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Hands-on Gear Review

Nemo Salsa 30 Review

Nemo Salsa 30
Top Pick Award
Price:   $220 List
Pros:  One of the most comfortable bags in our review, best bag for side and tummy sleepers, great price for a down bag, versatile, above average packability
Cons:  Average weight, included stuff sack not good at compressing
Bottom line:  One of the most comfortable models; it's compressible enough for week long backpacking adventures.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Nemo

Our Verdict

Winner of our Top Pick Award for being the most comfortable sleeping bag for backpacking, cue the Nemo Salsa. While the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season was a strong contender (and it remains a cool and unique option), our review teams real world testing and side-by-side comparisons concluded that the Salsa takes the cake. Tummy and side sleepers rejoice, as the Salsa's stretchy stitching and spacious "spoon" shaped design proved to offer a high level of comfort. The comfort level, coupled with the Salsa's weight (2 lbs 1 oz, compared to the Backcountry Bed's 3 lbs 1 oz) remains respectable, especially considering its spacious cut. It packs down roughly a third smaller than the Backcountry Bed 600.

Need something warmer? Check out the Salsa 15
Nemo Salsa 30
The Salsa 15 looks nearly identical to the 30, sharing the same design and features. What sets them apart is the amount of fill. The Salsa 15 has more of it, adding several ounces to its fill weight. This does increase the overall weight (Nemo claims 2.5 lbs.) and packed volume (claimed 6.5L), but the temperature rating is now 15F. If you like the design of the Salsa 30, but want more warmth from your bag, the Salsa 15 (retailing at $260) is worth a look.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Monday
March 27, 2017

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Performance Comparison


The chart below details where each bag stands in relation to the Nemo Salsa 30 in Overall Performance.


Our testers loved the oversized draft collar featured on the Salsa 30  which performed an excellent job at keeping the warm air in and the cold air out  but was also pleasant to "tuck yourself in"  as if tucking yourself into to a bed. Some of our testers were concerned that they wouldn't like the feeling of this feature near their neck  but most of our test team barely noticed it during testing.
Our testers loved the oversized draft collar featured on the Salsa 30, which performed an excellent job at keeping the warm air in and the cold air out, but was also pleasant to "tuck yourself in", as if tucking yourself into to a bed. Some of our testers were concerned that they wouldn't like the feeling of this feature near their neck, but most of our test team barely noticed it during testing.

Warmth


The Nemo Salsa 30 is a 30F degree bag that features 14 ounces of 650+ fill power down that when compared to other similarly rated bags, we found was an average amount. Compared with our Editors' Choice Western Mountaineering MegaLite, which uses one ounce less (13 oz), but offers a higher fill power (850+), the Salsa 30 wasn't quite as warm feeling. However, compared to many other 30F bags we tested, the Salsa was ever so slightly on the warmer side, making it an ideal option for folks who run a little cold, or who were debating between a 20, 25, or 30 F sleeping bag.


The Salsa 30 actually scores an EN lower limit (rating for men) of 21.7 EN l, which is a lower temperature EN rating than most 30 bags would score. Our testers would agree with this statistic. This contender offers more fill than the lighter weight Marmot Phase, where EN ratings were roughly 2.5 F higher (AKA less warm). On colder nights, our testers loved the oversized draft collar, which not only did a superb job of keeping the warm air in and the cold air out, but also offered a nice "snuggly" feeling, as if you were tucking yourself into to a bed. Some of our testers were concerned that they wouldn't like the feeling of the draft collar near their neck, but after using it, nearly all of our testers commented that they barely noticed it.

Weight


At 2 lbs 1 oz, the Nemo Salsa is pretty average for a 30F bag. What the Salsa has going for it that it's a little more spacious than most 30 degree bags of similar weight. Compared to 30F models we tested, both the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, The North Face Hyper Cat, Patagonia 850 Down 30 and Marmot Phase were all noticeably lighter (20-25% less weight). However, the Salsa was far lighter than the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season (3 lbs 1 oz) or the Kelty Cosmic Down (3 lbs).


The Salsa 30 uses a 30-denier ripstop nylon which is a little heavier than average, but certainly a little more durable. Comparably, the Sea to Summit Spark III (1 lb 6 oz) uses a 10D shell, while the Western Mountaineering uses 12D. In addition to the shell material, both the Salsa's spacious cut, and its' 650+ fill-power down insulation are the reasons it's roughly half a pound heavier than some of the lighter 30F options in our review. Generally speaking, the lighter options use 750-850 fill-power down for insulation.

The Salsa 30 stuffed into its included stuff sack  compared to a 1 Liter Nalgene bottle.
The Salsa 30 stuffed into its included stuff sack, compared to a 1 Liter Nalgene bottle.
While the Salsa 30 was very easy to stuff into its included stuff sack  it could be much smaller and we wish Nemo had included a smaller stuff sack. We easily packed it over a third smaller by using an aftermarket compression stuff sack.
While the Salsa 30 was very easy to stuff into its included stuff sack, it could be much smaller and we wish Nemo had included a smaller stuff sack. We easily packed it over a third smaller by using an aftermarket compression stuff sack.

