Nov 22, 2008 at 5:32 pm #1460226
To answer my own question, the online post I'd read about Valandre's sewing moving to Tunis was dated 2006. So probably any effect on pricing has already moved through the system.Nov 23, 2008 at 1:14 am #1460274TurleySpectator
@turleyLocale: So Cal
I was much in the same situation as you earlier this year and finally took the plunge and purchased a Valandre Mirage 3/4 Zip Bag. I contacted Dewey and Charles and their advice was on target and true in every regards to the Valandre product.
I think you will be very impressed upon receiving your bag. Although the Mirage is not rated to the temperatures as the Shocking Blue it has the same anotomical shaped baffles and footbox. Upon receiving my Mirage, I compared it to my WM Ultralight Super.
Shell/Fabric: the fabric Valandre uses is softer and allows the down to loft more rapidly than any previous bag I've had. This fabric also seems to repel water better than my WM shell.
Hood: I prefer the adjustability of the hood which uses a snap mechanism.
The stitching was impeccable.
I was initially concerned w/ the extreme taper from hips to foot in this bag. I'm a side sleeper and found this cut very efficient and not restricting at all. It drapes over me better than any previous bag – probably due to its baffle/cut design.
After a season of use, the only aspect I prefer on the WM bag is the zipper tape as it is much stiffer. The Valandre Zipper works very well however.
On the Olympic Peninsula, the Mirage has become my mid-spring to mid-late fall season bag.
Enjoy, ChristopherNov 23, 2008 at 2:29 am #1460275Fred ericBPL Member
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
Only part of the process is in France and the society has been danish for quite a few years.
However their goose bag are still great ( i would avoid the duck ones as for the same price you can buy a goose bag from some good brands)
I am using a mirage ( i prefered the short zip ) up to 0/-5°C with a fleece or a cocoon vest at -5°c. but my wife wouldnt use one under 5°C.
I like the cut : enough room to put some spare clothes for the torso area, less room for the legs as i dont have layers for them at those temps.
Up to now my wife and i owned
4 valandre bags
2 triple zero
lafuma bags arent that good and when you see they are stored compressed even in the factory shop..
of the valandré bags we are using the 2 mirages, the swing/classic 700 ones werent that good.
triple zero is a cottage gear maker , his down is at least as good as Valandré, and his bags worth a serious look.Nov 23, 2008 at 11:46 am #1460325
(This might be a bit long. Please read to the end before drawing conclusions.)
The Shocking Blue arrived Friday. The first thing that strikes one is that this is not a bag made to hang in a gear shop and look plumply seductive. The fabric holds creases, more than any other I've seen used in sleeping bags, and, laid out with no one in it, the anatomically shaped baffles collapse slightly and form miniature canyons that run the length of the bag.
The color, as people have noted, is no longer shocking (or Lego) blue, but a reserved grayish-blue. Of course this has nothing to do with the bag's function, but may reflect an evolution in the designer's sensibility.
There's a degree of intricacy to the bag's construction that's unusual. The hood, the collar, the long (and, by BPL standards, probably a bit weight-expensive) zipper storm flap, all seem thought-through and chosen to create a product that will work in an extreme environment. By contrast, most other bags have a more unified look, but don't look nearly as "tough" or "functional". The wrinkly fabric choice is consistent with this–it looks like it will loft better than 1.1 oz nylon, maybe not quite as well as 1 oz Pertex Quantum, but be tougher than either. Breathability seems between the two, but of course I can't tell how it works with water vapor.
The hood is superb. It adjusts easily and precisely. In the "locked down" position, the down of the hood is, as far as I can tell, completely uncompressed, and the lower portion of the opening moves naturally to below ones mouth so that one isn't breathing moisture into the down.
When one is in the bag, it does collapse around ones body, removing excess air, much more than I remember of the first generation fabric bags, and more than the "bottle-shaped" WM Antelope or FF SnowBunting (rated by their manufacturers at 5 and 0 degrees, respectively), not quite as much as the Nunatak Arc expedition (rated 5 degrees), which is of course a quilt.
The down tubes from the foot box to the knee are quite plumply filled, as are the tubes of the hood. Baffle height in the first few tubes of the foot box seems to be 3 or 3+, dropping to 2 or 2+ in the knee region, then rising again as one goes up the bag. Baffle spacing is about 5.5", with the two of the three chest baffles being 6" and the third 6 1/4". These wider-spaced baffle areas above the chest give the impression of being less fully filled, (and explain some of my early reservations) but perhaps that's just because the down has more room to move around. In contrast, the FF Snow Bunting, Nunatak Arc Expedition, and WM Antelope use, in the bags I have access to, spacing of 5" and height more consistently around 3"-3.5" (Nunatak). (The baffle height numbers are very tentative, and could be dead wrong; one definitely has the sense that the baffle height is greater with the American bags, though, with the Nunatak's being the tallest.) (Less baffle material, all other things being equal, means smaller stuffed size.)
