The Big Test: Three season sleeping bags reviewed (2019)

During spring, summer and autumn, the right 3-season sleeping bag can help make camping in the mountains an idyllic experience. Here’s our pick of the six best down and synthetic sleeping bags for 2019.

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The runners up


Mammut Kompakt MTI 3-Season (Women) £159 

Tester: Anna Humphries

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  • Lower comfort limit -10°C

  • Insulation Ajungilak MTI Pro polyester 

  • Size 205x80cm (Regular and Short available)

  • Men’s equivalent Kompakt MTI 3-Season (Regular, Large and Wide available) 

  • Packed size 21 x 30cmn 

  • Weight 1851g (inc 100g stuffsack)

This well-priced bag is warmer than other 3-season bags, with a temperature rating of -10°C, while others are -4°C, -6°C or -8.5°C. So not surprisingly, it’s also a little heavier and more bulky when in its stuffsack.

Synthetic insulation means it is less compact but does feel warm instantly, which was a welcome benefit over the down bag I tried, which took more time to become cosy.

The hood, shoulder baffle and zip are all well designed, and there are two sizes each for the women and men’s versions. The women’s option has the extra benefit of a fleece-lined foot area and a bigger hood.

So, what’s not to like? For me this bag’s pink colour with a green zip is a real turn-off. It also lacks the stretchy seams of other higher-priced bags, and is heavy, but of course it is warmer too. Oddly the stuffsack colour is a nice red and black, which doesn’t match the bag but at least the pinkness is hidden when the bag is packed inside!

PROS 

Price, warmth, fleecy foot in women’s option, two sizes each for men and for women

CONS 

Weight and packed size, no stretch baffles, pink colour for women’s version 

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%


Vaude Santis 800 SYN £250

Tester: Graham Thompson

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  • Lower comfort limit -4°C

  • Insulation Pinnero Mantle 100% recycled polyester

  • Size 220x80cm (one size)

  • Women’s equivalent n/a

  • Packed size 22x28cm

  • Weight 1292g (inc 75g stuffsack)

Like many Vaude products it’s the environmental benefits that shine through with this bag, as it’s made with 100% recycled polyester insulation and its water- repellent finish doesn’t use harmful fluorocarbons (PFC).

Stretch fibres are used in the knee area to allow more comfort, and the shoulder width and length are bigger than some. There’s also a unique additional side zipped arm hole, so you can be inside the bag with both arms out (one arm out via normal side zip, the other through the arm hole).

The weight and packed size are good although, of course, a down bag is even lighter. But also note this is rated as -4°C comfort limit, while other bags here are rated as -6°C comfort limit, so this isn’t quite as warm as the others. There are no extra size or women’s options here either, and the price tag is less friendly than this bag’s impressive environmental benefits.

PROS 

Environmental benefits, zipped arm opening, stretch panels in knee area, reasonable weight and packed size for a synthetic bag

CONS 

Price is relatively high compared to other synthetic bags, slightly lower temperature rating, no extra size options or women’s option

  • OVERALL SCORE 76%


Thermarest Hyperion 20F/-6C £400-£420 

Tester: Tim Butcher

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  • Lower comfort limit -6°C

  • Insulation Nikwax Hydrophobic 900 fill power goose down

  • Size 216x74cm (Long, Small and Regular available)

  • Women’s equivalent n/a

  • Packed size 16x20cm

  • Weight 688g (inc 50g stuffsack)

New for 2019, this bag is exceptionally lightweight and compact when compressed into its stuffsack. It still carries a temperature rating of -6°C and the weight-saving comes from a numbers of areas. Firstly it uses top quality 900 fill down, so you just need less of it to stay warm, and the shell fabric is very thin 10 denier ripstop nylon.

The side zip only extends to the hip, rather than the foot or calf area, and the zip itself is a lighter-weight design that seems to snag a little easier than others, and tends to open on its own if I didn’t secure the press stud at the top of the zip. There is no shoulder baffle either.

Finally you don’t get the stretch baffles of other sleeping bags. It comes with a pair of thin webbing straps that can be wrapped around a Thermarest sleeping mat for ‘optimal efficiency’, but I didn’t find this of much benefit and felt if I turned over too roughly I may have ripped out the straps.

