Designing a backpacking sleeping bag is a tricky balancing act between warmth, comfort, and weight. In the case of the Saros, we believe the balance is tipped too far in favor of warmth and comfort. It's certainly both of these. In achieving this warmth and comfort, however, it unfortunately became heavy and bulky. Its 3.84-pound total weight is heavy enough that we don't consider it a great choice for backpacking. The Saros is still an impressive sleeping bag, but it's better suited for activities where its carried by a boat, car, or draft animal, rather than your throbbing shoulders. For real backpacking, the Nemo Kyan is a similarly priced budget sleeping bag that weighs only half as much.
Therm-a-Rest Saros 20 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Super comfortable, excellent build quality, foot warmer pocket
Cons: Super heavy, extremely bulky, there are cheaper bags for car camping
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Therm-a-Rest is deservedly known for making outstanding sleeping pads. Their sleeping bags, however, have yet to earn a similar reputation. We recently tested their comfy Saros and ultralight Hyperion models. Both are impressive but still a step behind our favorite bags in their respective categories. Read on to learn why the Saros missed out on a budget sleeping bag award.
The Saros contains 39 ounces of synthetic eraLoft insulation. This amount is considerably more insulation, by weight, than most backpacking sleeping bags. Unfortunately, however, this insulation doesn't make it considerably warmer. Its 20°F lower limit rating (EN) seemed accurate compared to other bags. This rating, however, doesn't set it apart from its competitors and we consider several bags to be warmer.
A consequence of this bag's ample insulation is that it's disappointingly heavy. On our digital scale, a size long weighed 3.84 pounds. This figure is more than double that of the lightest budget sleeping bags. It is heavy enough that we recommend the Saros primarily for car camping and only occasional backpacking.
One thing this bag has going for it is its comfort. It has some of the roomiest dimensions of any mummy bag. We're also big fans of the 20-denier polyester taffeta fabric which manages to be glossy while still feeling soft. The Saros also has a foot warmer pocket to keep your toes cozy. The comfort could be slightly improved, however, if the hood drawstring were an elastic cord rather than a shoelace-like string.
Another consequence of this bag's ample insulation is its bulky packed size. Using an after-market compression sack, we weren't able to squeeze it any smaller than 15.5 liters in volume. That means it's more than double the size of the smallest budget sleeping bags. The simple drawstring stuff sack that it comes with is also an unfortunate shape that won't fit horizontally across the bottom of most backpacks.
The Saros features a ¾-length main zipper that's okay at venting excess heat. It also has a fluffy neck baffle that's good for sealing heat in on frosty occasions. The synthetic insulation can be relied upon to maintain its ability to insulate if it gets wet. This bag, however, would score a little better in versatility if it had a longer zipper or another way to let heat escape on warmer nights.
Features and Design
This bag has perhaps the most accessory features of any budget sleeping bag we tried. Some of these are useful, others not so much. Many of our testers, for example, consider the sleeping pad attachment system unnecessary, but thankfully, it's removable. The stash pocket, in contrast, is an accessory feature that we happen to like for keeping a headlamp or phone handy.
Finally, the foot warmer pocket is a polarizing accessory. Some of our testers are rather fond of it. Others found it entirely unnecessary and thought it would be smarter to move the extra insulation closer to your core rather than your extremities. With that said, it's up to you to decide if a small insulated sleeve to tuck your feet inside is desirable.
Although the Saros doesn't provide great weight or packed size performance, it has high-quality materials and construction. Many of our testers think its accessory features are a bit much, but there will be plenty of consumers that feel the opposite. For those that can fully appreciate its extra bells and whistles, it offers a decent value.
There's a lot to like about the Saros. It's undeniably comfortable and fitted with some clever accessory features. We are also impressed with the quality of its materials and construction. However, to supply this comfort and include these accessories, it becomes disappointingly heavy — so much so that we think it's too weighty for frequent backpacking. The Saros is still an awesome bag for car camping or short hikes, but you'll probably want a lighter, more packable bag for true backcountry overnights.
— Jack Cramer