NEMO Riff 30 Review
Cons: Below average warmth-to-weight ratio, bulky packed size
Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Riff 30 contains 10 ounces of 800 fill power down. That's a surprisingly small amount for a bag cut with such generous dimensions. It's also 5 oz less down than the older version of the Riff 30 that we previously tested, yet Nemo still reports a 29°F EN Lower Limit temperature rating. In the field our testers found this rating to be pretty optimistic compared to other bags. The level of warmth it provides is ideal for warmer 3-season applications but could be inadequate in the coldest conditions of early spring and late autumn.
Nemo was able to trim the Riff's total weight by an impressive 6 oz between the previous and current versions. The model we tested tipped our scale at a competitive 1.91 lbs. This is an exciting change that appears to be a result of slight reductions to the bag's dimensions combined with the removal of 5 oz of down. This puts the Riff much more on par with other bag's in the category in terms of weight, but we worry that it has slightly harmed the bag's warmth and comfort. Everything in life is a tradeoff, though, and we believe most folks drawn to this bag will appreciate the weight cut despite the negative consequences. A three-season bag under two pounds is a great start to reducing pack weight, and the Riff 30 is now there.
While the Riff 30 doesn't score at the top of the pack 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 and footbox, this bag offers 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.
We measured this bag's compressed volume to be 7.2 liters. That's 12% smaller than the previous version of the Riff. This was observed using the same after-market compression sack, but we measured similar packed size with the sturdy compression sack the Riff 30 comes with. Relative to other 30° bags, this packed size is pretty good. All the bags in our backpacking sleeping bag category, however, displayed comparably good compressed volumes, so this metric isn't particularly distinguishing. Most people will appreciate that you don't have to purchase a compression sack in addition to the bag since it comes with one.
Both the Nemo bags we tested include innovative "gills" on the upper side of the bag. These are short slits of uninsulated fabric that you can open and close 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. We are somewhat concerned, however, that their tiny size could cause them to snag and become misaligned. And since they're sewn fully into the bag any misalignment wouldn't be easy to fix. The Riff 30 also has a ¾-length main zipper to increase your venting options and extend the bag's usable temperature range.
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 latest version also added a simple sleeve to keep a camp pillow in place.
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 will fully appreciate the comfort of its wider dimensions, it can still be a decent value. But there are 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 some weight. In addition, it does not provide the warmth you would expect for its price. Nevertheless, the outstanding comfort may be worth the drawbacks to any side sleepers in search of a little extra room.
— Jack Cramer