The Pluton UL 40 is an ultralight, minimalist mummy sleeping bag that trades off comfort for weight. While it is easy to vent in warm weather and true to its temperature rating, be sure you understand the tradeoffs that were made to get the weight so low. The Big Agnes Pluton UL 40 is a minimalist mummy sleeping bag that weighs 15 oz, which is less than most comparable ultralight backpacking quilts at the same temperature rating.
This kind of flexibility is nice for summer backpacking and into autumn when the nights get colder. The Pluton UL 40 is marketed as a minimalist mummy sleeping bag and it certainly is that. Using the Pluton zipper also requires two hands to use: one to support the fabric along the zipper and one to open the zipper or pull it shut.
Trying to operate the zipper one-handed snags frequently. Forget about venting your feet from the inside.ecolearning.org.uk/10.php
Big Agnes Double Sleeping Pad, Bag Review: Cuddling in the Backcountry
I also found the minimalist mummy hood counter-intuitive to use. I found that had to scrunch down into the bag, and pull the insulated flap that forms the hood down over my head before I could tighten it around my face.
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It also requires two hands to position properly. The Pluton 40 will keep you warm down to 40 if you zip it up all the way and use the hood. On the flip side, the Pluton is relatively easy to vent in warmer weather. He believed in the brand, and so did a few now long-time staff members who worked for free until the company turned a profit.
The first Outdoor Retailer trade show they went to was in August, , with a 10 x 10 booth, remembers Len Zanni, co-owner. At the time, he was on the PR side of things, working for Backbone Media, which still represents Big Agnes nearly 20 years later. Three years into representing the brand, Gamber and his former business partner split, and Zanni and third co-owner Rich Hager had opportunities to essentially buy themselves jobs, Zanni said. They bit, and invested in the company.
At that first trade show, Big Agnes brought along two sleeping bags and two pads and scored a handful of media appointments. They had no idea where they would manufacture product on a large scale should it blow up, Zanni said. Big Agnes was way in the back of a pavilion, I think, and it was hopping. But Gamber had a good story, and he was refreshingly authentic. He spoke about his personal camping experiences, and it resonated. We tested the gear and it became pretty clear right away that he was onto something. Penn Newhard, founder and managing partner of Backbone, met up with Gamber in a back room at a gas station off of I, and they talked for hours until they got kicked out.
There are three key questions Newhard asks himself when taking on new clients, he says, which boil down to this: Do we believe in the product? Do we like the person, would they be fun to work with, and would there be mutual respect? And do we feel like we could really help them, and would they push us to be a better agency?
Big Agnes Pluton UL 40 Sleeping Bag Review - Section Hikers Backpacking Blog
The two companies have stuck together ever since the beginning. You might expect Newhard to be complimentary of his own client, but he gushed about Gamber and Zanni from both personal and professional standpoints. Gamber is tenacious, thoughtful, and humble. But people want to live that kind of lifestyle, Zanni says, and a lot of experienced and passionate people end up in towns like Steamboat for one reason or another. At Big Agnes, employee turnover is fairly low: Many of the earliest employees have stuck with the brand. It grew sales by 15 percent last year, which was 10 times faster than the total tent category.
In the sleeping bag category, Big Agnes ranked fifth, with sales remaining steady as category sales declined elsewhere. The answer to how and why Big Agnes has grown in such a noticeable way is an easy one, according to Newhard: It comes down to award-winning product. Time and again, Big Agnes stuff works.
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Big Agnes is always one step ahead of its competitors, Newhard says, giving the example of the mtnGLO tent, which has an integrated lighting system. See the Enlightened Equipment Revelation Fill: fill goose down What we like: Warm, comfortable, and nice colorways. The specs are impressive: fill goose down, a whopping We have the degree version listed here, but Patagonia also released a degree version that weighs At a respectable 2 pounds 8 ounces, the REI Co-Op Radiant is more wallet-friendly than the high-end Magma above yet still gets the job done.
For weekend backpackers or those first taking the plunge on gear, the Radiant is a reasonably priced way to get the job done. Our biggest concern with the REI Radiant is its roomy fit and resulting impact on warmth. The bag advertises being relaxed in the shoulders and hips, which unfortunately is overly roomy for most people and can end up being drafty. Despite the degree temperature rating, many people find that it simply runs colder than that.
Cold-weather camping can be intimidating prospect, but one night in the Snowbunting might have you feeling a lot more comfortable. Packed with a whopping Moreover, the Pertex Shield is a fabric used in many rain jackets, making for an impressively weather resistant shell. And with a relatively narrow fit and no-frills design, the Snowbunting weighs only 2 pounds 13 ounces, which is as light as many 3-season bags.
