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Hands-on Gear Review

Wenzel Grande Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $90 List | $75.19 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm, plush, comfortable, roomy, rugged exterior lining, soft flannel interior, doubles as a quilt, inexpensive
Cons:  Heavy and bulky, not appropriate for warm or wet weather, slightly difficult to roll up
Bottom line:  This old-school bag is tough as nails, super warm, ultra cozy... and it doesn't break the bank, winning our Editors' Choice award!
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Wenzel

Our Verdict

We're not going to beat around the bush. The Wenzel Grande is not necessarily sleek and stylish. It's not petite and well-mannered. This bag is big-boned, in your face, and rugged. Above all, it's warmer than any bag we tested and we believe its thick, overstuffed insulation and soft flannel interior is the coziest on the market. This bag isn't about fanfare. It's about function. And what it may lack in features, we feel it greatly makes up for in warmth and comfort…all at an incredibly reasonable price. That's why our testers, hands-down, selected the Wenzel Grande as this year's Editors' Choice Award.

Warning: People have been known to slip into this bag and never want to leave.


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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Warmth accounted for 35 percent of each bag's overall score, followed by comfort (25 percent), features (25 percent) and packed size (15 percent). When we tallied the results, the Grande's amazing warmth and incredible comfort resulted in it receiving our overall highest score.

Performance Comparison


The chart below highlights how the Grande stacks up to the competition. As you can see, it was our Editors' Choice winner, taking home the highest overall score from our testing. The reason for its top score can be tied back to how we weighted our scores.


In our opinion  this year the Grande leads the pack in terms of overall comfort  incredible warmth  cost and quality. We found snuggling down into the Wenzel at night gave us the same feeling as biting into a warm  homemade cinnamon roll.
In our opinion, this year the Grande leads the pack in terms of overall comfort, incredible warmth, cost and quality. We found snuggling down into the Wenzel at night gave us the same feeling as biting into a warm, homemade cinnamon roll.

Warmth


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we are going to say it just one more time: the Grande is the warmest bag we slept in during our testing! And just like our "broken record" lead-in sentence, this bag is old-school. It's also rugged — with just a hint of get-the-job-done-lumberjack-tough-guy attitude. Scoring a 10 out of 10 for warmth, this bag kept us warm from head to toe. From our ice test to our laser thermometer readings, this bag's 6.5 pounds of Insul-Therm insulation passed the tests with flying colors.


We spent a 20-degree night in Bryce Canyon National Park in the back of a pick-up truck and stayed toasty all night in the Grande. Although this bag doesn't come with zipper draft tubes, its overstuffed insulation and soft poly-cotton flannel is so thick it completely seals off the zipper and prevents any cold air from sneaking up on your backside or your toes during a cold mountain camp out. During our laser thermometer test, the Grande maintained the highest interior temperature at 87 degrees. Followed by the Slumberjack Country Squire 0 at 81 degrees. Likewise, during our ice test, the Grande proved its impressive insulating abilities by maintaining the lowest interior temperature at 36-degrees, followed by the Slumberjack at 37-degrees.

As we said, our warmth score accounts for 35 percent of each bag's overall score, which is why this big boy tipped the scales with our highest overall performance score.

This bag doesn't have a draft tube along the zipper but the insulation is so thick  it doesn't need one. The Grande's overstuffed  flannel-clad  6.5 pounds of Insul-Therm insulation bulges out to create its own natural draft tube.
This bag doesn't have a draft tube along the zipper but the insulation is so thick, it doesn't need one. The Grande's overstuffed, flannel-clad, 6.5 pounds of Insul-Therm insulation bulges out to create its own natural draft tube.

Comfort


Coming in as the third-largest bag we tested, the Grande scored 9 out of 10 in terms of comfort. Its spacious design (81 X 39) — topped only by the Teton Sports Celsius XXL and the Slumberjack Country Squire — can nearly swallow a tired camper whole. Additionally, its smooth, soft, flannel lining is easy on the skin and allows for all of the tossing and turning that comes with sleeping away from home.


There's nothing better than snuggling down into soft flannel. The Grande's old-school features are timeless.
There's nothing better than snuggling down into soft flannel. The Grande's old-school features are timeless.

