Sacks for a comfortable night’s sleep, wherever you lay your head.


outside buyers guide
Kammok Thylacine. (Kammok)

​Kammok Thylacine ($627)

Gear of the Year 

Ten years ago, the biggest difference between sleeping bags was their stuffing: slight variations in synthetic or down insulation. Today things have changed—a lot. Head into a gear shop and the offerings include comforters and oversize down jackets. Zippers run in many directions or are left out altogether. Some bags change shape. Of the 20 we tested in conditions ranging from the beaches of Mexico to early-season snow in Canada’s Coast Range, the Kammok Thylacine proved the most versatile. It was hardly a fair fight, given that this is three bags packed into one. Think of it like a Russian nesting doll. The outer layer is a 1.9-pound, mummy-shaped base bag ($329) stuffed with 750-fill water-resistant down. It’s perfect for 50-degree canoe camping, is roomy enough that you can sleep on your side, and compresses down to the size of a small watermelon. Colder testers called for adding the Thylacine’s down liner ($199) to add 15 degrees of warmth and elevate the bag to a three-season tool. If that’s not enough, an additional mummy-shaped comforter ($99) further boosts heat retention; it should keep you warm down to zero degrees. Call it one bag—in three pieces—to rule them all. Zero degrees; 2.5 lbs

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outside buyers guide
Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 15. (Sierra Designs)

Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 15 ($250)

Best For: Stretching out when it’s chilly.

The Test: Quilt-style bags are our favorites in summer. They allow for stretching, tossing, and turning, and make it easy to adjust the covers. But sealing out drafts is impossible, and quilts lack the hoods of their full-zip brethren, so most don’t play when the mercury drops. This one does. Sierra Designs took a 700-fill down comforter and added a foot box and—most clutch—a hood. When the temperature got close to freezing, they made all the difference.

The Verdict: The first three-season quilt-style sleeping bag. 15 degrees; 1.9 lbs

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outside buyers guide
Kelty Sine 35. (Kelty)

Kelty Sine 35 ($240)

Best For: Customizable ventilation.

The Test: Kelty left linear thinking behind with this 800-fill, sub-two-pound bag. Baffles are stitched diagonally to help reduce down migration and cold spots. The second and more noticeable deviation: two diagonal zippers in lieu of the traditional side opening. The upper zipper makes for easy entry and exit. The other vents the feet. “The diagonal zip felt more natural and like less of a contortion, especially from inside the bag,” said a tester.

The Verdict: A smart choice for almost everything. 35 degrees; 1.9 lbs

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outside buyers guide
Nemo Disco 15. (Nemo)

Nemo Disco 15 ($300)

Best For: Side sleepers who like to sprawl.

The Test: In the Disco, Nemo combines two of its award-winning innovations to create a sleeping bag with range—literally. The spoon-shaped design widens at the shoulders and knees, so it doesn’t constrict when sleeping on your side. If things get stuffy, unzip the two gill-like chest vents to cool the bag without drafts. On a 55-degree night, our testers opened the gills and left the bag’s full zip open for maximum venting.

The Verdict: Plenty roomy and always the perfect temperature. 15 degrees; 2.4 lbs

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outside buyers guide
The North Face Hyper Cat. (The North Face)

The North Face Hyper Cat ($240)

Best For: Making synthetic insulation great again.

The Test: The North Face brags that this is the lightest 20-degree synthetic sleeping bag on the market. Indeed, the Hyper Cat challenges the weight-to-warmth ratio of down bags by compressing to the size of a loaf of bread yet lofting with featherlike puffiness. “Until I read about it, I thought it was down,” confessed a tester who hauled it along on a backpacking mission. The secret: both long and short synthetic fibers layered into vertical baffles.

The Verdict: If it looks like down and feels like down… well, it’s close. 20 degrees; 1.9 lbs

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outside buyers guide
Big Agnes Hazel SL 15. (Big Agnes)

Big Agnes Hazel SL 15 ($300)

Best For: A perfect fit.

The Test: Women’s bodies tend to run colder than men’s during sleep, and roomy bags with lots of dead space cut down on insulating power. To provide a cozier bag for female campers—or anyone wishing to beat the shivers in the backcountry—Big Agnes’s design team outfitted the Hazel with a series of clips and straps to cinch the bag snug and squeeze out excess air. “On chilly nights I could tighten it up around my legs, and I slept warmer,” said a tester.

The Verdict: A shape-shifting bag for cold sleepers. 15 degrees; 2.8 lbs

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outside buyers guide
Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 19F. (Patagonia)

Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 19F ($500)

Best For: Taking up peaks and down trails.

The Test: Before founding Patagonia in the seventies, Yvon Chouinard built his own sleeping bag with a two-way center zip. It allowed him to stay tied into his harness while sleeping on big walls, the rope sliding through the bottom of the zipper. Patagonia has resurrected the design but added modern refinements. Stitches puncture the outer or inner fabric, not both, keeping down and heat in. And DWR lends the 15-denier shell water resistance.