PROS 

Weight and packed size. Attachment webbing to sleeping mat may be of benefit to some, but I wasn’t convinced as I tend to sleep on my side and move around too much

CONS 

Price, short side zip, no shoulder baffle, no stretch in bag size, no women’s specific design

  • OVERALL SCORE 72%


 
 

The top three


Deuter Exosphere -6° £170 

Tester: Graham Thompson

Is this synthetic insulated bag so good, there’s no need to spend extra on down insulation?

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  • Lower comfort limit -6°C

  • Insulation Thermo Proloft synthetic 

  • Size (Length x shoulder width) 205x68cm (Regular and Large available) 

  • Women’s equivalentDeuter Exosphere -6° SL (one size)

  • Packed size 20x23cm

  • Weight 1319g (inc 88g stuffsack)

It’s good

This sleeping bag uses synthetic insulation, so is available at a much lower price than an equivalent down insulated bag. But the weight, packed size and temperature rating are exceptionally impressive, even compared to down-filled bags.

Elasticated construction allows the whole bag to expand in width by 25%. The elastication also holds the insulation closer to the body, resulting in increased efficiency as there are less cold air pockets, so the bag warms up faster and needs less insulation.

In addition the foot and head have been treated to keep moisture at bay, such as when condensation gathers in a tent. You also get a shoulder baffle, a great hood and a side zip with a good anti-snag design.

I found this bag outstandingly comfortable and warm, and perfect for camping without the cost of a down bag. What’s even better is it comes in both regular and large sizes, as well as a women’s option, and as it is stretchy this bag should fit a wider range of people than most bags.

The compression sack has four webbing buckles to crush the contents, making it easy to create a good packed size.

However

This bag is rated as -6°C comfort, but a similar weight down bag is rated as -8.5°C. And if you have the cash, a top quality -6°C rated down bag is just 866g, so down is going to be lighter if you compare temperature ratings carefully.

If you’re really picky then this bag could be lighter, with a skimpier stuffsack that vacuum- packs the bag more efficiently. Some grams could also be shaved off by using thinner shell materials, while you could strip out the shoulder baffle and dryzones to save cash too.

There is a chance you may not like the stretchy, body-hugging design. I love it, but some people may want the more spacious feel of a wider bag that doesn’t hug you as closely as this. Finally, some other synthetic bags use more recycled content.

Verdict

An excellent synthetic-insulated bag that would suit the needs of most backpackers and mountain campers. But pay more and you can have a lighter bag, and if you can live with less features you can pay less or reduce weight.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

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Rab Ascent 700 (Women’s) £260 

Tester: Anna Humphries

This mid-priced down bag offers lots of benefits over synthetic, but is it worth the cash?

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  • Lower comfort limit -8.5°C

  • Insulation Nikwax Hydrophobic 650 fill power European duck down

  • Size 205x70cm (one size, women’s)n 

  • Men’s equivalent Rab Ascent 700 (Regular and Extra Long available)

  • Packed size 24x18cm

  • Weight 1325g (inc 66g stuffsack)

It’s good

This is relatively well-priced for a down insulated bag. It uses 650 fill power down (rather than 800 fill power down) to reduce costs, but still has a very reasonable packed size and weight. It also gives you a few extra degrees of warmth compared to some bags, which makes it more suitable for women, who on average feel the cold more than men.

This spacious bag had plenty of room for my hips and legs without feeling tight when I turned over. The side zip extends a good way down to the foot for venting, and there’s also a shoulder baffle to trap air inside.

Hydrophobic down (certified by the Responsible Down Standard to safeguard bird welfare) is used to improve the performance a little more, and is treated with Nikwax to resist moisture. I found the bag did take a little longer to warm up than the synthetic option, but once warm I was extremely cosy and comfortable.

The stuffsack is particularly good, as it allowed me to very easily vacuum-pack the bag down to a very small size.

However

It is heavier than a bag using down insulation with higher fill power, but of course that is why its price is more competitive. This bag is only available in one size for women too, so if you’re a tall woman you may find you need to look at the longer men’s version.

Some bags have stretch linings to make them even more comfortable and efficient, but that isn’t on offer here. As with any down insulated bag, if it does get damp then its performance drops off rapidly compared to a synthetic bag, although at least here we do have Nikwax-treated down, so this is less of an issue. Of course, while the price is good for a down-insulated bag, if you find the performance of a synthetic bag acceptable you can save a lot of cash by choosing synthetic insulation instead of opting for feathers.

