Mar 9, 2010 at 3:07 pm #1256274
Companion forum thread to:Mar 9, 2010 at 3:55 pm #1584230
@rcarverLocale: Southeast TN
Excellent review. I do love my Western Summerlite.Mar 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm #1584235
@rcowmanLocale: Canadian Rockies
Thanks now I have to by a summerlite…. i guess MEC gets my $330.Mar 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm #1584238
Impressive performance from the Sierra Designs. Kicks the WM, IMHO.Mar 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm #1584255
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Thank you for publishing this report! Your review confirms my choice several years ago of Western Mountaineering (I have the Ultralite).
I'm a cold-blooded female who absolutely insists on a 20*F bag! We've had a couple of threads here recently from other women who also have trouble keeping warm. We cold folks (most of us female) need the equivalent of your insulating jacket and pants plus at least a 20* bag! I camp a lot in shoulder season and take at least one long summer trip to the high Rockies (to date, the Wind Rivers), where nighttime temps are usually below freezing and often get down in the mid-teens. I tried a 30*F bag (Marmot Hydrogen) 6 years ago and was shivering in the low 30s F even with all my insulating clothing on. Not all of us are created the same!
The reason I like a full-length zipper is that I have only one bag which I use in a variety of conditions. On many of my summer trips the evening starts out warm but it gets quite chilly by morning. On warm nights I often start out with the bag completely unzipped, zip it part way up about midnight and all the way up about 3 am. It's basically a question of weight vs. versatility. I prefer the versatility; others (like Will) prefer less weight. I suspect that if you ask other full-length zipper fans that they also want it for ventilation for warm nights. YMMV, HYOH and all that!
I suspect that if more of us demanded it, more companies would use the EN2
13757 ratings. They need, though, to be encouraged to publish all the ratings, not just the one that hopefully keeps you from dying of hypothermia! Unfortunately, once we get a sleeping bag we like, most of us usually aren't shopping for another.
I'm looking forward to the state of the market reports on down pants and jackets!Mar 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm #1584270
@jollygreenLocale: Near the bottom
Perfect timing. I was just looking for a new bag. I know you have heard it before but your reviews is one of the many reasons I like this site. ThanksMar 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm #1584394
– -K.T.- –Participant
Thanks Will, now where did I leave that spare cash? Was just looking at the WM site last night.Mar 9, 2010 at 8:55 pm #1584398
This is a great article.Mar 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm #1584425
I want one of those jobs. Of course, having it as a job probably takes all the fun out it. Great article though. I'd love to see one on quilts.Mar 10, 2010 at 1:50 am #1584488
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> I want one of those jobs. Of course, having it as a job probably takes all the fun out it.
You're learning … But yes, we like gear.
It's always a learning exercise, partly because we usually are reviewing the leading edge gear. It would be different reviewing a dozen Boy Scout sleeping bags …
cheersMar 10, 2010 at 2:44 am #1584494
@elizabethkLocale: Southern California
The Montbell SuperStretch #3 has worked wonderfully for my daughter for camping and backpacking in California conditions (with nights down to 25 degrees). She was given the bag by her loving dad when she turned five and for a couple of years we cinched off the bottom draw cord (visible in the photo) and pushed the foot segment into the bag. This technique, plus the stretch, made the bag into a nice close fitting mummy for her little 50 pound body.
Now that she is seven, we simply cinch off the end; and the bag's stretch still is giving her a good fit.
Her comment is that "the bag warms up in ten seconds". She loves the bag and still remembers her aversion to her old fiber-fill bag. The Montbell sleeping bag has been one of the key pieces of equipment that has made backpacking fun and easy for her.
And one feature that I like is that this sleeping bag will continue to fit her all the way into adulthood.
In summary, we have been delighted with the Montbell SuperStretch #3. The stretch and corded foot box are significant advantages for a growing child.Mar 10, 2010 at 4:24 am #1584501
Great article thanks,
Towards the end of the section "Not All Three-Season Down Mummy Bags are Created Equal" you mention continuous baffles. I find this feature of my Marmot Helium very useful. Shaking most of the down into the front or back of the bag gives huge control over the warmth and significantly boosts it when needed – I can have nearly double the down on top of me when I want to. Unfortunately you don't mention this again in the article. Finding out whether a bag is continuously baffled is really hard, manufacturers websites don't mention it and the average retailer is baffled by the question. It would be useful if BPL articles had this information.Mar 10, 2010 at 5:51 am #1584510
@pastyj-2-2Locale: SE US
I'm 6'1", 210 lbs. and got the size regular Megalite 3 years ago. There is no looking back. Best bag I ever used. I'm a down bag convert and likely a WM user for life.Mar 10, 2010 at 6:26 am #1584518
I have to say I've liked everything about my arc alpinist from nunatak except the price. Then again I only paid once and now have nearly 3000 miles on this bag. Since washing it looks ready for another 3k. The epic shell is nice, both for handling mist under a tarp and for preventing those desert grass seeds from puncturing their way in. I would buy again and be happy with the decision.
