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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia 850 Down 30 Review
Cons: Mummy design isn’t super versatile, can’t open up like quilts
Bottom line: The highest overall rated mummy bag design is warm and comfortable but is on the heavier side.
The Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 is a first generation lightweight sleeping bag that incorporates great design features with warmth and high quality craftsmanship. As the third highest scoring product in our ultralight review, it deserves recognition as the best ultralight mummy bag we have used. As the first sleeping bag offered by Patagonia, it manages to take a refreshing perspective on staying light while not skimping on necessary functionality. While purists may be willing to suffer in the name of shaving ounces, there is a large population of outdoor enthusiasts who love the idea of traveling ultralight, but still want the complete protection from the cold and elements that only comes with a mummy bag. This is our recommendation for them.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 was the third highest rated bag in our ultralight review, but was the highest rated fully hooded mummy bag, which is why we awarded it our Best Ultralight Mummy Bag award. It is markedly warmer than other fully hooded mummies like the Western Mountaineering HighLite or the ridiculously light Sea to Summit Spark I. We also thought it fit very nicely, and wasn't as short or narrow as The North Face Superlight 15. With the exception of the Best Overall winner Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL, no bag we tested had as refined and highly thought-out feature set as this one, so we give a tip of the hat to Patagonia for getting it right the first time. Of course, this bag was quite heavy compared to most of the competition, and also suffered from an inherent lack of versatility in its design.
Since the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 so effortlessly crosses the line between traditional backpacking mummy bag but weighs as much as an ultralight bag, we have reviewed it twice. If you would like to read what was written about it in our Best Men's Sleeping Bags of 2017, click through to read the individual review.
Check out how the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 compared to the competition in the overall ratings chart below:
This bag is rated to 30F by Patagonia, but curiously does not have an EN standard rating even though it has the requisite hood. Regardless, we felt that the rating was quite accurate, and this bag will keep you reasonably warm down to that low temperature, and potentially quite hot at temperatures above 40F. It uses 850 fill power traceable down contained in skinny, vertically oriented sewn-through baffles in the torso and legs, and horizontally sewn-through baffles in the foot box. Sewn-through design means that the exterior fabric is literally sewn through to the interior fabric, creating a thin point where there is neither space nor insulation to trap heat. Typically this method of sewing down insulation is not as warm as box baffles, like those found on the Zpacks 20 Degree, but we found that the narrow, seemingly overstuffed baffle tubes still manage to trap lots of heat.
This bag used a number of other design elements that help keep one warm, such as a fat draft tube along the half zipper, a deep and spacious hood that easily covers the top of the head and forehead, and a cinch system that closes off the gap around the face nicely. These features help it to feel far warmer than similarly rated quilts, such as the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30. Only The North Face Superlight 15 consistently felt warmer to us when sleeping outside, although at times we still opted to wear an extra layer or two while inside this bag.
Our Regular sized bag weighed in at 26.2 ounces (1 lb. 8.2 oz), making it the third heaviest bag in this ultralight review. For comparison, it was the second lightest sleeping bag in our traditional men's sleeping bag review, so it is still plenty light. The included stuff sack, which features two separate draw cords at the top for helping it pack down super small, weighs an additional 0.8 ounces.
Besides using less insulation, the only obvious design choices meant to help keep the weight down is a half-length zipper and the lack of a draft collar. There is no doubt that this bag is a bit material heavy, as the Zpacks 20 Degree managed to be roughly the same warmth using box baffle construction, and weighed in about six ounces lighter. On the other hand, The North Face Superlight 15, the bag which was most similar to this one, was four ounces heavier.
This was one of the most comfortable bags that we tested, and without doubt the most comfortable of the mummy bags we tested. The size Regular was plenty big enough for a person 6'0" tall, with some room to spare, something that certainly could not be said about its closest competition — The North Face Superlight 15. We really loved the cut of the foot box, which was roomier than the width of the legs, acknowledging that feet are indeed different shaped and bigger than calves and lower legs. While all mummy bags have a tendency to feel a bit restricting once you are all zipped up tight inside, this one had enough space to move the arms around, alleviating midnight fits of claustrophobia.
If we had one complaint when it came to comfort, it would be that using the Houdini shell fabric for the inside lining of the bag was a wrong choice. While it isn't specifically uncomfortable, it certainly doesn't feel as nice against the skin as the slippery nylon on the inside of the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 or the Western Mountaineering HighLite. That said, we have to give props for the hood draw cords that live on the outside of the bag, meaning when tightened there are no dangling cord ends hitting you in the face or wrapping around your neck.
The hooded mummy design does not naturally lend itself to versatility. In fact, that is probably why so many other lightweight options, such as quilts, came about in the first place. With only a half-length zipper in the front, it is impossible to open this bag up to fully ventilate on a warm night. With the short zipper, there is not even the option of unzipping it all the way and pulling out the feet if they get too hot. For that reason, it scored a paltry 5 out of 10 points when it came to versatility.
In comparison to the Editor's Choice award winning Flicker 40 UL, or any of the other quilts we tested for that matter, there really is no comparison. This bag must be used in temperature conditions within roughly 20 degrees of its minimum rating or it will be too hot.
We must point out, however, that this bag does have one feature that adds to its versatility ¬– the two-way zipper. This allows one to have an open gap in the zipper, even when it is drawn all the way up to the neck. Besides allowing the hands out to perform whatever tasks may need to be done without fully unzipping, this feature is especially useful while big wall or alpine climbing, as it allows the most convenient way to remain tied in overnight, and alleviates the need to have the rope running down to the harness through the neck opening. Interestingly, the Feathered Friends Vireo UL, a bag designed with alpine climbing in mind, does not even have this ability.
Besides the two-way zipper that we just mentioned above, this bag has some great features, enough to make it the second highest rated bag for this metric.
We loved the use of recessed cord lock buckles that live on the inside of the neck fabric, much like the design sometimes seen on puffy jackets. This means no buckle for the face to rub against, and the design also keeps the ends of the neck draw cords on the outside of the bag, rather than dangling around inside as most bags do. We found the hood on this bag to be deeper than those found on the Sea to Summit Spark I or the Western Mountaineering HighLite, making the additional weight seem worthwhile. We also liked how it has a zipper draft tube on the inside, but noticed that the zipper itself seems to often get caught on the fabric of this extra baffle.
Coming from longtime alpine climbing clothing company Patagonia, and featuring a two-way front zipper, this bag seems to be designed with a nod toward alpine climbing, mountaineering, and big wall climbing. We think it will work best for these purposes, although only in relatively mellow venues like the high Sierra or Yosemite Valley, as a 30F bag is not sufficient for more serious ranges around the world. We also think it is ideal as a three season bag for those who sleep cold, or as a spring and fall season bag for those who don't.
This bag retails for $399 in size Regular. This ties it for the third most expensive sleeping bag in this ultralight review. Since we think that this bag is top quality, it is rated as one of the best in our overall review, and it is backed by the legendary Patagonia guarantee, it presents a good value, and is very unlikely to be money wasted.
The Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 is the best fully hooded mummy bag we have tested for this review. Although it is among the heavier bags included as ultralight, it is particularly warm and has a great set of features that are both useful and function exactly as they are designed. While it will make a good three-season bag for just about anyone, it will particularly shine for summertime alpine and big wall climbing.
— Andy Wellman
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