The big news in bags from Golite is their use of waterproof/breathable Pertex Endurance panels at the head and foot of all of their sleeping bags this year. Waterproof/breathable shells have been available for years on sleeping bags, but except for short trips in very damp conditions, they have a major problem: while they provide substantial protection from external moisture such as dew, wet tent walls, and rain spray, the wp/b shells are simply not breathable enough to disperse the moisture generated inside the bag over prolonged periods from the user’s respiration, perspiration and/or damp clothing. Unless the bag can be turned inside-out and air-dried periodically (preferably in warm, breezy sunshine), its loft will degrade over several days or weeks as moisture accumulates in the insulation. On the other hand, highly breathable shells that minimize this accumulated moisture offer limited protection from wet tent walls and rain spray through the ends of a tarp. Golite’s selective use of Pertex Endurance on the parts of the bag most likely to encounter external moisture potentially offers the best of both worlds – highly breathable fabric over most of the shell surface and water resistance where it is needed most. (It should be noted that while Golite markets the end panels as waterproof/breathable, the exposed stitching and lack of seam taping make the finished bag ends only water-resistant.) It’s a very clever idea, and one whose merit was not lost on Backpackinglight staff members who nearly tripped over each other lining up to test some of the new bags.
In addition to the Ultra 20 quilt, the “Adrenaline” series of down bags with torso-length center zips appear compelling for tarp campers whose bags are subject to spray entering the ends of the tarp. They’re available Spring 2008 in four sizes (2 men’s, 2 women’s) with 0° F, 20° F and 40° F ratings.
The 20 ounce Golite Adrenaline 40. An 800 fill-power down bag with 20d ripstop main body and Pertex Endurance panels at the hood and foot. Judging by its loft, it appears very conservatively rated at 40° F. $250 MSRP.
The North Face
The North Face has developed two new proprietary insulations in partnership with Climashield. Their lightest bags now feature Climasheld Neo while mainstream bags feature Climashield Prism. Neo is touted as the first-ever “commercially available” dual-density fill. (However, dual-denier Exceloft has been used by Montbell for several years.) Small-diameter insulation fibers offer better radiation resistance (AKA heat reflection) than larger fibers, while large-diameter fibers better maintain loft and compaction resiliency. Prior single-diameter insulations were always a tradeoff between these characteristics. The dual-density, hydrophobically-coated Neo insulation is claimed to have better compaction resistance and wet performance than any previous insulation used by The North Face, with 27% more compressibility than Polarguard Delta.
The updated TNF Orion bag. 2 lb 8 oz, rated at 20° F, $189 MSRP, available Jan., 2008.
Big Agnes announced a new bag that caught our attention. But unfortunately, they did not have one at ORSM to photograph. So, here’s just a teaser of what is to come. The 800 fill down, hoodless, 40° F rated Pitchpine SL is a top-bag with uninsulated bottom pad-sleeve in the typical Big Agnes tradition. The kicker? A claimed 15 ounce weight. $279.95 MSRP. Available Spring, 2008.
Rab has updated their venerable top-bag, now on its third generation. The revised Quantum Top Bag AR (available March 2008) features 850 fill down, a hood with drawcord, and Primaloft insulation on the bottom of the footbox to better deal with compression in that area. The beautifully constructed bag continues to feature a sleeping pad sleeve, box-wall baffle construction, and Pertex Quantum inner and outer shells. Specifications are impressive with a 30° F temperature rating, 18 ounce weight, and $200 MSRP. We have an in-depth review in the works.
Top view of the Rab Quantum Top Bag AR. Note the new hood.
Bottom view of the Rab Quantum Top Bag AR showing the pad sleeve that will accommodate both ¾ and full-length pads.