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Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 Review

Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15
Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15
Credit: Max Neale
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Price:  $465 List
Pros:  Very warm for its weight, highly versatile, best available down, top quality shell material, overstuffed neck baffle is comfortable, five different cuts, large organic cotton storage sack.
Cons:  Best with optional down hood (~$65), ZPacks bags are warmer for their weight (but less versatile).
Manufacturer:   Katabatic Gear
By Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Apr 1, 2013
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  • Warmth - 20% 7.0
  • Weight - 40% 5.0
  • Comfort - 5% 9.0
  • Packed Size - 15% 9.0
  • Features - 5% 10.0
  • Versatility - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 is an ultralight, high-powered furnace of a sleeping bag. It's a warmer version of our highest rated backpacking bag, the Katabatic Gear Palisade. It does take a while to order and receive this from its small Colorado manufacturer. We find it to be well worth the wait.

If you would rather a bag which is widely available from major online retailers, we recommend the Nemo Siren.

We recommend the Sawatch to anyone that wants a substantially warmer bag for below freezing nights in the spring, fall, or if used with a down jacket.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 is one of the lightest 15 degree sleeping bag we've ever tested. It's very warm, very comfortable, and very light. This is a warmer version of Katabatic Gear's Palisade bag. We suggest reading that review for details on how and why the Katabatic quilt system is the best we've tested.

Choosing the right Katabatic quilt is challenging. Our testers reach for the Palisade on nearly every three-season trip and grab the Sawatch for trips with nights that will consistently be below freezing. The Alsek, which has a 22 degree rating, lies between these. The right bag will depend on how warm or cold you sleep and what clothing you bring. We've found that wearing a lightweight insulated jacket in the Palisade is plenty toasty. But the Sawatch is much warmer and only weighs a few ounces more.

The Sawatch is a better choice if you want one bag that can be pushed into winter conditions with a down jacket (if you do that we suggest getting a wider version unless you're really skinny- it's important to leave space for your down jacket to fully loft). This bag is ludicrously warm for its weight and amazingly versatile. See the specifications table above to compare its fill and material weight to the other bags tested.

Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 ultralight sleeping bag - katabatic gear quilts use the same general design but have different...
Katabatic Gear quilts use the same general design but have different amounts of down fill. From left to right: Chisos 40, Palisade 30, Alsek 22, Sawatch 15, Blackwelder 0.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 ultralight sleeping bag - although this pad is lightweight, it doesn't offer as many benefits...
Although this pad is lightweight, it doesn't offer as many benefits as our Top Pick for Lightweight, the NeoAir XLite.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab
Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 ultralight sleeping bag - katabatic gear sawatch, the palisade's warmer sibling, (upside...
Katabatic Gear Sawatch, the Palisade's warmer sibling, (upside down). No other quilt balances warmth, weight, and comfort as well as Katabatic Gear. Their unique pad attachement system makes all the difference.
Credit: Max Neale
Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 ultralight sleeping bag - katabatic gear sawatch sleeping bag with the katabatic bristlecone...
Katabatic Gear Sawatch sleeping bag with the Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy in the Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid tent. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider pack. Early season conditions in Glacier National Park.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab

Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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