Down-filled bags make up the majority of this year’s sleeping bag offerings as most manufacturers have applied waterproof coatings to the down, which has negated the main benefit offered by synthetic fill bags. Keep an eye out for quilts this year – they are gaining in popularity due to their packability and weight advantage.
This is directly related to the warmth and weight of a sleeping bag. The higher the fill power (FP), the more air – and hence warmth – an ounce of down can trap. A high number also suggests the bag will be lighter – because less down is needed to keep the user warm. It’ll also be more expensive because the down is of the highest quality. Sleeping bags typically have a fill power of between 500 and 900.
Water-resistant or hydrophobic down is common and promises to insulate in wet conditions, or at least dry more quickly than untreated down (wet down clumps together and cannot loft, losing its ability to insulate). All down is compressible and lightweight, with goose down being of higher quality than duck down. Cheaper down bags will also use feathers in their insulation. The proportion of feathers to down is expressed as a percentage – e.g.: 90/10 goose down, with the lower number representing the percentage of insulation that is feathers.
Multi-baffled, anatomically-shaped hoods enclose the head and combine with neck baffles to minimise heat loss. Cheaper models lay flat but will still have drawcord closure to improve warmth.
Comprised of layered sheets of man-made fibres, these bags are cheaper and more durable than down-filled bags, and they can insulate users even when wet. They tend to be bulkier and less compressible than down bags.
Mummy-shaped bags have a smaller volume and are the warmest. They taper at the foot and can feel restrictive. Rectangular bags are more spacious and can be opened out like a blanket on warmer nights. A trapezoid or ‘3D’ footbox allows feet to rest in a natural upright position. Anatomic shapes are lighter and more compact when packed.
Three-quarter length zips reduce heat loss and weight. Two-way zips that run the length of the bag – or combine with a zip at the foot – allow for more ventilation options on hotter nights.
These are designed to contain down over key areas of the body, maximising loft and minimising air movement through the seams.
Sleeping bags should be hung or kept lofted in their storage bag in a dry and well-ventilated space out of direct sunlight.
The shell fabric is usually a ripstop nylon or polyester and will have a DWR coating to repel water. Some bags use a fully waterproof fabric which will be more durable than those with DWR. The next-to-skin lining is usually a soft-touch nylon or polyester. Linings help reduce clamminess by wicking body oils and moisture.
Draught tubes will be filled with insulation and sit behind zips to prevent air passing into and out of the bag.
Responsible Down Standard
Most down sleeping bag manufacturers adhere to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) administered by the nonprofit Textile Exchange.
The standard ensures:
- Any removal of down and feathers from live birds is prohibited
- Force-feeding of birds is prohibited
- Holistic respect for animal welfare of the birds from hatching to slaughter
- Each stage in the supply chain is audited by a third-party certification body
- Only products with 100 per cent certified down and feathers carry the RDS logo.
Pick a bag that best suits the majority of trips you will be doing (or get multiple bags). You can always increase the temperature rating of your
bag by using a sleeping bag liner or by wearing an insulated jacket.
Most bags in this feature are tested to the European temperature ratings standard EN13537 or the more recent ISO 23537-1 standard (for bags sold outside Europe). These standards were devised to provide an easily understandable rating system for users.
The EN and ISO temperatures shown on the following pages are:
- Comfort: The temperature an adult woman could expect a comfortable night’s sleep
- Limit: The temperature at which a standard man can sleep for eight hours in a curled position without waking
- Extreme: The minimum temperature at which a standard woman can
remain for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia (though frostbite is still possible).
Fast and light trampers might appreciate a quilt instead of a sleeping bag. Because down insulation doesn’t trap air effectively when it is compressed – such as when you are lying on it – quilts do away with the bottom side of the bag, but retain a foot box which generally extends to mid-calf.
So long as you have something insulating you from the ground – a hut mattress or inflatable sleeping pad – a quilt can offer similar warmth to a sleeping bag but with reduced weight and pack-size.
