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Hands-on Gear Review
Wenzel Grande Review
Cons: No draft tube behind the zipper, heavy
The Wenzel Grande is the second warmest rectangular sleeping bag we've tested and the warmest bag for its price. With spacious dimensions of 38 in. x 81 in., the Grande is also the second largest bag we tested. Only our expensive and luxuriously warm Editors' Choice winner, the Slumberjack Country Squire 0, beat it out in both these categories. With a rugged cotton duck shell and soft flannel lining, the Grande is very comfortable and cozy warm for cold weather camping. If on a budget, this is the best bag for car camping and other general use if the temperature is gonna dip near to freezing.
The Country Squire is both warmer, roomier, and has many more luxury features, but has a price tag to match. On the other hand, the Grande's heavy, no frills design with keep you warm on a budget. Our Best Buy winner, the Kelty Callisto 20, is not as comfortable for big folks due to the narrower design, but is much lighter and more versatile if you want to occasionally lug it into the backcountry.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Wenzel Grande is the second warmest product we evaluated in this review, and the large rectangular dimensions and soft flannel lining earn it a high comfort score as well. Also sporting our favorite carry system, this bag is the best value choice for cold weather general use.
The Wenzel Grande will keep you toasty warm on early spring and fall nights. This is the second warmest bag we've tested in this category. Our highest rated rectangular bag, the Slumberjack Country Squire, is slightly warmer and longer. The extra length makes it considerably warmer for tall people and allows you to tuck your head away inside. Wenzel rates the Grande to zero degrees, but we found the low 20s to be a more reasonable expectation for getting a good night's sleep out under the stars. The ample insulation is quilted to the poly/cotton blend liner, but not the outer shell, sealing in warmth. Noticeably absent in this bag, a draft tube along the zipper would make this bag a bit warmer. Without this feature, cold air creeps in through the zipper by your feet and along your side. Skipping a draft tube reduces cost and this bag offers by far the greatest warmth-to-price ratio of any camping sleeping bag we tested.
We enjoyed nights in this bag down into the low 20s while wearing long underwear and a light hooded jacket. Nighttime temperatures in the upper 40s and higher and you'll likely want a more lightly insulated bag. The even more affordable and 4 lbs lighter Wenzel Conquest also has a cozy flannel liner and is a better choice if you commonly camp with nights in the 40s and warmer.
Our comfort scores are largely based on how roomy a camping sleeping bag is, and this is a big one. With rectangular dimensions of 81ʺ x 38ʺ, there's plenty of room for an average sized person to toss and turn in the Grande. Our side-by-side comparison found the dimensions of this bag, its little brother the Conquest, and the Coleman Dunnock to be practically identical. They're all very roomy for an average person, and just big enough to squeeze into with a friend if you really want to snuggle.
The soft, fuzzy, poly/cotton blend flannel liner is also a major comfort plus. Whether against your face, or if you like to sleep with little clothing on, flannel is oh-so-cozy, especially in cool weather. Thanks to its soft liner, this was our favorite bag to unzip and use as a warm comforter in the van and in the house. Like the other high scoring rectangular models, the Grande's two-way zipper pulls allow you to open the foot and the chest area at the same time. Whether you want to air out your feet or retrieve your socks from the bottom of the bag, it's convenient. Opening the foot and folding down the top is significantly more comfortable and airy when it's warmer.
The Grande easily delivers the most warmth relative to its price, and the fuzzy flannel liner feels great next to bare skin.
The rugged shell fabric and soft flannel liner are two of the finer features of this bag. While the flannel is cozy, the cotton shell fabric is perfect to spread on the ground for picnics or lounging around. The big, heavy duty zipper usually zips up nice and smooth, and two large loops sewn into the foot of the bag near the corners offer a convenient way to hang up and dry or air out this bag. The large Velcro zipper closure flap folds over onto itself and is secured with Velcro, so when using this bag as a blanket, there is no exposed prickly side of the Velcro to scratch you.
The zipper does not have a sewn tape backing and snagged more than competitors like the Conquest which did. This simple but functional set of features gets the job done.
Hanging your bag up for a sun bath when camping will help keep it fresh and dry.
This bag weighs a hefty 11 lbs. and wraps into a roll that's similar in size to the wrapped up Dunnock and Conquest. The only heavier bag, the Country Squire 0, is also warmer. Eleven pounds is too heavy to consider carrying this bag very far from your vehicle. To help handle the load, the Grande comes with very handy carrying straps.
The rolling and carrying wrap for the Grande, along with 2 compression straps, are sewn into the foot of the bag. This is a plus (no way to lose it) but it is a bit of a pain when you want to use it around the house as a blanket. This is the second bulkiest bag when packed, but the straps and carry handle are awesome. It's a small convenience, but a comfortable, balanced carry handle is much appreciated.
We love the Grande for car camping in cold weather. The shell fabric is rugged and can shrug off some abuse and campfire sparks. The soft flannel lining feels great next to the skin, which made it a favorite for RV and van living. We found the insulation thick enough that crashing on the floor or back deck without a sleeping pad was comfortable enough. This bag is best for cold season use. If you spend most of your time camping with nights in the 40s and 50s, rather than cold weather, the little brother Conquest is a better choice for you.
This bag easily delivers the most warmth for its price. At $80 retail, we feel that it's a pretty good value. All that insulation adds up, and this bag has a minimum of features. But what's there hits right at the mark. Ample insulation for warmth, a roomy interior with cozy soft flannel, and a very rugged shell and strong zipper.
If you're looking for a very warm and affordable dedicated general use bag, the Wenzel Grande is a perfect choice. Warm enough for nights in the 20s, the flannel-lined interior is very spacious. If you're on a budget, this is the most affordable yet warm and comfortable car camping bag.
— Brandon Lampley
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 19, 2015
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