Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Very comfortable in the leg area, cozy down filled neck flap.
Cons: Optimistic temperature rating, low quality 700-fill duck down, heavy for its warmth, vertical baffles offer limited versatility, expensive for its warmth and comfort.
Best Uses: Luxurious car camping and occasional backpacking.
The Nocturne 15 is a very comfortable yet moderately heavy 700-fill down sleeping bag for people that want one bag for mostly car camping and occasional backpacking. The Nocturne's design and construction make it more comfortable than the average mummy bag we've tested-- its shape gives you a tremendous amount of space for your legs to sprawl about-- but the bag weighs as much as some tents and zero degree winter sleeping bags, and costs around $400. If you have lots of cash for a comfy all-purpose bag then this could be an OK option, but we feel that most people will be better off purchasing a camping sleeping bag for car camping and general use and an ultralight sleeping bag for backpacking. You can get two separate bags (that perform better for their specific applications) for less than the price of the Nocturne 15. Or, if you want one bag for both car camping and backpacking we recommend the Feathered Friends Penguin, which has a semi-rectangular shape provides more comfort and versatility than the Nocturne. We give the Nocturne 3 stars because of its moderate performance and poor value.
Check out our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review to see how all of the bags compare.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Nocturne and Nemo's Spoon Series bags aim to provide people with a highly comfortable sleeping bag that's not ludicrously heavy. The spoon shape is unique in that it increases the diameter of the bag in the lower legs to give you more room for sprawling, thrashing, and kicking. The added comfort in the leg area is wonderfully comfortable compared to more efficient bags that are trim in the leg area; it could be useful for people that thrash and sprawl a ton when they sleep. This is among the most comfortable traditional style (hood + zipper) bags we've tested.
As our ratings suggest, however, we do not believe comfort is an important attribute of a backpacking sleeping bag. Existing bags, even those that are trim in the leg area, are plenty comfortable. More importantly, when backpacking it is more comfortable to carry less weight than to carry more weight and have more space to sprawl about inside a sleeping bag.
For car camping, when weight is not a concern, the wider the bag the better. And when compared to the bags tested in our Camping Sleeping Bag Review, which assesses rectangular bags, the Nocturne is only moderately comfortable. Rectangular and semi-rectangular bags, like the Feathered Friends Penguin offer much more room and feel more bed like than the Nocturne. (The Penguin is our highest rated all-purpose bag for backpacking and car camping when comfort is a high priority.) The Nocturne has an average amount of space in the upper body. People with wide shoulders may not find this bag to be as comfortable as others. Adding more space in the chest area could be beneficial and would be in line with the goal of increasing comfort.
The 15-degree model weighs 35.6 oz. That's nearly as much as some 0 degree down sleeping bags, and some backpacking tents and all ultralight tents weigh less than the Nocturne 15. The bag uses relatively low quality 700-fill duck down, which is a far cry from the top-tier 900-fill power goose downs found in the best down sleeping bags. The lower quality down means that the bag weighs more and doesn't compress as well as it could otherwise.
Returning to the comfort topic: We believe that it is more comfortable to backpack with a sleeping bag that weighs 18 ounces (the average weigh weight of the bags tested in our Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review than it is to carry a more comfortable Nocturne that weighs twice as much.
The main problem with the design of Spoon Series bags is they sacrifice performance for comfort. Increasing the girth of the bag in the feet adds weight and decreases thermal efficiency by creating drafty dead air spaces around your legs. You heat up one area and move about into a cold area and have to start warming things up all over again. This bag's 15 degree temperature rating is optimistic. We believe that a 25 degree rating would be more accurate; our testers began to get cold in the upper 30's.
The most efficient sleeping bag is one that leaves just enough room for your body and the bag to loft up properly. Increasing the circumference from there negatively affects performance. The bag has a low warmth to weight ratio when compared to the other down backpacking bags we've tested. Therefore, we do not believe it is suitable for weight conscious backpacking.
Marmot Plasma 15 and the Big Agnes Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger #1. Both of these bags are comparably warm, exceptionally comfortable, and weigh less than the Nocturne 15. They use higher quality down and are constructed with a wide cut (Marmot Plasma) or stretch seams that allow you to move within the bag (Montbell Super Spiral).
The upper body is surprisingly small given the bag's emphasis on comfort. More space here would be more comfortable. The hood is comfortable when left open but when the drawcord is cinched down it is less comfortable than the average sleeping bag we've tested. We really like the down flap that can cover your face and tuck in around your neck; this is the best part of the bag- a beneficial innovation for car camping sleeping bag design (full neck baffles perform better for backpacking and ultralight bags). The zipper lacks a snap or velcro closure at the neck and can come undone during the night if you toss and turn, and particularly if you're around or taller than 5' 10". All other sleeping bags either have a closure to reduce stress on the zipper opening or the zipper curves in more closer to the neck (Marmot Plasma, Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15, etc.) It's an unfortunate inconvenience to wake up cold with the zipper open. The bag has a TINY zipper pull for its stash pocket that's hard to grab in daylight when you're fully awake; reaching for it int he dark while you are half asleep is very difficult. Finally, the Nocturne's Insotec Flow Baffles are much less versatile than continuous horizontal baffles that allow you to shift down from the bottom of a bag to the top and vice-versa-- increasing performance for both warm and cold conditions. All-in-all the Nocturne's features are sub par from a performance perspective and very expensive from a comfort perspective.
The Nocturne 15 is the bag is heavy for the amount of warmth it provides and expensive for its weight, warmth, and comfort; it is a very poor value. If you're looking for one bag that blends comfort and weight savings we suggest either the Feathered Friends Penguin or Marmot Plasma 15. However, the best value is often found by purchasing two separate bags for specific applications. Go for a Camping Sleeping Bag and an Ultralight Sleeping Bag, both of which can be purchased for less than the price of the Nocturne.
The Nemo Rhapsody 15, $380, is the Women's version of the Nocturne. Nemo also has other Spoon Series bags, such as the Nemo Rhythm 25 and Nemo Harmony 25 (Women's), that use synthetic insulation. Though less expensive, these are an even poorer value than the Nocturne; synthetic insulation is no where near as durable, light, or comfortable as down. More importantly, if you want to be warm when wet-- the ideal application for synthetic insulation-- we suggest a bag with a trimmer cut that's more thermally efficient. As the Kelty Cosmic Down suggests, the budget conscious need not suffer with synthetic insulation.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: May 14, 2013
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