The Marmot Hydrogen is the overall "best value" in our review, offering a superb balance of quality, low weight, packability, and performance versus cost. However, it's not the best price pointed bag. Instead, we chose the $160 Kelty Cosmic Down for that.
For $350, this contender is a stand out sleeping bag. It's comparable to many more expensive products, as it is lighter and more compressible than almost all of its competitors. While its low weight and compressibility were impressive, our review team also loved its well-designed hood. Also, several subtle features, like its short secondary zipper, helped make it a more versatile bag. The versatility allowed for better ventilation, thus making it easier to get in and out of. The Hydrogen was a contender for our Editors' Choice, though the Western Mountaineering MegaLite packed down a smidge smaller (it was also warmer and roomier for that same weight, but costs over $100 more).
If you're looking for a high-quality sleeping bag that's among the lightest and most packable (and uses 800+ fill-power down and a high-quality shell without completely breaking the bank) then the Hydrogen is tough to beat. It's worth mentioning that the 25F REI Co-op Igneo 17 is $50 less and is very comparable to the Hydrogen.
Marmot Hydrogen ReviewPrice: $350 List | $263.16 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: One of the lighter and most compact sleeping bags in our review, super high-quality bag for the price, great hood design, second short zipper is great for venting and getting into the bag
Cons: Average warmth, average cut
Fill Power: 800+ Goose Down
Temperature rating (F): 30 F
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Check out the following Overall Performance chart to get an idea of how well the Hydrogen stacked up to its competition in the backpacking sleeping bags category.
The Marmot Hydrogen is a 30°F bag that uses 11 ounces of high quality 800+ fill-power goose down for insulation. This was more or less in line for the volume that was created among the insulation of similarly rated 30°F bags on the market. In our real world testing, we thought that the Hydrogen was pretty accurately rated. It was also comparable to the Nemo Salsa 30 and was not quite as warm as the Western Mountaineering MegaLite or the 20F rated The North Face Cats Meow.
Our testers loved the design of the Hydrogen's hood and felt it added significantly more warmth when used with a design that effectively captured the heat near our head. This was especially important when we tested this bag on a handful of below-freezing nights, as it helped keep us warm.
Checking in at a scant one pound, eight ounces, the Hydrogen is among the lightest of bags in the review. It weighed the same as our Editors' Choice award winner, the Western Mountaineering MegaLite (also 1 pound 8 ounces) and is only a couple ounces heavier than the Sea-to-Summit Spark III (1 lb 6.5 oz), which was the lightest overall bag in our review.
The MegaLite is a little roomier with slightly larger dimensions and is a touch warmer for ringing in at the same weight. However, the Hydrogen offers a "beefier" Pertex 20d shell fabric that is slightly more durable than the 12D shell used on the MegaLite (or the super thin feeling 10D fabric used on the Spark III). Nevertheless, the Hydrogen is a lighter than average bag that is offered at a very good price. It was lighter than all of the other bags we tested and weighs less than a majority of the 30°F bags on the market.
This Best Buy Award winner packs up very small, only bested by the Sea to Summit Spark III in this metric. Many bags with a similar temperature rating were double the size of the Hydrogen.
This award-winning bag even compressed down slightly smaller than our Editors Choice' Western Mountaineering MegaLite. The Hydrogen's stuff sack is also our favorite non-compression model in the review. No need to go out and buy a new/better one. However, if you did use a different compression sack, you could make the bag roughly 25-40% smaller with an appropriately sized compression (when compared to the volume it uses with its included stuff sack).
Comfort, Spaciousness, and Fit
Besides offering such a fantastic packed size and low weight, it doesn't sacrifice much in the way of interior room (to achieve that minimal weight). Overall, the Hydrogen features a pretty average fit among comparable mummy-style bags; nearly all of our testers found it to be comfortable. It wasn't quite as spacious as the slightly oversized MegaLite or Nemo Salsa 30, but was far bigger than the Sea To Summit Spark III, and slightly roomier than the Western Mountaineering UltraLite and REI Igneo 17.
Reference the chart shown here to see how the Hydrogen fared in the Comfort category compared to its competitors. While the Hydrogen looks to be towards the bottom of the bunch, a score of 7 out of 10 still ranks as a pretty comfortable bag!
Our testers loved the feel of the soft-brushed nylon that was featured on the interior, making it one of the coziest in the review. In fact, we thought that the only nylon that felt better against our skin was the Western Mountaineering MegaLite and Western Mountaineering UltraLite. Do note that the REI Igneo 17 was pretty comparable to the Hydrogen in terms of comfort. We also appreciated that Marmot uses slightly thicker and more durable 30D nylon on the inside of the bag (compared to 20D fabric on the outside).
The Hydrogen is a very versatile bag, it's lightweight enough for extended or long-range backpacking trips, yet has enough insulation (with enough extra room in the shoulders area). It also offers the ability to add an additional layer for colder trips, summertime mountaineering, or late spring ski touring trips. Conversely, the additional 13" zipper allows the bag to be opened up for warmer nights. When compared to the Sea to Summit Spark III, which was only two ounces lighter, we like the Hydrogen for most purposes, as it offers a wider, more comfortable cut, as well as a full-length zipper (which allows for better ventilation on warm nights).
Features and Design
This award winner doesn't have a ton of "extra" features or bells and whistles. Instead, the Hydrogen's primary advantages are its above average versatility while being among the lightest and most packable sleeping bags in our review.
The one exception is the fairly unique secondary shorter (13") zipper, which is opposite of the main full-length zipper. This zipper allows for increased ventilation and comfort on warm nights and makes getting into, and out of, much easier. This bag comes with a nicer than average storage sack, and an adequately-sized stuff sack.
Along with the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, the Hydrogen is one of the most versatile bags in our review. It's perfect for both general backpacking or extended long-range trips alike and is a solid option for mid-summer mountaineering, car camping, or even late-spring ski touring trips.
Value and the Bottom Line
This award winner is the perfect balance of performance and price. It's one of the lightest and highest performing bags in our review, but it still maintains a reasonable price. Compared head to head, we would choose the Western Mountaineering MegaLite. However, it's important to note that it's $100 more and did not exactly blow away the Hydrogen. If we're going to choose the best bag for $350, among any on the market, this would be it. We were nearly as impressed with the REI Igneo 17. If you're considering the Hydrogen, be sure to take a peek at that as well.
— Ian Nicholson
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