REI Co-op Down Time 0 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Down Time 0 ups the ante among the lower-priced down sleeping bags. While the competition employs heavier materials, the Down Time uses lighter weight shell fabric to keep the bag lighter while including more down. Our testers appreciated this when lugging this bag into the backcountry to their favorite spots to sleep under the stars.
The Down Time arrived in the hands of our testers packed loosely in its storage sack, a positive sign, indicating thoughtfulness and quality. Down slowly loses its loft over time, and we've cringed when expensive down bags are stored and shipped crammed in their stuff sacks for who knows how long. Thanks to a smart packing strategy, the Down Time is ready to go, lofting to six inches straight away.
An EN rating on the inside of the bag indicates 12° F as the limit of the bag's comfort zone and -2°F as the "lower limit." This suggests that "cold" sleepers will be comfortable down to 12°, while "warm" sleepers can take it further. And if it's -2°F out, everyone will wish they stayed home. Our testers currently operate out of the Eastern Sierra, where the winter temps often hover in the teens. Wearing long underwear and a hat while sleeping on an insulated sleeping pad, our testers were comfortably warm on a 16° night.
There's no getting around the fact that this model is in the heavyweight class for a down bag. Long-distance backpackers and fast n' light alpinists will steer clear of this bag, opting for something in the sub three-pound (and $600 plus) range. The Down Time offers an affordable compromise between cost and weight that is still better than most synthetic sleeping bags for casual winter campers. 3.87 lbs aren't too much to lug a few miles into the backcountry, and isn't even a consideration for car camping or in the back of a truck.
As we mentioned, The Down Time uses lighter shell fabrics than other models at this price point, so more of the bag's weight is composed of the down insulation—the stuff that actually keeps you warm.
For the working stiffs spending day after day out in the cold world (guides), the Down Time will feel a bit cramped. Often, when it's below freezing, we like to keep our clothes, batteries, phones, and a water bottle in the bag with us. This bag has 62" inches of girth in the shoulders, offering little extra space in the shoulders for the average male, while smaller folks may find this bag sufficiently roomy. Keep in mind that there is an advantage to a tighter bag—less uninsulated dead space that you have to warm up with your body heat.
The hood on this bag has ample room to stuff in a mini pillow, while a draft collar hangs comfortably across your neck, secured in place by two velcro tabs.
Like weight, packed size isn't one of the Down Time's strong points, but it does pack down much smaller than synthetic bags of a similar price and temperature rating. Its included stuff sack measures 9 x 14", and it can compress a few inches smaller into an aftermarket compression sack with some effort.
Our testers prefer to shove their sleeping bags into the bottom of their packs and carry one without wasting time with stuffing shenanigans, but the larger size is something to consider when choosing a bag for mountaineering, backpacking, or international travel.
The Down Time isn't jam-packed with bells and whistles, but its features are quality and functional. The zipper is lined with a stiffer material than the rest of the shell fabric to discourage snagging. While it's not snag-free like a Western Mountaineering bag, it snags less than other models at the same price point. There is also a nice draft tube lining the zipper to keep the cold at bay. The draft collar is comfy, but it could be stuffed a little more, and it doesn't have its own drawstring.
Speaking of drawstrings, our testers were less than enthusiastic about the hood's drawstring. It differentiates the top of the hood and the bottom by using a cord and a ribbon, which is cool. What's not cool is that it's located on the outside of the bag so that you have to contort your arm to reach it, and it takes some searching to find it in the dark. We'd much prefer it to be on the inside of the bag so that we could tighten it down without sticking an arm out into the cold.
This bag also includes a few tie loops along the side to secure some cord or webbing. This comes in handy if you often find yourself rolling off your sleeping pad, as you can essentially attach your bag to your sleeping pad. Not everyone will utilize this feature.
Compared to a down bag of any pricepoint, the Down Time offers great protection against the elements. In our light rain simulation tests, water beaded up and ran off the shell fabric thanks to its DWR treatment. While we never suggest sleeping out in the rain, the DWR treatment is great for protecting against condensation that accumulates in a tent, causing droplets to shake off easily in the morning.
This bag also did well in our submersion test, absorbing very little water and drying out after a half-hour in full sun. This bag has a hydrophobically treated down, and while we didn't rip open the bag to get our eyes on it while it dried, it likely accelerates drying times. These are all features that are normally found on bags that are much more expensive.
The Down Time easily earns its place as our recommendation for friends and outdoor enthusiasts looking for a warm winter bag without dumping too much money on it. We believe that if you are a casual car camper or love to go on short overnight trips with family and friends in all seasons, this could be the only sleeping bag you need. It's warm enough for year-round use, and if you don't mind carrying this much weight in the winter, it won't bother you in the warmer months either. We're quite impressed with its weather resistance features that really boost this bag to the top of the pile when it comes to affordable cold weather down sleeping bags.
The REI Co-op Down Time 0 is an excuse-killer thanks to its functional features, warmth, and excellent value. This affordable bag makes the outdoors much more accessible for the budget-conscious camper and could be a great way to share the wintery natural world with someone important.
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