When John Burroughs built his first Therm-a-rest mattress prototype in 1972; he wanted to make a better mattress. Not just for his own mountaineering adventures, but to give the rest of us a better night’s sleep. In so doing, Cascade Designs set the standard for lightweight, comfortable sleeping pads and made the wild that much more enjoyable for the rest of us. Today, this company continues to innovate, with sleeping bag and mattress systems that alleviate the problem of slipping off of the mat, new valve technology for easy inflation, and zone-filled hydrophobic down. Word on the street is, this Nikwax filler fears the water so you don’t have to.
We took this bag to the Northern California volcanic hill country. In the afternoon, we hiked in until sunset boxed us in for the night. Under the stars, the pad and bag system fit together easily, then slipped into my bivvy sack with no trouble. Throughout the night, I found that there was minimal slippage between bag and pad, even while sleeping on an incline. This ‘Synergylink’ system is a total win, and we can’t believe nobody’s done this before. Side note: Altair is the twelfth brightest star in the night sky, and is used in celestial navigation. Not sure this bag will help you find your way home, but you’ll be warm until they find you out there.
Weight: 2 lbs 7 oz / 1.12 kg
Fits: 6 ft / 183 cm
Length: 72 in / 183 cm
Packed dimension: 8” x 18”
EN Comfort: -5 C / 23 F
EN Limit: 10 F / -12 C
EN Extreme: -25 F / -32 C
Fill: 750 Fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down
Fill weight: 580 g
Liner fabric: 20d Polyester
Shell fabric: 20d Polyester
It was early fall, so the temperature didn’t drop below 40, and I was cozy all night. Between the zone-filled 750+ down and reflective, space blanket-style, Thermacapture lining, it was almost too warm and I left the zipper cracked as well. There was never a time when I needed the wind collar or cinch strings around the hood. I’m sure it would remain comfortable all the way down to its 23 degree ‘average man comfort’ EN 13537 standard rating. The small, right side pocket is just big enough for a phone and keys.
In the morning, dew came in around the parts that were not covered by the bivvy, and thanks to the hydrophobic down it didn’t soak in, allowing me to pack and move without a lengthy wait to dry the bag. The only drawback is that the Thermacapture is loud, making a crinkling sound with excessive movement. Naturally, this isn’t an issue unless you’re trying to be tactical for some strange reason.
The bag was just the right size for my 5’10” overweight frame. I like to sleep with my elbows bent out to the sides, and I was able to do so but there wasn’t any room left over. This contributed to the warmth without making me feel claustrophobic. It comes with a standard small stuff sack which, with no compression fit perfectly in to my pack’s sleeping bag compartment. I’m not an ultralight guy, but nevertheless felt that the weight was inconsequential. While my initial trip was short, I’d feel comfortable taking this outstanding bag to any environment for long trips. The package does come with a storage bag that allows it to maintain loft in the closet. I recommend this bag for all of your expedition needs.
Weight: 1 lbs 8 oz
Width: 20 in
Length: 72 in
Thickness: 2.5 in
Packed dimension: 9” x 4”
Top fabric type: 75d Polyester Diamond
Bottom fabric type: 75d Polyester
While I was supposed to be touting sleeping bag week, this little innovator stole the show. It packs tight and small, fitting nicely alongside the bag in my pack’s dedicated slot. Unrolling the Trekker it seems unbelievably thin, almost frail. But, it’s made in the USA so you can rest assured it is a rugged piece of individualism. Most of us have slept on a Therm-a-rest pad before, they are so common as to no longer be news.
However, the NeoAir takes it to the next level. The wide mouth allows users to inflate it in record time and the thin material quickly puffs up to provide ample cushion. Of course, sleeping in the wild is more about warmth, and here we again find the Thermacapture fabric that traps heat against the body for a cozy rest. Closing the Speed Valve is a little tricky- it’s like using a dry bag in which you’ve got to tuck and roll it several times to trap the air inside. The magic number of rolls seems to be seven.
Amazingly, once you’ve got it closed, the large neck stays inflated and acts as an integrated pillow. Again, why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Making a pillow in the wild used to be such a headache. Slip this little wonder into the Altair’s Synergylink connectors and you’re in for a good night’s sleep-just make sure to set an alarm! If you do oversleep, the SpeedValve allows air to flow out of the pad almost instantaneously. For a quick getaway, you can undo the valve, roll it up and pack it in just a few short seconds.
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
If you end up buying something through a link on our site, we generally get a small commission on the referral, this won't cost you more, but helps us keep the lights on around here!
For all media review requests, reach out to our managing editor, David Skinner.