Verdict 

Mid-priced down insulated bag that compares well to costlier down bags. It has most of the key features many mountain campers will need, but pay more and you get a lighter bag, while synthetic options save money.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%


Mountain Equipment Firelite £440

Tester: Tim Butcher

A top-quality down insulated bag with all the features you need, but does it justify the outlay?

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  • Lower comfort limit -6°C

  • Insulation 800 fill power Russian goose down 

  • Size 215x65cm (Regular and Long available)

  • Women’s equivalent n/a

  • Packed size 21 x 21cm (size Long)

  • Weight 866g (Long, inc 59g stuffsack)

It's Good 

Designed for ultra- light backpacking and high mountain use, this bag certainly meets its brief. At just 866g and a tiny packed size, this was a doddle to pack into my rucksack and it left plenty of space for other camping equipment.

The bag comes in two sizes, and I tested the Long version given my 198cm height. The width is closer fitting than other bags, but this bag features stretch baffles, so it can expand with your body, but also more loft space is created for the insulation when the lining hugs your body, thereby keeping you warmer.

The insulation is a top-quality down, and the shell material is extremely thin and lightweight. You also get an easy-to-adjust hood and the side zip has a good design that didn’t snag easily. A neck baffle helps prevent warm air from escaping if the hood is not fully tightened. Together this all adds up to a very comfortable bag that was slightly tight across the thigh area but otherwise unrestrictive and warm.

Insulation comes from an audited supply chain called the Down Codex, to ensure welfare standards and quality are high.

However

To make the bag match my height, sections have been added at the foot, which did mean the side zip doesn’t extend as close to the foot as other bags. So you might get overly warm feet. The bag is narrower than others too, and while it isn’t generally restrictive, a little more thigh space would have been beneficial.

Any bag with down insulation needs to be kept dry, as the insulation will not trap warm air very effectively if it gets damp, so more care is needed here to keep the bag dry compared to a synthetic insulation bag.

This is pretty much a no- compromises bag, and the result is a hefty price-tag that may cause you to, ahem, lose sleep. But for regular backpacking when all- round performance is your need then this is an acceptable price when compared to other options.

Verdict 

Top-quality backpacking bag if you want optimum performance and are prepared to stretch your budget. But the price is quite eye-watering, and synthetic bags perform better if damp.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

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Mountain Equipment Xero 300 (2013)

An impressive product from the ever-impressive Mountain Equipment, the Xero range has been redesigned for 2013 and now comes badged up with branded credentials, including a Down Codex stamp assuring that the 850+ Ukranian goose down within has been ethically sourced (as opposed to live-plucked) and features a breathable He30 shell and DC7 hood. This is all very impressive-sounding, but it’s all pretty meaningless if the bag itself isn’t any good. Happily, it is. It’s certainly warm: sharing the Rab’s -2 comfort rating, it’s joint warmest in our test. The foot box is roomy, as is the rest of the bag, allowing plenty of extra clothing if necessary to up the temperature rating, increasing the overall versatility of the bag. The shoulder baffle has a popper closure, the interior face fabric is nice and soft, the stuffsack is an excellent and tough roll-clip affair, and you get a loft bag. It isn’t perfect, though: the ¾-length zip is difficult to unzip from inside despite being designed to allow this, and there are lighter bags in this test. But otherwise this sleeping bag is pretty hard to fault.

 

Weight (with stuffsack) 778g (823g)
Size 185x76cm
Packed size 28x15cm
Outer fabric He30 shell
Inner fabric Supersoft 20 lining
Insulation 850+ Down Codex-sourced goose down
Construction slanted box wall construction
Lower comfort limit -2 deg C
Extreme temp rating -18 deg C
Website www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Xero 300 is a terrific bag, which matches or exceeds the performance of higher-priced options for a lot less cash in an impressive package ideal for the British summer. It won Trail magazine’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine August 2013


Mountain Equipment Xero 350 (2012)

