When I went to Canada with my parents in September 2017, we vastly underestimated how cold it would be. In every campground, everyone else was sleeping in trailers, while we huddled in a tent with our very unhappy seven-pound Jack Russell mix. We got in our sleeping bags when the sun had barely vanished and stayed there until the craving for caffeine outweighed the desire for warmth.
My sleeping bag was a decade-old down model, at its peak only expected to be warm down to ten degrees. That night it was in the teens, and I’m a cold sleeper, so to fortify its insulation, I layered it inside a flannel-lined sleeping bag inherited from my grandpa that weighed about ten pounds. My mom dubbed this combo the “turducken” as she snuggled up in her then brand-new Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch bag. She attached it to my dad’s matching bag, and the dog—a living space heater—curled up blissfully between them.
I survived the trip—my hacked-together sleeping solution was warm enough. But I did test out the Lamina one morning when my mom got up to make coffee, and I instantly coveted its pillowy coziness. I dreamed of all the cold-weather adventures it could afford. That said, I couldn’t justify using my limited college-kid funds to upgrade a piece of gear I already had in my kit. I went home, put my bag back in my apartment closet, and convinced myself it was fine. I was thrilled, then, to find my very own Lamina under the Christmas tree that December. I climbed into it headfirst in the middle of my parents’ living room, overjoyed. This bag wasn’t just fine—it was luxurious.
The bag’s name comes from its laminated synthetic insulation, which is attached directly to the shell to prevent cold spots caused by traditional baffle stitching. The smooth surface also helps shed moisture in damp winter conditions, and because it’s synthetic, it still maintains warmth when wet. The inside feels like a cloud wrapped in silk sheets, thanks to the polyester-taffeta lining. The tough ripstop shell is super quiet; there’s very little of the plastic rustle that most bags make. The added flap of insulation at the top of the bag is designed to prevent drafts and feels like pulling a fluffy comforter up around your shoulders. The roomy footbox lets you wiggle your toes without compressing the bag. Sadly, this specific model has been discontinued, but the updated model is the Lamina 0F/-18C ($220), which has an improved draft collar, stuffs smaller, and comes in red instead of Pepto-Bismol pink.
The Lamina Z Torch has extended my car-camping season by at least a month on either end (at nearly five pounds and 9 inches by 18 inches when stuffed, it’s too heavy and bulky to take backpacking) and has lent me many nights of blissful sleep under the stars (or rain fly). It saved me in Ouray, Colorado, when I woke up one late-fall morning to more than an inch of rain turned snow on my frozen-stiff tent. And it temporarily salvaged a relationship, when I graciously lent it to an ex while I toughed it out in my old bag with a puffy jacket and two pairs of socks.
I love it dearly, but it’s not something I ever would have spent my own money on, which has made it the perfect gift. It lets me enjoy the outdoors even more and reminds me that my parents want me to be out there on adventures—while staying warm and safe. And isn’t that Christmas cheer at its finest?