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Marmot Col -20 Review

This bag is an excellent choice for expeditions or long trips.
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Price:  $699 List | $698.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very warm, most weather resistant in its category
Cons:  Heavy, zipper snags
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 13, 2017
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 14
  • Warmth - 20% 10
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Packed Size - 15% 6
  • Features - 10% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 10

Our Verdict

The Marmot Col is a hulking yellow behemoth of loft and warmth. Possibly the warmest bag in this category, the Col boasts a tough weatherproof shell, vertical baffles to keep the down over your core, and loads of features that make it an excellent choice for expeditions and long trips where you could be hunkered down in foul weather for extended periods. If you're looking to go lighter, but still want to stay warm in sub-zero temps, check out the equally warm The North Face Inferno -20 which has a better warmth to weight ratio while remaining highly weather resistant.


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This Product
Marmot Col -20
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
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$619.00 at Feathered Friends$374.96 at Backcountry
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Pros Very warm, most weather resistant in its categoryWarm, awesome comfort, great warmth to weight ratioWarm, highly weather resistantComfortable, spacious, lightweightLightest bag in its class, super lofty, awesome zipper
Cons Heavy, zipper snagsExpensiveSmall hood, tight cutNot as warm as similarly rated bags, zipper snags on draft tubesShallow hood, not as warm as the heavier contenders
Bottom Line This bag is an excellent choice for expeditions or long trips.For temps down to zero degrees, you can't beat the Kodiak.We love this bag for any time we need protection against wet snow or snowmelt.This bag has a wide, comfy cut and vents for temperature control. Perfect for finicky sleepers.A solid choice for those looking to go fast and light.
Rating Categories Marmot Col -20 Kodiak MF Feathered Friends Snowbunting NEMO Sonic 0 Versalite 10
Warmth (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
6
Weight (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
Comfort (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
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7
Packed Size (15%)
10
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6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
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9
10
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10
Features (10%)
10
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9
10
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7
10
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6
10
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8
10
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6
Weather Resistance (15%)
10
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8
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7
Specs Marmot Col -20 Kodiak MF Feathered Friends... NEMO Sonic 0 Versalite 10
Measured Weight (lbs) 4.08 lb 2.85lb 2.85 lb 2.63 lb 2.06 lb
Fill Weight (oz) 44oz 30oz 25.3oz 23.6oz 20oz
Material Weight (excludes down, oz) 21.3oz 15.65oz 20.3oz 18.6oz 13.7oz
Fill Power 800 850 900 850 850
Temperature Rating -20° F 0°F 0°F 0°F 10°F
Pocket Yes No No Yes No
Shoulder Girth (inches) 64" 66" 60" 61" 62"
Hip Girth (inches) 61" 57" 56" 58" 53"
Foot Girth (inches) 47" 41" 38" 53" 39"
Shell Material Pertex Microlite 30 Denier MicroLite XP Pertex Shield EX 20 Denier Nylon Ripstop DWR 12 Denier Extremelite
Continuous Baffle Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

This big burly bag is the most weather resistant bag in its class. It is also super spacious and warm, making ideal for hanging out in base camp while the weather is foul. All that space and durability comes at a cost, and the Col is one of the heavier bags in our review.

Performance Comparison


High loft for the high mountains
High loft for the high mountains

Warmth


The Col is packed with 44oz (!) of 800 fill down, giving it incredible loft and insulative powers, and an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. The cut of this bag is wide to accommodate movement and layers, and in the case of this bag, our testers felt that the extra space did not affect the warmth factor considering that there is so much down between them and the elements. The extra space accommodates more layers, and a whole bunch of other stuff you might want to keep from freezing solid like water, and your boots.

The appropriately named The North Face Inferno -20 is just as warm as the Marmot Col but has a tighter fit. This makes the Inferno more thermally efficient and lighter than the Col. We feel that in the prolonged cold temperatures that these bags are designed for, room for boots and water bottles is an essential feature. When sleeping on your back with the hood completely cinched tight, the air hole is suspended several inches above your face, so you can still breathe without your nose freezing off. A thick draft collar with a dedicated cinch cord keeps out any drafts that make it past the hood.

Warm and inviting  we loved the extra room in this bag. We'd like a thicker  loftier draft collar though.
Warm and inviting, we loved the extra room in this bag. We'd like a thicker, loftier draft collar though.

Weight


The robust shell fabric, wide cut, and amount of down make the Col the second heaviest bag in this review, only a smidge lighter than the Kelty Cosmic Down 0, 10oz heavier than The North Face Inferno -20. However, it's way warmer than the Cosmic Down, roomier than the Inferno, and more weather resistant than the Western Mountaineering Kodiak MF. In a backpack, 4 lbs 1.3 oz is a lot of sleeping bag to haul around, so the The North Face Inferno may be a better choice. If you're carrying this bag into the snowy wilds on a sled or snowmobile, the warmth, space, and features easily make up for the extra weight.