The Mountain Equipment Xero 350 is an interesting mix of traditional progressive features. The bag has an EXL lining, which means that the inner seams are elastic and hug your body to help eliminate cold spots in the bag. These seams feel quite pronounced if you run a hand over them, but in use I quickly got accustomed to them and it wasn’t an issue. Some users might find it claustrophobic though, so again, try before you buy. The bag has a two-way three-quarter-length zip with an internal baffle and anti-snag strip with a Velcro security flap at the top. The hood is protective and cinches in neatly but there is also a full shoulder baffle with its own internal drawcord adjustment for users who would rather sleep with their head free of the main bag. In use the EXL lining means the Mountain Equipment Xero 350 feels very different to the other bags in the test. Although the elastic seams do grip you gently, the inner fabric is soft and you can stretch out easily enough so there is no feeling of restriction and the bag is comfortable. The Xero comes with a compression stuffsack and a storage sack.

Weight (bag only) 808g
Size (length x shoulder width x foot width) 190x37x62cm
Packed size 17x26cm
Outer fabric He30rs
Inner fabric Supersoft lining
Insulation 750 Hungarian goose down
Construction box wall with EXL stretch seams
Comfort temperature rating +5 deg C
Lower comfort limit 0 deg C
Extreme temperature rating -15 deg C
Website
www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

 

Verdict
The Mountain Equipment Xero 350 is a very well-appointed sleeping bag. The EXL system will either appeal to users or not. All the features add up though, meaning the Xero is the second heaviest bag in the test at 808g for its 0 deg C rating.

Review by Peter Macfarlane
First published in Trail magazine June 2012


Mountain Equipment Xero 550 (2012)

The Mountain Equipment Xero 550 is a very popular bag for backpackers thanks to its good weight and packed size, coupled with a good temperature rating. There is an EXL elasticated lining, which provides a closer fit than most bags without restricting movement – and this system makes the bag feel a little warmer than others. The bag does not come with a compression stuffsack, though, so you either have to squash it down into your rucksack or buy an additional compression sack for easier packing. The end of the bag is profiled to prevent the feet from compressing the insulation, and the side zip gets a nice wide anti-snag strip and a draught baffle, while the shoulder baffle is particularly wide and well-filled to help trap warm air inside the bag. The hood is also well-designed. To ensure the highest environmental, ethical and animal welfare standards, the sourcing of the down used in the Mountain Equipment Xero 550 is audited through Mountain Equipment’s Down Codex project.

Outer fabric He30

Inner fabric Supersoft

Insulation 93/7 750+ fill power goose down

Compression packed size 19x24cm

Weight 1000g

Lower comfort temp. rating -6 deg C

Website www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Xero 550 is the best lightweight sleeping bag in our buyer’s guide.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine Spring 2012


Mountain Equipment Snowline (2012)

Down is a more efficient insulator than synthetic materials, which is why it is used to create the lightest sleeping bags. But down becomes less efficient than synthetic insulation when wet. To overcome this drawback, a water-resistant outer fabric called Drilite Loft is used by Mountain Equipment on the Snowline. This means you don’t have to be so concerned about tent condensation or snow coming into contact with the bag as it won’t reduce its ability to keep you warm. The bag also features an EXL elasticated lining that causes the bag to hug the body to trap air next to the skin and thereby increase efficiency. The down is held in a combination of V-baffles, box wall and slant wall baffles to make sure the down remains in place to reduce cold spots. The Mountain Equipment Snowline may not be the lightest option, but it provides supreme performance over a wider range of conditions due to its extra features.

 

Outer fabric Drilite Loft

Inner fabric Ultrasoft

Insulation 93/7 down, 750 fill power

Compressed packed size 30x23cm

Weight 1510g

Lower comfort temperature rating -17 deg C

Website www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Snowline is the best all-round down bag in our review.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine March 2012


Mountain Equipment Starlight IV 2011

For me, the cut of the Mountain Equipment Starlight IV was excellent, being a good compromise between spacious comfort and snugness for warmth. The Polarloft insulation lofted well, too. This meant it immediately felt warm, which is what you’d expect from so much insulation. The shark’s fin toebox is lifted from Mountain Equipment’s top-of-the-range sleeping bags and provides a contoured fit around the feet. There’s a two-way, full-length zip with a glow-in-the-dark zip pull. The shoulder baffle is generous and comfy, and the outer fabric is treated with a DWR finish for extra water resistance. You also get a small internal pocket.  But the Mountain Equipment Starlight IV’s hood was big, and felt very bunched-up and restrictive when the drawcords were pulled tight. The neck baffle was hard to get small enough too, but the biggest problem was the zip baffle. It just wasn’t big enough and left a long, cold spot along the side. Also, although warm, it didn’t feel as warm as the -12 deg C comfort rating would suggest.

