperature to -9 degrees. Outdoor Gear Lab Review

4. Katabatic Gear Palisade 900gs packed weight. Completely sold out at the moment.

The Sierra DriDown Zissou 6 Degree is my favourite so far, with the Katabatic Gear Palisade right behind it (it keeps getting awesome reviews, selling out, and winning awards).

Any recommendations? What’s your favourite sleeping bag?

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