Jen and I have tried numerous sleeping bags over the years: lightweight mummy bags, lightweight rectangular bags, military-issue bags, down-filled bags, synthetic-filled bags, two-person bags. We have used them with bivy sacks and liners. We have used them backpacking and truck camping in the United States, Central America, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Northeast Asia, Europe, Oceania, and other Pacific islands; we have used them in deserts, jungles, and mountain forests; in rain and snow; and nighttime temperatures from 0 to 90-degrees Fahrenheit. Right now, we have a dozen bags and liners of various types in our gear locker. I think we have learned something about what makes a good bag, and what makes a bad one.
Three things most define a sleeping bag: warmth, weight, and compressed size — in that order. Warmth can also be described as “comfort,” including the ability to incrementally open the bag to ventilation, thereby making it useful in temperatures that are warmer than its rating.
In November 2016, we went to New Zealand for a month, half of which was spent backpacking. We were not really happy with any of the bags we had previously purchased, so we decided to invest in two more for this trip. After comparing multiple bags on retail and manufacturer web sites, we decided on the Ratio 15 and Heratio 15, both made by Mountain Hardwear. They proved a good purchase.
The Ratio 15 is a down-filled, men’s mummy bag with a European Norm (EN) lower limit of 12-degrees Fahrenheit, and a comfort rating of 24-degrees. Dan used it in temperatures in the mid-20’s, and he was warm enough that he had to keep it half-zippered to avoid over-heating.
The Heratio 15 is also a down-filled mummy bag, made for women, with a European Norm (EN) lower limit of 7-degrees Fahrenheit, and a comfort rating of 15-degrees. Jen used it in the same temperatures as Dan; and for the first time ever, she was warm in below-freezing conditions.
These are comfortable bags. They are true to their temperature rating, and there is room to move around a bit and sleep on your side. With a full-length zipper, they can be ventilated for a wide range of warmer temperatures.
Each bag weighs 2-1/2 pounds. This is a little heavier than we’d like in a perfect world, but it’s a small tradeoff for a good night’s sleep. We have been in situations were we would have gladly carried another 10 pounds each to stop freezing. 2-1/2 pounds is well shy of that.
The bags come with a 10-liter, non-compressible stuff sacks. We used compression sacks that we already owned, and cut this by about a third. Again, this is not as small as we’d like in a perfect world, but it’s not bad given the warmth and comfort.
Yes, there are more-expensive bags out there that will shed some weight and volume, but we think the gain-versus-cost to be marginal for the average backpacker covering 10 or 15 miles a day.
These are good bags (Jen says her’s is the best bag she’s ever owned; and that’s saying something, given her intolerance for cold). You will not go wrong purchasing one of them.
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