The REI Co-op Joule 21 is a high scorer, providing ample warmth wrapped in a lightweight design. It is heavier than the Neutrino but also warmer and much less expensive. It kept us warm and cozy on cold, wet, and windy nights in the High Sierra, and its 700 fill-power down insulation provides a good night's sleep in the backcountry. We also appreciated its low weight-to-warmth ratio, and think the Joule is an excellent choice for any backpacking need at a great price.
REI Co-op Joule 21 Review
Cons: Uncomfortable fit, zipper fabric bulky and uncomfortable
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REI Co-op Joule 21
|Price||$299.00 at REI||$414.00 at Feathered Friends||$529.00 at REI|
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|$247.46 at Amazon||$299.96 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Warm, high-quality materials, good price||High-quality down, warm, lightweight||High-quality down, warm and lofty, light, a top tier product||Comfortable, lightweight, excellent materials, not constricting||Lightweight, compressible, comfortable|
|Cons||Uncomfortable fit, zipper fabric bulky and uncomfortable||Sizing not for everyone, fabric is a bit noisy||Very expensive||Comforter sometimes does not stay tucked in||Expensive, not particularly warm|
|Bottom Line||The Joule is a great lightweight and quality choice for any backpacking adventures.||This high-end bag will keep you warm and comfortable from Spring to Fall in all conditions.||The Flame is a new, high-quality backpacking sleeping bag at a high price.||A great, high-quality choice at a relatively low price for those looking for a lightweight bag that doesn't sacrifice comfort.||This lightweight sleeping bag is a great choice for alpine climbing or fast and light adventures.|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Joule 21||Egret UL 20||Sea to Summit Flame 15||Cloud 800||Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Joule 21||Egret UL 20||Sea to Summit...||Cloud 800||Rab Neutrino 400 -...|
|EN Comfort Rating (F)||21||20 (not EN rated)||15||26||21|
|Fill Type||Water Repellent Duck Down||Goose down||Duck Down||PFC-Free DriDown||Ethically sourced European Goose down|
|Total Weight (lb.)||2.19 lb||1.72 lb||1.95 lb||1.7 lb||1.7 lb|
|Total Weight (oz)||35 oz||27.5 oz||31.2 oz||27.4 oz||27.2 oz|
|Women specific features||Increased room at hips, decreased room at shoulders, extra insulation in heat loss areas||Extra fill in footbox and chest||Women's specific fit - more insulation in key areas||More insulation per square inch than men's version||Women's specific fit|
|Fill Weight (oz)||18 oz||17.3 oz (medium)||22.9 oz||14.8 oz||14.1oz|
|Material||Ripstop Nylon (20D)||Pertex Endurance UL||Ultralight 10D Nylon Shell||15d nylon risptop||Pertex Quantum|
|Sleeping Pad Sleeve||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Shoulder Girth||58 in||54 in||60 in||59 in||60 in|
|Hip Girth||58 in||56 in||58 in||58 in||56 in|
|Foot Girth||38 in||38 in||40 in||39 in||38 in|
|Stuff Sack included?||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included|
Our Analysis and Test Results
A high-quality bag that's warm and relatively light, the Joule is a pleasant surprise to our testers.
The Joule is one of the warmest sleeping bags, beating out competitors rated at 15 degrees. We feel that its EN rating of 21°F is dead on, and indeed, it kept us warm down to that temperature. The bag feels cozy, and the 700 fill down is very lofty. The Joule's shell material protected our testers from the wind when they slept out under the stars on windy nights.
The bag's shell material has a waterproof coating. This detail was added peace of mind when we were in a torrential downpour in a floorless shelter. It kept us dry throughout the night despite a constant misting from water bouncing off of the ground and tarp. This bag could be a good option for someone who wants a down bag in a wet climate like the North Cascades.
The Joule 21 weighs in at 2.19 pounds, which is not super lightweight for a down sleeping bag but still suffices for any backpacking trip. As the years go by, more and more competitors are surpassing this product in this category, and it is easy to get a sub-two pound product for about the same price.
Thankfully, REI has abandoned the woman's hour-glass shape and made the leg area larger. This change is an upgrade. The proportions were previously about as exaggerated as Barbie's. Now the bag is much more comfortable, and the dimensions are much more comfortable for sleep.
The stuff sack included with the Joule is not a compression sack but is made from lightweight materials. When we took it out in the backcountry, we used one of our own compression sacks instead, and it packs down quite small. This arrangement makes it a great choice for backpacking.
REI has trimmed the fat in this department, and we are in favor of the work they have done. They have gotten rid of the stash pocket entirely and added a light colored liner fabric so you can find your missing sock without difficulty. The color hides dirt. The zipper works well, contrary to reports we read about this bag and so we are wondering what's with the super burly zipper lining fabric? We think it may be a reaction to complaints of zippers catching on this bag, but unfortunately, it adds weight and bulk, and our testers can feel it when they're sleeping; it bunches and creates a hard, uncomfortable lump.
Although the waterproof coating on this bag works well, it also adds extra weight. We appreciate the degree of mental comfort it gave us when using it in an exceptionally wet summer season in the Sierra. We watched water bead off the coating with relief more than once in our floorless shelter, but we wonder how long this coating will last without being re-treated.
Overnight to week-long backpacking trips are what this bag does best. For truly long-distance thru-hiking, we would opt for an even more lightweight model. But for the majority of folks heading on backpacking trips, the Joule 21 is ideal.
The Joule is a decent value for your money and we agree that it is worth it to invest in a quality down bag like this model. It retails at just around $300. If you're looking for something that is not quite as warm, but will save a pound of weighing we'd recommend spending an extra $30 and picking up the Sierra Designs Women's Cloud 800
The REI Co-op Joule 21 is warm and relatively lightweight. It is a great choice for your backpacking adventures.
— Jessica Haist