Size 211x72x35cm
Outer fabric lightweight nylon shell honeycomb ripstop
Inner fabric Ultrasoft nylon lining
Construction shingle
Insulation Polarloft
Minimum comfort temperature rating -12 deg C
Packed size 40x29x88cm; 27x30x90cm compressed
Weight 1972g (bag); 2100g with stuffsack
Made in China
Stores in the UK 80

The Mountain Equipment Starlight IV is a big, heavy sleeping bag that offers a greater degree of warmth than some on test, but it falls short on comfort around the hood.

Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2011

 


Mountain Equipment Xero 550 2010

The Xero range comprises Mountain Equipment’s lightest sub-zero sleeping bags. Comfort at minimum weight is the hallmark of the range. The EXL stretch baffle system ensures the bag hugs the body, so that the top quality down can keep you warm. For 2010 this bag gets even better down.

Design
The Xero range is made to be lightweight, so the latest version uses down that has a fill power of 750, compared to the 700 fill power down of previous versions. The down is sourced after the birds are slaughtered and they specify that no down comes from live plucked or force-fed birds. This improved fill power means less down is required to provide the same level of insulation. The outer fabric is He30rs, which weighs only 29g/m2, which is exceptionally light. These materials are incorporated into a box wall design, with a ‘shark’s toe’ foot to prevent down being squashed around the foot. The foot also gets a five-baffle bull’s-eye construction to again ensure the feet are kept warm. However the big feature of many Mountain Equipment bags is the EXL system of stretch baffles, which ensures the bag hugs the body to increase warmth.

On the hill
The Mountain Equipment Xero 550 does not have any water-resistant areas on the shell so instantly I felt I needed to be a little more careful with it to ensure the down remained dry. The outer fabric is very thin and you can just about see the down inside it. But there does appear to be a good distribution of down with the hood getting a good wad along with the shoulder baffle and zip baffle. That bull’s-eye foot also feels very well packed with down. The zip gets an excellent anti-snag strip too; and indeed this was the most snag-resistant of all the bags tested. The bag feels very comfortable and the hood and shoulder collar adjustment works very well. I do like the stretch baffle system as it feels a little more cosy and keeps the bag close no matter how you sleep.

In the lab
Lab results of 15TOG / -20 deg C are very warm for a -6 deg C rated bag. We had an early sample of the Mountain Equipment Xero 550, so it is possible that in production the rating may be a little less warm this. But this temperature for the weight and price is still excellent. As the hood and foot are well packed with down and there is the EXL system this bag is definitely easily capable of being comfortable as a three-season option.

Size 220x75x50cm
Outer fabric He30rs
Inner fabric Supersoft lining
Fill weight 550g of 93/7 Hungarian goose down
Fill power 750+
Lower comfort temp rating -6 deg C
Trail temp rating -20 deg C
Packed size 19x34cm in stuffsack;19x28cm compressed
Weight bag without stuffsack 979g
Made in China
Stores across UK 100
Stockist details tel. (0161) 366 9732; www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Verdict
The Mountain Equipment Xero 550 has a well-designed foot, excellent zip and baffle; easy-to-adjust drawcords; stretch baffle system for to maximise warmth, However, a water-resistant shell would be better for UK mixed conditions. It’s perfect for backpacking except for not having a water-resistant shell.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2010



Mountain Equipment Starlight III 2009

The Mountain Equipment Starlight III is quite a wide 3-season synthetic sleeping bag for unrestricted user comfort. It has ME’s shark’s toe footbox, which is shaped to contour around the feet, maximising warmth and eliminating heat-sapping dead space. The full-length two-way zip has a glow-in-the-dark zip pull, is secured at the top by a Velcro tab and has a minimalist draught baffle. There’s a good-sized shoulder baffle and protective, contoured hood. The bag is soft and comfortable against the skin, and the soft insulation keeps the heat in once you’ve built it up inside. There’s a small external pocket too. The outer fabric repels water splashes well. But the drawcords are tricky to use, it’s hard to get the shoulder baffle tight and the hood bunches up around the face. The zip baffle barely covers the zip, potentially allowing a cold spot. The big size means it takes longer to feel warm inside this bag. It has a big packed size and is heavy too.

