Manufacturer’s Website: www.golite.com
The GoLite Flash is a synthetic-fill sleeping bag with an additional zip-on insulated top for colder weather. It has a full-length zipper and can be used in three modes:
- With The top alone as a quilt;
- As an ordinary sleeping bag;
- With the sleeping bag and top zipped together to add extra warmth.
The GoLite Flash appears to be designed for those who are not zealous enough to use the company’s hoodless, bottomless, sleeping systems but who still want a lightweight synthetic sleeping bag.
Three shell materials are used:
- Black Pertex for the inside of the main bag and the underside of the zip-on top quilt
- Mini-double ripstop on the outer shell of the main bag
- GoDri waterproof-breathable fabric on the outside of the zip-on top
The sewn-through seam-sealed top of the main bag is probably suitable only for protection from splashes or condensation, not a serious watering, although with synthetic insulation this is not as much of a problem as it is with down sleeping bags.
The insulation is Polarguard 3D which has the best reputation for durability amongst synthetic sleeping bag insulations. The bottom of the bag has a single layer of Polarguard 3D. The thin insulation on the bottom means that little loft is wasted by being crushed beneath the sleeper. This allows GoLite to put the rest of the insulation where it counts most, over the sleeper. The sleeping bag upper has two offset quilted layers. The zip-on top has a single layer of sewn-through Polarguard 3D. The seams on the top are quilted to coincide with those on the upper of the bag rather than in the preferable offset location.
The Flash appears to be well made with neat seams and tidy finishing.
The bag is mummy-shaped with a fairly narrow foot and leg section but plenty of room around the chest area so that the user can wear extra clothes and still be quite mobile in the torso and arms. The floor is narrow so that the sides of the sleeper have thick insulation all the way to the ground. One nice feature of the zip-on top is that in really cold weather you can slide more clothing between the main sleeping bag and top quilt — something that you usually need a bivy sack to do.
The top could conceivably be used by itself as a quilt, but the piece is narrow — 36″ at the widest point. Unless the sleeper is very still, ties may be necessary to hold it to the sleeping mat. The sewn-through quilting means that there is no insulation at each seam in this configuration.
The hood has good loft and is generously sized. With the use of its single one-handed drawcord, it shapes nicely around the head, without compressing the insulation. There is a cozy neck muff and a “beak” flap over the forehead.
One reviewer questioned whether the zip-on top’s extra half inch of loft (as measured by the reviewer) justified an additional 14 oz of weight. This person spoke in favor of just adding an extra layer of insulation to the main bag and skipping the zip-on top layer, pointing out that this saves the weight of two fabric layers and two full-length zippers.
The Flash is a flexible sleeping system that saves the hiker from buying both a +40 and +20 sleeping bag. Most manufacturers use a full-circumference liner or overbag in their dual- temperature sleep systems. GoLite puts all the additional loft over the sleeper, where it counts most. This saves both weight and bulk. The zip-on top layer also performs some of the functions of a bivy sack. This is nice for colder and windier weather. Some hikers not so enthusiastic about dual-temperature sleep systems may feel that 54 ounces is not particularly light for a +20°F synthetic bag. (By comparison, for the same temperature rating, the single person GoLite Fur 1 is only 29 oz although it lacks a hood. This may be a moot point. If you are considering a Fur 1 then you are probably not a candidate for the Flash. Note: GoLite is redesigning the Fur 1 for this year.) However, the Flash appears well-constructed with a nicely shaped hood, clever distribution of insulation, a nice set of features, and good detailing.