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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Big Agnes Battle Mountain Bag > Test Report by arnold peterson
BIG AGNES BATTLE MOUNTAIN SLEEPING BAG
Backpacking Background: Presently almost all my experience has been hiking in New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado USA, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia Canada using an 11 lb (5 kg) day pack. I have backpacked on Mt. Washington and at the Imp shelter located between North Carter and Mount Moriah mountains in New Hampshire. The gear I will be writing about has been used a lot hiking mostly all year around in New Hampshire. I have completed the forty-eight 4000 footers (1219 m) of New Hampshire. My day hikes have been as long as 12 hours covering almost 20 miles (32 km).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Items were packed in clear plastic. Items appeared new and in perfect condition. The Big Agnes sleeping bag is beautiful to look at. The top part of the Big Agnes sleeping bag looks like a typical mummy bag. The end is rectangular and looks like there is a lot of space for the legs. The zipper is a 2 way that allows one to open the bottom as well as the top. The operation of zipper was smooth and did not get tangled in itself. The top part of the zipper has a Velcro latch to keep the zipper in place in the closed position. There are even cozies to fit around the neck to keep that part warm. The sleeping bag has a pouch under the bag to accommodate a pad. I used the Big Agnes Deluxe pad with Hinman air pad.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instruction for installing the sleeping pad was clear and easy to follow. I used a Big Agnes Deluxe pad and Hinman air pad with the correct size for this sleeping bag. A picture shows a stick figure inserting the sleeping pad into the sleeping bag. After inflating the sleeping pad, kneel on the valve end of sleeping pad. Then I opened the Velcro latch located at the head of the sleeping bag and inserted the sleeping pad into the opening. I alternated applying pressure from right to left and with very little effort the pad slid almost completely into the sleeping bag. There was a smaller access hole at the foot of the sleeping bag which I used to pull the pad the remaining short distance. This pad fits in precisely, there is no extra space. There are a few notes on using the proper size pad for the sleeping bag. Big Agnes provides several choices that fit their sleeping bags.
TRYING IT OUT
I will be testing the Battle Mountain sleeping with a Big Agnes Deluxe pad and Hinman air pad, which will be written up in a separate report. I tried out the sleeping pad and found it to be very comfortable. Now it was time to try the complete package. I placed the bag on the floor in a cool room 55 F (13.8 C). I un-zippered the bag and got in. The comfort was the best that I have ever experienced. Probably as good as or better than any regular beds I have slept in. Then there was this warm feeling that was not only on the top side of my body but on the bottom as well. There were no cold spots or hard places. The warmth I felt was like being at a distance from an outdoor fire where the temperature is the same all over. I found this feeling truly amazing. There was plenty of room to move my legs and draw one to my chest as I do often in a regular bed. I could do all the things I could not do in a typical mummy bag. The area around the upper part of the body was adequate but not as roomy as the leg area. This is indeed a well engineered product provides isolation from rough surfaces with the air pad and then the next layer with the foam providing comfort. The sleeping bag itself has down on the top part where there is very little compression and this keeps the down in a state to provide maximum warmth. The bottom had polyester and works better than down under compression. If there is perspiration it will most likely find itself at the bottom where the polyester is better able to handle moisture. This sleeping system could very well replace my bed.
The first tests will be at least 2 one night trips in a local forest. We have had nighttime lows of 0 F (-9.4 C). This will uncover possible problems. The next tests will be in a local forest East of Manchester New Hampshire. This is about 40 mi (64 km) North of my house and temperatures are typically about 10 degrees F (-18 C) colder. The tests will then move to the National Forest in New Hampshire. I have spoken with a Park ranger and have 4 possible places for testing depending on the predicted overnight temperatures. Some of these places have had temperatures as low as -20 F (-11 C). These places are located in Grafton and Lincoln New Hampshire. The places I have picked are 1-4 miles (1.6-6.4 km) from a parking spot. If problems occur the test plan will be modified for safety reasons.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
There is a forest in Auburn, New Hampshire where I like to backpack. It is relatively flat, with a lot of rocky hills and several ponds. The trees are a mixture of hardwoods and mostly pine. I also backpacked locally in Massachusetts when the temperatures were near or below 0 F (-17.8 C). My town has a lot of swamp land. There are small streams connecting many of these swamps. Most of this land is under conservation. I hiked and camped in three of these areas. One is flanked on the east side by the railroad. The west side is bordered by the Middlesex Canal (operational from 1793 to 1853). There is a small section of the canal that had been restored but now has gone back to nature. Beyond the canal is a cranberry bog that has not been harvested in over 45 years. Between this and the canal is a swamp once used as an aquifer for town water wells. The wells were closed due to contamination. The brush, thorny bushes and trees keep most people out of this area. Under certain conditions it is near ideal for radiational cooling, which means that the temperature drops lower just before dawn. On the south side of town there is a tract of land known as the town forest. It comprises a baseball field and hill high enough for sledding, skiing, etc. The Middlesex canal also passes through this area and there are some remnants that remain. There is a large swamp which is surrounded by an old pine forest stand. A third place is called Maple Meadows and is mostly owned by a club I belong to. This area has a lot of swamp and pine forest. Since I would be going to these places in the dark and most of this hiking would be without trail markings, I wanted places that I was familiar with. I picked evenings that had temperatures below 20 F (-6.7 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
A cold spell was predicted for the next few days and this was time to backpack at or below 0 F (-17.8 C) conditions. I was also fortunate to receive my Black Diamond headlamp, this meant I could leave after dark. I left after supper and was on the trail by about 8 pm. The ground was completely snow covered and the surface was fairly hard. I put on my Kahtoola traction devices since there were going to be a few icy areas. I took my time as this was a heavier load than I was accustomed to. The wind was blowing at about 9 mph (14.5 km/hr). I had a spot picked out where some evergreen trees provided some shelter from falling snow. I pitched the Tarptent Cloudburst II with 5 stakes. With my knees in the tent and my feet outside the tent I assembled the Big Agnes sleep system. I had very little trouble inserting the Sleeping Giant foam pad assembly into the sleeve of the Battle Mountain sleeping bag. I then found the valve which was easy with my headlamp. I gave the valve a few puffs of air, closed the valve, and placed the sleep system on one side of the tent. I did this to see if this 2 person tent could handle another sleeping bag. I was using almost half the floor area, which left ample room for another sleeping bag or in my case, my backpack and shoes.
