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Sleeping Bags - Down Quality


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
First, March 2014
In 1977 I bought a down sleeping bag for wilderness XC skiing. I think it was a Mountain Designs. Down sleeping bags were not all that common in those days, and in this thing even sleeping on the snow well sub zero I used to suffer from heat prostration.

Well the zip went heavenward and I dropped it off a week back for repair. While you could expect down to dust a bit after forty three years, the repairer was astonished at the quality and loft of the down in this bag. I've examined expedition quality bags in specialist wilderness equipment stores, costing mega bucks, and this old bag still runs rings round them all. I don't think loft measurement has changed much since then. A good quality bag then routinely had 900 loft rating yet now 800 seems to be the very top of the market unless you search very hard indeed. And I suspect a lot of the "800" quoted may be spin. Even more poignant is my purchase around the same time of a down jacket, from a company called Alp Sports, in Christchurch New Zealand. The down in this, which they called"Nazomi" down, was even better than that in my sleeping bag, and my granddaughter's expensive Kathmandu product is a joke in comparison.

So what's happened to the quality of the down over the years? It seems to me that with a hugely greater quantity of down goods now flooding the market, there's comparatively less really good quality stuff available and they are mixing more to meet demand. A shame really.

Incidentally, my sleeping bag is not the one to take on a Camino. even if intending to sleep out crossing the Pyrenees in mid-winter!

De Colores


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