The down feels quite different–when one gently collapses a tube, between the palms of ones hand, in feels gossamer and unspringy. (The Nunatak down feels very similar, maybe a bit springier). The WM and FF down are much springier, resisting compression, pushing back against ones palms.
And here we're getting, I think, to the crux of the issue. In order for the Valandre to be a significantly warmer bag than, for example, the WM Antelope, it must rely on its collar and its down quality. Its draft tubes are no deeper, nor is its down weight/cubic inch greater, and may be less. Its total down load is very similar–28 oz in the Antelope, 27.5 in the SB, size large. But the SB is significantly wider in the chest region, so the down there is necessarily, and perceptibly, less dense than in the chest region of the Antelope.
Valandre claims their fill power is 850 plus. (In fact, judging by its feel, it may be significantly plus.) There's an extraordinarily useful, but occasionally quite technical forum thread here:
(In particular, read the contributions of Richard Nisley.)
from which I take away the following:
First, for a given quality of down, the density with which it is stuffed, within the normal densities of stuffed and overstuffed bags, does not affect the down's insulating quality per unit weight. In other words, the same volume of bag, stuffed 10% fuller, will be 10% warmer. A given weight of down will not be made much warmer by letting it loft higher.
Second, the effectiveness of down as an insulating material, relative to its weight, is a function of its "fractal" quality, the number of ends each piece of down has. At one end of the spectrum, a strand of synthetic has two ends; at the other end, very very fine down might have way more ends than very fine down. In the middle, feathers, or feather-like down, "spend" too much of their weight in their quills, which don't grab the air. Down works, after all, not as a magic "heat shield", but as a damper of the moving-air cells that would carry heat away from the body.
Third (and this is purely my contribution, so if it's wrong, blame me): we know that down is adaptive. When warmed, for example, down uncoils–put your bag in the sun to dry out, and it plumps up. After drying, put it in the shade, and it collapses slightly.
And here's the speculative part. Maybe down is even more adaptive than that. Maybe down can "sense" heat differential, and become better-insulating as the temperature differential between the goose's body and and the environment decreases. There would definitely be an evolutionary advantage to down that was so "designed." When the goose is flying, or running around, it doesn't want to over-heat. Some of this regulation is, of course, supplied by the cover feathers, which can be made more open or closed by changes in the gooses skin. (Think of "goose bumps.")
And maybe, the higher the quality of the down, the more adaptive. I do know that in a 16 oz Nunatak quilt (like the current Arc Specialist), sleeping on a 3 oz Gossamer Gear pad, I was OK–not warm, but OK–down to an in-tent temperature of 14 degrees. But with that same quilt, I'm not boiling at 40 degrees. Similarly, one can be in the SB or the Arc Expedition at 60 degrees, with everything but the SB's hood cinched down, without boiling–just barely too warm, but OK, at least for 20 to 30 minutes. In contrast, I quickly start to feel too hot in other Mfgs low temp bags, at 60 degrees.
So the upshot of all this is that I'm inclined to trust the reports of the other posters here who've used Valandre bags in extreme conditions, but won't know for sure until I try the SB myself. To that end I'm going to try to find a -15 degree walk-in commercial food freezer, and will let you know. If things go horribly wrong, you may find me ground up in some supermarket as sausage.
Another note–one retailer I spoke with suggested that, as European consumption patterns are different from ours, there's an incentive to make items with a wider range of application. The SB, and Mirage, have greater torso volume so that one can layer, and, by the logic of Valandre's primary markets, it doesn't make sense to make "non-layering", more mummy-like bags as well. In another thread this same explanation is given to account for the preference among Europeans for double-walled tents . We think nothing of owning two or three tents, for different conditions; they only own one.Dec 4, 2008 at 7:44 pm #1462213
As the man falling from the top of the Empire State Building said when he passed the 34th floor.
I haven't been able to find a -15 walk-in freezer, but a few days ago I spent 1 1/2 hours in one that was between -5 and 0 deg F, in the SB, on an old 2" Thermarest mattress which was laid directly on the steel floor of the freezer. Because the freezing unit was constantly on, the air was never still, though it wasn't actually windy.
For the test I wore only very lightweight merino longjohns and tops (Ibexes lightest zip-neck top, not sure of the bottom.), no socks and no hat.
By the time I had everything arranged, was undressed and got into the bag, my fingers were losing feeling and getting clumsy. I had a moment of concern I wouldn't be able to hook up the Marie Antoinette collar, but that went OK.
The weakest link was definitely the Thermarest. The only place I felt an active chill was at the base of my spine, where the down and the mat were maximally compressed. Feeling around for cold spots, I didn't find any unless I slid my hand under the zipper tube, where it was quite cool. In feeling around, I'd sometimes inadvertently lift and let fall the top of the bag, which "puffed in" some cold air somehow (or "puffed out" warm, which was replaced by cold), perhaps through the teeth of the zipper.
I'd been concerned by the seeming lower density of down in the chest tubes, but that didn't seem to be a problem.
Even though the bag under the soles of my feet was directly on the steel floor (past the end of the mat), they were fine, which was amazing.