This bag employs vertical baffles at the shoulders and feet  and horizontal baffles in the middle. Our lead tester is in there somewhere.
This bag employs vertical baffles at the shoulders and feet, and horizontal baffles in the middle. Our lead tester is in there somewhere.

Comfort


The Col gets a solid score for comfort because there is so much room to move around, change clothes, and burrow down inside the bag. This is essential if you are going to be spending many hours inside this bag, waiting out bad weather. The extra space makes the Col more comfortable than The North Face Inferno, which has a tighter fit and a half zipper that doesn't allow for any venting at the feet. The Col loses a few comfort points because of the light-duty draft collar, and the thick material around the inside of the foot box that some testers didn't like against their feet. These problems are easily mitigated with a down jacket and a pair of socks. The Nemo Sonic 0 was the top scorer in this category with a super wide cut.

The Marmot Col stuffed in our compression sack. At first we weren't sure we'd even be able to fit it in there  but it fits and stuffs down to a back-packable size.
The Marmot Col stuffed in our compression sack. At first we weren't sure we'd even be able to fit it in there, but it fits and stuffs down to a back-packable size.

Packed Size


All that down and shell material make for a relatively large packed size when compared with the Western Mountaineering Antelope and the Feathered Friends Snowbunting. The Col still holds its own against similarly rated bags, stuffing down in our compression sack to the same size as The North Face Inferno, and bigger than the Big Agnes Crosho -20. Due to high-quality materials, the Col still manages to pack down small enough in a 60-liter pack to allow room for other winter gear.


Features


This contender is designed for extended winter trips. The features are right on with what our testers who've lived and worked in cold climates like to see. The inside of the foot box is reinforced with a thicker shell fabric to protect the bag from your boots. There is enough room in the footbox to sleep with your boots on or leave them down in the bottom of the bag, so you don't have to thaw your boots out, making it way easier to get up in the morning. Two thick, full-length draft tubes prevent cold air from entering through the zipper, though they tend to snag when opening or closing the bag. The full-length, two-way zipper is useful for venting if you get too hot in this bag (we sure did).

Our testers were constantly getting the draft tubes stuck in the zipper.
Our testers were constantly getting the draft tubes stuck in the zipper.

The zipper pull is glow-in-dark, so you can see where it got snagged. We felt the draft collar was a bit lacking. It's thin compared to the collars on much lighter bags like the Western Mountaineering Antelope, and it connects with one small snap that is hard to find at night. Inside the draft collar, you'll find a small stash pocket, hidden away until you pull a tiny cord. Our testers generally find stash pockets useful for batteries and headlamps, and a few of them think the pocket on the Col think hidden too well, and difficult to find in the dark.

Water beads up and easily sheds from the Pertex shell fabric.
Water beads up and easily sheds from the Pertex shell fabric.

Weather Resistance


The 30 denier Pertex Microlite shell is truly waterproof and breathable. In our submersion test, we fully dunked parts of the bag underwater and tried our best to squeeze out all the air so that the bag could absorb as much water as possible. The Col didn't absorb any water; it remained airless and compressed, and no water was allowed in through the shell or the stitching for the baffles. It doesn't have a hydrophobic down treatment, and who cares?

Air goes out but no water gets in! Try as we might  we couldn't get the down to absorb any water. Snowmelt and condensation are no match for this bag.
Air goes out but no water gets in! Try as we might, we couldn't get the down to absorb any water. Snowmelt and condensation are no match for this bag.

Unless you're going swimming in it, that down isn't going to get wet. Since all the water remains on the shell of the bag and none is absorbed, the Col had the fastest drying time of all the bags in its class. Though heavy, you aren't likely to need to carry a bivy sack or an over bag when sleeping out in this bag. A simple lean-to, lightweight tent, or snow cave will block the high winds, and the Col will take care of the rest.

Best Application


This top scorer is an excellent bag for those who are spending multiple weeks at a time living outside in cold environments. It is large and roomy enough to change clothes inside, or even burrow down and read a book while remaining enclosed and protected from the elements. Our lead tester constantly remarked much how he would have loved to have this bag during the winters he worked for wilderness therapy when temps would barely reach the single digits for weeks, and sometimes he would spend 12 hours straight in his sleeping bag. Though heavy for fast and light alpine missions, it makes for a big yellow beacon of warmth to return to at base camp.

Value


$699 is a big chunk of change but worth it if you're going to be spending serious amounts of time living, working, and adventuring out in the cold. Three months equals about 90 nights in the bag. That comes out to $7.76 a night for warmth, comfort, and respite after bitter cold days.

Hopefully  most people will never be using this bag in a miserable 35 degree rain storm like our tester here. He remained warm and dry  except for his face.
Hopefully, most people will never be using this bag in a miserable 35 degree rain storm like our tester here. He remained warm and dry, except for his face.

Conclusion


The Col is the bag you want when warmth, comfort, and weather resistance are your top priorities. We feel it's the best bag in the review for long expeditions where you will be spending a lot of time in your sleeping bag, and need lots of space to protect yourself and critical gear from the cold.


Matt Bento