The North Face The One is a true three-in-one sleeping bag that uses a common lower half along with two interchangeable uppers rated to 40F and 20F respectably. When used together, they create bag worthy of winter camping at 5F. We have seen two-part sleeping bags over the years but never as solid a performing as this one, nor a three-part model like this one is. While it might be slightly gimmicky at first glance, The One is exceptionally well-executed and offers tremendous value and versatility. Its 40F, 20F, and 5F configurations offer a range of options that cover the vast majority of temperature ratings that most folks are seeking. Its spacious dimensions gave it some of the highest scores for comfort in our review and its price makes it tough to beat for value.Its only real downsides are directly related to all the features that go into making this 3-in-1 bag. They also happen to make it one of the heavier and less packable models in our review, but still not totally unreasonable for folks on trips where weight and a minimal packed volume aren't the highest priority. If you don't need the versatility and want a more backpacking-focused bag, reach for the Best Buy-winning REI Co-op Igneo 25, which is less expensive and less weight while limited in its temperature range.
The North Face The One Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Extremely versatile, tremendous value, comfortable, excellent hood design, U-shaped zipper, spacious
Cons: Heavy, not very compressible, so-so compression sack
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
This three-in-bag is truly the only bag many campers and backpackers could get away with owning. It brings an unparalleled versatility across temperature ranges with its unique multi-layered design. However, for the weight-conscience or long distance-focused crowd, it's heavier and less-compressible than most bags we reviewed, which are both likely deal-breakers.
The One sleeping bag has three total temperature ratings, one for each potential configuration. The North Face claims a 40°F rating for just the thinner blue layer, a 20°F rating for just the thicker down layer, and a 5°F for both the yellow and blue layers zipped to the lower layer.
When utilizing all three layers zipped together, our testing team felt like a 5°F rating is a little ambitious unless you have a LOT of clothes on and felt most users would find this model more comfortable in temps around 10-15°F with all three layers. If you do find yourself in near zero temps this bag will work, but most people will certainly need to layer up to be comfortable.
The 20°F version of this bag with just the yellow layer offers about average warmth among 20°F bags. This is the configuration we used the most, and after extensive testing, we found that most folks will find this bag pretty comfortable down to around 25°F in just base layers and down to 20°F with a little more clothing. We did find this bag slightly warmer than the comparably-rated Hyper Cat, the Cat's Meow, and Kelty Cosmic Down 20. There wasn't a huge difference, and we found all of these bags pretty close, but The One proved consistently warmer. However, it wasn't quite as warm as the Marmot Phase 20 and not near as warm as the Western Mountaineering Ultralight.
Lastly, the 40°F configuration (just the blue layer zipped to the bottom) is fine with overnight lows around 40-45 degrees but you wouldn't want to camp in 30-35°F without a LOT of clothing to stay warm. With that said, we find that people often underestimate how frequently they backpack in overnight lows around 45-60°F, and often just unzip their entire 20-30F bag because they only own one model that is far to warm for such conditions. While some folks will likely think its cool that they get 5°F bag and a 20°F for the same price, many campers will be surprised at how often they can get away with just the 40°F.
Weight is a little less straightforward with this model than it with others so let's break it all down by all its possibilities. First, the weight of all the pieces individually on our scales: Blue layer: 15-ounces, Yellow layer: 1 pound 14 ounces, Bottom layer: 1 pound 9 ounces.
With all three layers and a 5°F temperature rating, this model weighs a little over 4 lbs 4 oz, which is no doubt heavier than average among models of that rating, even when compared to synthetic models. The 20°F tips the scales at 3-pounds 7 ounces. This is heavy, even compared to all synthetic bags, and is more than twice the weight of several 20°F models in our review. The 40°F synthetic bag model weighs 2 lbs. 8 oz, also considerably heavier than other 40F synthetic bags on the market.
The primary reason this model is so heavy isn't necessarily that The North Face isn't using quality materials. It's more to do with everything that is built in to make this a three temperature ratings-in-one bag. For example, it uses two sets of high-gauge zippers (which are easier to operate and don't get stuck as frequently) that wrap completely around all three sides of the bag. People don't often think about it, but zippers are one of the biggest single things that contribute to a bag's total weight, and this model has more than 4-times the total zipper length compared to a normal bag, which has a zipper the length of one side. Other major contributors to this model's heavier weight are all layers of fabric, the fact the bottom layer being synthetic, and thicker-than-average materials.
