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NEMO Forte 20 Review

An affordable bag that's extremely spacious but also big and heavy
NEMO Forte 20
Photo: NEMO
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very generous dimensions, good bargain, decent warmth, nice feature set
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, uncomfortable hood, below average thermal efficiency
Manufacturer:   NEMO Equipment
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 27, 2020
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#19 of 21
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 1
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Packed Size - 15% 2
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Features & Design - 10% 7

Our Verdict

While some folks strive to cut every ounce from their overnight kit, others opt for comfort, even if it requires carrying a couple of extra pounds. For the comfort crowd, there is the Nemo Forte 20. This hourglass-shaped, synthetic model supplies some of the most spacious dimensions of any sleeping bag we've tried. That makes it a great choice for anyone who gets annoyed with the narrow of a traditional mummy bag. To enjoy this roominess, you will have to be willing to accept its additional weight and considerable bulk. If you are, you can get your hands on this well-crafted bag at an affordable price.

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NEMO Forte 20
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NEMO Forte 20
Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price Check Price at Backcountry
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$200 List
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$399.95 at Backcountry
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$100 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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63
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52
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Star Rating
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Pros Very generous dimensions, good bargain, decent warmth, nice feature setDecent weight, respectable warmth, awesome bargainSpacious, decent warmth-to-weight ratio, reasonable priceGreat price, respectable weight, simple designInexpensive, burly, decent warmth, roomy fit
Cons Heavy, bulky, uncomfortable hood, below average thermal efficiencyAverage materials, limited features, basic designBulky, ineffective hood closure, limited versatilitySubpar warmth, annoying hood drawcords, no storage sack, mediocre versatilityHeavy, limited versatility, no storage sack, no compression sack
Bottom Line An affordable bag that's extremely spacious but also big and heavyAn exceptional deal for a capable and sturdy backpacking sleeping bag for those looking to get outside without breaking the bankA mid-range double bag for weight-conscious and comfort-seeking adventure pairsAn acceptable sleeping bag at a rock bottom priceA bargain backpacking sleeping bag with mixed performance characteristics
Rating Categories NEMO Forte 20 Bishop Pass 30 Big Agnes Sentinel... REI Co-op Trailbrea... Kelty Cosmic 20
Warmth (20%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
1.0
6.0
7.0
3.0
3.0
Comfort (20%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Packed Size (15%)
2.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
Versatility (15%)
8.0
6.0
4.0
7.0
5.0
Features & Design (10%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs NEMO Forte 20 Bishop Pass 30 Big Agnes Sentinel... REI Co-op Trailbrea... Kelty Cosmic 20
Insulation Synthetic - Primaloft RISE 650 FP Down, RDS-certified 650 FP Down Synthetic - Polyester 550 FP Duck Down (75%) / Polyester (25%)
Compressed Volume (L) 13.9 L 7.5 L 11.2 L 9.8 L 9.2 L
Measured Bag Weight (Size Long) 3.58 lbs 1.98 lbs 3.25 lbs (size regular) 2.74 lbs 2.83 lbs
Manufacturer claimed weight of size Regular (lbs) 3.13 lb 1.79 lbs 3.5 lbs 2.5 lb 2.63 lb
Compression/Stuff Sack Weight (oz) 3.2 oz 1.6 oz 1.4 oz 1.2 oz 0.6 oz
Hydrophobic down N/A No Yes N/A No
Manufacturer Temp Rating (F) 20 F 30 F 30 F 30 F 20 F
EN Temp Rating (Lower Limit, F) 22 F 30 F Not rated 29 F 21 F
Fill Weight (oz) 35.0 oz 15 oz 19.5 oz 21.1 oz 16.4 oz
Compression or stuff sack included? Compression Stuff sack Stuff sack Stuff Stuff
Shell material Polyester Ripstop (30D) 20D Nylon Ripstop Polyester ripstop Polyester w/ DWR Nylon (20D)
DWR? Yes Yes Yes No Yes, CO and PFC-free
Liner material 20D Nylon Taffeta w/ DWR 30D Plain weave nylon Polyester taffeta Polyester 50D 300T Polyester
Neck Baffle Yes No Yes No Yes
Small Organization Pocket Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Zipper Full-length / Left Side 3/4-length / Left Side Dual 3/4-length 3/4-Length / Left Side Full-length / Right Side
Shoulder Girth (in) 66 62 105 62 Not stated
Hip Girth (in) 60 53 105 56 Not stated
Foot Girth (in) 64 84 Not stated Not stated

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Due to the heaviness of the Nemo Forte 20, we think it's best suited...
Due to the heaviness of the Nemo Forte 20, we think it's best suited for adventures that don't extend too far from the trailhead.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Warmth


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.

Nemo calls this green flap of fabric at the neck of the bag a...
Nemo calls this green flap of fabric at the neck of the bag a "blanket fold". It serves as a cozy baffle that helps seal heat inside.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weight


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.

The Forte is most distinguished by its dimensions, which are...
The Forte is most distinguished by its dimensions, which are extremely spacious for a backpacking sleeping bag. You can also see that it barely tapers from the shoulder to the foot.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Comfort


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 20 comes with the sturdy compression sack seen here...
The Forte 20 comes with the sturdy compression sack seen here. Unfortunately, even with this sack it only packed down to an unimpressive 9.7 liters in volume.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Packed Size


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.

Versatility


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.

A full-length zipper gives you plenty of venting options, and a...
A full-length zipper gives you plenty of venting options, and a Y-shaped zipper slide does an excellent job preventing snags.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

There is a small organizational pocket near the hood of the bag...
There is a small organizational pocket near the hood of the bag that's the perfect size for stashing a smartphone or headlamp.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


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.

Conclusion


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