BIG AGNES FLUME UL 30 SLEEPING BAG
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
January 08, 2018
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
|Manufacturer: Big Agnes, Inc.|
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bigagnes.com
MSRP: US $459.95 regular $499.95 long
Listed and Measured Weight: 1 lb 6 oz (624 g)
Available Size: Regular and Long
Size Reviewed: Regular
Temperature Rating 16 F to 30 F (-9 C to -1 C)
Listed and Measured Stuff Sack Size: 7.5 in x 15 in / 19 x 38 cm
Listed and Measured Shoulder Girth: 60 in / 152 cm
Listed and Measured Hip Girth: 54 in / 137 cm
Listed and Measured Foot Girth: 36 in / 91 cm
Listed Fill Weight: 12 oz / 340 g
Listed and Measured Compressed Bag Size: 5.5 in x 7 in / 14 x 18 cm
The Big Agnes Flume UL Sleeping bag utilities a body-mapped contoured baffle construction with vertically structured side walls for the purpose of keeping body heat closer to the body.
There is an ergonomic foot box with a lot of loft for that same reason.
The hood also has baffles to make it contoured to the head. The hood has a unique (to me) low profile cordlock so I can un-cinch the hood with one hand.
There is an oversized interior anti-draft collar which, combined with the hood, makes for a very snug fit.
Closure of the sleeping bag is via a 40-in (102 cm) YKK #5 zipper that has a dual opening, so I can "vent" the foot box if needed. It's backed up by a 3-D anti-snag draft tube to prevent heat loss along the zipper. And there is a zipper garage at the top of the zipper for comfort.
The outer shell of the BA Flume UL is an ultralight high-tenacity shell fabric using BA's proprietary DownTek water repellent technology.
Additional nice touches are the Interior fabric loops to secure sleeping bag liners and exterior loops for hanging or storage.
Also included with the Flume UL are a mesh sack for storage and a nylon stuff sack for packing.
|Copyright Big Agnes|
LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since I received the Big Agnes as a gift in April 2017, I've used it literally dozens of time - at least 50 nights - both on backpacking trips and on car trips.
Mostly, I spent my time on the trails in Colorado in Eagle, Summit and Fremont counties. Elevations and terrain are as follows:
Fremont County, Colorado (my home "range") - this area is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with elevations ranging from 5500 ft (1700 m) to 9900 ft (3000 m). The terrain is mostly rather rough with lots of mud, loose rock and huge slabs of granite rock. Vegetation is scrubby pinon pine, Gamble oak, juniper, cactus and prairie grasses (or weeds, depending on who is talking!).
Eagle and Summit, Colorado Counties - Breckenridge/Avon/Vail/Minturn - Rocky Mountains (proper!) with elevations ranging from 7400 ft (2260 m) to 11400 ft (3480 m), generally rather steep dirt or snow-packed trails winding through ponderosa pine and aspen forests.
Over the past 6 months, we have had generally warmer than usual weather in south central Colorado. Right now in mid-January (2018) it is slightly over 70 F (21 C)! Weird! However, because Colorado is climatically "high desert" we do experience drastic temperature drops at night so even when it is in the 90s F (35 C) during the daytimes, it drops 40 F (22 C) degrees (or more) at night. That said, I've slept in the Flume in temperatures from 60 F (16 C) to 10 F (-12 C).
I also spent several nights in Michigan where we "base camped" and spent our trail time on hikes which took place while I was visiting the Leelanau Peninsula in western Michigan. My husband John and I took day-long hikes along the sand dunes along Lake Michigan in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. No real elevation to report there, the tallest dune in the park is Old Baldy which is a whopping 93 ft (28 m) high!
May 2017 in Michigan was rather miserably hot and very humid with mid-80s F (29 C) temperatures for lows during the day time and not a whole lot cooler at night - maybe down to 70 F (21 C) at best.
FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
Always, getting a good night's sleep is essential for me. However, on the trail, I can usually ignore a bad night just because I'm so happy to be in the outdoors that nothing much can ruin my good mood. Even so, I still appreciate and would rather have a good night's sleep! I'm always looking to improve my sleep gear.
There isn't a thing wrong with my current Big Agnes Fria 15 sleeping bag, but who could resist the chance to experience the Flume UL? Not me, that's for sure!
First off, it packs into its included stuff sack very easily. I don't even have to be careful to fold it just the right way either. I just push in one corner and keep jamming the material in until the entire bag is contained. A yank of the drawcord and that's that! The Flume, in its stuff sack, is smaller than all of my previous sleeping bags, too. Always a plus when loading up my backpack!
Once in camp, the sleeping bag fluffs right up even after a couple of days (car travel time) crammed into the stuff sack. A quick shake and the Flume is as lofty as my expensive down bed comforter!
I always use a sleeping bag liner to keep my sleeping bags clean and also for additional warmth if necessary. Usually I use a wool liner during the winter months and a silk one in the summer. I've use both with the Flume. I have to admit that the wool liner sometimes was overkill as to warmth with the Flume. If I weren't so conscious of keeping my sleeping bags clean, I really could have done without it even at the coldest temperatures.
Mostly I didn't ever really zip the Flume all the way up because it was warm enough to use the bag more loosely. I tend to sleep warm and even in the coldest temperatures, I often fling off covers to my husband's dismay! So keeping the top of the Flume unzipped a bit lets me adjust my body temperature easily. The zipper is easy to locate, use and never snagged even when I was half asleep.
In addition to the warmth of the Flume, it was overall very comfortable as to the feel of the fabric and I loved the loft of it!
|Sun's Up But I'm Comfy!|
For someone like me who tosses and turns all night and tends to be a side (fetal position) sleeper, I'm happy to report that the Flume is roomy enough for me to roll onto my side with my knees drawn up and never feel like I'm in a straightjacket or swaddled like an infant. I just sleep like an infant!
I've haven't had to clean the Flume as of yet. I am very careful with my sleeping bags and I always use a bag liner which definitely keeps sleeping bags cleaner and inhibits stink! I am diligent about removing my sleeping bag from its stuff sack as soon as I get into camp and then again once I get home. At home, the sleeping bag resides in the included muslin storage bag sitting on a shelf in my lower level gear closet which is always cool and dry.
The Flume exhibits no signs of wear, torn seams, pulls or stains. It's ready to go again as soon as I am! (And if my husband is reading this - I'm ready NOW!)
1.) Super Light weight
2.) Lots of loft
3.) Slim but roomy
4.) Wide comfortable temperature range
1.) Even though I firmly believe "you get what you pay for" - pricey!
I am no stranger to the Big Agnes brand and some of my most favorite jackets are from BA. I previously did field evaluations for BGT and BA on the Fria 15 Women's Sleeping Bag in 2012 and use that one almost exclusively. Up until the Flume UL came along that is!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
Some BA trivia about the name Flume - Flume Gulch in present-day Craig, Colorado, was a "notoriously challenging place to pan for gold. Its close proximity to the more fruitful Castor Gulch left many miners wasting their time during the height of the Colorado gold rush." I'm happy to say though the Big Agnes Flume UL 30 Sleeping Bag defies that derivation and is definitely "golden"!
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
Read more reviews of Big Agnes gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters