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ZPacks 20 Degree Sleeping Bag Review


Aaron Zagrodnick

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Aaron Zagrodnick

I’ve had my eye on ZPack’s sleeping solution for a while, but hadn’t really given it too much thought – I was happy with what I’d been using. But the almost too good to be true specs kept the bag in the back of my mind. ZPack’s 20 degree offering for instance, would be lighter than my existing 20 degree bag by a considerable margin. Additionally, it would even be lighter than my 30 degree, “Warm weather” bag by a lesser margin. I’ve also been on a quest to simplify my gear. One bag, as warm as my warmest bag but lighter than all of them? The idea was too hard to pass up...

We take a look at this hoodless, very light, 900 fill power down bag from ZPacks – Read the full review below in Issue 13:

Review: ZPacks 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

Issue 13 Page 1

ZPacks 20 Degree Sleeping Bag Review

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Nice review Aaron. You addressed some concerns most reviewers don't with these types of sleep systems. I'm enticed to demo one myself now.

Seems like a quilt with a sewn in footbox with a zipper option. Does your full length zipper option enable you to open the sleeping bag(quilt?) fully flat?

I'm trying to picture the hood being attached with unsupplied bungee under the arms via the loops on the hood. Lots of combinations in a component rather edgy UL system. That's Joe Valesco. LOL.

I wonder how the .34 cuben baffle material will hold up on consecutive thru-hikes and repeated washings. I notice Joe says not to clean in a washing machine. I suppose he is even referring to a front loading washer on gentle cycle with Down Wash?

Zpacks offers a huge number of customizing options for sure! I can see a huge amount of versatility in temp range use.

My biggest question for myself is, am I going to be equally warm with this Zpacks 20* sleeping bag(quilt?)as you have it customized when everything else is equal when pushing it to the 5-8* temps as I typically go 12-15* below the lower temp rating with a Feathered Friends 20* Swallow UL? I rely on a comfortable, and that means warm non drafty, night's sleep on lengthy hikes in these types of temps. Again, everything else being equal making the comparison using your customization.

I would like to know the wt of the 900 down used in how you set up your bag(with the draft tube, hood, etc) and how that compares to the Feathered Friends Swallow UL at 17.5 oz(900 down) with comparable bag measurements(60/56/30, 6'6" length). If I'm reading Zpacks specs correctly your 20* bag has 14.1 oz of 900 down without the hood or draft tube.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Hey Dogwood,

Thanks for checking out the review! If you do try one out, interested to hear your thoughts

Dogwood said:
Seems like a quilt with a sewn in footbox with a zipper option. Does your full length zipper option enable you to open the sleeping bag(quilt?) fully flat?

The full length 2 way zipper option goes to the last baffle, so you can definitely open the bag up flat up until the footbox. (Check out the 3rd picture down on the first page of the review) If you need an even longer zipper it might be something that you could float as a custom possibility.

Dogwood said:
I'm trying to picture the hood being attached with unsupplied bungee under the arms via the loops on the hood.

As far as the hood goes, I always sleep in a Capilene zip-neck and in lieu of a bungee I just tucked in the hood to keep it in place. The front would always stay there, though sometimes the back of the hood would sneak it's way out of place and needed to be quickly put back in place. It never got to the point where it became a pain. But if you did want to secure it, there's a couple ways you could go about it, something like this might work well with an arm through each loop, this was done with a single piece of shock cord and a cord lock. (Cut, knot, and singe bungee after cord lock) You could also skip the cord lock but some adjustability might be nice with different layering strategies:

Dogwood said:
I wonder how the .34 cuben baffle material will hold up on consecutive thru-hikes and repeated washings. I notice Joe says not to clean in a washing machine. I suppose he is even referring to a front loading washer on gentle cycle with Down Wash?

I've always handwashed my bags even those using more traditional materials...It might make it but I'd probably stick to Joe's advice in that department...Think I'll probably leave the washing machine testing to someone else. :D

Dogwood said:
My biggest question for myself is, am I going to be equally warm with this Zpacks 20* sleeping bag(quilt?)as you have it customized when everything else is equal when pushing it to the 5-8* temps as I typically go 12-15* below the lower temp rating with a Feathered Friends 20* Swallow UL? I rely on a comfortable, and that means warm non drafty, night's sleep on lengthy hikes in these types of temps. Again, everything else being equal making the comparison using your customization.

For me, the bag is accurately rated and I don't have any experience with the Swallow UL, but it definitely looks like a nice bag. With ZPacks sleeping on the zipper really does make a difference, as anything exposed to the air is now fully baffled instead of an entire side essentially being sewn-through for the zipper with a draft tube. As I talked about in the review, at 12.5 degrees wearing everything I take on a 3 season trip I was too hot, so obviously for me the bag could be pushed a little lower. I think if I were truly wanting to regularly go to the 5 degree mark like you need however, I'd pick up the 10 degree as it's only ~3 ounces heavier and honestly, I prefer not to sleep in my rain gear, etc. if I can help it. This wouldn't save you as much weight over the Swallow once you include the 2 way zipper, draft tube, and hood...Although there's a difference to be had in the style of the bag as well. Going to the hoodless bag is a lot more comfortable in my case.

One thing that swayed me to the 20 over the 10 was the fact that I can add some down booties from GooseFeet Gear to make up some of the difference...Almost like footbox overfill that I can add or remove. This was important to me to since this is now my go to bag for all conditions including warm weather. At some point though, I might take a look at one of the 40 degree bags...

Dogwood said:
I would like to know the wt of the 900 down used in how you set up your bag(with the draft tube, hood, etc) and how that compares to the Feathered Friends Swallow UL at 17.5 oz(900 down) with comparable bag measurements(60/56/30, 6'6" length). If I'm reading Zpacks specs correctly your 20* bag has 14.1 oz of 900 down without the hood or draft tube.

The draft tube is listed as 1.2 ounces total and the hood turned out to be 1.3, right on spec. I'd guess that the total down load for the system I'm using with the bag, hood, and draft tube should be around 15.5 ounces or so. (Can check with Joe and Ben on this for fill weights on the draft tube and hood) My bag also came in .65 ounces over spec, so hopefully that's all down and could be added to the total above. :) Also keep in mind that the ZPacks bag has no need for a down-filled draft collar, and there's going to be a difference in down fill between the hoods. In the end it can be a challenge to compare side by side with a hooded bag as there's a lot of differences, some subtle and others drastically different. ZPacks does have a good return policy on standard bags as well, nothing like checking it out in person, especially when everyone is a little different in regards to ratings / comfort, etc.

Let me know if there's any other questions I can help with!

ZPacks Goose Hood Bungee System.jpg

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  • 4 months later...
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Aaron Zagrodnick

Just noticed that the ZPacks water resistant down option has been updated from 850 to 900 fill power and is now $10 -

Quote
Note that we switched from 850 fill power to 900 fill power Water Resistant down around April 15th 2014. All WR orders that have shipped since then were made with 900 fill power.

zpacks.com/quilts/sleepingbag.shtml

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