One of our comfort tests included spending a bunch of time laying in this bag directly on hard, flat sandstone rock; you can read more in how we test. We felt this was the easiest way to get a true feel for how comfy these bags really are. None of the bags we tested even came close to the comfort we experienced in the Wenzel's naturally thick design. When we considered the combination of the Grande's thick insulation, its soft flannel lining and its tough, 8-ounce cotton exterior, we found that the bag is quite comfortable even on bare rock. We even dozed off a little during our test, and can honestly say that, with a little bit of patience and imagination, we feel we could sleep directly on hard rock in this bag and almost think we were actually lying on a sleeping pad… ok, we probably would want to be really tired too.

The Grande's 8oz. Cotton Exterior is tough and has the perfect hue: Dirt! This makes it perfect for unzipping and laying flat for a picnic. The brown color hides the dirt and stains and is rugged enough to withstand rocks  roots and twigs.
The Grande's 8oz. Cotton Exterior is tough and has the perfect hue: Dirt! This makes it perfect for unzipping and laying flat for a picnic. The brown color hides the dirt and stains and is rugged enough to withstand rocks, roots and twigs.

Features


Scoring a 7 out of 10, the Grande lands somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to features. While the bag lacks features like an interior pocket, shoulder baffles, a draft tube, and a lifetime warranty, it does offer outstanding craftsmanship, a hearty Velcro closure tab above the zipper, and an amazing ability to double as a picnic ground cover or quilt (thanks to its rugged exterior and green, plaid interior that hides the dirt). The Grande is also made in the USA and comes with a limited 10-year warranty.


During our water-resistance test  16oz. of water penetrated the Grande's exterior in less than 2 minutes  a common drawback for natural fiber bags.
During our water-resistance test, 16oz. of water penetrated the Grande's exterior in less than 2 minutes, a common drawback for natural fiber bags.

Although very common for natural-fiber bags (cotton), we were disappointed at the Grande's inability to repel or resist water. We also found this to be a problem with the Slumberjack CountrySquire, which is made with natural fibers as well. One thing we did notice during our water test, is although all the water did penetrate the exterior lining of the Grande relatively easy, the water never soaked all the way through to the ground. The interior of the bag was relatively dry as well. Basically, the Grande is so thick that insulation completely absorbed the water. As for the Slumberjack and the Coleman Brazos, the water passed all the way through the bag to the ground.

Packed Size


If you're looking for petite and well-mannered, this is not your bag. The Grande is big, bulky, heavy, and a tiny bit hard to roll up or stuff into its storage bag… exactly what a camp bag should be, in our opinion. When it comes to packed size, the Grande comes in next to last in terms of compactness, followed by the massive Slumberjack Country Squire.


The Grande has a lot of bulk  but for a bag of its size  we feel it fits relatively easily into its stuff sack.
The Grande has a lot of bulk, but for a bag of its size, we feel it fits relatively easily into its stuff sack.

You'll notice that even though the Slumberjack is bigger than the Wenzel, we gave the Wenzel the lowest score for packed size than all of the bags. This is because the Wenzel is a little more difficult to roll up and stow than the Slumberjack.

Best Applications


There's no doubt about it, the Grande is a tough, no frills, bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work, extra large, furnace of a sleeping bag that is built to withstand years and years of chilly nights. This bag is ideal for trailer, tent, truck-bed or right-on-the-ground camping.

The Grande's perfect balance of price  warmth  comfort durability and attitude is why we named it our Editors' Choice.
The Grande's perfect balance of price, warmth, comfort durability and attitude is why we named it our Editors' Choice.

Value


We can't say enough about this bag's value. Coming in at under $90, we feel the Grande focuses on what's really important: warmth and comfort. When we combined these two features with the price tag and the construction quality, it was somewhat easy for us to name it this year's Editors' Choice Winner.

Priced at under $100  we feel this bag boasts the most value for your dollar.
Priced at under $100, we feel this bag boasts the most value for your dollar.

Conclusion


We were amazed by this bag's ability to perform at such a high level with such a relatively low price tag. This Editors' Choice Award Winner doesn't have it all…but it doesn't need it. Its price, warmth, comfort, size and construction trumps any other factor we studied.
Jason Wanlass

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


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

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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