NEMO Forte Sleeping Bag | Review - Outdoors Magic

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NEMO Forte Sleeping Bag | Review

These cosy, comfort-focused synthetic sleeping bags combine partly recycled fill with plenty of features that side sleepers in particular will love

Why We Chose It: Great value, sustainable fill, innovative design

Apparently, seventy per cent of people sleep on their side. Which begs the question as to why, until relatively recently, sleeping bags were seemingly built for people who lay flat on their back all night long.

Luckily, outdoor gear brands have finally woken up. Last year, we tested the first bag we’d come across that was specifically designed for wriggly side sleepers, the Big Agnes Sidewinder SL. We were very impressed with it – so impressed, in fact, that the Sidewinder made the cut for the OM 2021/22 Outdoor 100, our carefully curated list of the year’s 100 best bits of outdoor kit.

OM tester Becky using the Forte with a hammock set up on the Cumbria Way. Photos: Joe Whitmore

This year, we’ve also discovered the Forte series, from fellow US gear manufacturer NEMO Equipment. Just like the Sidewinder, these bags are also custom designed to help all you side sleepers out there get plenty of good-quality Zzz’s. The design approach is slightly different though. Unlike most technical sleeping bags, which tend to be mummy-shaped, the Forte employs an unusual Spoon shape, which flares at the elbows and knees. This extra room is designed to allow side sleepers to shift positions comfortably throughout the night.

What Is The NEMO Forte Sleeping Bag Best Suited To?

That versatile spoon shape works really well however you sleep but is brilliant for side sleepers who like to tuck up their knees or stick out their elbows. The Forte is available in men’s and women’s fits, in both regular or long lengths, and two temperature ratings too. All the bags are stuffed with warm but hard-wearing Primaloft RISE synthetic fill, encased in a ripstop shell and a soft taffeta lining.

The Forte 20 is rated with an ISO lower limit of 20°F or -6°C, so it ought to keep you warm even if temps dip just below freezing. That makes this a decent bag for three-season campsite-style camping. It’ll also work well for most wild camping adventures from spring through to autumn, though admittedly, things might start to get a little chilly if you’re high in the hills.

Weighing in at 1.3kg and with a pack size of 29 x 23cm in the regular length (as mentioned, they also do a long length if you’re over six foot), it’s going to be a little heavier and bulkier than premium ultralight down bags. On the other hand, it costs £210, which is significantly less than most down bags. And if you wrestle it into a compression sack, it’ll still pack easily into most backpacking rucksacks without taking up too much space.

If you don’t need a bag to keep you warm below freezing, the Forte 35 is an alternative (and slightly cheaper) choice. That one has an RRP of £180, weighs in at a slightly more svelte 960g (again, in the reg length) and has a similar pack size as the 20F version. It’s well suited to late spring and summer use here in the UK.

Eco Credentials

The Primaloft RISE synthetic fill this bag uses is made from 80% post-consumer recycled polyester. That’s fairly admirable in itself but this eco effort is part of a wider shift by the brand to ensure it has a positive impact on our planet.

A bluesign system partner, Nemo has committed to becoming Climate Neutral Certified in 2022, with the goal of halving its overall emissions by 2030.

The 2023 edition of this will be the first product in an ambitious new sustainability programme from Nemo called Endless Promise. As part of this, they’re aiming to manufacture as many new products as they can in a net-zero way and the ‘Endless Promise’ label will highlight which products meet their strict criteria and sustainability standards there,

So, with this particular item, zero materials will be wasted in its manufacture – that means anything left after the cutting process will be reprocessed or repurposed. There’ll also be a commitment to circularity with it too and that means that if it gets damaged, Nemo will either seek to repair it or they’ll ensure it gets fully recycled when it has come to the end of its life (they’re currently working on establishing an extensive EU based recycling facility that should be up and running by 2024).

On top of all this, a Life Cycle Assessment will be carried out to ensure that this sleeping bag’s carbon footprint is totally off-set and this will be done through the purchasing of carbon credits that go towards supporting projects that work to clean up our atmosphere.

Construction and Performance

These are well-designed bags, with loads of unusual and thoughtful details in addition to the standard feature set that you’d expect to get with a high-quality sleeping bag.

So, there’s a full-length two-way zipper for easy entry/exit, which is backed with a full-length draught tube. But you also get an external draught collar that NEMO calls a ‘Blanket Fold’. Basically, it tucks up under the chin just like your duvet at home, making for a toasty, snuggly feel.

“Works well for most wild camping adventures from spring through to autumn.”

The fabric around the footbox is highly water resistant to withstand condensation, so you won’t need to be too concerned if your feet accidentally brush up against the walls of your tent or shelter. Other clever extras included an integrated pillow pocket, which allows a jacket, extra clothes, or a camp pillow to be stuffed into the sleeve opening. There are also two zipped vents or ‘Thermo Gills’, which allow you to vent body heat without letting cold draughts in. Lastly, opposite-sided zippers on the Forte men’s and women’s models allow them to be zipped together into a double sleeping bag.


These bags are all about versatility and comfort. You get a well-built and feature-laden sleeping bag, with a generous spoon-shaped cut that is great if you tend to toss and turn at night. The partly recycled fill also boosts these bags’ eco credentials (though if we were being critical, we’d really like to see recycled shell and lining fabrics too, and PFC-free water repellent finishes).

Overall, we like the Forte series a lot. Admittedly, they’re not the lightest or most packable synthetic bags around (though they’re still pretty competitive). But they are among the most comfortable we’ve tried, and that ought to make for happy camping.

NEMO Forte 35F Reg

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2023
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