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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15 > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Big Agnes Lost Ranger
Test Report Series
Initial Report: April 10, 2007
Field Report: June 13, 2007
Long Term Report: August 23, 2007
Lost Ranger: call Coy Boy if found
I live outside a small town in northeast Alabama. I also enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities. Backpacking is my favorite pastime. I consider myself a knowledgeable backpacker but I am not an expert. I enjoy hiking with my friends and family or solo. I limit my hiking to areas fairly close to home, usually within a day's drive of home. I hike throughout the year and actually hike the least in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3 season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water. I usually sleep in a hammock and cook with an alcohol stove. My backpacking trips are usually 2, 3 or 4 days in length.
April 10, 2007
Product Arrival and Description
The Lost Ranger arrived on April 4, 2007. A quick inspection revealed no flaws. I did see one loose down plume stuck to the cord just above the barrel lock. The sleeping bag came with a large cotton storage bag and a nylon stuff sack. Here is the bag in its stuff sack with a 16.9 oz (500 ml) water bottle for size comparison.
The one feature that really stands out is the way the Lost Ranger has no insulation on the bottom, instead relying on a sleeve in the bottom to hold a sleeping pad. The reasoning, as I understand it is, the sleeper compresses the insulation on the bottom of a bag which greatly reduces the effectiveness of the insulation down there. Since I will need a pad anyways, I am not carrying anything I would not be to use the Lost Ranger on the ground. As an aside, I will be testing the Big Agnes Dual Core air mattress along with the Lost Ranger.
The Lost Ranger is listed in the Classic Series and is a big bag compared to the mummy bags I am familiar with. Big Agnes has this to say "Classic Series bags are our most popular sleeping bags. These semi-rectangular bags excel in nearly all situations, from backpacking to car camping, making them the most versatile in our line. With more room than standard mummy bags, they're extremely comfortable and still offer a great value with modest packed size and weight. The Lost Ranger and Encampment are consistent favorites."
Big Agnes list the following design features for the Lost Ranger.
• Integrated pad sleeve. Never roll off your pad again
• No-draft yoke seals around neck to keep cold air from sneaking in.
• 70" YKK #8 zipper. Mate together any of our left and right zip bags with a 70" zipper
• Rectangular shape offers more room in foot box and shoulders
• Cotton storage sack & nylon stuff sack included
• Built in pillow pocket holds a fleece or Big Agnes Pillow
• No-draft wedge insulates the connection between the bag and pad.
• No-draft zipper tube insulates along the length of the zipper.
• Shell fabric: Water resistant, down proof nylon rip-stop.
• Interior lining: Soft and breathable, down proof nylon microfiber with stain resistant finish.
• Interior fabric loops for sleeping bag liners
• LEFT OR RIGHT ZIPPER? When you are in the bag, on your back, the right zip will be on your right side, left zip on your left side.
Trying it on
A sleeping bag is much like clothing; too small and it wont zip closed, too big and the bag is heavier and not as efficient as it could be. However, a little wiggle room in a bag is worth the slight weight and efficiency penalty in my opinion. I selected the Long version even though I could fit in the Regular because the Long is listed as having 3 more inches (7.6 cm) of girth at the shoulder and hip areas. I am fairly broad shouldered and want to have plenty of room.
My first task was inflating the Dual Core Pad and sliding it inside the sleeve. This went very smoothly. After getting inside the bag with the 2.5 in (6.35 cm) Dual Core insulated air chamber pad, I am glad to have those additional three inches (7.6 cm) of room. I could easily zip this bag all the way closed from inside the bag which is something I can not do with several of my more traditional mummy bags. On a few, I have to stick one arm out and zip it closed, then contort my arm around and back inside the bag, all the while wondering if I'm going to rip a seam, break an arm or get stuck all night with my arm half inside...
Speaking of the zippers, this one is nice. It has a big pull tab attached and it will zip from either end. This may come in handy when it warms up later this summer. It was very easy getting in the bag with it zipped open about half way down. Many half zip bags are really 1/3 zip bags and hard to get in.
Once inside I noticed I had plenty of room at the shoulders but not much extra room. I also noticed I had less shoulder room at the top when I turned over on my side. However, this left more room in front of and behind my shoulders. The rest of the bag feels very roomy, especially down around the foot area. I was also able to bend my knees quite comfortably while on my side but a little less when on my back.
