ORSM ‘12 Sleeping Bag Preview: Down defense

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, SNEWS is previewing the top new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake Aug. 1-5. Today, we look at some of latest sleeping bags for spring '13.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, SNEWS is previewing the top new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, Aug. 1-5. All these stories also can be found in the print or digital flipbook edition of our Planning Guide.

If Outdoor Retailer attendees glimpsed the trailer on water-resistant down at Winter Market, they’ll get to see the feature film at Summer Market.

Big Agnes, Mountain Hardwear, Nemo, Brooks- Range, Sierra Designs and others are on board with the new technology for 2013. The next generation of down includes a polymer coating applied directly to feathers and clusters to help combat moisture and preserve loft. The technology is said to be inexpensive, add negligible weight and preserve loft and breathability whether wet or dry.

It could be a boon for down sleeping bag sales in humid and rainy environments, but at the same time, the natural insulation (water-resistant or not) is facing pressure from rising market prices, which have more than doubled in the past three years as demand from within and outside the industry increases.

While water-resistant down will dominate the show buzz, there are other sleeping bag trends and news of note — like Thermarest and Nemo entering the category and more brands moving beyond the bag with quilt and pad sleeping systems. The latter continues last year’s trend of shifting sleeping bags beyond thermal comfort to overall sleeping comfort with designs that mimic conditions at home.

“Brands are going to have to find new ideas and designs that take advantage of water-resistant down beyond just putting the fill into an existing sleeping bag,” said Jeff Blakely, general manager of Brooks-Range Mountaineering. “I hope everyone out there becomes more creative.”

>> Sierra Designs borrows a page from last year’s warm and light Cloud 15 to debut its men’s Cal and women’s Clo series with 800-fill power, water-resistant DriDown, a 10-denier ripstop shell and liner and a little more room for comfort. The 20-degree Clo (MSRP $600) comes in at 2 pounds, 4 ounces.

>> Big Agnes, a pioneer in the bag/pad combos that are gaining popularity goes contrarian with a new line of traditional mummy bags to broaden its assortment. That includes the Bellyache Mountain (MSRP $299), a 15-degree, 700-fill, water-resistant DownTek bag coming in at 2.5 pounds. Bigger news will come from a new synthetic fill and construction the company plans to announce at the show.


>> Therm-a-Rest enters the category with five new down and synthetic sleeping bags that offer more room at the torso, thermal mapping and match up well with the company’s sleeping pads. The Antares (MSRP $350) 20-degree, 750-fill power down bag weighs in at 1 pound, 15 ounces.

>> Nemo had a limited preview showing of its entry into sleeping bags a year ago. This year, it’s ready to go with a full line of seven new products in the category. The 30-degree Siren (MSRP $350) is an ultralight quilt at 1 pound, 2 ounces meant to be paired with Nemo’s Zor sleeping pad to keep the entire package at less than 2 pounds. Water-resistant, 850-fill DownTek is inside with PrimaLoft Synergy synthetic fill at the footbox for additional moisture control.

>> Brooks-Range breaks out of the bag with its Cloak 15 (MSRP $369). The cover with draft tubes all around connects to the pad down below, but remains loose up so that when sleepers turn, the pad doesn’t end up on top of them. It uses 850-fill water-resistant DownTek and vertical baffling with Insotect FlowGate technology to come in at a 1 pound, 4 ounces.

>> The North Face is missing from the water-resistant down bandwagon (we suspect a proprietary version is in the works) but it will introduce a new 850-fill down sleeping bag called the Hightail 15 (MSRP $419) weighing in at 2 pounds. The bag employs Pertex Endurance fabric for water-resistance, along with some Climashield insulation body mapped into the bottom of the bag to combat loss of insulation due to down’s compression.

--David Clucas

Be sure to check out many more new sleeping bag products and trends in the O.R. Daily, published live at the show Aug. 2-5, and available digital format the following day of print at SNEWS.