The hood and collar were perfect. For a while my lips were cold, but as I was breathing only through my nose, I was able to slide the bag up slightly and then they were fine.
So so far, so good. The hood/collar (head, shoulders) are great, definitely good for 10 deg lower, as is the region from knee to feet. Potential weak spots might still be the chest tubes, and possibly, depending on how the zipper was sitting on the ground or pad, some subtle leakage past the zipper draft tube. But even a very modest down or fleece sweater seems like it would address that. With a very good mat, like a Stephenson DAM or a full-length Exped model 7, the bag might have been actually toasty. As it was, it was coolly comfortable (not completely a bad thing, as that might mean less water vapor from insensible perspiration). But there was no sense that the temperature in the bag was dropping, and I warmed up within 10 minutes of getting into it.
The taffeta lining was silky and drapey, and the bag did a good job collapsing around me to reduce the amount of air that needed to be heated.
The overall feel was one of spacious luxury. On ones back, ones arms could lay quite naturally by ones side without feeling cramped.
To be fair, a FF Snow Bunting w/ 800 down and two ounces of overfill (43.5 oz total) passed this same test some time ago, without feeling quite as luxurious/spacious, or having quite as much room for layering. The SB, a medium, measured out at 50 0z., a couple of ounces over spec.
I'm looking forward to finding conditions this winter that will let me test the bag further.Dec 5, 2008 at 9:26 am #1462335
The SB does, it seems, use very good down, so good that, toether with its collar, it can get away with a lesser amount of down per square inch of bag surface, when compared to similarly rated bags from other manufacturers. It "spends" some of this potential weight savings by being much larger in girth. For example, in the chest region, I measure the SB having a exterior girth of 69–70"; in contrast, the Valandre La Fayette, the WM Antelope, and the FF Snow Bunting are 62–63". The SB is similarly generous in its length–my medium measures about 84", exterior, and internally, even when everything is cinched down, there's no sense of compression. If one "hitches up" the bag, to take up excess length, one gets the sense that the bag gets slightly warmer.
So all in all, a generous bag, made using excellent materials, not a bag designed to pare away every last ounce, but one which probably has, as a result, a wide window of performance.
Included with the shipment was a bottle of Nikwax down wash, which I guess one uses when one goes to the Valaundry.Mar 16, 2009 at 3:14 am #1485901Niels-Henrik FriisbolMember
Well genthemen, I am Niels, the designer at Valandre.
James Sweeney touches a essential point talking about our down quality, and several others have notised this in actual use. (Yes Sweeney, impressing to read your stuff!)
So, what so special about this down?
You need to take into consideration, that geese is a migrating palmede. Twice a year, the birds travel long distance (North/South).
In order to be physically capable to under go the migration, all migrating palmedes, "over eat" and stock the energy as fat in the body and specially in the liver.
As the goose "fills up the tank", they produce and prepare the feathers and isolating down, to be capable to fly long distance. As the birds take of, they are in a state of maximim power.
Now, what is interesting is, to know that the flight leveles can be pritty HIGH!
Example: Asian goose crossing the Himmalayas at 27-30000ft, a vulture getting hit by a plane in Africa at a levle a bit below 39.000ft and Swans detected by radar "crusing" at 112mph between 24.000ft and 25.500ft, between Iceland and Scottland.
Hence, the birds are capable to migrate in temperatures down to -40°F. (Even lower!)
Now, the down qualitys used by us, is a "Gray Goose" 95/05 from the south west of France. It's a 100% pure "Fatty" quality delivered from "The Gray Goose of Toulouse".
As you know, the French go nuts about "Foie Gras". They stuff the birds in order to get a Fat goose with a big liver.
Seen from our perspective, they start the process of preparing the bird for a migration. And as the birds are slaughtered, the Feather/Down is in top shape.
Sorted, treated and bla bla bla, this is the quality that you find in our products.
Finally, I just want everyboddy to know, that this is NOT a tentative to create publisity of any kind. It's simply a need from my side to share interesting and essential technical info.
Best regards from France, to all at BL.
NielsFeb 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm #3448916Philip OBPL Member
HI, I’m looking to get either a Valandre Bag or WM one.
I was looking through the forum and the only info I could find was fairly dated. I was wondering about any chances or developments at Valandre that would be good to know?
And most importantly, I was wondering how their temp ratings stacked up. Their “comfort” ratings seem fairly low in comparison to the bag ratings of WM bags with similar temp rating.
Thanks for your help!Feb 5, 2017 at 7:03 pm #3448949Greg MihalikBPL Member
They open with –
However, elsewhere they show their EN13537 rating –
I don’t know what the opening 5℉ refers to, but it’s well below their stated “Limit of Comfort”.
Do your homework, read the fine print, and in the world of uber light fabric and uber loft down, apples will equal apples. There is no free lunch.
For more perspective –Feb 6, 2017 at 7:05 am #3449030Woubeir (from Europe)BPL Member
A bit below they say:
With over 30 years of experience producing and supplying down products, our experience says -15°C (5°F) in limit of comfort.
I use their bags so I tend to agree with them
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