Hands-on Gear Review

Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20 Review

Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20
By: Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Nov 5, 2012
Price:  $80 List
Pros:  Lightweight, inexpensive, anti-snag zipper.
Cons:  Budget rectangular bags offer better value.
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
  • Warmth - 35% 7
  • Comfort - 35% 5
  • Packed Size - 10% 6
  • Features - 20% 7
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Our Verdict

The Pinole 20 is No Longer Available as of May, 2015
The Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20 offers the best value of all synthetic mummy sleeping bags we've tested. The bag is comfortable, simple, reasonably lightweight and can be found for around $80. The Pinole straddles our three pound cutoff that divides general purpose and backpacking sleeping bags; it can be used for shorter summer backpacking trips if you don't mind carrying the extra weight. But other bags offer less weight, pack smaller, and cost only slight more. The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is our top choice for budget backpacking and general use.

The most luxurious general purpose sleeping bag we've tested is the Slumberjack Country Squire, a gigantic rectangular bag that doubles as a queen sized blanket. The Wenzel Grande offers the most warmth for the dollar and the Wenzel Conquest, the best value for summer camping and warmer weather applications.

Our Analysis and Test Results



The Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20 is the best value three-season synthetic mummy sleeping bag we've reviewed. The bag's construction and materials are simple and of reasonable quality. It has differentiated pull cords (one round, one flat), which allow you to distinguish the cords by feel in the middle or the night. The Pinole also has the same anti-snag zipper found on Mountain Hardwear's higher quality sleeping bags like the Phantom and Ultralamina.

The best part about the Pinole might not be the bag itself but its fleece lined stuff sack that doubles as a soft pillow. Simply flip the stuff sack inside-out, fill it with a layer of your choice, and you have a warm and comfortable pillow.


While the Pinole employs offset quilt construction (to avoid sewn-through seams and cold spots), we found its temperature rating to be rather optimistic. Our testers agree that a rating closer to 30 degrees is more accurate. This doesn't necessarily detract from the bag- it's made for summer use- but we do recommend layering up when sleeping in near freezing temps.


Rectangular sleeping bags offer nearly the same warmth and cost as little as half as much as the Pinole.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: August 14, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 50%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Aug 14, 2014 - 05:30pm
dubyam · Hunter · Tennessee Valley

I'll have to respectfully disagree with the review of this bag. I think it's been miscategorized as it's primarily geared to the budget backpacking crowd, not front-country campers, where the rectangle bags are focused. Certainly it's not a lightweight bag, but for a 20deg bag, it's not a heavyweight, either. I'm not an ultralight hiker, so perhaps it's my frame of reference.

My son and I needed two colder weather sleeping bags to backpack with his Scout Troop, and our budget would not allow for more expensive bags. We live and camp in the southeastern US, so humidity and rain are part of the equation. So, considering budget and use, synthetic insulation was the logical choice. Once I started narrowing down the options, the Pinhole 20 stood out as one of the lightest choices available in a 20-30deg synthetic bag. Finding them on sale sealed the deal and allowed me to get the lower temp rating versus some other bags in the same weight class.

We've packed these bags on both front-country and back-country trips, in low temps ranging from mid-40s down to just below the 20deg rating of this bag. We always use a sleeping pad with an R-value in the 3.5 range, and when it's cold, sleep in a base layer, wool socks, and a fleece skull cap. Using that setup, we've been warm and toasty in these bags down to as low as 18deg with no wind, and on nights at 24deg with 10-15mph wind and gusts to 30mph, inside a mesh-walled backpack tent with full rainfly. I'd have to say we're more than pleased with our Pinhole 20s.

I'd highly recommend them to anyone who's looking for a budget friendly bag, and is willing to carry the extra pound of weight versus a high end synthetic - which will cost double to triple what the Pinhole does. If you live and camp in dry climates, a down bag might be lighter, but to get there, plan again to spend double to triple what you would on the Pinhole.

Sure, there are lighter bags out there, but my 12yr old Scout was able to assemble a pack for a three day trek in cold temps with this bag, a sleeping pad, stove, mess kit, food, water, extra clothes, miscellaneous gear, and his half of a tent, and stay under 30lbs, keeping his pack weight about 25% of his 115lb body weight. I can't really ask for much more than that from a budget bag. We've been using them once a month, rain or shine, for two years and they look brand new, so I know they're durable.

If you're a humid area recreational backpacker on a budget, you'll be hard pressed to get as much bang for the buck as the Pinhole 20.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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