Im looking for a new sleeping bag to fit my large fre (66) and small budget. Id like a 20- to 30-degree bag, preferably down. What do you suggest? Kenny Cedarville, Ohio
A bag for you can get a little bit spendy, particularly the down variety. Normally I like to recommend the Feathered Friends Swallow (featheredfriends.com), a really excellent bag rated to 20 degrees. But its $350, with a standard nylon shell, in a length that will fit you. Sierra Designs Rain Shadow (sierradesigns.com), a 30-degree bag with quality down fill and a highly water-resistant shell, goes for $289. Thats not cheap, I concede, but you need to balance that against the long life of such a bag.
REI Sub Kilo +20 Sleeping Bag
Sub Kilo +20 Sleeping Bag
Still, there are other good options, mainly from companies that sell bags under their own brand name. Youre back east, so Eastern Mountain Sports likely is a name you know. The EMS Mountain Light 20-degree bag ($239; ems.com) has fluffy 725-fill down, a high-end Pertex nylon shell thats light, tough, and water-repellent, and a snug-fitting adjustable hood. Thats pretty good! Ive used EMS bags and think they are excellent.
Ive also used and liked bags from L.L. Bean, although the Beanies have backed off a little from trying to compete in the high-end bag arena. Its current 20-degree offering, the Goose Down Mummy 20 ($179; llbean.com), uses mid-range 625-fill down and weighs two pounds, 12 ounces in size long. Its a good choice if nickels really are being counted.
REI has a similar offering in its Sub Kilo +20 bag ($249; rei.com). It has very slightly higher-loft down than the EMS bag, and a polyester ripstop shell. I like polyester shells in bags because they are naturally water repellent (polyester can absorb much less water than nylon) and reasonably priced compared with techy" shell materials. It weighs a touch less than the EMS bag and costs a touch more.
The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.