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Hands-on Gear Review
Kelty Callisto 20 Review
Cons: Not as comfortable as wider bags
The Kelty Callisto 20 wins our Best Buy Award. We found it warm, comfortable, and relatively light at a very competitive price. There are a few cheaper bags in this review, but none scored as well as the Callisto in our testing. This rectangular bag is narrower than similarly shaped models, but is plenty roomy for one average sized person. We like that there are loops for securing your sleeping bag to the bottom, and found the bag's features good all around. With all synthetic materials and its relatively light weight, this bag can go with you beyond the campground or van.
Our Editors' Choice winner Slumberjack Country Squire 0 is altogether different. Much heavier, much warmer, and far and away the roomiest and most comfortable model, it's amazing for cold weather car camping, RV living, and the cabin. Our Top Pick for Warmth, the Wenzel Grande is a much more affordable super warm and cozy bag. Its little brother, the Wenzel Conquest is our favorite choice for warm weather car camping.
RELATED: Our complete review of camping sleeping bags
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Kelty Callisto 20 received high scores across our ratings, without being the top scorer in any one. Lighter than the other rectangular bags, and more comfortable than the mummies, it fills a versatile spot in the middle. We tested a single bag, but the Callisto is often sold in a 'two-pack', the Double Wide version. The Double Wide is simply two of these bags zipped together, and is our favorite for sleeping two people together.
We found this model cozy warm, and it is the one bag we evaluated that can provide a good night's sleep in temperatures approaching its stated rating without lots of warm clothing. The thickness of the insulation, or loft, is nearly as thick as the warmer Wenzel Grande. This bag is narrower in width, though, by four inches compared to the Grande. While this smaller profile doesn't provide as much room to move around, it it more efficient at creating warmth with less insulation overall.
This is another bag with two layers of insulation and off-set quilting, one layer is sewn to the polyester taffeta shell, and the other sewn to the polyester taffeta lining. Off-set quilting is the more labor intensive and warmer construction technique. This bag has both a draft tube that backs the zipper, and a cinch cord that can snug up the top opening of the bag. This is a unique feature among the rectangular bags that we tested, and greatly contributes to increased warmth for this model. The attached cord lock makes it easy to cinch up with one hand, or you can snug up the top without bunching up the bottom. But this means in colder weather, a plush warm hat or hood is necessary for your head, as you want to snug up the top opening above your shoulders. With long underwear and an insulated hooded jacket, we slept decently under the stars in the mid 20's. Minimal clothing warmth is more like the upper 30s. In the upper 40s and 50s, it's time switch to blanket mode.
Measuring 81ʺ x 34ʺ, we found this bag roomy enough for an average size person to move around inside. Even though it's built with synthetic materials appropriate for backcountry use, the rectangular shape and ample room make it a cozy car camping bag. This bag is 4" narrower than the Wenzel and Coleman bags, both of which are better suited for big folks or really restless sleepers.
The 42" wide Country Squire is the only bag that comfortably fits two folks that want to snuggle and spoon all night; but if you want to snuggle, and also each have your 'own side of the bed', two Callistos zipped together is perfect.
With its two-way zipper pulls, you can open the foot of the bag and turn down the top at the same time. Short of unzipping completely it into a blanket, this lets you create a vent and cool down easily. This bag has a slippery polyester taffeta lining rather than a soft cotton blend liner. While a cotton liner feels great on bare skin, a slippery synthetic liner provides ease of movement when wearing long underwear to bed. While not as warm or versatile compared to the Callisto, the less expensive Wenzel Conquest is more comfortable with its flannel lining, and it's a better warm weather car camping choice.
We like this bag's features, especially the adjustable top opening, which is uncommon in rectangular bags. The Callisto 20 has several fine, small details; it has two large hanging loops at the foot of the bag and two small loops sewn into the each side of the bag. The hanging loops at the foot are our preferred method for routine airing out. Likewise, the small loops along the side can be used to hang the bag to air out, but they are also perfect for a special trick. Pick up some elastic or cord and secure it horizontally between the two side loops to attach this bag securely to your sleeping pad. This is a great feature, especially for bags with slippery shell fabric that tend to slide off of some sleeping pads. Rather than a Velcro flap to secure the zipper, the Callisto uses a small "hood" to minimize weight. The tape backed zipper on this bag is one of the smoothest operating, snag-free ones we tested. That's a big plus to us, because even an infrequent sang of the zipper is frustrating.
Stuffed away in its simple stuff sack, this model is right in the middle of the bunch for packed size. But weighing in at 5 lbs, it is significantly lighter than any of the other rectangular models we tested. While five pounds is twice as heavy as down backpacking sleeping bags that offer the same warmth, the Kelty Callisto isn't an unreasonable weight to carry a few miles into your campsite. By using a compression stuff sack, this bag can be reduced to about half the volume of the included stuff sack.
Some folks just really like the roomy comfort of a rectangular bag, even when backpacking. If you want to take a warm bag with added room into the backcountry, the Callisto 20 is your best choice of this bunch.
We love how versatile this bag is. Roomy enough inside to comfortably move around in, but not so big as to leave cold zones. We love it for cool weather car camping you know, the weather where you enjoy sleeping in your long underwear because it's gonna be down right chilly crawling out to make coffee in the morning. At 5 lbs, this bag certainly isn't light or compact, but we don't mind carrying it a few miles in to camp. The rectangular shape is so much cozier and its blanket mode is awesome for relaxing around camp. In short, this bag combines that comfy, rectangular shape with the synthetic materials and function common to technical backpacking bags. This makes for a warm, affordable camping bag with more versatility than any other we tested.
The Callisto 20 wins our Best Buy Award not because it is the least expensive, but because it delivers far better performance than any similarly priced competitor. Across the board, it earned above average scores in all our metrics. Its synthetic shell and lining, along with its relatively light weight, make it much more versatile for outdoor use than other rectangular bags. Finally, it's far more comfortable than the mummy bags, thanks to its extra room.
The Kelty Callisto 20 delivers the most bang for your buck and has the broadest range of uses of those we tested. The heavier and larger rectangular bags have their place in the campground or RV, but this bag can go with you into the backcountry and on short backpacking trips if you really like the roominess or you're on a tight budget. Two of these zipped together is our preferred option for two folks wanting to sleep together.
Kelty Cosmic Down 20
— Brandon Lampley
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 19, 2015
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