Packed Size


Of all the bags we tested, the Salsa 30 had the loosest included stuff sack. This meant while it was easy to pack, the bag didn't allow us to do a very great job of compressing it or minimizing the bag's overall packed size. When we used an aftermarket compression sack, we found that the Salsa easily packed down over a third smaller.


Overall, despite the Salsa's roomy design, it only packed down slightly larger than average among similarly rated bags on the market. It's roughly 1/3 bigger than the Western Mountaineering MegaLite or Marmot Phase, or Patagonia 850 Down 30 and almost twice as big as the Sea to Summit Spark III. That said, it is roughly 2/3 the size of The North Face Cat's Meow or the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season.

The Salsa 30 (fourth from the left) offered reasonable pack-ability compared to most models  especially if we used a smaller compression sack.
The Salsa 30 (fourth from the left) offered reasonable pack-ability compared to most models, especially if we used a smaller compression sack.

Comfort, Spaciousness, and Fit


Comfort is where the Salsa really stands out; the bag features fairly wide dimensions in the shoulders, that are comparable to some of the widest bags in our review; however, the Salsa's lower dimensions are by far larger than any other bag we tested; even bigger than the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed.


Nemo also uses a stretchy stitching, that when coupled with the wide dimensions, makes this bag hard to beat, especially for folks who want to sleep with their knees bent, leg slightly out to the side, or with their knees closer to their chest (while sleeping on their back or side). This bag is just plain awesome for folks who want a little more room, sleep with their legs bent, or simply just appreciate feeling a little more room around their body.

(Left) The dimensions of the Salsa 30 compared to the dimensions of a traditional mummy-style bag. (Right) the dimensions of the Nemo Salsa 30 highlighting its "spoon" shaped design.
(Left) The dimensions of the Salsa 30 compared to the dimensions of a traditional mummy-style bag. (Right) the dimensions of the Nemo Salsa 30 highlighting its "spoon" shaped design.

Versatility


This Top Pick award winner is a pretty versatile bag. It's light weight and is small enough for most three season backpacking trips, but also cozy enough for car camping. Its full-length zipper allows for decent ventilation on hot summer nights, but it also offers plenty of shoulder (and leg) room to add layers for occasional use with below-freezing overnight temperatures.


Features and Design


What truly makes this contender unique is its spoon-shaped design and its stretchy stitching. The spoon shape gives the user an amazing amount of leg room and freedom of movement, while the stretchy stitching allows the user to sleep with an upper leg close or straight out to the side.


The Salsa uses treated down; Nemo claims the DownTek absorbs 30% less moisture and dries 60% faster than comparable untreated down. During OutdoorGearLab's spray bottle test, Nemo's treated down did appear to absorb slightly less water. With this level of moisture, the bag dried roughly 25% faster. In our "full soaking tests", we noticed less visible difference. In our real world testing, where we never actually completely soaked the bag, we noticed even less of a difference. We think that Nemo's (and other) water-resistant down is slightly more water-resistant when compared to original down and offers a marginally higher level of drying time, though it is minimal.

The Salsa 30 (center) compared with other wider-than-average bags. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 is shown on the left and the Western Mountaineering MegaLite is on the right.
The Salsa 30 (center) compared with other wider-than-average bags. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 is shown on the left and the Western Mountaineering MegaLite is on the right.

Adding to the comfort level of the Salsa 30's design, it features a built-in pillow pocket and a small zippered pocket (which is perfect for a watch). These features, coupled with a blanket-like draft tube, tucks around the user's shoulders and neck quite nicely. One tester commented that it felt as though he was "getting tucked in"; even our neck sensitive testers weren't bothered by the draft tube.

The large cotton storage bag included with the Salsa 30.
The large cotton storage bag included with the Salsa 30.

Best Applications


This Top Pick award winner is simply the best for side sleepers or other folks who like to sleep with their legs bent or to the side. Backcountry enthusiasts rejoice, as you'll have more leg room. The Salsa 30 is plenty comfortable enough for car camping and shorter trips; at 2 pounds 1 ounce, it's still light enough for longer, more extended outings.

The Salsa 30 wins our Top Pick Award for the most comfortable backpacking sleeping bag because of its unique spoon dimensions and stretchy seams. It's light and packable enough for extended or long distance backpacking trips.
The Salsa 30 wins our Top Pick Award for the most comfortable backpacking sleeping bag because of its unique spoon dimensions and stretchy seams. It's light and packable enough for extended or long distance backpacking trips.

Value and the Bottom Line


This bag is a killer value. At $220, it's $250 less than our Editors' Choice, the Western Mountaineering MegaLite ($470). The Megalite is a little over half a pound lighter, packs down significantly smaller, feels slightly warmer (in real world testing), and is nearly as comfortable. While the MegaLite is a nicer overall bag, the Salsa 30 is slightly more comfortable for folks who like to feel more freedom, or for those that like to sleep with bent knees. You can't beat the $220 price tag.

The Nemo Salsa 30 was our testers favorite bag for side and belly sleepers because its wide lower dimensions coupled with its stretchy stitching allowed testers to bring their knee up higher than all-other bags we tested.
The Nemo Salsa 30 was our testers favorite bag for side and belly sleepers because its wide lower dimensions coupled with its stretchy stitching allowed testers to bring their knee up higher than all-other bags we tested.
Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: March 27, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
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