I got to test the Klymit KSB 20 ($190), a 20˚F, -6.6˚C down sleeping bag with the following specs:
|Weight||2.75 lbs / 1.25 kg|
|Temp. Rating||20˚F / -6.6˚C|
|84.5 x 31.5 x 21.7 in.
214.6 x 80 x 55.1 cm.
|Packed Dim.||13 x 8.5 in. / 33 x 21.6 cm|
|Fill Power / Type||650 White Duck Down|
|Overstuffed Half-Moon foot-box|
|20D Ripstop Nylon Fabric|
|Insulated Mummy Hood|
Klymit established itself as a “think outside the box” company with new approaches to traditional problems. They utilized body mapping technology and loft pockets, changing what is now expected for comfort and performance from sleeping bags and pads. They now produce some of the lightest and most compact products in the industry that are just as easy to use as traditional gear.
Earlier this month I flew out to Colorado and tested the bag mountaineering on one of its incredible Fourteeners. We climbed Pyramid Peak with an elevation of 14,026′ and slept in the amphitheater just at the base of the prominence of the mountain. The weather was lucky with low winds < 10 mph. and clear skies, so the first night we slept in a tent and the second night… under the stars. The temperature in the early morning was about 20˚ (measured with my zipper thermometer) with ice crystals forming on the outside of the bag and inside of the tent walls.
The KSB 20 is lightweight, compresses small, and is comfortable in your backpack. It packs down so well that I still had room after cinching my compression sack all the way down. This small size, plus the very light weight, made it a pleasure for such a technical three day trip. This is especially good for colder weather where you’re jamming more layers into your pack that you end up peeling off as you climb harder.
There is a noticeable improved difference sleeping in this bag versus other standard bags I’ve used. It lofts well and fit me with all added layers without feeling too constrictive. The foot-box is spacious and warm throughout the night, and the hood comfortably cinches around my head with a generous opening in front of my face whatever direction I faced. The collar is especially nice, keeping the heat in and the zipper and Velcro are easy to operate even half asleep.
The first thing you’ll notice is the “Flex Baffles“, elastic bands which run around the bag spaced evenly from head to toe. I had reservations about this because I tend to get claustrophobic at night with constrictive clothing and prefer to unzip, unbutton, and untie anything on me. However, these bands didn’t feel tight and pulled the bag up against me like a third layer that didn’t bunch up when I tossed and turned. I was also worried that the bag would have trouble expanding back after being stuffed so tight, but a couple flaps gave it good loft, then as soon as I climbed in it seemed to inflate around me for a very solid insulation layer throughout the night.
The bag is intuitive to operate although there is a bit of play with the zipper. The zipper is ¾” Full Length with a guard that is bi-directional, meaning it can zip up or down. When pulling on it, I did get it caught on the guard and there was a couple times I had to twist over and use two hands to get it all the way up. However, once it is zipped all the way, the bag feels great and moves with you. There is a Velcro patch that helps secure the Draft Collar that fits snugly, but not tightly under the neck and, unlike traditional bags, keeps all the warm air around your body inside the bag when shifting.
Third, I discovered several neat features that made me confident enough to sleep outside of my tent with this. The overstuffed foot-box is a big plus. My feet get cold and the way we slept the first night had them slightly elevated, promoting poor circulation (hey, when sleeping two to a single person tent, you’ve got to compromise). Well, I had no problems at all getting my feet warm and keeping them warm at all! In addition to this, I found that the hood can flip around and cinch around miscellaneous items to create an “attached makeshift pillow” that stays under your head instead of falling apart.
Finally, though I did not do this, it’s possible to put a hand-warmer into the stash pocket that stays right near your neck on the draft collar. Instead, I put my phone in there and was able to lull myself to sleep at a super quiet volume setting listening to ethereal music while watching the Milky Way drift over my head.
YES! We slept under the stars the second night, and I had only one sleeping pad under me. My friend had a competitor’s bag rated to 20˚ and had to retreat to the tent sometime around 3-4am; I didn’t even hear him leave I was sleeping so well. The bag closed up like a butterfly cocoon around me with the opening snug around my face for easy breathing. I pulled a balaclava over my face to protect from the cold air while still giving me a great view of the stars. Able to twist over to either side and onto my back, the bag never shifted uncomfortably, and when I was finally crawling out, I was surprised at how cold the ambient temperature actually was. The bag retained heat much better than expected, and was warm at 20˚, rather than just “survivable” like other bags I’ve used.
If you’re looking for a three season bag, I strongly recommend the Klymit KSB 20. It is warmer than similar 20˚ bags I’ve used, wraps snugly without shifting even when twisting and turning, and has neat features including durable materials that are both packable and light-weight.
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