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How We Tested Winter Sleeping Bags

By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Friday December 21, 2018

Our testers hail from Bishop, California, where the mighty Eastern Sierra offers backyard backcountry access and a vertical relief of over 9,000 feet from Main Street to the top of Mt. Tom. We are able to leave the relatively warm Owens Valley and be in the cold mountains above town a moment's notice, getting those perfect bone-chilling conditions we need for real-world testing. We spent countless chilly nights and bitter cold mornings burrowed in sleeping bags, rolling around searching for cold spots, tightening drawstrings, and snoozing hard.

These bags were tested by climbers, ski patrollers, serial road trippers, and dirtbags who have spent significant portions of their lives in sleeping bags in both professional and recreational settings. Guys and girls of different sizes spent time in each bag and weighed in on their favorite features, and what they loved and hated.

Back at the homestead, we devised several trials for testing weather resistance as objectively as possible, subjecting the bags to conditions beyond the frozen precip they are designed to withstand, even submerging sections of the bags, trying to force water through the shell fabrics to soak the down. We weighed each bag on our scale and compressed each bag into the same compression sack to compare them as accurately as possible.