The 30 F rated North Face Beeline sleeping bag is filled with 850+ fill power down, has a 15 denier shell, and weighs 22 ounces (size Regular).
For summertime mountain backpacking or spring/fall backpacking in warmer climates, I prefer a mummy style ultralight down sleeping bag rated at around 30 F. Cold nights near or below the bag’s rating are not uncommon, and a mummy style bag has certain advantages: there are no drafts, I can easily wear clothes inside to extend the bag’s warmth, and I can "mummy up" to seal the warmth inside.
The North Face’s Flight Series gear "utilizes the latest technologies and most innovative materials to shave weight and enable the outdoor athlete to go fast and light, while still staying protected by the elements. It’s a collection featuring the latest in ultralight, packable, adaptive, and multi-purpose gear." The Flight Series Beeline sleeping bag is their lightest 30 F sleeping bag.
The Beeline is filled with 850+ fill power down, has a 15 denier ripstop shell, and is rated at 30 F. The feature set is spartan, which is typical of an ultralight sleeping bag: down insulated hood with elastic one-handed drawcord, 1/3 length zipper, down-filled draft tube, vaulted footbox with zipped vent, and heat-transfer logos. The only thing unusual is the zippered vent on the footbox, which some hikers will find useful and others won’t.
From the description, the Beeline sounds like a top notch ultralight down mummy-style sleeping bag. However, the devil is in the details. Read on…
I measured the bag’s average double layer loft to be 4.75 inches (single layer 2.4 inches). This is significantly greater than many similar bags with the same temperature rating, which have a measured single layer loft of around 2 inches. From our table of estimated temperature ratings based on measured loft (read our Backpacking Light Position Statement on Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings), this translates to about a 20 F rating. Please take the time to read the referenced article and note that sleeping bag warmth depends on a number of factors.
In spite of its higher loft, I felt chilly in the Beeline when the nighttime temperature dropped into the low 30s F, which is typical (for me) for a 30 F rated sleeping bag. To stay warm on a cold, frosty spring 25 F night – the lowest temperature I experienced in the Beeline – I had to wear a lightweight down jacket (North Face Thunder Jacket) and insulated pants (Backpacking Light Cocoon 60 Pant). On that same frosty night, I found that the Beeline’s shell readily repelled heavy condensation inside my single-wall shelter.
I tested the North Face Beeline on six mountain backpacking trips from May through August. On each trip, I was in either a single-wall solo tent, like the Gossamer Gear One (left), or the North Face Meso 22 two-person double-wall tent (right). Nighttime temperatures ranged from 25 to 40 F.
Thus far, the Beeline’s positives are its high lofting 850+ fill power down, high measured loft, and its lightweight highly water repellent shell. However, as I mentioned, the devil is in the details, and overall the Beeline is a "mixed bag," as the following photos show.
The Beeline has a 1/3 length side zipper – which I consider a positive because it reduces weight – but the zipper can only be operated from the outside (left). Other sleeping bags have a revolving zipper pull that enables zipper operation from the outside or inside. The only extra feature on the Beeline is a zippered footbox opening (right) to allow ventilation on warm nights. This is a feature that some hikers will like and others can do without.
The Beeline’s hood is a disaster. The left photo shows the hood’s maximum closure, which is not enough face coverage on a really cold night. I also don’t like the bag’s exceptionally long elastic drawcord (shown), but I suppose it’s necessary so you can expand the hood opening to reach out and operate the zipper. There is a Velcro closure at the top of the zipper, but it has a nasty habit of sticking to and damaging the grosgrain zipper stiffener that is next to it. The grosgrain stiffener is lightweight, but it doesn’t do much to prevent zipper snagging.
Here’s a look at the Beeline’s hood fully open (left), laid next to the hood on the Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag. The North Face calls it an "open hood," meaning it lays flat and is not sculptured like the Marmot hood. I found the Marmot hood much more to my liking in both its operation and face coverage.
Comparisons and Assessment
The following table compares the North Face Beeline with some popular 30-32 F rated ultralight mummy style down sleeping bags. All of the bags have baffled construction. Data are for a size Regular bag.
|Manufacturer||Model||Temperature Rating (F)||Single Layer Loft (in)||Weight of Down (oz)||Fill Power||Total Weight (oz)||Cost US$|
|The North Face||Beeline||30||2.4||10||850+||22||$279|
|Montbell||Spiral Down Hugger #3||30||1.9||11||800||20||$229|
|Mountain Hardwear||Phantom 32||32||2.0||10||800||22||$290|
As you can see from the table data, the Beeline compares favorably to similar sleeping bags in loft, weight, and cost. The Western Mountaineering SummerLite bag is a couple ounces lighter because of its very lightweight shell fabric, but it costs a bit more, too. The Montbell Spiral Down Hugger #3 appears to be the best value.
Overall, the North Face Beeline is a "mixed bag." Accolades for its high loft down, lightweight water resistant shell fabric, and generous loft are offset by a zipper that operates only from the outside, an inadequate zipper stiffener, a Velcro patch that sticks to the zipper stiffener, and a terrible hood design. Unfortunately, the Beeline falls short of TNF’s claim of "utilizing the latest technologies."
Specifications and Features
|The North Face|
|2009 Beeline Sleeping Bag|
|Hooded mummy with 1/3 zipper|
|Sleeping bag, stuff sack, storage bag|
|850+ fill-power down, 10 oz (283g) size Regular, 11 oz (312g) size Long|
|4.75 in (12 cm) average double layer loft|
Claimed Temperature Rating
|30 F (-1 C)|
|11 in x 6 in (35.5 cm x 20 cm)|
|Size Long tested, measured weight 1 lb 6.7 oz (644 g); manufacturer specification 1 lb 7 oz (652 g)|
|Regular fits to 6 ft (1.83 m), Long fits to 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Shell 15d HelioLite Ripstop with DWR, 20d lining|
|Down insulated open hood with elastic one-handed drawcord, 1/3 length zipper, down-filled draft tube, vaulted footbox with zipped vent, heat-transfer logos|
|Regular US$279, Long US$299|