It took a lot for me to let go of The North Face down sleeping bag I’ve had for about two decades, in spite of its becoming flatter and flatter by the year. It had been with me through the Andes, North Africa, much of Europe, and the sentimental attachment had passed way beyond anything kosher.
But once I tried the Go-Lite Venture 0-degree bag ($400), I happily dumped the old one, and haven’t looked back. With 800-fill goose down, it’s deliciously warm, totally comfortable, and as spacious as I need, as GoLite calls it, "a wider mummy shape." But it’s also amazingly light, at just three pounds(!). Yet when you pull it out of its stuff sack, it swells up like a warm cloud if you give it a good shake.
You can either jam your clothes in the hood for a pillow, or else pull the hood tight over your head and use the draw strings for a cozy incubation. With strategically-placed sections of highly-breathable, waterproof Pertex Endurance fabric around the hood and feet, the bag stays dry thanks to a paper-thin membrane. It packs away to the size of many a bag offering half its warmth. It also has a full-length zip.
Disadvantages? In a bag that weighs so little and keeps you warm in the single digits, the downside might be the cost – though it’s worth every penny of its $400.
HenryShukman has been travel-writing since the age of nineteen, when hewrote his first book, Sons of the Moon, about a half-year working andbackpacking in the Andes. A prize-winning poet and novelist fromEngland, he now lives with his young family in New Mexico, where hestill loves few things more than a good long hike.
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