BIG AGNES LOST RANGER 15
BY TRAVIS CROOKE
May 21, 2009
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
6' 1" (1.85 m)
182 lb (82.60 kg)
The first time I went backpacking overnight was in college. Since then, I have explored many of the forests, shores, deserts, and mountains of America, Mexico, Patagonia, and Europe. I live in the Rockies, and work winters as a fully certified ski instructor, and summers as a bicycle and raft guide. Lately, I have been a fan of the multi-sport outing. For these I use bikes, skis, snowmobiles, and boats to get to good backpacking spots. I spend a lot of time on and off trails. Function and durability are more important to me than saving weight.
Manufacturer: Big Agnes (BA)
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bigagnes.com
MSRP: $199.95 (regular) - $219.95 (long)
Listed Weight: 50 oz (1417 g) - long
Listed Shoulder Girth: 73 inches (185 cm)
Listed Hip Girth: 69 inches (175 cm)
Listed Foot Girth: 55 inches (140 cm)
Measured Weight: 50 oz (1417 g)
Measured Shoulder Girth: 71 inches (180 cm)
Measured Hip Girth: 69 inches (175 cm)
Measured Foot Girth: 54 inches (137 cm)
Stuff sack dimentions: 8" x 17.5" (20 cm x 44.5 cm)
Other details: Bag tested is right zip, size Long
The Lost Ranger 15 is a popular bag from the Big Agnes (BA) "Classic" line of sleeping bags. This is their best selling line and also the most versatile.
All Big Agnes bags have a sleeve on the bottom of the bag that is designed to hold a ground pad. Big Agnes recommends using a BA pad, and they tend to fit best. Other pads will also fit. The Classic series fits rectangular pads, which makes the foot zone and shoulder area roomier than on most mummy-style bags I have tried. The bottoms of BA bags are not insulated and rely on the pad for insulation from underneath. This allows for a roomier bag that weighs less. BA gives consumers the option of right or left side zips that are designed to couple with most aftermarket overbags. Zippered areas are reinforced with durable nylon to reduce snagging. In addition, most BA bags come with a "pillow pocket" sewn into the bag, a "no draft collar", and a hundred dollar gold coin. Ok, you caught me, that last bit about the gold coin is a fib. But BA is an extremely practical gear design company that packs their products with loads of features. Each bag also comes complete with a stuff sack and storage sack.
|The Hood Ornament|
|Top of Storage Sack|
|Storage Sack next to Water Bottle|
The Lost Ranger is the best sleeping bag I have ever owned. I have used it on summer and winter excursions in the Rockies. It is has been with me while backpacking through cities in Europe and Patagonia. I use it for desert missions, and the bag comes with me on my bike touring and white water rafting expeditions as well. Through the use of these examples, I will outline the key temperature comfort zones, configurations, its weather resistance, and its durability.
I went to the headquarters of Big Agnes to purchase the Lost Ranger 15 sleeping bag (Referred to as "the bag" or "the Ranger" from this point.). We both live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, so I thought it would be a good idea to recon the headquarters and meet the staff while I was at it. They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful; I even got to tour the design department. The staff let me bring in my sleeping pad (a Thermorest Performance guide series pad), and my outer bag (A regular Mountain Hardware Conduit SL), to make sure they would all be compatible. I knew this bag rocked when I fell asleep on the floor testing it in the store! I got the bag from the storage shelf, so it was never packaged to be shipped. It was clean and displayed no feather fibers.
I have used this bag while backpacking in northern Colorado in the summer and winter. Temperatures ranged from below 0° F (-18° C) at night to as high as 70° F (21.11° C) during the day. Camp elevations ranged between 4,000 ft (1219m) and 13,000 ft (3962m). This part of the Rockies is high alpine desert, with a mix of tundra and Aspen forest. This is a good backpacking bag because it packs well and sleeps even better. The Ranger came with a stuff sack , but I abandoned it because I found the bag will easily pack smaller.
I use my own compression sack (A Granite Gear four-strap aftermarket little number.) and it squeezes down to a sphere with a 5 inch (13 cm) radius. Since the bag compresses so small, I stuff it in the bottom compartment of my backpack and I still have plenty of room to put all my clothes in this compartment as well. Thanks to the pad sleeve, the bag is super comfortable and I never slide off it when I set my tent up on a hill like a dope.
I also like that the pad slides into the back of the Ranger because I tend to roll around in my sleep.
In other bags I would always get tangled in my sleeping bag by morning. Now the Ranger and my pad work together and I migrate around in my bag instead. This feature is appreciated when I have a tent companion in my small two-person tent. The pad feature is great, but it can be difficult to get non-BA pads into the sleeve.
|The Pad Going into the Sleeve|
To counter this, and during rainy periods, or when I'm just plain lazy, I leave the pad in the bag and roll them up together. In this case, I use the BA-provided stuff sack and put the bag and pad in it together. This can save space when considering the area that a pad and bag utilize together.
|Hand Slot for Pad Sleeve|
I love the built-in pillow pocket for two reasons.
As mentioned already, I move around in my sleep, so this keeps my pillow from popping out from under me during summer trips on the trail. In addition, I stuff my down puffer coat in the pillow pocket. That way I always know exactly where it is if nature calls in the middle of the night. Another noteworthy benefit; sleeping on a down pillow in the woods is my kind of luxury.
The Rocky Mountain winters are a good way to test a sleeping bag's temperature ratings and features. The bag is roomier than comparable bags, and some may worry that this allows cold air to creep into the bag. I find that if I flip the no-draft collar up, it forms a snug seal around my chin that prevents cold air from sneaking into the bag.
