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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Big Agnes Fria 15 Womens Bag > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

BIG AGNES FRIA SLEEPING BAG
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
LONG-TERM REPORT
May 06, 2012

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and trekking poles.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Fria
Photo courtesy of Big Agnes
Manufacturer: Big Agnes, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bigagnes.com
MSRP: US $219.95 petite; $229.95 regular
Listed Weight: 2 lb 10 oz (1.19 kg) petite; 3 lb (1.36 kg) regular
Measured Weight: 2 lb 12 oz (1.25 kg)
Nylon Stuff Sack: 1.2 oz (34 g)
Cotton Storage Sack: 3.8 oz (108 g)
Size Tested: Petite
Pad Used: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core 20 x 66 x 2.5 in (51 x 168 x 6.25 cm) rectangular pad
Made in China



PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

With PadThe Big Agnes Fria is a 15 degree F (-9 C) Women's down sleeping bag. It is available in two sizes: petite which fits up to 5'8" (173 cm) height and regular which fits up to 5'10" (178 cm). The Fria is part of the Divide Series of bags which are mummy cut. It is not listed as part of the Women's Series.

The insulation is 600 fill goose down with a 17.5 oz (499 g) fill on the petite and 19 oz (548 g) for the regular. There was a hangtag advertising Insotect Flow Construction design which explains that the insulation baffling system is done in such a way to keep the down from shifting to keep insulation in the right areas and eliminate cold spots. It also is designed to deliver uniform heat distribution and natural body contouring.

The pad sleeve is integrated into the back side of the bag. The pad sleeve is half-length so that the pad is within the sleeve at the upper body but is out of the sleeve and held with a small strap at the lower body portion. This allows for movement of the legs since the bag isn't held down. The sleeve is designed to fit any 20 inch wide (51 cm) pad either rectangular or mummy-shaped.

The shell material is down-proof rip-stop nylon with a WR (water repellent) surface treatment. The lining is soft, breathable, down-proof nylon with a stain resistant surface treatment. The pad sleeve is rip-stop nylon with a WR surface treatment.

The 60 inch (152 cm) YKK #8 zipper extends nearly full-length, opens from top or bottom, and has a zipper tube of insulation along the entire length to keep cold air from getting in through the zipper. The bags are available in either a right side or left side zipper (as viewed from lying in the bag). This allows two bags to mate together if they have zippers on the opposite sides. Along the shoulder portion of the bag where there is no insulation on the pad side, there is a wedge of insulation between the lower portion of the bag and the pad. There is a no-draft collar which helps to seal out cold air around my neck. There are also a couple of tabs of insulation around the hood to seal around the top of my forehead. There is a tab with hook-and-loop closure that folds over the top portion of the zipper to hold the zipper pull down. When the tab is not in use, it can be disabled by folding it onto itself.

The bag has two exterior loops at the foot for hanging. There are interior fabric loops to allow for use with a sleeping bag liner. At the top interior of the bag there is a nylon pocket to hold either a pillow or some clothing to create a pillow.

There was a nylon stuff sack provided along with a large cotton sack for long-term storage.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT

My initial impression was that the color was as appealing as depicted on the website. I love feminine colors for backpacking and blue is my favorite color. I then laid out the bag on the floor and noticed how small and short it seemed. I am 5'6" (1.68 m) tall so I ordered the petite although I have never been accused of being a petite person. In a bit of a panic, I slipped off my shoes and slid into the bag, zipped it up and pulled the hood over to see if I could fit. Surprisingly it fit just right and I could slide up and down a few inches confirming that a slightly taller person may also fit. I have never owned a bag made specifically for a woman so I'm used to sleeping bags being oversized and sometimes grossly so. This will be a completely new experience for me to have a more custom fit.

