Sea Kayaking

Feb 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Big Agnes Cross Mountain (synthetic) If you've ever slid off a slick mattress pad onto the cold ground, you'll appreciate the 40-degree Big Agnes Cross Mountain ($120). This semirectangular two-pound, three-ounce bag is insulated only on top (with 19 ounces of Polarguard 3D). The bottom of the bag is a simple envelope into which you insert any 20-inch-wide pad. Toss, turn, thrash—no matter, you stay aligned above the pad. And because there's no insulation beneath you, the bag is less likely to soak up water. At 70 inches across the shoulder, the Cross Mountain is big enough to slip the Encampment, another Big Agnes bag, inside, giving you a multilayer all-Polarguard system good to minus 10 degrees. Complaints? The zipper only extends two-thirds the length of the bag, annoying in a summer-weight design.
Sierra Designs Metamorph (synthetic) All you need is a heavy drumbeat to accompany the striptease act of the Metamorph ($220). Zip off the top layer and the bag converts from a buxom three-pound, 11-ounce, 15-degree model to a lithe two-pound, eight-ounce, 30-degree waif. The top is no simple augmentation, though; It's cut to wrap around the bag on three sides, integrating with the bottom layer rather than squashing it. Both shells are treated to repel moisture, so you don't lose weather protection in either mode. No matter which configuration you're in, you'll notice the room inside: 63 inches at the shoulder and 43 inches at the foot. The hood (part of the bottom bag) is large and comfortable. Underneath, two straps help secure your sleeping pad against slippage.

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