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Hands-on Gear Review
Kelty Tuck 20 Review
Cons: Not very warm for its temperature rating, not super compressible, among the heaviest bags we tested
Bottom line: Likely the best 20F bag that costs less than $100.
One of the best sleeping bags on the market for under $100, it's still heavier and less packable than all the sleeping bags in our review. If you're willing to spend a little more, you can easily get a bag that performs better in every metric. We loved several features that this bag offered our testers, our favorite being its zipper, which extends the length of the bag like a traditional model. It then cuts over the top, near the foot of the bag, allowing the user to sleep with their feet hanging out. This feature allows the bag to be completely opened up (like a quilt) on warmer nights. While acceptable for use while car camping and backpacking, this contender is the least warm 20°F bag we tested and most users will start having to layer up at around 30-35°F.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This backpacking sleeping bag isn't a super warm 20°F bag. Our testers found it to be warm enough for most backpacking and camping trips, but we felt like we need to add a jacket at around 30-35°F. We didn't think this bag was quite as warm as the 20°F rated The North Face Cats Meow, and was nowhere even close to as warm as the 20°F Western Mountaineering UltraLite. In fact, several of our testers thought the 30°F Western Mountaineering MegaLite felt warmer. Kelty uses their own proprietary ThermaPro Insulation, using an offset quilt construction so there weren't any cold spots; even with this technology, most folks were pretty chilly when sleeping in this bag in below 30°F temperatures.
At three pounds, this bag is slightly heavier than average among 20°F synthetic bags on the market, though not by a large amount. Compared to more performance-oriented synthetic bags, it's five ounces heavier than The North Face Cats Meow (2 lbs 11 oz) and 20 ounces heavier than the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark (1 lb 12 oz). However, compared to many price-pointed, sub-$100 20°F options, the Tuck is lighter weight than most. The Tuck is also lighter than its warmer, albeit rated the same down cousin, the Kelty Cosmic Down, which tips the scales at 2 pounds 13 ounces. The Tuck uses the thickest (75D) shell fabric in our review, and a relatively heavy synthetic insulation, which results in a heavier bag (especially compared to most other non-down bags we tested).
This contender has the biggest packed size among any sleeping bag in our review. That said, when compared to other sub $100 sleeping bags, the Tuck's performance is not terrible - it just simply does not compare to the more expensive models. It's double the size of the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark 35 and is roughly 1/3 bigger than The North Face Cats Meow.
Comfort, Spaciousness, and Fit
While this bag might be on the heavier side among contenders in our review, it was among the most comfortable on warmer nights. It's on the roomier side of most mummy-style bags on the market; even side and back sleepers were able to bring a knee fairly high up, finding the dimensions of this bag to be pretty comfortable. The internal fabric was average feeling against our skin, but what we loved was the Tuck's wrap-around zipper that extended over the foot area of the bag, allowing the users to poke their feet out (assuming it wasn't too cold).
This bag offers a fairly unique style zipper; at the bottom of the bag, the zipper cuts over and across the top. This helps increase comfort and ventilation on warmer nights. On top of doing a great job of dialing in the perfect temperature for ventilation, you can also completely unzip the Tuck 20 to use as a blanket on those extra hot nights. It's certainly spacious enough to add several layers for colder evenings. Overall, the large compressed size and heavier than average weight keep this bag from being a super versatile contender as far as the number of places you'd want to take it. If you're on the hunt for a bag that offers a fair amount of versatility, the Western Mountaineering UltraLite, the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, the Nemo Salsa 30, and The North Face Cats Meow all possess qualities that offer a significant amount of versatility - in various ways.
While this bag does have more features than most in our review, and while some of these are nice options, they do contribute to the bag's three-pound weight and large packed size. The over-the-foot zipper was one of our tester's favorite features, as it allows the user to unzip if temperatures are toasty. This bag also includes a larger internal "headphone" pocket (at least that was it was labeled as), which is big enough for a smartphone. Unlike nearly all the other bags we tested, this one does not come with a storage sack.
The Tuck 20 is great for car camping or shorter backpacking excursions, where its three-pound weight and bulky packed size won't offer any significant issues. With that said, this contender is the best backpacking sleeping bags for under $100 for the occasional hiker or backpacker on a tight budget (who might just suck it up and make this bag work for long range journeys).
Value and the Bottom Line
At $90, the Kelty Tuck is a pretty amazing value. For this price point, it's the best 20°F bag you can buy for under $100, far outperforming most bags in that price range. If your budget allows for spending over $150, we'd recommend The North Face Cats Meow, because it's lighter and compresses down smaller. The Kelty Cosmic Down is also a fine option, as its down insulation will last 2-4 times as long.
— Ian Nicholson
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