Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Excellent value, warmer and more comfortable than other similarly priced bags.
Cons: Sewn-through construction lets cold air in, two elastic straps are not sufficient for storage and travel.
Best Uses: Car camping, general use.
The budget conscious camper can't beat the Wenzel Conquest sleeping bag. This spacious and comfortable bag provides three-season warmth at rock bottom prices. No other bag offers as much performance for as little cash. Whether you're road tripping around the country, looking for a first bag for the kids, or want to direct wear and tear away from a high performance bag, the Conquest is the bag to get.
For the most comfortable, most luxurious, and warmest general-purpose sleeping bag, go for the Slumberjack Country Squire. Or for something lighter that can be used backpacking opt for the Kelty Cosmic Down 20.
Also see our backpacking and winter sleeping bag reviews.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Conquest is the most comfortable budget (<$50) sleeping bag we've tested. It measures a rectangular 81 inches by 38 inches (plenty of space to sprawl about), has a cotton flannel lining that's soft to the skin, and unzips into a full-size blanket. Our Editor's Choice Award winning bag, the Slumberjack Country Squire, is significantly more comfortable than the Conquest because it's larger, has more insulation on the bottom, and has a removable cotton-in sheet.
Wenzel rates the Conquest at 25 degrees, which we think is optimistic. Our testers used the bag into the low twenties and believe that a rating around 35 degrees is more accurate. For most people this won't be a serious drawback; just wear a baselayer in the upper thirties and throw on a jacket when the temps drop below freezing. Why isn't the Conquest warmer? It uses "sewn-through" construction, which means that the seams pierce all layers (outer fabric, insulation, and liner fabric). This is the cheapest and lightest way to make a sleeping bag but it sacrifices warmth because hot air escapes through the seams. A potential, but negligible, drawback is that the bag's cotton flannel lining is warmer than the nylon fabric found on many other sleeping bags. It's slightly less comfortable, because it's warmer, on hot summer nights.
As with all budget synthetic sleeping bags, the Conquest's insulation is not as durable as other synthetic bags we've tested (such as the Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina. Therefore, the bag loses loft over time and becomes less warm. This is an inherent drawback to all low cost synthetic sleeping bags.
The Conquest is a very simple bag. The only feature of note is its zipper, which like all other rectangular bags we tested, can vent your feet, unzip into a blanket, or mate with another bag that's the same model or has the same zipper.
Weight and Packed Size
The Conquest rolls up hay bale style into a size that's slightly greater than the average rectangular bag tested. Two low quality elastic straps (sewn to the bottom of the bag) do an OK job at preventing it from unrolling, but a dedicated stuff sack would be more secure and compress the bag further.
The Conquest offers the best bang for your buck. It performs nearly as well as the Slumberjack Country Squire (available for around $130) but costs less than $50. Furthermore, it's more comfortable and warmer than all of the other bags we tested that cost under $50. Check out our price Price vs Value Chart how other bags stack up to the Conquest.
The Wenzel Grande, $85, is the second warmest rectangular sleeping bag we've tested and the warmest bag for its price - because of this, the Grande wins our Top Pick Award. With spacious dimensions of 38 in. x 81 in., the Grande is also the second largest bag we've tested.
The Blue Jay, $46, is a 25 degree sleeping bag with flannel on the inside and a large zipper. This bag sells for an extraordinarily cheap price and two can be zipped together.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 23, 2012
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