Friday, September 4, 2015

ZPacks 20 degree Sleeping Bag Review

I purchased a ZPacks sleeping bag in 2013. I originally made this purchase specifically for my first failed JMT hike, but have since used it for more than just backpacking. This has turned out to be a great bag for almost all applications, proving to be durable, warm and packable.

I'll start with saying that I'm 6'1" and 150 lbs. I run pretty cold and sleep pretty cold compared to others. I knew that I wanted at least a 20 degree bag for summer in the high-country. I ordered: "20 Degree Regular Width Sleeping Bag, Length: Extra Long - 6 feet 6 inches."

As far as the temp rating goes, I would say this bag is accurately rated, maybe a bit on the cold side. I have slept in this bag in temps down to around 25 degrees, with long johns and a light fleece or down layer on top, and was comfortable. (Again, I run cold.) To achieve lower ratings in their bags, they not only add more down, but the internal wall height in the bag is extended to allow more room for the extra down.

The stuff sack that comes with this bag is a simple cuben fiber roll top bag. It closes using a strip of velcro and a buckle. It's nice knowing that your sleeping bag is in a waterproof bag when the skies open up while your hiking. I ended up punching a small hole through the bag when I pushed a pair of crampons too hard into the top of my pack, but a thumb-sized piece of duct tape has done great in repairing it. This stuff sack is about as light as you could get it, but it definitely comes at a sacrifice of compressibility. I have used other, much smaller stuff sacks and it has been able to be compressed a lot more than the ZPacks stuff sack will do. Obviously this comes down to priorities, wether you value space in your pack, or being as light as possible.

I've spend most of my nights in this bag pairing it with a bivy. It works great in a bivy system and the pertex/ventum materials dry out super fast. I've used it in a tent at decently high elevations. Highest being just above 13,000. My feet were a bit chilly, even in a tent, but stuffing an extra layer toward the bottom of the bag solved that problem remarkably well. I agree with other reviews that mention how tight the foot box in this bag are, but this didn't surprise me. It's an ultralight piece of gear, it's not going to be the most comfortable bag. I'm a skinny dude and the regular width is a perfect fit around my feet and legs, and room enough to move arms around when the bag is fully zipped up.

I sized this bag so that I would have some extra room to hunker down in it and cinch the top over my head. The closure system at the top of this bag is a skinny draw chord and a velcro strap, which I have found to be not very useful. Newer bags are now made with a buckle instead of a velcro strap. When the zipper is fully closed and I cinch the top down tight, I haven't found a need to use something like the velcro or the buckle. Although, it probably helps to keep the zipper closed while moving around in the bag.

This bag is super versatile as far as regulating temps during the night. With the 3/4 zipper, I have left it fully open, using it as a quilt during hot nights in the back of the truck. Sleeping with the bag fully zipped and my head out of the bag is great for chilly nights in a tent. And then of course, the fetal position with it fully zipped and cinched in a bivy during alpine charges, or fast-packing. I think the perfect piece to pair with this bag to ensure you have a warm system is a hooded lightweight down jacket. I have been super warm using this bag, Patagonia cap 1 long johns, a Cap 4 hoody (now called the Thermal Weight hoody) and a Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody. For me, that's been a pretty bomb proof system.


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  2. Choosing the best sleeping bag is an effective way to achieve a good night’s sleep outdoors. The comfort and warmth provided by a sleeping bag enhances your hiking performance for the following day. Since weight load is one of the factors that must always be given due consideration in any trekking activity, you must see to it that the sleeping bag’s weight does not impede your movement and progress. See more

  3. Oh, I have heard many words of praise for this bag model! But, I was lucking for the best 2-person sleeping bagand after researching the web, I found a great article that talks about them and even offers reviews of some of the best 2-person sleeping bags. You can check it out here:

  4. Camping used to be about bulky sleeping bags. Other times, when you are really lucky, you do not have any sleeping bags to sleep on at all because you ended up carrying heaps of other things and sleeping bags are just not a priority (thinking that you can just find a nice person to share with)

  5. What is the best way to choose the length? I am 5'5. would you suggest the medium which is 5'7 or the large which is 5'10?

  6. Snoring is no joke and I hope this has been helpful. Wishing you a good night’s sleep.

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