Rab Mythic 600 $1499.95
Down-stabilising chevron-shaped baffles, three-quarter length two-way zip, down-filled neck baffle, angled foot box, RDS-certified, EN13537. Fill 600g of 900FP European goose down with Nikwax hydrophobic treatment Shell 10D Pertex Quantum Lining 10D Pertex Quantum Temp rating -5°C(comfort), -12°C (limit),-32°C (extreme) Weight 885g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Rab Mythic Ultra 180 $1299.95
Lightweight heat-reflecting titanium coated inner, trapezoidal baffles, proportionally assigned differential cut, 3D draft collar, draft tube, angled foot box, RDS-certified, EN13537. Fill 900FP+ Nikwax Hydrophobic European goose down Shell 7D ripstop nylon Lining Titanium coated 7D nylon Temp rating 7°C (comfort), 0°C (limit), -12°C (extreme) Weight 400g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Big Agnes Cinnabar -20 $1449.99 (sml)
Expedition bag, designed for sleeping in layers and changing inside the bag, side-access zipper, internal stash pocket, oversized draft collar, ergonomic foot box with extra insulation and more durable fabric. Fill 1287g of 850FP DownTek down Shell Recycled Pertex Quantum Pro Lining Polyester taffeta Temp rating -20°C Weight 1700g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Exped Waterbloc Pro -5 $999 (TBC)
Welded seams reduce weight and improve water resistance, differential cut and shoulder width, draft collar, anti-snag zipper webbing 3D foot box with 11 down-filled baffles, RDS-certified, EN13537. Arriving soon. Fill 540g of 850FP 90/10 goose down Shell 20D Pertex Quantum Pro Lining 15D ripstop nylon Temp rating -2°(comfort), -8℃ (limit), -27° (extreme) Weight 890g. www.bivouac.co.nz
Rab Neutrino Pro 600 $1199.95
Alpine bag with down-stabilising chevron-shaped baffles, close-fitting internal collar, three-quarter length YKK anti-snag zip, draft tube, RDS-certified, EN13537. Fill 600g of 800FP+ Nikwax hydrophobic European goose down Shell Pertex Quantum Pro Lining Nylonripstop Temp rating -5°C (comfort), -12°C (limit), -32°C (extreme) Weight 1026g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Mont Spindrift XT 850 $1099.95 (std)
Alpine boxfoot bag with cross block baffles, differential cut, twin down-filled draught tubes, anti-snag YKK zipper, contoured hood, Cordless Collar System, chest and hood drawcords, foot pocket, full-length side zip. Fill 850g of 825-850FP water-resistant duck down Shell Hydronaute XT waterproof (20,000mm), breathable fabric Lining 15D silk-touch nylon Temp rating -13°C (women), -19°C (men) Weight 1430g (std), 1400g (w). www.mont.com.au
Macpac NZAT Down Quilt 700 $799.99
Water-resistant bluesign approved shell fabric with DWR finish, box baffles, top and bottom elastic bungees and four side webbing straps to secure quilt around up to three people, RDS-certified. Limited stock. Fill 850FP 90/10 HyperDry goose down Shell Pertex Quantum Lining Pertex Quantum Temp rating N/A Weight 1260g. www.macpac.co.nz
Mont Brindabella XT 700 $859.95 (std)
Horizontal and vertical baffles, differential cut, down-filled draught tubes, anti-snag zipper, contoured hood, Cordless Collar System, chest and hood drawcords, foot pocket, full-length side and foot zip. Fill 700g of 785-850FP water-resistant duck down Shell Hydronaute XT waterproof (20,000mm), breathable fabric Lining 15D silk-touch nylon Temp rating -6°C (women), -12°C (men) Weight 1330g (std), 1305g (w). www.mont.com.au
Domex Halo $699.99
Mummy shape, form-fitting 3D hood, insulated draft collar with drawcord, three-quarter length YKK zip, right-hand opening, 5-year warranty. Fill 500g of 800FP+ 90/10 Nikwax hydrophobic goose down Shell 20D/400T polyester Lining 20D/400T polyester Temp rating -10°C Weight 1000g. www.domex.co.nz
Sierra Designs Cloud 20 $650
Zipperless design, oversized integrated comforter, insulated shoulder pocket to keep comforter in place, self-sealing foot vent, sleeping pad sleeve, EN13537. Fill 419g of 800FP DriDown Shell 15D nylon ripstop Lining 15D nylon ripstop Temp rating -3°C (comfort), -10°C (limit) Weight 820g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz
Rab Summit 600 $699.95
Water-resistant shell, internal stash pocket, wide-angled foot box, three-quarter-length side zip, internal collar and hood drawcord, trapezoidal baffle chamber design, RDS-certified, EN13537. Fill 600g of 650FP+ European duck down with Nikwax hydrophobic treatment Shell Pertex Endurance Lining Nylon Taffeta Temp rating -0.5°C (comfort), -6.5°C (limit), -23.5°C (extreme) Weight 1090g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Big Agnes Star Fire UL 30 $849.99 (reg)
Body-mapped baffles, anti-snag draft tube, vertical sidewalls, contoured hood, anti-draft collar, ergonomic foot-box, one hand hood cinch, bluesign-certified, RDS-certified. Fill 343g of 850FP DownTek down Shell Recycled Pertex Quantum nylon Lining Recycled Pertex Quantum nylon ripstop Temp rating -1°C Weight 652g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Big Agnes Torchlight UL 20 $649.99 (reg)
