NEMO Forte 20 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very generous dimensions, good bargain, decent warmth, nice feature set
Cons: Heavy, bulky, uncomfortable hood, below average thermal efficiency
Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Forte 20 features one of the warmer temperature ratings (22F) among bags in this category. Compared to similarly rated bags, this rating seemed to be a little overstated, but we still believe it's warm enough for spring and fall overnights in most temperate climates. It achieves its respectable warmth with 29 ounces of synthetic Primaloft RISE insulation. We're pleased to report that Nemo claims 80% of this insulation is made from post-consumer recycled materials.
We measured this bag's weight at 3.58 lbs for a size Long. That's a hefty amount for a premium sleeping bag and still a sizeable number for a budget model. In other words, the Forte 20 straddles the boundary between premium and budget in terms of price, but in terms of weight, it crosses the boundary wholly toward the heavy side. We think that makes this bag best suited for overnights that aren't too far from the trailhead or for any shoppers that are willing to carry extra weight to receive more generous bag dimensions.
Although the Forte underperforms on weight, it truly excels at comfort. The primary reason for this is its luxuriously spacious dimensions, some of the roomiest of any bag in the category. The shoulder girth extends to 66 inches, tapers to 60 inches at the hip, but expands again to 64" at the foot of the bag. This gives this model a vague hourglass shape that's designed to provide plenty of space for side or stomach sleepers—Nemo claims up to 70% of all people prefer these sleeping styles.
The Forte comes with a sturdy and effective compression sack. At 3.2 ounces, this sack is a bit heavier than the lightest aftermarket compression sacks, but its inclusion with this sleeping bag could potentially save you a few bills. With a third party compression sack, we were able to squeeze it down to 13.9 liters, which is disappointing for a premium bag, but a more reasonable volume for a budget model.
Another area where this bag excels is in versatility. Its synthetic Primaloft RISE insulation is ideal for wet climates because it can still provide significant warmth even if it gets soaked. We're also fans of the pair of "thermo gills" sewn into the upper side of the bag. These are small zippers that allow the insulation to spread apart and ensure you can shed excess heat on warmer nights. The full-length zipper also enhances venting options, extending this bag's useable temp range to warmer conditions than its 22F rating may indicate.
Features and Design
This bag has a lot of features we like, and one or two that we don't. Perhaps our favorite accouterment might be the "thermo gills" that allow you to spread insulation and shed heat. We also like what Nemo calls the "blanket fold," which is a flap of insulated fabric that serves as a neck baffle to prevent warmth from escaping out the hood. This works well on cold occasions, and you can fold it out of the way when you don't need it. Additionally, we appreciate the Y-shaped slide on the main zipper because it effectively reduces zipper snags.
On the other hand, the tiny zippers on the thermo gills and accessory pocket are unfortunately prone to snagging. Another complaint we have regards the elastic drawcords for cinching down the hood. These cords seemed to dangle into the bag and irritate our tester's faces while they were trying to sleep.
The Forte 20 is available at a bargain price, especially for its warm 22F temp rating. At full retail price, we believe its comfort, versatility, and build quality present a real value. Its considerable weight, however, should not be considered a bargain for a shopper hoping to trim some ounces from their overnight kit.
Bargain sleeping bags usually come with some drawbacks, and the Nemo Forte 20 is no exception. Its considerable heaviness will undoubtedly be a deal-breaker for weight-conscious shoppers. For anyone willing to shoulder these additional ounces, however, the Forte offers extremely generous dimensions in a bag that's also notably well-designed. We think it's a solid choice for casual backpackers or anyone who specializes in adventures that don't extend too far from the trailhead.
— Jack Cramer