 

Size 220x80x46cm
Shell lightweight honeycomb ripstop nylon
Inner polyamide
Construction shingle
Insulation Polarloft Micro
Packed size 40x23cm; 25x23cm compressed
Weight 1985g (bag only); 2015g with stuffsack
Made in China
Stores in the UK 95
Stockists – tel. (0161) 366 5020; www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Verdict: The Mountain Equipment Starlight III is fine for year-round campsite use, but the fit of this 3-season synthetic sleeping bag is too baggy to allow this to feel really warm.

 

Review by Peter Macfarlane
First published in Trail magazine June 2009


Mountain Equipment Snowline 2009

There’s comfort built in to the Mountain Equipment Snowline sleeping bag, thanks to the EXL system, which allows elastic threads to hold the inner of the bag closer to the body for fewer cold spots. At the foot a ‘shark’s toe’ shape means the top is longer than the base, for added comfort. The sculpted hood fits like a jacket hood too.

 

Design
The Snowline has been popular with Trail for many years, thanks to its attention to detail, comfort and price. The bag features the unique EXL system, which adds 2 deg C of thermal efficiency according to the manufacturer. The bag also uses good-quality down, but some others do have more. The outer material is Drilite, which is water-resistant to help protect the down from condensation inside a tent. There is a section of Polarloft around the face to add a little more comfort to this area, while a well-filled shoulder baffle and zip baffle keep more draughts away. The foot has a 5cm extension on the top to create a ‘shark’s toe foot’ profile that stops your toes from squashing the insulation when resting in a natural position. Mountain Equipment adds its own ‘sleep zone temperature rating’ to the usual EN13537 labelling to give you a little more information. Add in a weight of 1498g and a price of only £325 for a bag that’s comfortable down to -17 deg C, and it looks very hard to beat.

 

On the hill
I’ve used this bag in all sorts of locations including some winter camping trips to the Cairngorms and I’ve always found it works really well, andw it has been the mainstay of my winter kit for many years. In short, if in doubt I take a Snowline. It is warm enough for me in winter, and I’m sure that the EXL system adds a notch of extra warmth compared to bags of the same temperature rating. Initially the elasticated stitching inside the bag does feel strange but I find that I soon forget about it and fall asleep. The shark’s toe foot is no doubt a good design, although as I tend to curl up I’m not sure if it adds much to my comfort. The sculpted hood fits like a jacket hood around the head, which is ideal for keeping you cosy. The water-resistant shell works well, but it is not seam-sealed so the down may still get wet. A thick shoulder baffle and good overall warmth made this a favourite for winter camping for me. 

 

Size 220x80x50cm standard (XL and small also available)
Fill weight 750g
Fill power 700+ (EU)
Comfort temperature rating -17 deg C
Packed size 25x23cm compressed
Weight of bag 1498g
Made in China
Stores in the UK 46
Stockist details tel. (0161) 366 5020; www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

 

Verdict: The Mountain Equipment Snowline is a classic sleeping bag that has won Trail tests in the past and remains a superb option if you want all-round performance, but it is not waterproof. It won ‘Best Value’ in our test.




Mountain Equipment Women’s Lightline Ultra

This is a swish-looking 3-season down sleeping bag. It’s well put together and finished, giving a real feeling of money well spent. Inside the feeling of luxury continues with a really soft lining fabric that’s wonderful to fall asleep in. Down- and synthetic-filled baffles are positioned around the neck and either side of the zip, and these can be Velcroed shut to ensure no draughts get in. The fabric next to the zip is also reinforced to prevent snagging. The foot box is contoured and there is elastication in the lower half of the bag to improve the fit. Combine this with a women’s-specific design and a well-fitting hood, and you have a very nice bag indeed. But elastication on the lower half of the bag will not be to everyone’s taste, especially those who find sleeping bags restrictive at the best of times. The stuffsack is also just too small for the size of the sleeping bag, making packing it up a battle (and in this case causing the stuffsack to tear).

