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Marmot Col -20 Review

This bag is an excellent choice for expeditions or long trips
Marmot Col MemBrain 0
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $699 List | $717.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 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 15
  • 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.

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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 it 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.

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. In a backpack, 4 lbs 1.3 oz is a lot of sleeping bag to haul around, 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. 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 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. The Col still holds its own against similarly rated bags. 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 a few lighter bags, 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.

Value


This bag will set you back a big chunk of change, but it may be 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