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Nemo Salsa 30 Review

One of the most comfortable models, it's compressible enough for week long backpacking adventures.
Nemo Salsa 30
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Price:  $240 List
Pros:  One of the most comfortable bags in our review, best for side and tummy sleepers, great price for a down bag, versatile, above average packability
Cons:  Average weight, included stuff sack not good at compressing
Manufacturer:   Nemo
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2017
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87
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Total Weight - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 10
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 10
  • Features & Design - 10% 10

Our Verdict

The Nemo Salsa 30 is Discontinued as of April 2018
Cue the Nemo Salsa, winner of our Top Pick Award as the most comfortable sleeping bag for tummy and side sleepers. While the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season and Backcountry Bed 700 were strong contenders and still offer enough comfort for side and tummy sleepers, we concluded that the Salsa takes the cake for folks that want a little more leg room and the ability to toss-and-turn as restriction-free as possible. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 35 was our Top Pick for pure backcountry bliss and the most bed-like feel, though both models offer exceptional comfort. Tummy and side sleepers rejoice! The Salsa's stretchy stitching and spacious "spoon" shaped design offer a high level of comfort. The comfort level, coupled with the Salsa's weight (2 lbs 1 oz, compared to the Backcountry Bed's 3 lbs 1 oz) remains respectable, especially considering its spacious cut.

The Salsa packs down roughly a third smaller than the Backcountry Bed 600 and a little smaller than the Backcountry Bed 700. The other bag we'd recommend considering is the Kelty Cosmic Down 40. It is over $100 less expensive for the same weight. However, the Salso is much more comfortable and warm.

Need something warmer? Check out the Salsa 15
The Nemo Salsa 15 looks nearly identical to the 30, sharing the same design and features. What sets them apart is the amount of fill. The Salsa 15 has more of it, adding several ounces to its fill weight. This does increase the overall weight (Nemo claims 2.5 lbs.) and packed volume (claimed 6.5L), but the temperature rating is now 15F. If you like the design of the Salsa 30, but want more warmth from your bag, the Salsa 15 (retailing at $260) is worth a look.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nemo Salsa is easily one of the most comfortable bags available on the market today and hands down our Top Pick for Tummy and Side Sleepers. Its stretchy stitching allowed for unencumbered movement of its occupants lower extremities. In fact, it was our review staff's favorite model for folks who like to sleep with their knees or thighs straight out from their waist. We also loved that the Salsa offered a respectable weight, was reasonably packable, and was on the warmer side of 30°F models in our review.

Performance Comparison


Our testers loved the oversized draft collar featured on the Salsa 30. It does an excellent job of keeping the warm air in and the cold air out but was also pleasant to "tuck yourself in"  as if tucking yourself into to a bed. Some of our testers were concerned that they wouldn't like the feeling of this feature near their neck  but most of our test team barely noticed it during testing.
Our testers loved the oversized draft collar featured on the Salsa 30. It does an excellent job of keeping the warm air in and the cold air out but was also pleasant to "tuck yourself in", as if tucking yourself into to a bed. Some of our testers were concerned that they wouldn't like the feeling of this feature near their neck, but most of our test team barely noticed it during testing.

Warmth


The Salsa 30 is a 30F degree bag that features 14 ounces of 650+ fill power down. When compared to other similarly rated bags, we found this fill was an average amount. Compared to our Editors' Choice Western Mountaineering MegaLite, which uses one ounce less (13 oz), but offers a higher fill power (850+), the Salsa 30 wasn't quite as warm feeling. However, compared to many other 30F bags we tested, the Salsa was slightly on the warmer side, making it an ideal option for folks who run a little cold, or who were debating between a 20°, 25°, or 30° F sleeping bag.


The Salsa 30 earns an EN lower limit (rating for men) of 21.7 EN l, which is a lower temperature EN rating than most 30° bags would score. Our testers agree with this statistic. This contender offers more fill than the lighter weight Marmot Phase 20, and Phase 30, where EN ratings were roughly 2.5° F higher (AKA less warm). On colder nights, our testers loved the oversized draft collar, which not only did a superb job of keeping the warm air in and the cold air out but also offered an excellent "snuggly" feeling. We'd compare this feeling to tucking yourself into an actual bed.

Some of our testers were concerned that they wouldn't like the feeling of the draft collar near their neck, but after using it, nearly all of our testers commented that they barely noticed it and bet that it helped improve warmth. For those considering a mega comfy model, it is worth noting that all of our testers found that the 30 degree Salsa was mildly warmer than the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 35 degree (as to be expected) and we felt that it was more than the 5°F might imply.

Weight


At 2 lbs 1 oz, the Nemo Salsa is average for a 30°F bag. What the Salsa has going for it that it's a little more spacious than most 30 degree bags of similar weight. Compared to 30°F models we tested, both the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, The North Face Hyper Cat, Patagonia 850 Down 30, and Marmot Phase models were all noticeably lighter (20-25% less weight). However, the Salsa was far lighter than the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season (3 lbs 1 oz) or the Kelty Cosmic Down (3 lbs).


The Salsa 30 uses a 30-denier ripstop nylon which is a little heavier than average, but certainly a little more durable. Comparably, the Sea to Summit Spark III (1 lb 6 oz) uses a 10D shell, while the Western Mountaineering uses 12D. In addition to the shell material, both the Salsa's spacious cut and its 650+ fill-power down insulation are the reasons it's roughly half a pound heavier than some of the lighter 30F options in our review. Generally speaking, the lighter options use 750-850 fill-power down for insulation.

