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Big Agnes Pitchpine UL 45 Review

Top Pick Award
Price:   $350 List
Pros:  Roomy and comfortable, designed for summer temperatures, awesome pillow pocket
Cons:  Poor warmth-to-weight ratio, requires a liner or LOTS of clothing for three-season use
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Big Agnes

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes Pitchpine UL 45 is our Top Pick for Summer Use backpacking when nighttime temperatures do not fall below 40°F. It is not as warm or light as our other award winners, but the generous fixed girth is comfortable and provides plenty of room for side sleepers or active sleepers who toss and turn. Rather than straps, this closed footbox quilt uses a sleeve of light shell fabric to attach to any 20" wide sleeping pad. Unlike the other two models we call "closed footbox quilts," this "system bag" is completely enclosed, and there's a built-in pillow pocket!

While adding a liner (Big Agnes makes a nice one that attaches inside the bag) can make this a true three-season bag, the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30 is the best and warmest ultralight model we tested for thru-hiking and three-season backpacking. Its warmth-to-weight ratio in exceptional, and it adjusts well to both cold and warm nights. If you're on a tight budget, no model we tested delivers more warmth and versatility for the price than the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20.

Discontinued — February 2017
The Pitchpine UL 45 has been discontinued. To see more options, check out our complete Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.


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Score Product Price Style Nominal Rating Weight (bag only)
84
$460
Editors' Choice Award
Quilt - Closed Foot 30F 18.8 oz
81
$375
Hoodless Mummy 20F 17.2 oz
75
$250
Best Buy Award
Quilt - Fully Opening 20F 21.9 oz
74
$309
Top Pick Award
Mummy - 3/4 Length 45F/25F 13.9 oz
71
$350
Top Pick Award
Quilt - Closed Foot 45F 20.5 oz
70
$219
Quilt - Fully Opening 40F 14.8 oz
70
$390
Hooded Mummy 32F 18.3 oz
70
$339
Quilt - Fully Opening 40F 18.7 oz
65
$480
Hooded Mummy 32F 16 oz
64
$300
Quilt - Closed Foot 30F 28.5 oz

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Brandon Lampley
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 1, 2015

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Our Top Pick for Summer Use earned an overall score in our top five, even though it is one of the least warm models we tested. Indeed, top scores in comfort and features moved it up in our overall rankings. If most or all of your trips take place in the summer, we think you'll love this roomy "system bag."

We were asking a lot of the 45 degree rated Pitchpine UL on this spring trip into the Indian Peaks Wilderness with night temps near freezing. We love this roomy bag for summer use  but plan to pair it with a liner for temps in the 30s.
We were asking a lot of the 45 degree rated Pitchpine UL on this spring trip into the Indian Peaks Wilderness with night temps near freezing. We love this roomy bag for summer use, but plan to pair it with a liner for temps in the 30s.

Performance Comparison


Reference the Overall Performance chart below to see how the Pitchpine UL 45 fared in comparison to the other bags in our review.


Warmth


The Big Agnes Pitchpine UL 45 is not one of the warmer models we tested this year, but it does not intend to be. Rather, the design is focused on providing roomy comfort for summertime backpacking…and the construction technique reflects this goal. Rather than baffled construction, the 850 fill power hydrophobic down is contained in quilted (or sewn-through) pockets. This technique works very well to contain and control the distribution of smaller volumes of down. We have observed that similar amounts of down placed into box baffles in the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL tends to shift around and create cold spots. In short, sewn-through construction is a great option for bags intended for summer temperatures. However, fully baffled construction is the best choice for bags with greater loft for colder temperatures.


Only the Hammock Gear Burrow 40 received a lower warmth score. It is also best suited to summertime use. If you seek a warmer ultralight sleeping bag, the Katabatic Gear Palisade and Enlightened Equipment Revelation, both award winners, received our highest recommendations.

A view from the inside of this bag. Sewn-through  or quilted construction  controls the distribution of small amounts of down well  but creates a grid of cold spots. We recommend this bag for summer use.
A view from the inside of this bag. Sewn-through, or quilted construction, controls the distribution of small amounts of down well, but creates a grid of cold spots. We recommend this bag for summer use.

Weight & Packed Size


Our test model Pitchpine weighed in at 20.5 ounces, and the included stuff sack weighs .8 ounces. It measures 7.5 x 12 inches in the included stuff sack, but it can compress much smaller. According to Big Agnes, it measures 5 x 6 inches with fully compressed.


Where closed footbox quilts like the Katabatic Gear Palisade and Nemo Equipment Tango Solo are open on the back side, the Pitchpine has two layers of shell fabric that form a sleeve that accepts a 20" wide sleeping pad. While this adds a little weight, it is very quick and convenient to slip your pad inside, and the sleeve holds it perfectly in place underneath you. The pillow pocket and #5 zipper are also features we quite like, but do add weight to this product. Again, the Pitchpine's focus is roomy comfort for warmer temperatures, not minimal weight.

This is another bag that can compress much smaller than the stock stuff sack  which we measured at 7.5 x 12 inches.
This is another bag that can compress much smaller than the stock stuff sack, which we measured at 7.5 x 12 inches.

Versatility


This bag earned a versatility score in the middle of the models we tested. We evaluated the Pitchpine's versatility a bit differently than the other ultralight products. Basically, with the loftier bags, we judged how well they adapt to warmer nights, but for the summer-focused Pitchpine, we considered how to adapt to colder temperatures. The Pitchpine can be mated with a synthetic liner from Big Agnes to augment its warmth; there are small internal loops in the Pitchpine to attach it.


