The North Face Homestead Bed 20 Review
Cons: More expensive, doesn't unzip completely, less versatile than general purpose bags
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
If the Homestead Bed were a slice of pizza, it would definitely be Chicago deep dish. This bag really takes up space and has an immediate X-factor that made us excited to use it the minute we opened the shipping box. Whereas most car-camping bags employ a flat, fold-over design, we instantly noticed the Homestead Bed is surrounded by four distinct sides, like an old wooden coffin (not the most comforting example, but hopefully you see our point). Another thing we noticed when unpacking this bag was its sheer volume. The Homestead Bed employs a topside, U-shaped zipper, which allows the bag to perfectly maintain its modified mummy shape, while lacking all the constrictive feelings of a mummy bag. The overall elevation, provided by its four-sided design, gives this bag a deep cut despite its narrower design. This affords sleepers ample top space for easy twisting and turning during the night.
This bag is perfect for campers who desire a more technical, higher-end bag that is specifically designed to keep them warm and well-rested. After much testing, we found the Homestead Bed to perform very well in a variety of warm to colder weather situations. Specifically, it's top-zipper design provided a simple and effective source for controlling heat. On warmer nights, both sides can be unzipped, and the top quilt can be rolled down. When evenings were downright cold, the over-sized top quilt zipped easily into place, providing ample warmth.
While most sleeping bags offer one continuous fabric for their interior lining, the Homestead Bed employs two. The bag's bottom interior fabric and foot-box are lined with silky Ciré Polyester for easier movement, while the liner material for the hood and the top quilt is brushed polyester fleece. When temperatures dropped below freezing, we absolutely loved the stubbornness of this brushed fleece in its ability to maintain a constant even temperature around our bodies and head. Silkier fabrics tend to chill quickly, creating unpleasant cold spots during the night. We loved our cold-spot-free evenings in the Homestead Bed.
The combination of the Homestead Bed's massive hood and over-sized top quilt were quite the symphony of warmth. First, the top quilt is connected to the bag's zipper system and can be removed and used as a campfire blanket. However, we were impressed that the manufacturer designed the quilt to internally hang well passed the zipper connection, allowing it to mold effectively around the sides of our legs, hips, torso, and chest. Additionally, if needed, the quilt's length can extend well above the head, meshing into the bag's hood, allowing the sleeper to burrow underneath during the frigid pre-dawn completely. Additionally, the bag's generous hood is very effective at blocking light breezes and is equally effective at trapping loose heat escaping from the top of the head.
Take a piece of paper and fold it in half vertically. The result is the standard, rectangle shape for traditional car-camping sleeping bags. The Homestead Bed breaks away from this traditional design with a U-shaped top zipper and a slightly-tapered bottom end. One of the bag's most important features is its deep, distinct sidewalls. The result is a narrower bag that is still quite roomy. Before actually spending a night in this bag, our belief was its narrower design would be more confining than wider rectangle bags. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Although tighter than rectangle bags, we found the bag's vertical space still allowed for plenty of twisting and turning from even the most decorated gold-medal side sleepers.
This bag is a slice of heaven when it comes to its overall coziness. It's over-stuffed with Heatseeker Eco synthetic insulation and has an inviting amount of overall weightiness. For us, these two aspects give the bag its overall X-factor. Simply put, it covers you the way you want a sleeping bag to cover you.
The Homestead Bed uses a variety of different fabrics, which generally added to its high marks for comfort. The bag's bottom interior liner and foot box liner are composed of silky Ciré Polyester, allowing for easier movement. Additionally, the bag's hood and top quilt are lined with brushed polyester fleece, which feels like the perfect balance between cotton sheets and a microfiber towel. Specifically, we loved how the natural abrasiveness of the brushed fleece held our pillow in place. However, this same fabric on the interior of the top quilt did grab and bind a little during normal nighttime movement.
The features the manufacturer employed are spot on. The first thing users will notice is the bag's top-zip design. As previously mentioned, this design uses an over-sized top quilt that extends several inches beyond the zipper connection. This extra fabric hangs down around your body and serves as a massive, extended zipper baffle. Additionally, the top quilt can be easily unzipped and removed to be used as an effective campfire blanket. Two-fer.
Another nice feature is the bag's stuff sack. More specifically, we dig the micro-fleece interior. For campers who don't want the added hassle of bringing a pillow from home, the sack can be turned inside out, filled with extra clothing, and used as a stuff-sack pillow. Additionally, we also liked that the stuff sack is just about large enough to encase a regular-sized bed pillow, which allows sleepers the ability to bring a nicer pillow from home and keep it a little more protected and clean. When reversed, the stuff sack's interior fabric is the same as the hood's micro-fleece, which keeps it firmly in place and makes it comfortable to sleep on. Nice touch.
And, for those who prefer it (not all testers care to utilize them), there is a sleeping pad attachment on the bottom of the bag, which can help you from sliding off your pad..In all, this bag's most impressive feature is its quality and workmanship. It's well-made and backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
An over-stuffed, marshmallowy design doesn't translate into a dainty packed size. The Homestead Bed's packed size is as large or larger than the majority of the bags we've tested. Surprisingly, packed-size aside, this bag's use of performance fabrics results in it being quite lightweight and easy to carry from car to camp. It certainly is not a backcountry bag and would not fit well in or on a backpack.
In terms of its overall quality, The Northface Homestead Bed 20 is not cheap. It's crafted with the best materials and is thoughtfully designed. In terms of price, the same is true for the Homestead Bed — it's not cheap. That being said, we feel you will get what you pay for with this bag. It comes with a lifetime warranty. It's warm, comfortable, and impeccably designed, making it worth the dough for campers seeking performance-based products with more technical designs. It's an awesome bag, but we have to admit, you certainly can enjoy a night camping without spending this much.
It's not for everybody, especially the price-conscious. However, The North Face Homestead Bed is a top-quality bag with design features that make it superior to many of the car-camping bags we've studied; specifically, its narrow but deep design, its massive hood, and its comfort and warmth ratings. Without question, cheaper bags can get the job done — just like cheaper cars, cheaper food, and cheaper toilet paper. However, if you're not into traditional sleeping bags, and don't mind the price hike, it'shard to deny how cool (or, rather, warm) this bag is.
— Jason Wanlass
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