This bag is unmistakably WIDE and is luxurious to sleep in. This is a bag we tum sleepers (who might sleep with one knee out at waist level) will likely find among the more comfortable. Every one of our testers commented on how easy it was to roll-over while inside the bag.
This model's U-shaped zipper design, which is a result of the need to be able to zip and unzip various insulation layers, has the side effect of creating unequaled ease-of-entry, as it feels like it unzips from both sides. This makes it far easier to get in and allows the bag to be pleasantly fine-tuned for personal temperature regulation needs.
The hood design on The One was also one of our review team's favorites for its comfort and functionality. Lastly, we liked several small features on this bag that we felt increased its overall comfort, like its roomy, vaulted footbox. Little features like the labels on its zipper tabs let the user know which end to start zipping each layer on, as well as glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls.
This model is less packable when compared to similar bags at each temperature rating. However, unlike with weight, there is a lot less of a difference when directly comparing this model to the packed volume of similar rated synthetic models. For example, we found the 20F rated configuration of this bag similar in packed volume to the Cat's Meow. It isn't quite as compressible as the Hyper Cat or even close to as small as the Marmot Phase 20 or the Rab Mythic 400.
Due to its multi-layered design, there is no doubt this model is one of the most versatile across temperature ranges compared with any bag in our review and possibly any model we have ever seen. That is really the primary reason most people will buy this bag as you can actually use it for winter camping, shoulder season backpacking, and mid-summer hiking trips with its variety of configurations.
Features and design
There is no-doubt this bag is extremely well thought-out, down to the finest details. The One is a far more complex bag with three potential configurations.
Like a rain jacket's zipper or traditional sleeping bag (or any other zipper for that matter), there is only one end that you can start zipping a layer onto. To avoid wasting time or fumbling around, this model sports color-coded zippers that match their respective insulation layer and the zipper flaps effectively display (using arrows) which way the layer must be added or removed.
The One fits several small niches, but we think there are generally two users types who this bag fits best. The first suits the greater number of people overall. This is to provide one sleeping bag that will work for a wide range of trips and temperature ranges, meaning that the user will only have to buy and own one sleeping bag, saving money and storage space. The One makes a case for the huge number of people who don't prioritize weight and compressed volume. Its 5F temperature rating will work for occasional winter camping, its 20F configuration will work during the shoulder backpacking seasons, and its 40F rating will be great during the heat of the summer when most folks are just using their sleeping bag as a quilt anyway.
The other user type who this bag suits really well is for use on trips where the user is likely to encounter a wide range of temperatures on the same trip. Examples of this where this bag could be sweet is trips to the Andes or Nepal, where folks could experience an exceptionally wide range of temperatures with warmer temps in the low elevation valleys and cold temps at high elevation passes. While that is a classic example, we think motorcycle or even longer-term road trips are examples of where this model will truly shine. It's comfortable enough for most car campers, and its huge temperature range will hang with people as they may travel hundreds or thousands of miles across climates.
While we think it's pretty cool how well this bag works across temperature ranges and will no doubt find a place in several of our testers' rigs for road tripping, its weight and packed volume make it less versatile for the types of trips many will take it on. While it means buying more than one bag, the fact that you can save 1-2 pounds over a super light model at a similar rating will make it worth it for many mountaineers and long-distance backpackers.
This bag is no-doubt a solid value. You basically get three functional (albeit heavier-than-average) bags for the price of one and a half high-end synthetic bags and still $100+ less than several high-end down models. While you can spend more money to get a lighter and more compressible option, there is no bag that is even close to as versatile as this one.
Exceptional value and unparalleled versatility are basically why you buy this bag. As three sleeping bags-in-one, this model covers an obscenely broad temperature range with only two true downsides: heavier-than-average weight and a slightly less packable compressed volume. While no one likes to carry a heavier model, if you don't mind extra weight and the slightly larger packed volume, this model will work for the conditions that 95% of people encounter. It's comfortable enough for car-camping but is still passable from a weight perspective for short and mid-range backpacking or winter camping trips where minimal weight isn't of the utmost priority.
— Ian Nicholson
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