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June 2019 Issue
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Marmot Helium



Our Rating:

At a glance
Plusses: Versatile venting options, lightweight, packs down small.
Minuses: Hood tightens over the eyes and nose, price.

935g, Lower limit -12°C

Features: This bag comes with 560g of high-quality 800-loft water-resistant goose down and carries the Responsible Down Standard certification. It has a tapered mummy shape with two zippers: a three-quarter length locking two-way zipper on the left-hand side and a quarter-length zipper on the right side. The main zipper has an anti-snag slider attached to prevent the zipper catching the bag. The hood has a single drawcord located on the outside of the bag. A 3D footbox allows feet to rest in a natural position. The bag is EN tested to -5.2°C (comfort), -12°C (lower limit), -31.3°C (extreme).

Fit: The mummy shape reduces dead air to make it a quick-warming bag, but it didn’t feel too restrictive on me. The bag widens slightly at the feet.

Comfort: The soft-touch fabric feels nice next to skin, though once it warms up if you’re not wearing base layers it can get clammy. The 800-loft down allows you to really sink into the bag – it’s lush. The bag tapers steadily but widens again at the foot. This is a subtle comfort feature but one that gave the impression of a roomy bag. The major drawback is the hood, which when pulled tight has a tendency to cover the eyes and nose giving a claustrophobic feel.

In use: The bag is exceptionally warm and this is noticed immediately on climbing inside as the goose down envelops the user in warmth and comfort.
Both zips come high up and over the shoulder to around level with the chin. This, combined with the neck muff which pokes out the top of the bag, almost completely covers the hood opening to totally enclose the user for maximum heat retention.

The zipper is housed in a garage without the usual button or Velcro closure found at the shoulder of most bags. The zip-lock works well to prevent the slider opening by itself. The second zip allows the upper part of the bag to be folded down to cool off when things get too warm. Likewise, the two-way zipper venting into the lower part of the bag on warmer nights. The main zipper slides well and rarely – if ever – catches bag fabric. The anti-snag features here proving their worth. The second zipper is backed by nylon webbing on both sides to keep fabric away from the teeth.

The draft tube not only runs the length of the main zipper, but curves over the body to run behind the second zipper. This keeps drafts at bay and also helps trap warmth inside the bag. The drawcord for the hood is not very effective. It only pulls the brim tight and not the collar. This has the effect of pulling the hood over the face, obstructing the eyes and covering the nose. The bag compresses well into its stuff-sack to minimise the space it takes up in a pack.

Value: Though the Helium’s price is at the high end, it does reflect the high-quality materials used in its construction. These create a bag versatile enough for full winter use as well as for use during warmer months thanks to the innovative venting options.

Verdict: This is a lightweight, compact sleeping bag that will keep users warm in cold conditions. It offers versatile venting options on warmer nights.

See some of the highlights of this bag in our video summary: