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Hands-on Gear Review

Kelty Callisto 20 Review

Best Buy Award
Price:   $80 List | $63.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Adjustable top opening, full synthetic construction, large and roomy, thick pillowy insulation, water resistant
Cons:  Not as comfortable as wider bags, thin zipper baffle
Bottom line:  The Callisto 20 is our Best Buy; if you want to maximize your dollar, this bag gives you what you need at a reasonable cost.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Kelty

Our Verdict

The Kelty Callisto 20 wins our Best Buy Award. We found it warm, comfortable, and relatively light, all 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 decent all around. This bag is crafted from synthetic materials and is relatively light weight.

Searching for a women's specific bag?
Kelty Callisto 30 Women's
The sister to the bag we tested is the Kelty Women's Callisto 30 (though we are a little confused as to why the bag isn't a 20-degree like the one we tested). Perfect for car camping, festivals, or lounging around the cabin, this comfy rectangle features an aesthetic update, and an interior pocket for keys or a cellphone, something the Callisto 20 does not offer. A screaming deal at $60, this bag may have everything the casual female camper needs.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jason Wanlass
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 25, 2017

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Receiving 7s across the board, the Callisto 20 ended with an overall score of 70. Basically this bag received solid scores across our ratings. Lighter than the other rectangular bags, and more comfortable than the mummies, the Callisto serves a versatile roll somewhere in the middle. Here's how it stacked up.

Performance Comparison



We found the Callisto 20 to be warm  comfortable and more spacious than most of the synthetic bags we tested.
We found the Callisto 20 to be warm, comfortable and more spacious than most of the synthetic bags we tested.

Warmth


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, which earned a perfect 10 out of 10, with the Slumberjack Country Squire 0 trailing closely behind. 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 is 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 Callisto 20 delivers the most warmth for its weight of the camping bags we tested. It is cut roomy enough to be unrestrictive for car camping  but is light enough to carry a ways from your ride if you want.
The Callisto 20 delivers the most warmth for its weight of the camping bags we tested. It is cut roomy enough to be unrestrictive for car camping, but is light enough to carry a ways from your ride if you want.

Comfort


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.


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.

This bag has a slippery polyester taffeta lining rather than a soft cotton blend liner.
This bag has a slippery polyester taffeta lining rather than a soft cotton blend liner.

Features


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, such as 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 attaching this bag securely to a sleeping pad.


Several loops sewn into the Callisto's exterior are perfect for attaching this bag securely to a sleeping pad.
Several loops sewn into the Callisto's exterior are perfect for attaching this bag securely to a 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.
The tape-backed zipper on this bag is one of the smoothest operating, snag-free ones we tested.

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. Finally, we were impressed with Kelty's limited lifetime warranty and even more impressed with its ability to resist water.

The Callisto's synthetic exterior shell performed perfectly in our water-resistance tests.
The Callisto's synthetic exterior shell performed perfectly in our water-resistance tests.

Packed Size


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 Callisto 20 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.


Best Applications


We love the versatility of this bag. 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. At five lbs, this bag certainly isn't light or compact, but we don't mind carrying it a few miles into 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.

Value


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.

Larger than other synthetic bags we tested. Fully synthetic. Warm. Comfy and well-made. We really enjoyed sleeping in this bag.
Larger than other synthetic bags we tested. Fully synthetic. Warm. Comfy and well-made. We really enjoyed sleeping in this bag.

Conclusion


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 with a little bit of effort, this bag could go with you into the backcountry and on short backpacking trips, if you really like the roominess or you're on a tight budget. That being said, the Callisto 20 would not fit inside backpack very well because of its size. More likely you'd have to strap it on the outside. It also weighs in at a little under 5 pounds, so it's not really designed for someone who backpacks extensively and is looking to shed weight. Two of these zipped together is our preferred option for two folks wanting to share a little body heat.
Jason Wanlass

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Most recent review: May 25, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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