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Sleeping Bags

Western Mountaineering HighLite Sleeping Bag | Review

US down specialist's HighLite is their ultra-lightweight sleeping bag aimed at adventure racers and mountain marathoners.

Overview

US down specialists Western Mountaineering put together some of the best down kit on the planet and the HighLite is their ultra-lightweight sleeping bag aimed at adventure racers, mountain marathoners and anyone who wants to cut their load to an absolute minimum – total weight for the bag, which has a comfort rating of 2°C, is a real life 480 grammes.

Technical Lowdown

Sleeping bags is on area where anal attention to detail really pays off and Western Mountaineering are absolutely meticulous in their approach. Pretty much everything about the HighLite has been carefully chosen.

The fill, all 225 grammes of it, is ultra-high lofting 850+ goose down, though Western says that’s a conservative estimate and real life ratings may be effectively higher. Then there’s the fabric, the ridiculously lightweight 0.9 oz ExtremeLite shell material, which has a high threads per inch count to keep down inside and improve performance.

Western uses a differential cut between inner and outer to maximimse performance and, while most bags in this category are straight stitch-through constructs, the HighLite combines horizontal sewn-through seams with vertical baffles, which are made from netting, not so much because it’s light, but because the down will stick to it and is less likely to slide around creating cool spots.

Performance

You can quote construction details and performance ratings all day, but what really counts is how well a bag sleeps. First thing you notice with the HighLite is that it packs tiny in its supplied stuff sac, the second, when you unstuff it, is just how much loft that top quality down gives you – for a light bag, there’s an awful lot of it. You can almost see the down waking up and stretching out little arms as it expands.

Cut is sleek and not overtight, though if you’re more than medium athletic build, you’ll want to try before buying. The bag’s a ‘Mummy’ shape, with contoured toe-box, and has a decent enough hood to hide inside, but bear in mind that there’s no neck or shoulder baffle and the one-way half-length zip has no backing baffle either.

Ironically that probably wouldn’t matter if the bag weren’t quite so warm, but with a realistic – we’d say – comfort rating of 2°C, you can find yourself using at around freezing point. And when it’s that cool, you may notice the absence of baffles. Some owners add their own to increase the versatility of the bag. On the plus side, a velcro tab closure at the top of the zip means you can use it for effective venting in warmer conditions, which wouldn’t be feasible with zipless version.

Verdict

Very light, very small and disproportionately warm with it. To put things in perspective, the Rab Neutrino 200 is heavier overall, despite having less fill and not as warm as the Western bag, which is saying something, as Rab’s Neutrino stuff is, itself, very, very good.

The HighLite isn’t quite flawless, at lower temperatures a zip baffle would make sense, but the combination of weight, pack size and warmth brought about through meticulous attention to detail makes this the best ultra-lightweight bag we’ve used, albeit at a price – £220. UK importers are Beyond Hope – www.beyondhope.co.uk.

Buy if… You want an ultra-lightweight sleeping bag that’s still going to keep you warm and comfortable down to around freezing point.

Pros

Very light, very compact, surprisingly warm, half-zip allows cooling.

Cons

No baffle behind half-zip. Snug cut may be an issue for the more generously proportioned.

Performance: 4.5
Reliability: 4.5
Value: 4.5

Purchase info: www.beyondhope.co.uk.

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