I'm in search of a three-season sleeping bag for under $350 that is down-filled, is rated to about 15 degrees, weighs under three pounds, has a durable weatherproof shell, and includes a full-length zipper. I was going to buy the REI Sub Kilo but all the reviews say it rips easily. I've been considering the Mountainsmith Vision, the Mountain Hardwear Spectre SL, and the Marmot Hydrogen, too, but can you help me narrow the field? Philip Berkley, Massachusetts
A: Lots of choices in that price range. But where did you read that the Sub Kilo has so many problems? It's a great bagrated to 20, weighing just over two pounds, and replete with a Pertex nylon shell and lining and 700-fill down. AND it costs just $209. In fact, as I write this it's on sale for $146, which is awfully hard to beat (www.rei.com). I did read one mention of a slight tear in a seam, but that's a manufacturing issue that, A) is very easy to fix (and REI would certainly fix it for free), and B) probably a quality-control issue that has been dealt with. The shell/lining material itself should be good for many years of use. One potential drawback is that it doesn't have continuous baffling, so the down can shift a little. Some folks see that as a plus, though, as you can push the down to the sides in warmer weather.
Still, for under $350 you can get a truly high-end bag. An example: Western Mountaineering's estimable Apache ($289; www.westernmountaineering.com), rated to 20 degrees and weighing in at an even two pounds. Western's bags are beautifully made, and the Apache is more fully baffled than the Sub Kilo. Feathered Friends' Swallow ($270, or $320 for superlight Quantum Pertex shell; www.featheredfriends.com) weighs even less due to a slightly trimmer cut; I've used Swallows for years and think they're utterly fabulous sleeping bags. Or, if you think you can get away with a slightly higher temp rating, get a Marmot Arroyo ($250; www.marmot.com), my favorite bag of all time. It's rated to 30, but I've been in sub-freezing conditions (in a tent) multiple times with it.
Swallow sleeping bag