New Riff 30
Since our test period with the Riff, Nemo tweaked a few things. For starters, this bag reportedly weights around 6 oz less than last year's model. Weight was saved by shaving some of the dimensions down — the bag is now a bit slimmer (2 inches slimmer at the shoulders, 6 at the hips, and 5 at the knees). Both bags are utilize the same materials, but the colors have changed. We're currently testing the new bag and will report back on these changes, but until then you can compare the two bags below. The latest model is pictured first, followed by the version we tested in red.
We're linking to the updated bag, but the review to follow is our account of last year's model.
Hands-On Review of the Riff 30
Nemo calls the bags they make that are specifically designed for side sleepers "spoon-shaped." That description makes zero sense to us, but we must admit whatever you call them, they are great for side sleepers.
The Riff 30 has a passive neck baffle (the black flap seen here). On warmer nights you can fold it outside the bag to let heat escape. On cooler nights you can tuck it around your neck to seal heat inside.
The Riff 30 contains 15 ounces of 800 fill power down. Although this is one of the higher fill weights, this bag only receives an average temperature rating of 29°F (EN Lower Limit). In the field our testers found this rating to be spot on compared to other bags. This level of warmth is ideal for most 3-season applications but could be inadequate in the coldest conditions.
A consequence of the Riff 30's high fill weight is correspondingly high total weight. It tipped our scale at 2.28 pounds for a size long. This is similar to much more affordable synthetic options and several ounces heavier than the top performing down bags. Overall, this means this bag doesn't supply a particularly good warmth-to-weight ratio.
The lofty Western Mountaineering MegaLite (left), hourglass-shaped Nemo Riff (center), and zipperless Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed (right) all achieve their exceptional comfort in different ways.
While the Riff 30 doesn't score very well in warmth or weight, it receives decent marks in all the other evaluation metrics. Its best attribute, though, is its comfort. You can credit this comfort to its notably roomy dimensions.
In the lower body, in particular, this bag offers more than a foot of extra girth compared to the other bags we tried. This makes it arguably the most comfortable bags for side sleepers because it leaves plenty of room to extend one leg to the side while keeping the other one straight.
Both Nemo bags come with great compression sacks. The Riff doesn't compress quite as well as other bags that offer similar warmth.
We measured this bag's compressed volume to be 8.2 liters. This was observed using the same after-market compression sack we used with other bags, but we saw similar packed size with the sturdy compression sack the Riff 30 comes with. Relative to other 30° bags, this packed size is a little below average. All the bags in our backpacking sleeping bag category, however, displayed comparably good compressed volumes, so this metric isn't particularly distinguishing. It should be recognized that you won't have to purchase a compression sack in addition to this bag, though, since it comes with one.
The venting "gills" on the top of the Nemo Riff 30 with zippers closed and open.
Both the Nemo bags we tested include innovative "gills" on the upper side of the bag. These are short slits of uninsulated fabric that are opened and closed via a tiny zipper. When opened, they allow excess heat to escape. When closed, they draw the insulation together to seal heat in. These gill zippers add minimal weight while helping to ensure that you don't overheat on warmer nights. The Riff 30 also has a ¾-length zipper to increase your venting options and extend the bag's usable temperature range.
The grey fabric on the footbox of the Riff is breathable water-resistant shell fabric. This is nice for taller folks in shelters that are prone to collect condensation, like single-wall tents.
Features and Design
Apart from the "gills" for venting, this bag has a couple of other features we really like. The footbox, for example, is encased with breathable, waterproof shell fabric. This ensures the down insulation inside doesn't get wet if your feet brush against condensation on a tent wall. This bag also has a flap-like neck baffle that can be folded outside of the bag on warmer nights or nestled inside to trap heat in colder conditions.
The Riff's stash pocket is well hidden and the perfect size for a phone or headlamp.
The Riff 30 is priced higher than average, but not exorbitantly so. It's definitely on the pricier side, however, for a bag that features mid-range 800 fill power down. For those that fully appreciate the comfort of its wider dimensions, it will still be a decent value. But there are much better deals for those that would be content with a narrower traditional mummy bag.
Overall, the Nemo Riff 30 offers an interesting collection of innovative features in a spacious bag that's exceptionally comfortable. Unfortunately, this spaciousness and features add noticeable weight. In addition, it does not provide the warmth you would expect for its price. Nevertheless, the outstanding comfort may be worth its drawbacks to side sleepers that desire a little extra room.