Marmot Pinnacle Sleeping Bag
(10/26/04) At first I was a little skeptical. The fact that the sleeping bag weighed only a little over 2 pounds, compresses to the size of a football, and was shaped like a mummy was not encouraging. Did this mean that I was going to freeze to death in my sleep so that I would actually look like a mummy when rescuers found me? It was now twenty five degrees out, with snow on the ground, a light film of frozen condensation over all the gear, and all that was separating me from the elements were the sheer walls of a four pound tent and my new sleeping bag.
It was time to put the bag to the test...
Following advice from a sales person at a "popular" outdoor goods store, all I wore for p-jays were some silkweight underwear. Yes, no extra layers of insulating clothing. My grandmother would be horrified at the thought. Not necessarily about me in my underwear, but not doning the heavy sweater and beanie she typically wore while sleeping. Excessive clothing layers apparently creates too much dead space between you and what really keeps you warm -- the sleeping bag. Many of today's sleeping bags are mummy-shaped to reduce dead air space which takes more area to heat up.
After snuggling into my sleeping bag I immediately noticed how nice and warm it was. With a temperature rating of 15 degrees and 800 Fill Goose Down feathers, it was able to keep me in a state of perfect equilibrium in sub-freezing temperature. Not too cold and not too warm. With the bag covering me like a cocoon, I was able to sleep like a rock the entire night. My tent-mate said I did not move once in my sleep.
The only drawbacks with any down sleeping bag is that its essentially useless if it gets soaking wet. So if you plan on fording through a river, you may want to bring a synthentic sleeping bag instead which retains some insulation while wet. The second drawback is the price. The Marmot Pinnacle sleeping bag runs about $300. Other quality down bags are comparable in price.
When choosing a sleeping bag, its best to select one with a temperature rating 10 degrees lower than the temperature you are anticipating to sleep in. Manufacturers tend to rate the bags in "optimum" conditions, so you should correct for real-life conditions.
I give the Marmot Pinnacle sleeping bag a huge thumbs up!