A record setting cold snap in April gave me a chance to try out the Lost Ranger at 24 F (-4.4 C) which may well be the coolest temperatures the bag will see before I am through with this report series. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I had to make it a short hike and break camp early the next morning to go to work.
The first thing I noticed was it is a lot easier inflating the Dual Core sitting on the couch than when bent over inside my tent. The ground was cold and I finally stood up outside the tent to finish the job. Once I got completely undressed and my down jacket in the pillow pocket it was down to 34 F (1.1C). I went to sleep surprisingly easy and was feeling nice and warm. The Dual Core mattress made a huge difference in my comfort. I woke up about 3 hours later at 1 AM needing to take a leak. But before I got out I checked the temperature on my watch (It was now 26 F/-3.3 C) and also tried to think of how I was feeling. I had slept soundly and was nice and warm when I first turned in (once the initial cold of the nylon warmed up). Now my feet were feeling a tad cool but I was fine everywhere else. By the time I finished taking a leak my feet were really cold. I tried to warm them back up inside the bag but it was not working. I finally took the jacket I was using as my pillow and wrapped my feet. They still took awhile to warm back up but once they did I went back to sleep.
I slept soundly until 4 AM. It was now down to 24 F (-4.4 C). I had to go ahead and pack up but my overall impression was good. I was warm everywhere but my feet. I did not have much extra cloths along to fill the area at the foot end and I was not wearing socks to bed because I wanted to test the bag with as little aid as possible. To be honest, my feet get cold easily and I have used multiple layers of socks in similarly rated bags to keep my feet warm.
June 13, 2007
Test Location and Conditions
My hike in late April of 31 miles (50 km) was in the Savage Gulf Wilderness Area. The temperatures were warm during the day, reaching the mid 80's (around 30 C). Overnight temperatures were cool but not cold, with a low of 43 F (6 C) on the second night. We saw showers the first day but after that, the trip remained pretty much cloud free. The trails down in the gulf are pretty rough but the trails around the rim are fairly easy. The trails near the rim but leading down into the gulf (or out depending on my direction of travel) were the roughest. In fact, any rougher and I would think twice before returning.
Field Test Results
To be honest, I went into this test wondering if any ground based sleeping system could rival the comfort of my hammocking experiences, and I can truly say, the Big Agnes sleep system is up to the challenge. Now that I have had a few nights on a real backpacking trip I am prepared to say that the Lost Ranger is a real comfortable sleeping bag. In fact, I don't remember ever sleeping as well as I did the two nights spent in the Savage Gulf Wilderness Area. The roominess of the bag combined with the comfort of the thick Dual Core air mattress is almost impossible to beat, save sleeping in my own bed with the comforts of central heating and cooling. Now for the particulars of the trip.
The first night was spent in Hobbs Cabin which is a rustic log cabin out in the middle of nowhere, some 10 miles from the trailhead parking lot. We hiked the 10 miles in under 4 hours, so I was one tired puppy when we reached the cabin. After a quick supper I was ready for some serious sleep and was in bed by 9 PM and asleep shortly thereafter.
The bunks in the cabin are only 20 inches (51 cm) wide so my was too wide until inflated. Keep in mind, the Dual Core air mattress is 20 inches (51 cm) wide when inflated but a lot wider than that when it is not. After inflating it barely fit the bed and slightly rubbed wall the bunk was built against and the post on the outside section that supported the top bunk. It only dropped to 51 F (11 C) this night but I was not overly hot in the 15 F (- 9 C) rated Lost Ranger. I did vent the foot end with the zipper which opens from the foot end about a foot at the start of the night. I also did not zip the upper part of the zipper all the way so it fit over me rather loosely. However I did keep covered up for the most part as I sleep better with covers on. I only woke up once around midnight and took a moonlit stroll around the surrounding campsite. I then slept soundly from around 1 AM until just before daylight at around 6 AM.
The second night was spent at East Collins Campsite. No cabin this time so I used my hammock for my shelter. I was actually more exhausted upon reaching this campsite than on the previous night due to the strenuous hiking all day. We covered about the same distance as the previous day in around 10 hours as apposed to the 4 hours the first day which tells a little about how tough the trail was.
Anyways, after another quick supper by headlamp I was ready to turn in by 9 PM. I woke up once around 11 PM for a quick nature call but other than that I slept like a rock all night, waking just once more at around 4 AM to zip my bag up a little more. It did get a little cooler this night as it dropped down to 43 F (6 C). I still unzipped the foot end and left the upper end partially unzipped most of the night. However, by early morning I was cool enough to need to zip the upper zipper on up. The picture below was taken by a friend early the next morning.
