Hands-on Gear Review

Kelty Light Year XP Review

Kelty Light Year XP 20
By: Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Nov 15, 2012
Price:  $150 List
Pros:  Comfortable, neck baffle seals in warm air, inexpensive.
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, drafty foot box, finicky hood closure, bad stuff sack.
Manufacturer:   Kelty

Our Verdict

The Kelty Light Year XP is a well-featured and inexpensive twenty-degree synthetic sleeping bag for backpacking in wet conditions. We recommend this bag if you frequently venture into very wet climates with a high probability of getting your get wet and want to spend as little money as possible. Other synthetic bags found in our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review offer more warmth when wet and many other down bags offer greater performance for nearly the same price as this bag. See our Camping Sleeping Bag Review for the best bags for car camping and general use.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The Kelty Light Year XP 20 is a budget synthetic bag for wet weather backpacking. We recommend it for camping in very wet conditions. For all other conditions down bags offer more performance for as little as $20 more and other synthetic bags offer more warmth when wet.

It's important to underscore that the Light Year XP is a budget bag that squeezes under the three pound barrier that separates our backpacking bags from general use bags. This is a very basic bag that places little emphasis on performance; it's viable into the lower forties and cold below that. It's best application is as a wet weather summer bag. Below we list some of its drawbacks.

The draft tube on the foot vent is attached at the bottom of the zipper, making curious feet and gravity itself accomplices in cold air invasion. Our taller (six foot) testers found this to be a problem regardless of the temperature; their feet lifted the draft tube and rested along the zipper. Due to this problem, warm socks are mandatory in colder temperatures. Second, the cinching mechanism for the hood pull cord is miniscule in comparison to its counterparts on other sleeping bags. Loosening the hood requires either a delicate touch with dainty fingers, or a powerful outward force. A larger adjustment would benefit the bag. Third, the bag is a bit on the bulky side. The neck baffle and foot vent add weight and bulk.

While the bag maybe nice, the included compression stuff sack is terrible: its made of a thin nylon, the stitching on the straps is weak (we broke one after two months), and its too large to significantly compress the bag. See our Best Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack Article to compare our favorite sacks.

Other Versions

The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 offers budget conscious campers and hikers a screaming deal of a sleeping bag. Of the 70+ bags we've tested, in all categories across down and synthetic insulation, no other bag provides as much value as the Cosmic Down 20. At 42 ounces the bag isn't particularly lightweight, nor is it made of the best materials, but it is only $100!!

If you're looking for a warmer bag, the Kelty Cosmic Down 0, $250, is rated to 0 and weighs 3 lbs 12 oz.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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Most recent review: March 5, 2013
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   Mar 5, 2013 - 08:18pm
Matthew Ballard · Backpacker · Jefferson, GA

I have used the light year XP 20 three times now, twice in the mid twenties and once in the low thirties. Both times it was in the twenties I wore long underwear top and bottoms with wool socks and a fleece hat I only woke up once or twice from the cold. I must specify that I am a warm sleeper and you may be much colder than me in these conditions, as someone on the same trip complained of being chilly in a 10 degree bag. I bought this bag as I was getting into backpacking and wanted to save some money until I realized if this was something I wanted to spend more time doing. Well it serves this purpose well, as a intro bag but its size and weight hold it back from being anything more. After 3 nights on the trail and being bitten by the backpacking bug I am back surfing the reviews trying to reduce weight and size. Even though I say I would recommend to a friend, I must specify I would recommend to a friend who was just getting into backpacking and would like to try the sport. For that reason I will likely keep this bag around to loan out to anyone who might need it down the road. For anyone else I would recommend looking else where.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
May 14, 2011 - 11:35pm
WBraun · Climber

Kelty made packs a long time ago that made it up Mt Everest.

You can get this sleeping bag and go up Mt Everest today and freeze to death.

Maybe not …..?

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