As versatile as your favorite, highly skilled, handyman, the Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1 can do just about everything when it comes to sleeping systems — and do it very well. This bag boasts a bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work kind of exterior combined nicely with a soft, swaddling, interior lining. A dynamic duo of layers that together can easily guard you against chilly mountain air. The bag is also versatile enough to adjust to several different temperatures — in just a few zips — which allows the user to have access to everything from a sturdy 0-degree bag to a soft, thin, polar fleece blanket. Our Top Pick for Overall Versatility and Features, the Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1, has the tools needed for a camper's every sleeping situation.
TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1 Review
Cons: Grabby liner, confining to larger body types
Manufacturer: TETON Sports
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Even the most casual observer can see the thoughtful care and effort that went into designing and constructing the Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1. First of all, it's large and roomy. Secondly, it's well-crafted, with a design that we feel will stand up to years of use. And finally, it's warm and chocked full of features that allow campers to customize the bag to their personal sleeping preferences.
Boasting a layering system on par with your favorite ski jacket, warmth can be individualized with this bag. Its integrated design allows it to adapt to many types of users. If temps are warmer than expected, simply unzip and remove the toasty fleece liner and sleep in the just the main bag. Still too warm? Grab the removed liner and zip it together to create your own fleece bivy. (We then suggest sleeping on top of the main bag for added comfort and padding). You can even leave the fleece unzipped to be used more like a blanket. For colder mountain temps, zip the liner back in place, anchor it with the bag's interior Velcro tabs — and voila — you're ready for some of the coldest air Mother Nature can blow into your camp.
We tested this bag thoroughly and placed it squarely among the top three of the warmest bags we studied. It held its own in mountain temperatures near freezing with an interior temperature measurement of 83 degrees. (While spending the night in the bag, we took interior temperature readings with a laser thermometer to see how well it held in our body heat).
Stuffed to the hilt with SuperLoft Elite™ Hollow Fiber, we found the Polara 3-in-1 to be quite thick and cushy. It's tough taffeta exterior, thick insulation, and soft PolarLite™ Fleece liner create a sleep system that some campers may find comfortable enough to use without a sleeping pad or camper bed.
We flopped the bag down on a hard-packed, gravel, campground roads and climbed inside for 10 minutes to feel firsthand just how much natural padding the bag actually had. It goes without saying that we were quite impressed. The bag received one of our highest scores for its natural padding. We're still not exactly sure how our being impressed can go without saying, when in fact, we did say it. But you get it, right?
Speaking of comfort, our testing and overall use of the bag did discover one potentially negative aspect of the fleece liner: It tends to grab onto other fabrics like underwear, nightshirts, long-johns and socks. Although providing a very noticeable increase in warmth when attached as an added layer, the fleece liner is less accommodating to movement when compared to polyester, poly-cotton or flannel. Despite the fact that the Polara 3-in-1 is nearly the same size as our favorite bag, the Wenzel Grande — measuring in at one inch longer than the Wenzel and 2 inches shorter in the width than the Wenzel — the grabby nature of the Polara's fleece liner created a more constrictive space for our taller or larger-bodied testers. Some users felt overly cocooned or knotted by the fabric, even a little claustrophobic at times.
Based on our tests, this bag ranked higher in the features area than any bag we looked at, scoring very high in nearly all the areas we judged. Some of the features we like are the bag's limited lifetime warranty, zipper quality, Velcro zipper closure and water-resistant shell. The one area that received our lowest mark is the bag's ease of cleaning rating. Tags on the bag require the bag to be hand-washed and placed flat to air dry. The manufacturer specifically states that if the bag is washed any other way, the warranty will be voided. With any large sleeping bag, ease of cleaning is an important feature. We feel the bag's washing directions are a drawback.
Overall, we still feel a lot of extra time and thought went into the design of this bag. Our favorite feature is the bag's removable liner. The liner zips securely into the bag, but when removed, it can use the same zipper system to zip itself closed, forming a thin fleece bag nearly the same size as the main sleeping bag. This is an excellent feature that allows campers to sleep comfortably in warmer weather. The manufacturer does not specify any washing directions for the liner; however, we feel even washing the liner by hand still provides a quicker and more simple alternative for cleaning. Instead of washing and drying the entire bag, simply wash the liner separately for an easy way to freshen up the whole bag with very little effort.
The Polara has two storage pockets, one on the liner and one inside the main bag, so regardless the combination of the sleep system you choose, you will always have a place to store keys or a cell phone. It also has a thick adjustable shoulder baffle to more effectively trap heat inside the bag. And finally, the Polara 3-in-1 sports a very thick, full-length draft tube that runs the entirety of the bag's zipper, to help block chilly nighttime air from creeping in on your backside or pinky toes.
While not the smallest packed size on the market, it's also not the largest. For the quality, warmth, comfort, and features this bag provides, we feel it packs up relatively well, all with a stuff sack that has compression straps to condense the packed size a little more. Overall, we don't feel the compression straps are necessary, and although a nice feature, they really don't reduce the size all that much. Additionally, we feel a little more than average effort is required to stuff the bag into its storage bag. If we had our way, we would have the manufacturer make the stuff sack just a little bit larger.
We didn't really want to be pinned down on this one. In theory, the Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1 has the adaptability to provide a quality sleeping system in just about any temperature. The variable design allows users to mix and match the bag into several configurations to provide them the comfort and warmth they desire. However, we feel the bag shines in cooler Spring and Fall camping or higher, alpine camping (above 8,000 feet) where temps stay low at night even in the summertime.
This bag is excellent for a wide variety of users, from young children to teens, young adults and adults. The only area of limited use would be for campers who are tall or larger-bodied. This bag could seem too narrow or confining due to the nature of the fleece liner.
Additionally, this bag would be excellent for cold weather, late Fall or early Winter camping above 0-degrees. It would be ideal for hunters who are headed out for a long week in the cooler Fall temperatures.
Based on our testing and overall use of this bag, we feel its price tag is about right on the mark. Its overall quality and design demand a more than an average price. When it really comes down to it, it's up to you as to whether you desire the extra bells and whistles that this bag offers. After using the bag for more than a month, we feel you will get what you pay for and maybe even a little more.
Although we are incredibly impressed with the thoughtfulness of the bag's design and features, we questioned, at times, how necessary all of the features were to the overall function of the bag. As appealing as the features are — the removable liner, for example — we questioned how frequently the features would actually be needed by the end user. This in no way impacts the impression the bag made on us with regards to its overall quality and appealing design. We just couldn't decide if the bag is simply over-designed or if we are just simply over-thinking our review of it. Either way, it's still a quality, feature-full, versatile bag. Hence our award for Top Pick for Overall Versatility and Features.
Other Versions and Accessories
Two Polara 3-in-1s can be zipped together to form a large double bag. Each user has the option of leaving in the fleece liner or removing it, which allows for a wider variety of warmth configurations than many traditional double bags.
— Jason Wanlass