Patagonia 850 Down -7˚C Sleeping Bag | Review
Patagonia's new down-filled sleeping bag features an unusual central-zip system and top quality components.
'Decently light, deceptively warm and very roomy. Patagonia's pricy sleeping bag uses a distinctive central zip design that's a little bit Marmite'
Outdoors Magic: Warm, light and lofty, top-notch fabric with sustainable credentials, versatile centre zip design, roomy around torso and feet, decent-fitting hood, box-wall construction throughout.
Outdoors Tragic: Zip of dubious benefit to some, loose fit potentially inefficient, hood cords basic, no neck baffle. Very expensive.
Outdoors Grabbit? This is the first time Patagonia has made a down-filled sleeping bag in recent years and it's an interesting light and warm beast. The quality of the components isn't in doubt, but the unconventional centre-zip design and hugely roomy fit are one of those love/hate things. For mountaineering use, it gives the potential to tie in easily, but also to use your hands from the bag with most of the rest of your body still warm and protected. It also works well for nocturnal cooling. At £500 though, it's very expensive, so you'll need to be convinced by that zip lay-out and possible quite large too.
Three-season (US) down sleeping bag rated to -7˚C comfort limit / Pertex Quantum outer fabric / Houdini fabric inner / box-wall baffles throughout with differential cut / central main-zip with three pullers inside and out / mummy shaped with hood / substantial toe-box / ultra-lightweight Houdini fabric stuff-sac / 4-oz 55% hemp/45% organic cotton muslin storage bag.
Full Review Below
Patagonia -7˚C Sleeping Bag | Performance
Launched this spring, Patagonia's new range of down-filled sleeping bags is the brand's first foray into the area pretty much since founder Yvonne Chouinard created his own, then novel, mummy-shaped down bag some 45 years ago.
According to Patagonia, this is a modern take on that bag, complete with an unusual central zip arrangement. In US terms, this is a three-season bag, but it's pretty warm and will, we suspect, work as a year-round bag for a lot of UK users. There's also a 'two-season' version with a -2˚C limit of comfort rating.
As you'd expect from Patagonia, you can't fault the quality of components - silky soft, lightweight Pertex Quantum on the outside, the brand's own Houdini stuff for the inner - containing 550-odd grammes of traceable 850+ fill power good down or the basics.
Construction is box-wall throughout with well-filled hood and box-toe present and correct. It feels superbly light, soft and lofty, which is always good news if only from a psychological point of view, and packs down creditably small into it's simple, two-stage stuff-bag.
Zip And Cut
What really marks the bag out in a crowded market, is that centrally-placed zip. The thinking behind it is that climbers can use it to stay tied into a harness while using the bag and three zips, with cords inside and out, mean you can configure it to suit.
Wear the hood, open the central area and use your hand for example. Or un-zip the lower section to cool off on milder nights. Or just stick one hand out to grab a proffered cup of tea. We actually found it good for reading in the tent on cold nights. You can turn pages without having to twist round or take your head out of the hood.
One small quibble, we found the top inch of closure had a tendency to snag on the lightweight fabric and in venting mode, the zip opening had a tendency to close up, though back and side sleepers might have different experiences.
Is it a big plus point? We're not sure. We haven't used it for cold conditions mountaineering, where it might excel while cooking in the morning, then again you still have to expose quite lot of torso to get full hand/arm dexterity. It easier to keep the hood in place and use your hands at the same time though. In a tunnel tent however, it might actually be a pain in the butt to use this way.
The other love/hate feature of the bag is its sheer internal volume. It's huge, like really large even for someone with broad, climber-style shoulders. That makes it potentially great for larger folk or for those who want to wear additional down clothing inside without compressing it, but less good for efficiency more generally.
Brands like Mountain Equipment actually use mildly elasticated linings to improve fit and reduce internal convection currents and air movement, Patagonia has pretty much done the opposite. Don't get us wrong, the bag still feels warm, but unless you really need that increased volume, it reduces efficiency and means using more materials than necessary.
That said, we have no issue with the lofty warm hood, though there's no neck baffle, or the generous toe-box and overall warmth is good relative to the weight.
Patagonia -7˚C Sleeping Bag | Verdict
We can't fault the quality of materials or construction and the Patagonia bag has a good warmth to weight ratio and pack size thanks to that high-lofting and reassuringly traceable down and a careful choice of lightweight fabrics.
So far we haven't noticed any cold-spots and we're happy with both the hood and foot-box. The central zip, so far, we've found interesting rather than a game-changer. We suspect some people in some conditions will love it. Others will barely register the difference from a side-zipped bag, it's good for reading books though...
We also found the bag overly roomy for a fairly average, medium-built occupant, though it'll suit larger users and those who want to be able to wear high-lofting insulated clothing inside the bag for extra warmth.
Finally, while the bag's undoubtedly a quality bit of kit, it's also quite an expensive one. A very good sleeping bag for all but the very coldest conditions, but a slightly esoteric one. Not cheap either.