Our lead tester used a similar 40-degree system bag from Big Agnes for his PCT and AT hikes in 2010 and 2011, adding a homemade fleece liner and insulated jacket for colder nights at the beginning and end of the hikes, and enjoying the roomy comfort during the warm summer months.

Comfort


Several of our testers are very active sleepers and a roomy fixed girth bag like the Pitchpine can be very comfortable when nighttime temperatures are warm. For cold nights  the warmest bags will fit more snugly and will have neck or hood closures to seal in hot air.
Several of our testers are very active sleepers and a roomy fixed girth bag like the Pitchpine can be very comfortable when nighttime temperatures are warm. For cold nights, the warmest bags will fit more snugly and will have neck or hood closures to seal in hot air.
The Pitchpine earned the top score we awarded for comfort. It is very roomy inside, and our testers never felt confined in this bag. While this large size is comfortable, we should note again that it is not a design that delivers a good warmth-to-weight ratio. The bottom sleeve mates your sleeping pad to the insulated upper bag so that you are always centered on the pad, and a small opening in the top of the sleeve means you can access the air valve and adjust your pad's inflation for comfort.


Features


A unique feature of this bag is a pillow pocket sewn to the top opening. It will accept either an inflatable camp pillow or your extra clothing, and hold it in place through the night right where it should be.

The attached pillow pocket on the Pitchpine is one of our favorite features on this model. When nights are warm  all our extra clothing gets stuffed into this pocket to create a nice pillow.
The attached pillow pocket on the Pitchpine is one of our favorite features on this model. When nights are warm, all our extra clothing gets stuffed into this pocket to create a nice pillow.

A 48" #5 YKK zipper closes the upper half of this "system bag," and there are zipper pulls at both ends so you can ventilate at the side on hot nights. True to the summertime temperature rating, no draft tube backs the zipper.

Big Agnes' system bags use a sleeve of fabric to attach your pad to the bottom of their bags, rather than straps or cords. This adds a little weight, but makes for a fully enclosed bag. For cowboy campers in buggy conditions, this is a great feature to keep bugs out of your backside. You'll just need to add a head net.


A bungee cord with a sewn-in cord lock on the top part of the neck opening allows snugging up this bag.

The foot of this model has insulation on both the top and the bottom in quilted pockets up to hip level, allowing use with a half length pad if you desire. Above hip level, there is a pad sleeve without any insulation on the bottom of the bag.

There are two grosgrain hang loops sewn into the foot of this bag. In addition, there are two loops inside the bag that are designed to secure a liner. These are sewn in 6 inches down from the top opening of the bag.

Best Applications


The Big Agnes Pitchpine UL 45 is the best ultralight bag we tested for summertime backpacking, if your focus is comfort rather than the lightest possible weight. Its roomy fixed girth accommodates side sleepers and folks who toss and turn a lot, and the attached pillow pocket is an awesome feature. Sleeping in base layers and an insulated jacket with a hood, we found it warm enough down into the mid-30s, but it's best suited to nights in the 40s and warmer.

Value


At $350, this bag falls right in the middle of the range of ultralight products we tested. If you're looking for a sleeping bag for summer use, we think it's an excellent value.

Conclusion


If you seek a comfortable ultralight sleeping bag for dedicated summertime use, we think the roominess and features of the Big Agnes Pitchpine UL 45 make it an excellent choice. In fact, we like it so much for warm nights, that we gave it our Top Pick for Summer Use.

On this below freezing night  we placed the Feather Friends Flicker over top like a blanket. While we recommend the Pitchpine for summertime  its roomy interior will accept a warm liner to extend the temperature range for near freezing nights.
On this below freezing night, we placed the Feather Friends Flicker over top like a blanket. While we recommend the Pitchpine for summertime, its roomy interior will accept a warm liner to extend the temperature range for near freezing nights.

Sizing, Accessories, & Other Versions


The Pitchpine is made in two sizes; regular at 5'10ʺ, and long at 6'6ʺ. The long version has 5 inches more girth through both the shoulders and hips.


While the Pitchpine will work well with any 20" wide sleeping pad, full, half, or ¾ length, the Double Z from Big Agnes is a perfect fit.

45 Degree Synthetic Liner $89.95, 9.0oz
Primaloft® Black Hi-Loft
The remedy to those super cold nights might be this synthetic liner. Able to add a potential 10-15 degrees of warmth to your bag it attaches to loops that already exist in your current Big Agnes bag and can be used as a top or bottom layer.
liner here.

There are two more bags in the Divide UL series from Big Agnes. The Zirkel UL 20 and the Pomer Hoit UL 0. These much warmer models, with the same half pad sleeve design, incorporate vertical baffles and insulated hoods.

Zirkel UL 20°F
  • Cost - $450 ($100 more than the Pitchpine)
  • Weight - 37 oz (17 oz more than the Pitchpine)
  • Packed size - 7.5 X 15 inches (Compare with 7.5 X 12 inches)

Pomer Hoit UL 0°F
  • Cost - $600 ($250 more than the Pitchpine)
  • Weight -46 oz (26 oz more than the Pitchpine)
  • Packed size - 8 X 17.5 inches (Compare with 7.5 X 12 inches)
Brandon Lampley

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Most recent review: November 1, 2015
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