Next I flipped the bag over to check out the sleeping pad sleeve. My husband and I have been using the Big Agnes King Solomon double-wide bag which has 2 full-length sleeves to insert the pads. The Fria has a half-sleeve at the upper body area and a strap to hold the sleeve at the lower body area. Big Agnes generously provided their 20 x 66 x 2.5 in (51 x 168 x 6.25 cm) rectangular Insulated Air Core pad for use with the Fria. Please see my separate Owner Review for this pad on this site. At first it seemed that the pad would be too large but once I blew it up it fit perfectly and the strap held it in place at the bottom.

While inserting the pad I noticed that the Fria has down insulation on the pad side for the entire lower body. I'm familiar with their bags that have no insulation at all on the pad side. It will be interesting to test out how useful this extra down is for warmth.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Care Instructions are to machine wash cold in a front-loading washer with mild soap. Rinse thoroughly. Tumble dry low. Do not bleach, iron or dry clean.

Store in storage sack, hang or lay flat in a cool dry place.

SUMMARY

The Big Agnes Fria sleeping bag is a mummy-style bag rated at 15 F (-9 C) and specifically designed for a woman.

Likes so far:
Draft tubes and collars
Half-sleeve pad design
Made for a woman
Color

Dislikes so far:
Nothing


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

In tentI used the Big Agnes Fria sleeping bag on five trips for a total of nine nights during the Field Testing period. The overnight temperatures ranged from 29 to 65 F (-2 to 18 C) in dry to heavy dew conditions. For my mattress, I used the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad slipped inside the sleeping bag half-sleeve except at Van Vleck where I slept on a bunk mattress.

Overnight Trips:
1) Western States Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 1 night; elevation 1,900 ft (579 m); 29 to 53 F (-2 to 12 C)
What I wore: medium-weight thermal top and bottom, medium weight socks, light hat for last few hours
How I slept: Mostly on my back with periods on my side.
State of bag: Zipped up completely. Hood drawstring pulled tight.
Overall comfort: Amazingly warm considering my light clothing but had trouble sleeping on my back and it caused me to snore which bothered my husband. If I rolled onto my side them my face was down inside the hood and I didn't have a clear air path. With the mattress in the sleeping bag sleeve, the entire bag cannot move with me as I roll on my side.

2) Lake Camanche, Northern California: 1 night; elevation 235 ft (72 m); 37 to 47 F (3 to 8 C).
What I wore: thermal top and bottom, medium weight socks, light hat, down vest added during night
How I slept: Mostly on my side.
State of bag: Zipped up completely. Hood drawstring was tight enough to keep the hood on my head but loose enough to allow me to breathe on my side.
Overall comfort: Awoke after several hours feeling cold at 43 F (6 C) and added a down vest. I remained warm for the rest of the night down to 37 F (3 C).

3) Van Vleck Bunkhouse, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 nights; elevation 6,947 ft (2,117 m); 29 to 39 F (-2 to
4 C).
What I wore: thermal top and bottom, medium weight socks (until they were too hot), light hat.
How I slept: Mostly on my side.
State of bag: Zipped up completely until middle of night when I was too hot and unzipped feet. Hood lightly tightened.
Overall comfort: Perfect until I got too hot then easy to regulate.

4) Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys: 3 nights; elevation 4 ft (1 m); 60 to 65 F (15 to 18 C).
What I wore: light shirt
How I slept: On my side.
State of bag: Completely unzipped.
Overall comfort: Surprisingly comfortable.

5) Everglades National Park, Florida: 2 nights; elevation 10 ft (3 m); 63 F (17 C).
What I wore: light shirt
How I slept: On my side
State of bag: Completely unzipped.
Overall comfort: Comfortable.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

MoistureI found the design of the mummy shape along with being attached to the pad in the upper body area to make it much more convenient to sleep on my back. However, I'm not a big fan of that and usually sleep on my side. In this bag when I'd roll to the side then my mouth and nose would roll away from the opening and my ear and face would be exposed and get cold. I used the neck collar to cover my face and ear at times but had to make an air path to be able to breathe fresh air.

