A high-quality bag that's warm and relatively light, the Joule is a pleasant surprise to our testers.
The Joule provides an excellent balance of all the metrics at a reasonable price, making it a great all-around for backpacking or car camping.
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.
This bag is super warm keeping us cozy in freezing temperatures.
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.
Comfortable and cozy for any outdoor camping trip.
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 roomy and comfortable, and the dimensions are much more conducive for sleep.
Great dimensions and a midweight design.
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.
A look at its burly zipper.
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.
A look at the collar that adds a little extra warmth and features.
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. There are many similarly priced models in this review and we would consider choosing one that is lighter but possibly not as warm.
Balancing all elements of what makes a great backpacking bag, the Joule provides great overall performance.
The REI Co-op Joule 21 is warm and relatively lightweight. It is a great choice for your backpacking adventures.