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REI Co-op Joule 21 Review

A great lightweight and quality choice for any backpacking adventure
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Price:  $319 List | $169.49 at REI
Pros:  Warm, comfortable, good price
Cons:  Lower quality down fill, doesn't come with compression sack
Manufacturer:   REI
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 16
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Features - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The REI Co-op Joule 21 is a great all-around women's down bag. It is at the top of the pack of our middle of the road priced sleeping bags because it is relatively light, comfortable, and decently priced. It has all the things you'll need to stay comfortable on extended backpacking trips in spring through fall. We think it's 700 fill power helps tip the scales over other products at this price point as it makes it slightly lighter and more compressible.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Joule is a good all-around bag for a decent price. We love how comfy, warm and simple it is.

Performance Comparison


Comfortable and cozy for any outdoor camping trip.
Comfortable and cozy for any outdoor camping trip.

Warmth


We've spent many chilly nights in the alpine in the REI Joule and felt warm and cozy. Its 700 down fill seems lofty and when let out of its stuff sack the Joule puffs up to a cozy cocoon. The fit of this bag is on the roomier side for a mummy bag, which may let more cold air circulate that your body will have to warm up. The Joule has a funny draft collar flap that's not really attached to anything. We don't think it is very effective to keep drafts out, since if you move around the collar will not stay put, requiring constant attention. The Joule is not the warmest product in this review but we'd trust it to nights dipping below freezing when paired with a good sleeping pad.

The REI Joule's EN Temperature rating.
The REI Joule's EN Temperature rating.

Weight


We were pleasantly surprised with the Joule's 2.3-pound weight. For a moderately priced product, it is on the lighter side. Again, it's not the lightest, but it's within 0.6 pounds of the lightest products we tested, and nowhere near the heaviest.

Great dimensions and a midweight design.
Great dimensions and a midweight design.

Comfort


This bag is on the roomier side of the mummy spectrum, and so folks who still want the warmth and weight savings of a mummy-shaped bag, but are a bit claustrophobic might like the shape of the Joule. We like the soft interior lining materials and generally the loftiness of the bag. The neck baffle is kind of silly and just floats around in there, not especially comfortable.

Packed Size


The Joule packs down pretty small in the included stuff sack. However, we think it could be compressed even smaller if a smaller compression-sack was included. You can always purchase a smaller one separately to make the Joule an even smaller package in your pack.

The Joule comes with an included stuff sack  but not a compression sack.
The Joule comes with an included stuff sack, but not a compression sack.

Features


The Joule's down is coated with a water repellent coating, and REI added panels with water-resistant coating along the sides and feet of the bag, where it might come into contact with a wet tent. These features add a little bit more comfort when you're under a tarp and rain wants to come in sideways, or if you're in a condensation-filled tent. We also like the Joule's huge anti-snag zipper pull. Otherwise, the Joule is a pretty simple product with streamlined features, which we like because it keeps the weight down.

We like the Joule's anti snag zipper pull.
We like the Joule's anti snag zipper pull.

Value


For what it is, we think the Joule is a good value at its price, especially if you can find it on sale which it often appears to be. Although not a top-of-the-line product, the Joule is a good quality one that will keep you warm and comfortable out there on the trail, and won't put too much of a burden on your back.

The REI Joule is a comfy bag for a decent price.
The REI Joule is a comfy bag for a decent price.

Conclusion


We think the REI Co-op Joule 21 is a good choice for someone looking for a sleeping bag for multi-day backpacking trips. It may not be the best choice for someone looking to go ultralight, but it's a good all-around choice. It is relatively light, relatively warm, and very comfortable.

The Joule has handy drawstrings for getting the hood and neck baffle just right.
The Joule has handy drawstrings for getting the hood and neck baffle just right.

Jessica Haist