I’ve been putting some new gear through its paces lately, some of which deserve more attention than a brief blurb. The first “winner” in my new stash is my Mountain Hardwear Clouds Rest Women’s Sleeping Bag. I had this bag on my wishlist and planned to purchase it out of my exceptionally small spring gear budget, so was very thankful when Mountain Hardwear was able to provide a sample for review. My first impression after camping in it for a weekend is that I would buy the bag at retail, in a heartbeat. This bag is my vision of heaven.
My Mountain Hardwear Clouds Rest Women’s sleeping bag arrived a couple of weeks ago, and it was all I could do to not sleep in it every night at home leading up to the trip. Out of the box, it is lofty, and oh so comfy and warm. The fit and comfort exceeded my expectations — it’s much wider than my old North Face bag, and even in the Regular length, I have plenty of room (at 5 foot 6 inches, I have had trouble in the past finding a Regular length bag that gave me enough length, since my height is on the cusp between Regular and Long for most brands). The bag stuffs easily into its small stuff sack for packing, and fluffs up quickly once pulled out for sleeping.
Features I chose the bag based on: This is my first down bag, and my pacific northwest friends mock me for choosing down when we live in such a wet climate, but my plan is to always pack my bivy so that if conditions are wet I have a waterproof layer (even inside a tent). I chose down because in my unofficial testing the down bags just feel warmer to me than synthetic (I know that sounds crazy and non-technical, but what can I say, I’m being honest about my criteria) and most of my really cold trips are really cold, dry trips during the winter. In addition, I chose this bag because of its temperature rating (5 degrees Fahrenheit) which will cover my camping needs year-round; its women-specific design with extra warmth in the torso and footbox; and because I’d heard great things about Mountain Hardwear bags from my girlfriends who’ve had good luck with both their down and synthetic bags.
Features I didn’t know I’d love when I chose it: the bag features an extra baffle inside, that lays comfortably without constricting around my neck and shoulders, allowing me to keep my head out of the bag without any drafts. I was extremely comfortable in the bag both nights; I was so warm the second night that I kicked off my socks (which I never, ever do in sleeping bags!).
When it came time to tick check the gear post-trip, I appreciated the bag’s light colored exterior. I understand why gear manufacturers gravitate toward dark colors because, hey, we’re filthy dirtbags. But, examining the exterior of the bag took only a second, because of its light color. I don’t care if it gets dirty over time, and even though my personal tastes tend toward dark colors and away from pastels, after spending a couple of hours yesterday doing a tick inspection of my gear, I have a new appreciation for light-colored gear.
One of my climbing partners, Susie, has a synthetic Mountain Hardwear bag that she loves and raved about this weekend; when I included the Cloud’s Rest in my gear guide, Lizzie T commented that it’s working out well for her except that it feels less warm than a five degree difference from her last zero degree bag. The bag feels substantially warmer than a 15 degree difference from my old 20 degree synthetic (in which I pretty much ranged from cold to freezing, year round), so it may be just a matter of what we’re used to, and the conditions we’re camping in. Based on my experiences with sleeping bags in the past, I expect a bag to keep me alive down to its temperature rating, but not necessarily to feel warm down to that rating. I’ll look forward to posting an update after I take the bag on a few winter trips, to let you know how it does for me in really cold conditions.
When friends have asked me about the bag so far, I just get all wistful, and daydreamy, and can only manage to say… “it’s like… heaven.” I can see why they named it “Clouds Rest” for sure!
Sara Lobkovich Newsletter
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