Expandable panels provide up to 30cm additional girth, body-mapped baffles, jacket-style hood, vaulted foot box, anti-snag draft tube, internal stash pocket, RDS-certified. Fill 482g of 850FP DownTek down Shell Polyester ripstop Lining Polyester taffeta Temp rating -6°C Weight 1020g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Big Agnes Sarvis SL 30 $599.99 (reg)
Women’s bag with internal built-in cinch system, 25cm adjustable length, sleeping mat sleeve, vaulted foot-box, anti-draft collar, internal stash pocket, RDS-certified. Fill 650FP DownTek down Shell Polyester ripstop
Lining Polyester taffeta Temp rating -1°C Weight 1020g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Domex Starlite $599.99
Semi-rectangular, box wall construction, form-fitting 3D hood, insulated draft collar with drawcord, side and foot zips, 5-year warranty. Fill 400g of 800FP+ 90/10 Nikwax hydrophobic goose down Shell 20D/400T polyester Lining 20D/400T polyester Temp rating -5°C Weight 1150g. www.domex.co.nz
Macpac Latitude 500 $599.99
Water-resistant bluesign-approved shell, DWR finish, semi-rectangular shape, radial chest baffles, full-length side and foot zips, internal draft tube, down collar, drawcord hood, internal zip pocket, RDS-certified, ISO 23537-1. Fill 500g of 700FP 90/10 goose down Shell Pertex Quantum Pro nylon Lining Nylon Temp rating -2°C (comfort), -8°C (limit), -26°C (extreme) Weight 1119g. www.macpac.co.nz
Therm-a-Rest Questar 32 $549.99 (reg)
ThermaCapture seams, removable SynergyLink mattress straps, quilt and blanket loops, foot warmer, oversized zippered draft tube, snag-free zipper, external zip pocket, RDS certified, EN13537. Fill 400g of 650FP Nikwax hydrophobic down Shell 20D polyester ripstop Lining DWR 20D Polyester Taffeta Temp rating 5°C (comfort), 0°C (limit), -15°C (extreme) Weight 849g. e.ampro.co.nz
Sierra Designs Nitro 20 Quilt $549
Oversized design for greater coverage, full-length insulated hand/arm pockets, hide-away hood, EN-rated. Fill 420g of 800FP water-resistant DriDown Shell 15D nylon ripstop Lining 15D nylon ripstop Temp rating 0°C (comfort), -6°C (limit) Weight 708g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz
Marmot Sawtooth $579
Recycled down fill, anatomical foot box, multi-baffle hood, adjustable drawcord, draft collar, full-length, two-way, snag-free zipper, insulated draft tube, stash pocket, RDS-certified, EN13537. Fill 666g of 650FP water-resistant duck down Shell 30D nylon ripstop Lining Nylon Temp rating 2.7°C (comfort), -9°C (limit), -27.5°C (extreme) Weight 1150g. www.marmotnz.co.nz
Exped Lite +1 $499.99 (med)
Heat-retention comfort hood, 3D draft collar, differential cut prevents elbows and knees from compressing the down, high-thread-count fabrics, anatomical 3D foot box, reinforced stress points, inner pocket, chin guard, full-length draft tube, RDS-certified. EN13537. Fill 290g of 800FP+ 90/10 European goose down Shell 20D ripstop nylon Lining 20D nylon Temp rating 6°C (comfort), 1°C (limit), -15°C (extreme) Weight 780g. www.bivouac.co.nz
The North Face Eco Trail Down 35 $400
All recycled materials, extended width in knees, wraparound J-zip, fitted hood, draft collar, hood cinch-cord, internal pocket, vaulted foot box, sleeping pad loops. Fill 600FP recycled down Shell 50D recycled polyester ripstop with PFC-free DWR Lining 50D embossed polyester taffeta Temp rating 2°C Weight 1110g. www.thenorthface.co.nz
Marmot Never Winter $499
Recycled down fill, anatomical wrap-around foot box, Nautilus multi-baffle hood, down-filled collar, full length locking YKK two way zipper, draft tube, stash pocket, RDS-certified, EN13537. Fill 650FP water-resistant duck down Shell 30D recycled polyester ripstop Lining 30D recycled polyester Temp rating 3.6°C (comfort), -1°C (limit), -17.8°C (extreme) Weight 850g.
Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy $299.99 (reg)
Mummy-shaped bag with zoned insulation, SynergyLink straps connect to mattress, snag-free zipper, hood drawcord. EN13537. Fill 270g of eraLoft 3D hollow polyester fibre Shell 20D polyester ripstop Lining 20D polyester Temp rating 11°C (comfort), 7°C (limit), -6°C (extreme) Weight 545g. e.ampro.co.nz
Kiwi Camping Rimu $119
Mummy-shaped bag with a Silvertherm thermal lining to reflect body heat. Adjustable shaped hood, draft strip, zipper snag guard and offset construction. Compression cram bag included. Fill Maxotherm 7 Micro Shell 210T Diamond Ripstop Lining 300T soft polyester Temp rating 0°C (comfort), -5°C (limit) Weight 1500g. www.kiwicamping.co.nz
Macpac Escapade 150 $259.99
Water-resistant bluesign-approved shell fabric, DWR finish, tapered rectangular shape, sewn-through horizontal baffles, full-length side and foot zips, duvet functionality and top dome tab, RDS-certified, ISO 23537-1. Fill 150g of 600FP 80/20 duck down Shell Pertex Quantum nylon Lining Nylon Temp rating 20°C (comfort), 17°C (limit), 9°C (extreme) Weight 526g. www.macpac.co.nz