If you needed an excuse to upgrade your gear, we have it. June is Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month. Better show your support by getting out there…and maybe with an awesome new tent or sleeping bag or light hiker. We asked Steve Casimiro, veteran gear reviewer and editor of Adventure Journal, to give us his picks for the best of the best gear for hiking and camping. Check them our by category here on the blog or see the complete Ultimate Hiking and Camping Gear Guide.
Ultimate Hiking and Camping Gear Guide: Best Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Bag, Value Down
Photograph by Kelty
Kelty Cosmic Down 20
A hundred bucks actually buys you a heck of a lot more than you might expect: The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 has a few frills tucked into its no-frills price. There’s a full-length tube of down behind the zipper to guard against drafts, an insulated hood with elastic to cinch it tight, and a down collar. Oh, and a full-length zipper and European standard comfort rating of 32 degrees. So where are the cut corners to reach that awesome price? The 550-down fill doesn’t loft as well as spendier 800 fills. And the size regular claims to fit someone up to 6’0” comfortably, but 5’10” is more like it ($110; www.kelty.com).
Sleeping Bag, High-End Down
Photograph courtesy Mont Bell
MontBell’s Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger (15 Degrees)
This is the most comfortable sleeping bag you’ll ever use. A bold claim? Yes, but MontBell’s Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger 15 is constructed with a tricky little sewing sleight of hand. The threads are cut at a 45-degree angle, the fibers are coiled, and the stitches are elastic—all of which adds up to a bag that stretches and moves with you no matter how much you toss and turn. You could inchworm your way along the length of the Pacific Crest Trail and still not feel constrained. Insulation is 800-fill down and, you’re right, that 15-degree temperature rating is wildly optimistic. This is a three-season bag, not four—but a mighty comfortable one ($399; www.montbell.us).
Sleeping Bag, Synthetic
Photograph courtesy Mountain Hardwear
Mountain Hardwear’s Ultralamina 32
Mountain Hardwear’s Thermic Micro is one of the more down-like synthetic insulations you’ll find, both compressing and lofting better than most manmade fibers. Why pick a synthetic bag such as the Ultralamina 32? Unlike down, it still insulates when damp or wet—think Pacific Northwest and/or paddling trips. The Ultralamina has a mummy cut tempered by a vaulted footbox, so there’s room for your tootsies to move around. It also sports an unconventional double zipper, which allows the front of the bag to drop open for cooking, reading, etc.—some will like this convenience, while others might miss the ability to unzip down the length to cool off ($190; www.mountainhardwear.com).