On the first trip the overnight temperatures dropped to 29 F (-2 C) and though I would usually be wearing more clothing at this temperature, I felt warm. At times if my feet had been on one side and I moved them to the other I would feel cold even through my socks. But that side quickly warmed up. My core always felt warm. During the night I decided to put my hat on. I liked having it on and was able to keep my head warmer when on my side. Although it was warmer at Lake Camanche I felt colder and added more clothing.

The Van Vleck trip gave me opportunity to see what a difference my mattress makes in keeping me warm. The overnight low temperature was again 29 F (-2 C) but this time instead of being barely warm enough, I woke up hot and had to regulate the temperature by unzipping the bag from both the top and bottom and removed my socks. The difference was that we were in a rustic bunkhouse on a bunk mattress. I had all of the windows wide open to allow it to get as cold as possible. It got so cold that our friends used our room as their refrigerator. Thank God for a flexible husband.

The range of conditions allowed me to test both the upper and lower temperature limits of comfort for me. At first I thought that it would be ridiculous to take a 15 degree sleeping bag on our winter trip to Florida, but it allowed me to see how warm it had to be for me to sweat or be uncomfortably warm while sleeping. Regarding the upper temperature limit, I was surprised to find that the Fria was very comfortable in Florida's temperate winter conditions. I slept with the bag unzipped so that I could kick my feet out at times but I liked having the coziness of the bag on top or beside me. I never found myself to sweat or to be so uncomfortably warm that kicking my feet out or exposing my back wouldn't resolve it easily.

There was very heavy dew one night in the Everglades that settled on the tent causing it to 'rain' inside the tent. We had the rain fly off to enjoy the stars, so the water was pretty heavy on the Fria by morning. The photo shows how much moisture there was and it was beading up nicely. We left the tent set up for the day and went on a 13 mi (21 km) hike for the day. When we got back the moisture had wetted out into the fabric and the bag was damp despite it being a very nice sunny day. I pulled the bag out and hung it over the tent for a few hours before using it again. By the next morning it was almost dry.

The fit of the bag was exceptional in two opposing ways. First it is made for a woman and I chose the smaller size which more closely fits my height. This allowed my body to heat the small air space between me and the bag better than with other bags I've used. With that being said, I also found the bag to be roomy enough to allow me to wear additional clothing without compressing the insulation and to allow for me to move freely inside the bag without the bag having to move with me. I was able to fold my knees up close to my body while on my side inside the bag. Although at times I also folded them up with the bag since the half-sleeve design for the pad allows the bag to be free at the legs. In fact while I was on my back, I was not able to fold my legs up inside the bag since it was too tight side-to-side. So in these instances I really appreciated the half-sleeve design for the pad so that I could fold up the sleeping bag along with my legs.

My favorite thing about this bag is all of the draft prevention. The draft tube along the zipper worked well to keep out any cold air. The draft collar worked well and was very comfortable and the draft tabs at the top of my head also helped to keep heat in.

I really enjoyed the pillow pocket. It was in just the right location for my comfort and the contents didn't seem to get compressed into a too-hard pile like I find happens when I just make a stack of clothing for my pillow.

Stuffing the bag into the nylon stuff sack was fairly easy although I didn't find there to be any extra room. I had to jam the bag into the sack pretty hard to get it all in there. I used the nylon stuff sack for trips and stored the sleeping bag in the cotton storage sack at home between trips. I like the strap on the bottom of the nylon stuff sack to make it easy to dump out the sleeping bag. After a trip, I hold the nylon sack inverted inside the top of the cotton sack and simply yank the strap to force the sleeping bag out. I toss the nylon stuff sack on top for easy locating for the next trip. I then fluff the sleeping bag inside the cotton sack to let it expand and toss it in the closet.

SUMMARY

The Big Agnes Fria sleeping bag is a mummy-style bag rated at 15 F (-9 C) and specifically designed for a woman.

