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NEMO Riff 30 Review

Premium down in an hourglass shape that offers the roomiest lower body dimensions
NEMO Riff 30
Photo: NEMO Equipment
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Price:  $370 List | $349.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Spacious hourglass shape, innovative venting "gills", waterproof footbox, sturdy compression sack
Cons:  Below average warmth-to-weight ratio, bulky packed size
Manufacturer:   NEMO Equipment
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 23, 2020
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 18
  • Warmth - 20% 4
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Features & Design - 10% 9

Our Verdict

According to Nemo, 70% of people sleep on their sides. We're not sure about that, but we are confident that their Riff 30 is one of the best bags for side sleepers. Unlike traditional mummy bags that taper from head to toe, this bag is shaped more like a broad hourglass. This gives it some of the widest lower-body dimensions of any bag we tried and allows you to effortlessly roll over or stretch your legs in any direction. We also like its "gills" for venting excess heat and an inconspicuous stash pocket. One drawback to the comfy hourglass shape is the additional materials that are needed, which harms the bag's warmth-to-weight ratio. Nevertheless, the Riff is great for anyone desiring a roomier sleeping bag.

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Pros Spacious hourglass shape, innovative venting "gills", waterproof footbox, sturdy compression sackSpacious dimensions, super comfortable, great loft, lightweight, made in the USASuper lightweight, incredible loft, snag-proof zipper, cozy hoodBest-in-class warmth, legit draft collar, light weight, exceptional loftBest-in-class zipper, best-in-class hood, awesome loft, great warmth-to-weight ratio
Cons Below average warmth-to-weight ratio, bulky packed sizeExpensive, awkward hood, good but not great zipperUncomfortably narrow dimensions, bare-bones design, noisy fabricReally pricey, kind of bulky, awkward hood closureNarrow leg dimensions, no draft collar, heavier and bulkier than some 3-season options
Bottom Line An hourglass bag with premium down and spacious lower dimensionsIf we could only have one bag for the rest of our lives, this would be itThe ideal bag when you need the warmth, but ounces matter tooThe best bag for the coldest shoulder season nightsExceptional warm and loft along with our favorite hood and zipper
Rating Categories NEMO Riff 30 MegaLite Hummingbird UL 30 UltraLite Swallow 20 YF
Warmth (20%)
4
8
8
10
9
Weight (20%)
7
8
9
7
7
Comfort (20%)
9
9
7
7
7
Packed Size (15%)
8
8
8
6
7
Versatility (15%)
8
7
8
8
8
Features & Design (10%)
9
7
7
7
7
Specs NEMO Riff 30 MegaLite Hummingbird UL 30 UltraLite Swallow 20 YF
Insulation 800 FP Down 850+ FP Down 950+ FP Down 850+ FP Down 900+ FP Down
Compressed Volume (L) 7.2 L 7.2 L 7.3 L 8.7 L 8.5 L
Measured Bag Weight (Size Long) 1.91 lbs 1.62 lbs 1.45 lbs 1.86 lbs 1.94 lbs
Compression/Stuff Sack Weight (oz) 2.4 oz 1.6 oz 0.8 oz 1.6 oz 1.0 oz
Manufacturer claimed weight of size Regular (lbs) 1.8 lbs 1.5 lbs 1.33 lbs 1.81 lbs 1.79 lbs
Hydrophobic down Yes No No No No
Manufacturer Temp Rating (F) 30 F 30 F 30 F 20 F 20 F
EN Temp Rating (Lower Limit, F) 29 F Not rated Not rated Not rated Not rated
Fill Weight (oz) 10.2 oz 13 oz 12 oz 17 oz 17.5 oz
Compression or stuff sack included? Compression Stuff Stuff Stuff Stuff
Shell material 20D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR Extremelite (12D) Pertex Endurance (10D) Extremelite (12D) Pertex YFuse (20D)
Neck Baffle Yes No No Yes No
Small Organization Pocket Yes No No No No
Zipper 3/4-length / Side Full-length / Side Full-length / Side Full-length / Side Full-length / Side
Shoulder Girth (in) 62 64 58 59 60
Hip Girth (in) 54 Not stated 52 Not stated 56
Foot Girth (in) 59 39 38 38 38

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Riff includes several features to boost its overall versatility...
The Riff includes several features to boost its overall versatility. These features add a little weight but greatly enhance its usefulness.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Warmth


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.

The Riff has a notably narrow hood to cut weight and seal heat in...
The Riff has a notably narrow hood to cut weight and seal heat in better. We find the shape pretty comfortable, but the elastic drawcord, seen here on the left, can hang over and irritate your face.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weight


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.

The latest version of Riff has slightly narrower dimensions than...
The latest version of Riff has slightly narrower dimensions than previous versions, but it's still wider, and more comfortable, than most lightweight backpacking sleeping bags.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Comfort


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.

The included compression sack is a burly four strap design which is...
The included compression sack is a burly four strap design which is more than capable of compressing the Riff all the way.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Packed Size


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.

The yellow strips on the top of the Nemo Riff are called "thermo...
The yellow strips on the top of the Nemo Riff are called "thermo gills." A small zipper cleverly allows you to spread out insulation for shedding heat on warm nights.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Versatility


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.

Some bags, like the Riff 30, utilize waterproof fabric on the...
Some bags, like the Riff 30, utilize waterproof fabric on the footbox to prevent moisture on a snow cave or tent wall from soaking in.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

Although there is a small organizational pocket, it's located...
Although there is a small organizational pocket, it's located outside of the bag's insulation. This may enhance comfort but it won't keep your phone battery as warm.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


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.

The zipper uses a wide Y-shaped slide. The adjacent fabric is...
The zipper uses a wide Y-shaped slide. The adjacent fabric is stiffened with a strip of internal plastic that keeps it away from the teeth and virtually eliminates frustrating snags.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


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