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Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Review

   
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Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  • Currently 3.9/5
Overall avg rating 3.9 of 5 based on 6 reviews. Most recent review: August 14, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $152 - $190 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Excellent value, draft collar seals in warm air, differential pull cords make hood easy to adjust and comfortable when cinched fully.
Cons:  550-fill down is not as compressible or light as higher fill powers, low quality fabrics, not as warm as other 20 degree bags.
Best Uses:  budget car camping and summer backpacking
User Rating:     
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 (3.8 of 5) based on 5 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (5/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Kelty
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 17, 2012  
Overview
The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 offers budget conscious campers and hikers a screaming deal of a sleeping bag. Of the 70+ bags we've tested, in all categories across down and synthetic insulation, no other bag provides as much value as the Cosmic Down 20. At 42 ounces the bag isn't particularly lightweight, nor is it made of the best materials, but it is only $100!!

This is our top choice for budget backpacking and camping. Whether you're new to the outdoors or you want to lighten up your pack, the Cosmic Down 20 is the best way to get started. See how this bag compares to others in our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The average price of the three-season down bags we've tested is $369. Available for around $100, the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 offers entry level hikers and campers an incredible value. Although this bag is not as light, as comfortable, or as compact as top-of-the-line down bags, its price tag offers value conscious campers a great deal.

The Cosmic Down has a three-quarter length zipper, a reasonably comfortable hood, and a draft collar that drapes over your neck to seal out cold air. These features are nothing to write home about, but they're effective.

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Kelty Cosmic Down 20 in the Brooks Range Foray tent.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Dislikes
The Cosmic Down 20 uses low quality 550-fill down. Fill power measures the number of cubic inches one ounce of down displaces. The more displacement, i.e. loft, the warmer the sleeping bag. Higher fill power downs, therefore, achieve more warmth for their weight, and the finer down particles are usually more compressible and more durable, too. Lower fill powers, such as the Comic Down's 550, need to add more down to get the same amount of loft. So the Cosmic Down 20 is heavier and less compressible than its $400-$500 competitors. The lightest fully featured three-season down bag we've tested (Feathered Friends Hummingbird) weighs 17 ounces, or 40%, less than the Cosmic Down. If you do a lot of backpacking that weight savings is likely worth paying the extra cash for, but if you're like most people that go on a few backpacking trips per year, the Cosmic Down does the job well and leaves you with extra cash for other things.

The Cosmic Down 20 has less loft than other 15 and 20 degree bags (the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 has 16,000 cubic inches and the Cosmic Down has 11,000). This means the bag is not as warm as others. A 30 degree rating would be more accurate. Implications for you: have a good dinner, a hot drink, and thrown on another layer when the temps drop below forty.

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Chris McNamara with the "world's lightest portaledge" (Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot) and the Kelty Cosmic Down 20.
Credit: Max Neale
Value
This bag is a screaming deal for entry level campers or for people that want to lighten their load from a super heavy synthetic camping sleeping bag. Choosing the Cosmic Down over a top-of-the-line bag could save you $300, which could then be used to upgrade to a lighter tent- thereby lifting several pounds from your pack.

The Cosmic Down weighs a few ounces less than the lightest synthetic bags, which are comparably priced, but the Cosmic is a better buy (unless you expect to get soaking wet) because down is more durable and more compressible than synthetic insulation, and it's also much more comfortable. All-in-all, this is an excellent value.

Explore other good value sleeping bag with our Price vs Value Chart. Specifically consider the Enlightened Equipment Revelation found in our Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.

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size comparison, from left to right: Slumberjack County Squire 20, Wenzel Conquest 30, Kelty Cosmic Down 20, REI Travel Sack 55, and Katabatic Gear Palisade 30.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: August 14, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (3.8)

100% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 17%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (3)
3 star: 33%  (2)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 5 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Aug 14, 2013 - 07:23pm
simply_light · Backpacker · Midwest, Indiana
If you are on a budget, this is an excellent choice. I often see them on clearance or for resale for well under $100. Not considered to be ultralight, but a middle of the range bag. I also have the 0 Degree bag and am happy with both.

Very warm, excellent construction, durable.

www.simplylightdesigns.com

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 27, 2013 - 04:40pm
cteich · Backpacker · Calgary, Alberta, Canada!
I bought this bag about two months ago and have used it a few times. Each time I have used it I have woken up with very cold feet. The footbox is very poorly designed I feel, however the rest of the bag is very warm and comfortable, I do wish it had more room also as I found myself a little constricted. Overall for $120 it's a great down bag.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 18, 2013 - 03:43pm
tlcwrites · Backpacker · Santa Barbara County, CA
I'm relatively new to backpacking, having come to it in search of something simpler and more personally fulfilling than camping out in a mobile motel room (aka, the 26 foot travel trailer my ex-husband owns). The only sleeping bag I had previously was a Walmart special that weighted six ungodly pounds and did less to keep me warm than my puffy jacket. So I came to this bag with high hopes of more comfortable sleep and more comfortable packing, and was not disappointed.

The weather forecast for my inaugural camping trip was in the low 40s, but it definitely got colder than that, as I awoke to frost on my tent. My hoodie, which I'd forgotten outside, was frozen solid. Inside my sleeping bag, I was warm and cozy for most of the night, though I did have to add a (cheap synthetic) insulated jacket around 4am at the coldest part of the night,

I doubt this will be the sleeping bag I keep forever and always, but for this point in my backpacking journey it's miles better for me than anything else I found at a similar price point. If you're doing three season camping and money is key concern, I think it's hard to go wrong with one of these bags.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 25, 2012 - 01:39pm
Scouter9 · Backpacker · San Diego, Calif.
"Bang for the Buck"!

This is a fantastic starter bag for backpackers, especially Scouts (Boy/Girl), because it also comes in a "short" length, which weighs even less than the regular length reviewed above. This bag is warm, packs down much more "tight and light" than any synthetic of similar warmth rating, and is supremely comfortable.

The Cosmic Down 20's primary attributes for a new backpacker are that it's light in weight, packs down nice and small, is not cut with an extremely tight shape as is used in higher-purposed bags and, is therefore quite comfortable down to the high 20's in temperature. The review above, which mentions that the bag isn't quite as warm as it's rated, is fair and correct. This, in fact, makes the bag more versatile for those nights you're camping at 40-degrees…or 50, where the bag is comfortable and can be unzipped to regulate internal temps.

The stuff sack it comes with is excellent, although I recommend purchasing a waterproof, silnylon bag of similar size if you're planning to backpack with it (insurance that can pay off in a very big way), but it doesn't come with a storage sack. REI sells an affordable, large cotton bag for this purpose that will keep your Cosmic Down 20 clean and dry, allowing you to store it un-compressed (the right way).

For the entry-level backpacker, this is a great way to go.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 24, 2012 - 07:58pm
Mateo · Climber · Tahoe, CA
3 star product with a 5 star price tag. This is my go-to bag when I need something portable that I don't mind putting miles on. It travels with me when I'm car camping or if a buddy needs something basic to borrow.

The bag isn't anything to write home about but with that being said I also don't have any complaints. It's worth noting that the zipper doesn't have that annoying tendency to jam on adjacent fabric and it keeps you warm enough in cooler temps. I don't think spending a night out in 20 degree weather would be very fun in this bag unless you're layering up. At the end of the day, I would recommend it as a starter bag if testing the proverbial waters of backpacking.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Kelty Cosmic Down 20
Credit: Kelty
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