My favorite things:
Draft prevention
Fit for a woman
Pillow pocket

My not-so-favorite things:
15 degree temperature rating is still questionable for me
Not great for side sleeping on cold nights


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Snow CampI used the Big Agnes Fria sleeping bag on three additional trips for another five nights during the Long-Term Testing period. The overnight temperatures ranged from 26 to 38 F (-3 to 3 C) in snow, frost and heavy dew conditions. For my mattress, I used the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad along with a Therm-a-Rest closed cell foam pad. I stopped inserting the mattress into the sleeve of the sleeping bag so that I could roll onto my side easier.

Overnight Trips:
1) Union Valley Reservoir, Sierra Nevada, California; 1 night; 4,832 ft (1,473 m) elevation; overnight low of 30 F (-1 C); storm moved in and snowed overnight; overcast conditions; tent was on snow.
What I wore: medium-weight thermal top and bottom, medium weight socks, knitted hat and for first few hours I also wore a light down jacket and fleece pants.
State of bag: Zipped up completely. Hood drawstring pulled fairly tight.
Overall comfort: Amazingly warm considering that we were sleeping on multiple feet of snow.

2) Pinnacles National Monument, Central California: 2 nights; 1,260 ft (384 m); overnight lows of 26 & 28 F (-3 & -2 C); heavy frost both nights.
What I wore: thermal top and bottom, medium weight socks, light hat on both nights. On the first night I added a light down jacket during the night.
State of bag: On the first night I was zipped up completely with the hood fairly tight. On the second night the bag was unzipped slightly and the hood fairly open.
Overall comfort: Slightly cold on the first night and very comfortable on the second night.

3) Sequoia National Park, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 nights; overnight lows of 35 & 38 F (2 & 3 C); 6,700 to 11,600 ft (2,042 to 3,536 m) elevation
What I wore: On both nights I wore thermal top and bottom. On the first night I started with medium weight socks and light hat until they were too hot.
State of bag: On the first night the bag was zipped up completely until middle of night when I was too hot and partially unzipped. Hood fairly open. On the second night I started out with the bag partially unzipped.
Overall comfort: Perfect until I got too hot then easy to regulate.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I experimented more with my mattress and found that the bag kept me much warmer with the addition of a closed-cell foam pad in addition to the air mattress. At Pinnacles I had the air mattress on the tent floor with the foam pad next to my sleeping bag. I was still a little cold. This arrangement was really loud so on the second night I switched them around with the foam pad on the tent floor and the air mattress next to the sleeping bag. With nearly identical overnight temperatures, I was so much warmer. I slept with less clothing and with the hood more open and was still warmer. I don't know if something else could have been a factor but this is the only thing that I changed.

Overall I can now imagine using this sleeping bag in temperatures down to the rating by using a closed-cell foam mattress.

Although I like the fit since it allows for a smaller space for my body to heat, I found the bag to be somewhat restrictive. Things improved when I stopped slipping the mattress into the sleeping bag sleeve but overall the size is slightly too small for me. I probably would have been more comfortable in the Regular size although the Petite is rated for my height.

I found the size of the stuffed sleeping bag to fit easily into the bottom of my backpack and to provide a nice base for packing.

I didn't yet wash the bag but I haven't noticed any foul odors or issues with losing loft. The durability of the bag has been outstanding with no noticeable issues. There are no snags in the fabric, no difficulty in operating the zippers and no loose threads. Of course there is an occasional feather lost but I even try to pull those back through when I see one trying to escape.

SUMMARY

The Big Agnes Fria sleeping bag is a mummy-style bag rated at 15 F (-9 C) and specifically designed for a woman.

My favorite things:
Draft prevention
Fit for a woman (although I should have tried the Regular)
Pillow pocket

My not-so-favorite things:
The mattress sleeve doesn't work so well for side sleeping

This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Big Agnes and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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