The Battle Mountain has surpassed my expectations. It has more space and is a lot warmer than I was expecting. The stabilizing effect of the sleeping pad sleeve is great. This comfort means I need to carry more weight in my backpack.
I will be doing more backpacks with temperatures hopefully not much colder than -5F (-20.6 C) I will be doing more hikes at night. I will be backpacking with someone in the Mt Monadnock area of New Hampshire. I will also be going to places originally planned, now that the weather is not too severe, as in temperatures below -15 F (-26 C). I am hoping to be using a Big Agnes 3 wire Bivy for the remaining backpacks during the testing period.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Originally I had planned 3 one night overnight backpacks in the Lincoln New Hampshire area. The good news this year was that New Hampshire set records for snowfall. The bad news was that on 3 weekends when I traveled to prospective trailheads, I was unable to negotiate the ice and snow in the parking lots with my Scion XA. I was able to do some hiking in areas where camping is not allowed. I then made phone calls about the trailhead in southern New Hampshire and found that there was ice where I would be parking. I have recently returned from a one night backpack in a forest east of Manchester New Hampshire.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The first backpack was started knowing that a rain storm was coming and could last all night and for most of the next day. It was after sunset when I started and the temperature was just above freezing and the humidity was high. There was little or no wind. Due to the rain arriving, I decided to pick a closer location to camp. I set up where evergreens gave some protection. I got into the sleeping bag slowly and with some difficulty. Once inside, I left the sleeping bag unzipped and only zipped the sack to about eye level. This way I could see out and have as much ventilation as I could without expecting rain to enter. This also made it easier to remove my outer clothing layer. I read for a short period and found this was not a problem. I slept comfortably for about 6 hours. When I woke up, I was warm and it was raining moderately. I started to feel around and found that almost everything I touched was wet. I turned on my headlamp and inspected my surroundings. There were big water droplets all over the ceiling and the pole. Also the visor was really wet underneath. I had to use my fingers to check other areas and found that there was a lot of water on the outside of the sack, but only a small amount of dampness between the sack and sleeping bag. The part of the sleeping bag behind my head was wet. There were large drops of water falling from the trees. When these drops hit the visor, sometimes it was as though I was hit by a small mist. Even though there was dampness on the exposed surface of the sleeping bag, I went to sleep again quickly. When I woke the next time, the rain had reduced to a drizzle. I decided to pack and leave before it really started to rain. When I got home I found the sleeping bag was only damp to the touch. I spread it out along with the other items that had gotten damp or wet. Everything was dry within 4 hours.
Over the test period I have gone on 8 one night backpacks and was comfortable and warm except for the one time I woke up and was cool, as described in the fourth night of the field report. The temperature ranged from a low of -5 F (-20.6 C) to a high of about 49 F (9.4 C). The Big Agnes Sleep System provides for me a level of comfort equal to my bed at home. I like the comfort, warmth and knowing that the foam and air pad will always be in its place under me. In order to get this level of comfort I had to carry more weight and use more space in my backpack than I would prefer. My experience with the zippers was excellent. I was able to adjust to a wide range of temperatures and humidity by opening and closing the sleeping bag zipper from both the head and foot ends. A few feathers did appear to come from the bag, but no more than I have experienced with other down products. The overall condition of the Battle Mountain sleeping bag is in the same condition as I received it.
I am very pleased with this product. This product has worked well over a temperature range of 33 F (0.6 C) to -5 F (-20.6 C). I will continue to use the Battle Mountain in this temperature range and possibly slightly colder or warmer weather. This has opened a new venue of backpacking possibilities and extended the number of days I can camp out.
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