The Verdict: Old dog plus new tricks equals a bag for the ages. 19 degrees; 2.1 lbs

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Travel

The Best Summer Hiking Boots of 2017

We tested dozens of boots last season. These 10 stood out for their versatility, durability, and comfort.  La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX ($200) La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX. (Courtesy of REI) (Pictured above) The lines separating specialty hiking boots from one another got sharper this year. Looking to set a fastest known time up a Colorado fourteener? There’s a shoe for that. Carrying a 50-pound pack through the Montana wilderness? There’s a shoe for that, too. Of course, there are still good old dependable hiking boots that refuse to be pigeonholed. Take the La Sportiva Nucleo High

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Travel

The Best Women's Hiking Gear of 2017

The perfect assortment for all manner of out-and-backs.  Grayl Ultralight purifier. (Courtesy of Grayl) Grayl Ultralight Purifier ($60) This sleek dual-canister filter basically French-presses viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts from your water in just 15 seconds. Simply fill it, press down on the inner cylinder, and drink up. Buy Now Marmot Knife Edge jacket. (Courtesy of Marmot) Marmot Knife Edge Jacket ($225) Despite its gauzy weight (just 11 ounces), this waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex PacLite shell kept us dry in dreary Minnesota sleet. And the details are spot-on, like an adjustable hood with an

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Travel

The Best Summer Jackets of 2017

Layers of every stripe.  Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds (Courtesy Helly Hansen) Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds ($400) Gear of the Year There is a glut of jackets out there, many of them highly refined tools designed for very specific pursuits. Take, for instance, a Gore-Tex shell that thinks it’s a fleece, or an athletic midlayer that you can wear every day for three straight months. Of course, there are also some do-it-all workhorses, which brings us to the Odin 9 Worlds. It shrugged off everything we could throw at it, then laughed in our faces.

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Travel

The Best Dog Gear of 2017

Everything you and your pal need for the best summer ever.  L.L. Bean Pillow dog bed. L.L. Bean Pillow Bed ($79) This 3-by-2.5-foot lounger is plenty big for your dog to stretch out, and the removable polyester cover sheds hair with a spin in the washing machine.  Buy Now ​ Mountainsmith K9 pack. Mountainsmith K9 Pack ($60) This is the only bag our dogs look comfortable wearing. Spandex in the straps allows for uninhibited movement, and the 24-liter capacity fits food and a few treats for longer hikes. Buy Now

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Travel

The Best Summer Packs of 2017

Beasts of burden that shoulder the load for you. Osprey Aether AG 70 pack. (Osprey) Osprey Aether AG 70 ($310) Gear of the Year It seems like every pack this year is trotting out a creative new spin—from a sliding waist belt to a cinching design that turns an expedition loader into a daypack. Nowhere is that progress more blissfully apparent, and comfortable, than with the Aether AG (and its sister pack, the Ariel AG 65) and its trampoline-like back panel. The suspended mesh dispersed weight over every lumbar contour and made a 40-pound load feel

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Travel

The Best Multi-Tools of 2017

Sidekicks for any scenario.  Gerber Center-Drive (Courtesy Gerber) Gerber Center-Drive ($119) The four-inch screwdriver provides tons of torque on stubborn screws and can easily squeeze into tight nooks. At 9.5 ounces and nearly five inches long when closed, the Center-Drive isn’t suited for long expeditions, but after we used it to change out a busted headlight on a decades-old Camry, it earned a permanent spot in our glove box. Buy Now MSR Stake Hammer (Courtesy MSR) MSR Stake Hammer ($30) Yes, you can use a rock to pound tent stakes into

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Travel

The Best Summer Tents of 2017

Shelters for wherever the trail takes you.  MSR Access 2 tent (Courtesy MSR) MSR Access 2 ($600) If you haven’t upgraded your hiking shelter in a while, you’re missing out. Weights are tumbling, while living space, durability, and feature sets continue to grow, making for tents that perform year-round. MSR’s Access 2 is at the extreme end of this trend. Until it came along, most options fell into one of two categories: three or four­season. Take a light three-season shelter winter camping and you’ll be cold and miserable. Four-season tents, with their extra poles and

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Travel

The Best Bouldering Gear of 2017

Work your project from the ground up. Petzl Alto Crash Pad. (Courtesy of Petzl)  Petzl Alto Crash Pad ($300) With three layers of dense foam, the Alto has plenty of cushion for big falls. What’s more, the hingeless design means you can sandwich gear between the two halves before zipping it up—handy when schlepping from rock to rock. Buy Now Edelrid Boulder Bag 2. (Courtesy of Backcountry) Edelrid Boulder Bag 2 ($30) This cavernous container holds all the chalk you could need for weeks of climbing, and the twist closure mitigates spillage. Buy

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Travel

The Best Lights of 2017

We’re experiencing a renaissance in camp lighting. Renewable power sources are adding versatility, LEDs continue to push efficiency to new levels, and materials are getting lighter, making it easier than ever to walk away from our outlets at home. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 (Courtesy of Goal Zero) Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 ($80) The trend toward lanterns that integrate other features, like backup power, extends to two beautiful new pieces of green tech. Goal Zero’s Lighthouse 400 (400 lumens) can be juiced with solar panels like the Nomad 7 ($89), by USB, or, in a sunless

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