In my opinion, quilt is better than mummy. Trade three ounces of zipper for two of down and don't look back.
–PiMar 10, 2010 at 7:38 am #1584536
Just curious — do they not send along products for review?Mar 10, 2010 at 8:44 am #1584562
Not to speak for Will and Janet, but I don't think any of the Big Agnes bags would have made the weight cut. The only bag that would seem to fit is the Zirkel, which is 4 oz heavier than any other bag in hte review.Mar 10, 2010 at 8:46 am #1584563
Great article. I too use this type of sleeping system where I'll bring my Montbell untralight down upper & lower to stay warmer at night. My problem is that when the temp dips down I sleep cold. I have a WM Apache MF, which is rated at 15 degrees. My experience is that there is no way I can use the bag at that low temp — I would be freezing. This year when sleeping in the snow I camped at nighttime temps of about 20 degress and I needed to use my additional down layers to stay warm at night.Mar 10, 2010 at 8:52 am #1584569
I wish the reviewer had given consideration to the Western Mountaineering Caribou as well – only because I purchased one last week and haven’t used it yet, so I would have loved to learn more about its performance before the time limit for returning the item expires.
I bought a WM Caribou because it’s lightweight – weighing only 1.4 ounces, with 10 ounces of downfill — and because its microfiber shell is suppose to be very durable and water resistant. I intend to use it with a down jacket and pants in the fall and spring, when needed.
I didn’t purchase the Summerlight because, while it’s treated with DWR, its shell isn’t water resistant or very durable. When compared with the Caribou, it’s only 3 degrees warmer and 1 ounce lighter. And while it has some features the Caribou doesn’t have — continuous baffle construction and insulated draft protection – I figure features like this aren’t that important on a three season bag. Although, I wonder if they become more important when using the bag with a down jacket and down pants in below freezing conditions. Does anyone happen to know if using an ultralight sleeping system requires features such as continuous baffle construction and insulated draft protection?
It really was a great article, thoughMar 10, 2010 at 9:08 am #1584577
The Caribou is a great bag Gabriel, but a couple things of note. The Caribou is not a fully-baffled bag; the vertical seams are sewn-thru, so it won't loft quite like a fully baffled bag, and you might get some cold spots. It's also quite a bit wider than the Summerlite; a more appropriate comparison based on dimensions would be the Megalite. If you are comfortable in the Summerlite, my bet is the Caribou or Megalite feels huge to you. The Summerlite though, like any of WM's narrow bags (Highlite, Summerlite, Ultralite, Apache) is pretty tight; big guys usually feel pretty confined. Choose accordingly; you'll hate a bag that feels too tight, you'll sleep colder in a bag that's too wide.Mar 10, 2010 at 9:29 am #1584589
I've had the Apache for a couple years, using it for backpacking in the winter. I tend to use it while wearing a Capilene 3 base layer — and occasionally with a M thermawrap ul vest. It fits me fine… I'm thin.
I figured the extra room in the Caribou would provide more room for the remainder of my ultralight sleeping system to retain its loft(e.g., down jacket and pants). As I'm still fairly new to lightweight backpacking, this theory isn't based in experience. I just figured that the additional space would enable me to add additional layers, even beyond a down jacket and pants, when needed. If this is a bad idea, I'd love to know now, while I can still exchange the bag for another more appropriate one. ThanksMar 10, 2010 at 9:38 am #1584592
IMO if you already have an Apache, and it's comfortable for you especially wearing layers, I'd stick with the Caribou. It's quite a bit lighter than the Apache, which you could still use on trips where you know you'll see temps below freezing. It seems the two make a nice pair that will cover anything outside of deep winter cold (temps below 0F).Mar 10, 2010 at 10:26 am #1584613
I'm another fan of Western Mountaineering Bags and currently own a Caribou, Megalite and Versalite. These 3 bags have met and exceeded my expectations.Mar 10, 2010 at 10:27 am #1584614
I wish I had access to this report before I purchased my Hydrogen last year. It is a very comfortable bag but I bought it to be my "ultralight" bag and it is definitely heavier than its competition. Oh well.Mar 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm #1584650
@macrophyllumLocale: Northern California
I wanted to say that this was a really interesting review. I really appreciate these kinds of articles. Two comments I would like to make regarding the WM summerlite. I have found that for me to sleep soundly (that is without waking up shivering)to the stated temp. rating, I must supplement the bag with a full set of long underwear, shell pants, light down jacket, shell jacket and hat and gloves. I was a bit surprised when I first experienced this but after use in a variety of temperatures that is what I have concluded. I did not consider myself a cold sleeper before this but perhaps I am. The other comment is that the zipper does snag and I find I must be careful with it. The zipper guard does work but I still snag the zipper fairly frequently. I actually put a small tear in the bag after trying to pull out a really stuck zipper. Western Mountaineering repaired the tear free of charge. My 2 cents, again thanks for the great review.Mar 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm #1584720
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Impressive performance from the Sierra Designs. Kicks the WM, IMHO."
Except for those 7 extra ounces. A better comparison might be the SD Nitro vs the WM Ultralight. Apples to apples.
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