Coy Boy all zipped up for the chill of early morning
Packing and Other Issues
I used a 2950 cu in (51 L) pack for this trip so space was at a premium. However, with the Lost Ranger in its stuff sack and the Dual Core air mattress in its stuff sack (both inside my pack), I still had room for all my food and gear inside the pack. It was a tight fit but the fact that the Dual Core air mattress was not on the outside contributed to this. Normally, I am either using a closed cell foam pad stored outside my pack or just using a sleeping bag over my hammock and not even carrying a pad. My pack weight for the trip started at 23 lb (10.4 kg) with a fanny pack (worn in front) carrying around 3 lb (1.4 kg) more. I stored the Lost Ranger in the bottom of the pack along with the Dual Core air mattress.
When I got home I put the Lost Ranger out on my deck to air it out. I noticed one feather poking through on the inside of the bag in a baffle seam located in about the center and at waist level of the bag. I tried to push it back in but had no luck so I gently pulled it out and massaged the spot where the feather came through. Other than this one feather escaping I can not find any thing else that even remotely looks like a problem. The zippers have not been catching so there are no worn spots where it zips up the side.
Long Term Report
August 23, 2007
Testing Locations and Conditions
I used the Lost Ranger on a three day 27 mi (43 km) backpacking trip in the Cohutta Wilderness in Georgia in early July. On this hike the elevation was around 800 ft (244 m) at the river and we topped several ridges, the highest at around 2600 ft (792 m). The overnight low temperatures were 66 F (19 C) and 61 F (16 C). It rained on the second night.
Long Term Test Results
On the hike in the Cohutta Wilderness I found the Lost Ranger almost too warm. Actually, it was too warm when we turned in each night because we went to bed shortly after sundown when the temperatures were still around 75 F (24 C) or so but got more bearable as the overnight temperatures dropped. On both nights I was sleeping in my hammock without bug netting so I was able to get enough breezes to ventilate the Lost Ranger enough to sleep OK. I started out with the bag unzipped but laid loosely over me to keep any bugs away. This worked fine as I was not overly warm and did not get any insect bites. On both nights I was able to rest much better after midnight when the temperatures dropped enough to actually need some cover. The Lost Ranger was still a little more than I needed on the first night at 66 F (19 C) but when it dropped down to 61 (16 C) on the second night it actually felt good. I still did not zip the bag and any breeze that slipped in felt good.
After the hike in the Cohutta Wilderness summer arrived with a vengeance and I have limited my hiking to late evening walks down to the local swimming hole. The lows for the past month and a half have been the upper 70s F (25 C) and even low 80s F (28 C) and with daytime temperatures over 100 F (38 C) for 14 consecutive days and almost that hot the rest of the time, I basically gave up any serious hiking.
Long Term Durability
After my last hike I aired the Lost Ranger out for several hours on my deck. I inspected it for loose feathers or any signs of wear and found neither. This was good, considering I found one loose feather after my previous trip to Savage Gulf. I guess this might be partly due to using a hammock exclusively for this trip but I don't think the tent I used once or the wood bunk at Hobbs Cabin are much harder on gear. Since I did not use the zipper at all on my last trip I really have nothing further to say except I checked it as I was airing the bag out and it still works fine.
I found the Lost Ranger to be a very roomy bag, maybe a little too roomy on the coldest night I used it on. I found it good down to 24 F (-4.4 C), great at 43 F (6 C) and 51 F (11 C), a little warm at 61 (16 C) and too hot at 66 F (19 C). As I reported in my Initial Report, my feet got a little cool without socks during the 24 F (-4.4 C) night, but I tend to have cold feet. In other words, this sleeping bag worked well for me in the winter, spring and cooler parts of summer. And since the bag is much roomier than my conventional mummy bags, I plan to use it a lot. In fact, I am looking for a lightweight solo tent to use some in the winter when the coolness of a hammock is not appreciated. Granted this comfort is as much due to the nice thick pad I used (the Big Agnes Dual Core Insulated Air Mattress) as it was the roominess of the Lost Ranger, but the combination is killer.
This concludes my reporting on the Lost Ranger. I wish to extend my thanks to Big Agnes and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this pad.
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