The Salsa 30 stuffed into its included stuff sack  compared to a 1 Liter Nalgene bottle.
The Salsa 30 stuffed into its included stuff sack, compared to a 1 Liter Nalgene bottle.
While the Salsa 30 was very easy to stuff into its included stuff sack  it could be much smaller and we wish Nemo had included a smaller stuff sack. We easily packed it over a third smaller by using an aftermarket compression stuff sack.
While the Salsa 30 was very easy to stuff into its included stuff sack, it could be much smaller and we wish Nemo had included a smaller stuff sack. We easily packed it over a third smaller by using an aftermarket compression stuff sack.

Packed Size


Of all the bags we tested, the Salsa 30 had the loosest included stuff sack. This meant while it was easy to pack, the bag didn't allow us to do a very great job of compressing it or minimizing the bag's overall packed size. When we used an aftermarket compression sack, the Salsa easily packed down over a third smaller.


Overall, despite the Salsa's roomy design, it only packed down slightly larger than average among similarly rated bags on the market. It's roughly 1/3 bigger than the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, Marmot Phase models, or Patagonia 850 Down 30 and almost twice as big as the Sea to Summit Spark III. That said, it is roughly 2/3 the size of The North Face Cat's Meow or the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season.

The Salsa 30 (fourth from the left) offered reasonable packability compared to most models  especially if we used a smaller compression sack.
The Salsa 30 (fourth from the left) offered reasonable packability compared to most models, especially if we used a smaller compression sack.

Comfort


Comfort is where the Salsa really stands out. It features relatively wide dimensions in the shoulders, which are comparable to some of the broadest bags in our review. However, the Salsa's lower dimensions are by far more significant than any other bag we tested; they're even larger than either of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed models. The Backcountry Bed models did offer more a bed-like feel that felt less like sleeping in a bag, but the Salsa still provided better freedom of movement for its occupant.


Nemo also uses a stretchy stitching. When coupled with the wide dimensions, they make this bag hard to beat, especially for folks who want to sleep with their knees bent, leg slightly out to the side, or with their knees in-line with their waist (while sleeping on their back or side). This bag is just plain awesome for folks who want a little more room, or just appreciate feeling a bit more room around their body.

(Left) The dimensions of the Salsa 30 compared to the dimensions of a traditional mummy-style bag. (Right) the dimensions of the Nemo Salsa 30 highlighting its "spoon" shaped design.
(Left) The dimensions of the Salsa 30 compared to the dimensions of a traditional mummy-style bag. (Right) the dimensions of the Nemo Salsa 30 highlighting its "spoon" shaped design.

Versatility


This Top Pick award winner is a pretty versatile contender. It's lightweight and is small enough for most three-season backpacking trips, but also cozy enough for car camping. Its full-length zipper allows for decent ventilation on hot summer nights, but it also offers plenty of shoulder (and leg) room to add layers for occasional use. This room allows it to be used in below-freezing overnight temperatures.


Features and Design


What truly makes this competitor unique is its spoon-shaped design and stretchy stitching. The spoon shape gives the user an amazing amount of leg room and freedom of movement, while the stretchy stitching allows the user to sleep with an upper leg close or straight out to the side.


The Salsa uses treated down; Nemo claims the DownTek absorbs 30% less moisture and dries 60% faster than comparable untreated down. During OutdoorGearLab's spray bottle test, Nemo's treated down did appear to absorb slightly less water. With this level of moisture, the bag dried roughly 25% faster. In our "full soaking tests," we noticed a less visible difference. In our real-world testing, where we never actually wholly soaked the bag, we saw even less of a difference. We think that Nemo's (and other) water-resistant down is slightly more water-resistant when compared to original down and offers a marginally higher level of drying time, though it is minimal.

The Salsa 30 (center) compared with other wider-than-average bags. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 is shown on the left and the Western Mountaineering MegaLite is on the right.
The Salsa 30 (center) compared with other wider-than-average bags. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 is shown on the left and the Western Mountaineering MegaLite is on the right.

Adding to the comfort level of the Salsa 30's design, it features a built-in pillow pocket and a small zippered pocket (which is perfect for a watch). These features, coupled with a blanket-like draft tube, tuck around the user's shoulders and neck quite nicely. One tester commented that it felt as though he was "getting tucked in" and even our neck sensitive testers weren't bothered by the draft tube.

The large cotton storage bag included with the Salsa 30.
The large cotton storage bag included with the Salsa 30.

Best Applications


This Top Pick award winner is simply the best for side sleepers or other folks who like to sleep with their legs bent or to the side. Backcountry enthusiasts rejoice, as you'll have more leg room. The Salsa 30 is plenty comfortable enough for car camping and shorter trips; at 2 pounds 1 ounce, it's still light enough for longer, more extended outings.

The Salsa 30 wins our Top Pick Award for Side and Tummy Sleepers  thanks to its unique spoon dimensions and stretchy seams. It's light and packable enough for extended or long distance backpacking trips.
The Salsa 30 wins our Top Pick Award for Side and Tummy Sleepers, thanks to its unique spoon dimensions and stretchy seams. It's light and packable enough for extended or long distance backpacking trips.

Value


This bag is a killer value. At $220, it's $250 less than our Editors' Choice, the Western Mountaineering MegaLite ($470). The Megalite is a little over half a pound lighter, packs down significantly smaller, feels slightly warmer (in real-world testing), and is nearly as comfortable.

Conclusion


The Salsa 30 offers comfort for folks who like to feel more freedom, or for those that like to sleep with bent knees. You can't beat the $220 price tag.

The Salsa 30 was our testers favorite bag for side and belly sleepers thanks to its wide lower dimensions. Coupled with its stretchy stitching  testers were able to bring their knee up higher than all other bags we tested.
The Salsa 30 was our testers favorite bag for side and belly sleepers thanks to its wide lower dimensions. Coupled with its stretchy stitching, testers were able to bring their knee up higher than all other bags we tested.


Ian Nicholson