However, I only use this feature for winter camping because the yoke works so well I overheat in the middle of the night in any other season. Unlike other down sleeping bags, I rarely catch the zipper in the fabric while closing or opening the bag thanks to the burly nylon that lines the zipper. I like this aspect on cold nights when I'm trying to hunker down quickly, and for epic mornings when I'm trying to pop out of my bag for a first light skin.
|Neck Yoke or "No Draft Collar"|
I found the bag is bearable at temps as high as 70° F (21° C), and temps as low as 23° F (-5° C). I have been winter camping with just the Ranger (no overbag), and I was a bit cold that night (23° F / -5° C). My feet were especially chilly, since my pad does not fit all the way into the bottom of the sleeve. The pad is a regular and my bag is a long, hence a little zone at the bottom of the bag that is not insulated. This bothered me until I put on some socks. I also stuffed my extra clothes at the bottom of the bag. This gave me insulation, and my clothes were warm in the morning. If it's a three dog night, I can always add my outer bag quickly. When I zip my overbag into the Ranger, it's tolerable in temperatures as low as 10° F (-12° C). On those nights I zip the bag up, use the yoke, wear a hat, and I'm perfect.
The Ranger is also a great bag for urban backpacking. I have traveled through most of Europe and many parts of Argentina and Chile with the Ranger. The tolerable temperature zone on the hotter side of the spectrum increases while urban backpacking. Without the insulation on the back, and the bag completely unzipped, it is like sleeping on a bed sheet. This is a great feature when the hostel doesn't provide me with sheets and I realize it could be hazardous to my health if I lie on the bed without a serious barrier from the mattress. Big Agnes has scored big in my book by creating a roomier bag that weighs about the same as similarly-ranged bags. It is also treated with bacteria inhibitors, so it doesn't stink as much after a month of being schlepped from city to city during spring break. I like to use three configurations for hostels. As noted, I can lie on just the bottom of the bag and have it unzipped. I can also use it as a blanket, or I can zip it up and use it as it was intended.
I live about six hours from the desert, and I usually find myself there at least once each spring and fall. The desert is also a great place to test bags because of the extreme temperature ranges. When I go to bed, I usually have the bag unzipped, either from the bottom so my feet hang out, or all the way. The Ranger is insulated with 650-fill down, and I like this a lot. I am a fan of down when it comes to temperature extremes because I find it holds heat well when it is cold, but also breathes well at warm temps. This makes my evenings bearable when it stays hot throughout the entire night. I often sleep with the pad out of the bag on really warm nights so that I get more ventilation on my back. As the temperature drops throughout the night, I can zip the bag up and pull the mummy-hood over my head to warm up.
The bag has also been extensively used in wet situations. Two summers ago, I toured Europe on my bike. It rained for 23 straight days. Nothing I owned was dry and I thought I was going to have a stinky and moldy down bag in no time. However, the bag has a slight water repellent coating that helped keep a lot of the extra moisture at bay. It still stunk after awhile, but it took longer than expected thanks to the anti-bacterial treatment. I did wake in a puddle of water on more than one occasion (from the rain). The bag has a two sturdy external nylon loops that I like to hang it by when I am drying it.
I find that if I air the bag out for awhile after I return home from a mission, it generally takes the morning to defunctify.
|Nylon Hang Loop|
I bring this bag on rafting expeditions and it has never let me "down". It dries quickly when wet, and has an above average initial ability to repel small doses of water that leak into my dry bag. With some preventative maintenance, this bag still does well for a down bag in wet climates such as Seattle or England.
After using the bag for over a year, I discovered many rogue down feathers floating around my tent. Soon I found the stitching was coming undone between the pad sleeve and the side of the bag. I notified Big Agnes and simply had to bring it by for inspection. Normally they would send you a return authorization number (RA#), and you would mail the product. They quickly re-sewed the unstitched area and had the bag back to me within two business days, no charge, no questions asked. They were extremely apologetic over the failure, and they did a terrific repair. I could not find where the stitch had been made, but I knew it was the same bag (not a replacement) from all the dirt stains I recognized.
I have had the bag for three years, and it is now beginning to show its age. Over time micro-feathers have begun to poke out through the liner. They are especially prominent along the zipper and nylon junction that runs the length of the bag. A few other seams leak feathers as well, but the bag still lofts quickly and has maintained it's down distribution extremely well.
The Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15 is an amazing bag. All of the Classic line is great, but the Ranger takes the cake because of its versatile temperature configurations. In other words, it is like a good backpack that is good for day trips but can also withstand a multi-day jaunt as well. Its features provide one heck of a pleasant sleep, and it is well constructed. I would recommend this product to anybody looking for a new sleeping bag. I would certainly buy another one.
THINGS I LIKE
Extra roomy foot and shoulder zones
Sewn-in pillow pocket
Bag and pad combination system
Versatile temperature configurations
Light weight design
The colors (They hide a lot of the dirt well.)
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Feathers have begun to leak over time.
My pad doesn't stretch all the way to the end because it is a regular and the bag is a tall.
Only BA pads slide in without trouble. My pad works, but it is a bit too wide to slide in easily.
The stuff sack is bigger than it needs to be for just the bag, but it is a bit tight when the pad is also stored in the bag for transport.
PREFERRED SEASONAL CONFIGURATIONS
Summer - Mostly unzipped, with the ground pad out of the sleeve.
Spring/Fall - Mostly zipped, with maybe my feet hanging out of the bottom. The pad is in the bag and I keep my hat nearby for predawn cold spells.
Winter - Completely zipped with an overbag. The pad is in the sleeve, and most of my clothes are stuffed at the bottom of the bag. The yoke is up, and the mummy hood is pulled tight.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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