 

Size: 195x75x30cm
Outer fabric: Drilite Loft 100% nylon with water-resistant coating (HH1500mm)
Inner fabric: Supersoft 100% nylon
Insulation: 93/7 European sourced goose down, 700+ fill power EU
Construction vertical V-baffles / horizontal box and slant wall baffles / 7-piece ‘Bullseye’ foot baffle 
Packed size: 32x19cm
Weigh:t 1161g
Made in: China
Stores in the UK: 10

Verdict: A really smooth bag with all the features you could want plus a good temperature rating, but the internal elastication may not be to everyone’s liking.


Mountain Equipment Moonwalker IV

This synthetic sleeping bag is made with Polarguard Delta (the most efficient type of synthetic insulation) and constructed with a shingle overlapping method to reduce cold spots. The shell is ripstop nylon and it fends off water extremely well, which is essential in a typical condensation-drenched winter tent. The long side zip has been carefully designed not to snag, and it runs well. Open up the bag and you’ll see good zip baffles. Get in and zip it back up and you’ll notice the EXL system comprising of elastic stitching that gently hugs the body, so reducing cold spots. The ‘shark’s toe’ foot is 5cm longer than the base too, so your feet can relax in a natural position without compressing the insulation (at least that’s the theory!). The good shoulder baffle can be easily adjusted and means you don’t have to have the hood fully drawn in if you are claustrophobic. The drawcords around the hood are easy to adjust though and the hood fits well. Add in the contoured hood and neck collar, and you’ve got all the luxury required for winter warmth. But confusing labelling suggests that both -14 and -20 deg C will be comfortable sleep temperatures (the Trail temp rating is -15 deg C). It is £180, so you could save money and still get a good bag (but would you get all those superb details?). Some may not like the feeling of the bag hugging them, even though this is a more efficient use of the insulation. I can’t really fault it more than this though.

 

Size: 210x80x50cm
Shell: diamond ripstop nylon with DWR finish
Inner: polyester
Construction: shingle
Insulation: Polarguard Delta
Packed size: 24x46cm; 24x34cm compressed
Weight: 1800g bag; 1892g with stuffack
Made in China
Stores: England 15; Wales 3; Scotland 2; Ireland 0
Comfort ratings deg C:
Claimed -14
Tested -15

Verdict: Buy it if you are prepared to pay any price for a superb synthetic sleeping bag that is ideal for winter camping.


Mountain Equipment Mithril II

This 3-season synthetic sleeping bag is made from Polarloft synthetic insulation but it also benefits from a silver barrier liner to reduce loss of radiant heat, and it is claimed that this adds 3 degrees of extra warmth – which is probably one reason why the weight of this bag is so low at just 1540g. It is rated as comfortable down to -3 deg C under the EN13537 test method. Mountain Equipment however gives a recommended sleepzone of +15 to -10: confusing to put it mildly, but this should be fine for 3-season use. The bag comes in a compression stuffsack which is substantially smaller once compressed – which just proves you need to check such figures closely as it is the compressed size that is important when backpacking. Get the bag out and the set of features are ideal for 3-season use. Firstly the zip has an anti-snag strip. Behind the zip there is a substantial baffle to prevent getting a chill from the zip. There is a shoulder baffle too – essential, particularly in summer when you may not have the hood fully done up. The hood is well-contoured to fit around the head, too. Get in the bag, and there is good space to flex your legs and it generally feels comfortable. The drawcords and zips are relatively easy to use and they draw in the collar and hood very well. Finally there is exceptional water resistance, which is essential to prevent the insulation becoming damp. But the Mithril II will not be perfect for everyone. Firstly it is not quite as warm as others in its class around the chest. Although the shoulder baffles and zip baffles are good, they’re not as good as some others. The price is excellent but if you want the warmest bag, then this is not the best. The temperature ratings are confusing to anyone other than the very experienced, but this is a problem with many bags at the moment.

 

Size: 217x80x50cm
Inner: Ultrasoft 300dp
Construction: shingle
Insulation: Polarloft with Polarloft Radiant barrier silver liner
Packed size: 42x25cm; 25x24cm compressed
Weight: 1540g (bag only); 1665g with stuffsack
Made in China
Stores in the UK: England 35; Wales 10; Scotland 5; Ireland 0

Verdict: Buy it if you want a superb bag under £100 that has a good, all-round set of features coupled with low weight and small packed size.