But as far as winter bags go, this is our top pick.
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Feathered Friends is one of the only companies using fill down and their track record for high quality construction is second to none. The LEEF is only available in a single size—most bags above are offered in regular and long—but its inch length makes it a fine choice for tall backpackers. When available, we've listed both the Comfort and Lower Limit in the product specs above. For more on the differences, see our buying advice below. The advantage is that you can keep your pack lighter as these bags weigh as little as one pound and compress down incredibly small.
However, one cold night can make for an uncomfortable trip. When carrying a true summer bag, bring a beanie and other layers that can help you keep warm if there happens to be an unexpected drop in temperature. You can open them up at night when necessary or sleep on top on balmy nights. We love their versatility: in the summer you can unzip and stay reasonably cool, but they also allow for spring, fall, and alpine backpacking where the temperature drops to freezing or below this often happens in the night in the mountains even during the summer.
In this category we love the The North Face Furnace 20 , which hits that temperature sweet spot for a wide range of trips and comes in at a very reasonable price point. For the purposes of this article, most of the bags on this list are of the 3-season variety and have temperature ratings from around 20 degrees to 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of depending on the manufacturer and their marketing whims for a temperature rating, the Europeans have standardized the system. EN or just EN for short establishes guidelines for how to test the warmth of a bag and gives us two very important numbers:.
EN Comfort Rating: The temperature at which an average woman can sleep comfortably. Generally, women sleep colder than men, hence the importance of the comfort rating. EN Lower Limit: The temperature at which an average man can sleep for eight hours without waking. We rarely sleep for eight hours without waking on a backpacking trip, but you get the idea. In addition, you may see references to the EN Upper Limit the temperature at which an average man can sleep without excessive perspiration and EN Extreme the minimum temperature at which a standard woman can remain for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia.
Of course, all of the EN ratings are based on averages and in general we've found them to be optimistic by around 10 degrees we cover this in greater detail in the section below , but they are helpful in comparing two EN-rated bags. The majority of outdoor gear manufacturers use the EN system but certainly not all of them—compliance is optional. First and foremost, we think that you should always leave a reasonable buffer in temperature so as to not to be disappointed and save yourself sleepless nights.
We've found the EN ratings to be too low, even when wearing a warm baselayer. For choosing the right EN rating, try to get an idea of the coldest temperature you'll be experiencing overnight. A warm hat can help keep a lot of heat in, and some wool baselayers will help add some warmth as well.
And make sure to consider the R-value of your sleeping pad more on this below , which will help to insulate you from the cold ground. Some manufacturers do not EN rate their sleeping bags, and typically it's smaller companies like Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, and Katabatic Gear.
From our experiences, these brands actually are on the conservative side and take pride in offering very realistic temperature ratings. As such, we've found that the higher EN Comfort rating is a better basis for comparison than the EN Lower Limit, and therefore have listed it in the table above both ratings are included in the product specs. If anything, being cold can be uncomfortable or even dangerous, and we recommend using the EN Comfort as the more realistic of the two.
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The down vs. Midlayers, camping bags , and even sleeping pads are all insulated with these fill types. There are a few major reasons for that, including the best warmth-to-weight ratio, far better packability i. So why consider synthetic? The most common reason for most is price. In addition, synthetic performs far better than down in wet weather.
Fill weight is the actual amount of insulation stuffed into a sleeping bag. Cut does matter here: a bag with a slender cut may have less insulation than a bag with a roomy cut despite providing similar or even more warmth. And it's a good visual for how much more insulation is required for a synthetic bag to compete with down. If you decide down is going to be your insulation of choice, one of the first specs to look at is the quality of a specific down, known as its fill power.
Generally, the higher the fill power, the more expensive the sleeping bag. The lower the fill power, the more it must weigh to provide similar levels of warmth. Unfortunately, down feathers lose much of their ability to insulate when wet, and synthetic insulation does a much better job in this department. Gear manufacturers recently started treating down to make it more water resistant. We love the hydrophobic down movement. Yes, it adds a tiny bit of weight to the down, but it also adds a noticeable level of protection.
Synthetic insulation still has its place for budget backpackers but nothing beats down, and particularly treated down. In addition to considerations like warmth and down fill, the cut of a sleeping bag is critical to how much you enjoy it. Many ultralight sleeping bags save weight by tapering the cut of the legs for less fabric and down.