|Personal Biographical Information:||Backpacking Background:|
Name: André Corterier
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Home: Bonn, Germany
I have started out with backpacking slowly – single-day 24 km (15 mi) jaunts
by myself or even shorter hikes in the company of my little daughter. I am getting started on longer
hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock or tarp camper. I’ve been upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a
dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water)
of less than 9 kg (20 lb) for three-season camping.
Name: Renée Corterier
Height: 1.22 m (4 ft)
Weight: 25 kg (55 lb)
Home: Bonn, Germany
Renée got started by being pushed around in the woods, playing in the muck at stroller stops and evolved
into proper backpacking in "her" child carrier. Her first long self-propelled walk was a 30 km (19 mi) overnighter when
she was four years old. She has spent nights under the open sky and various tarps, in open shelters, castle ruins, tents
and her very own ultralight camping hammock, in temperatures between -6 and 36 C (20 to 95 F). Now that her dad carries
her younger sister, she carries her own hammock, pad, bag and water in an ultralight pack.
Given Weight: 1.36 kg (48 oz)
Bag: 1226 g (43.25 oz)
Stuff Sack: 117 g (4.13 oz)
Total: 1333 g (47 oz)
Listed Dimensions: 26 in (66 cm) x 66 in (167 cm) x 18 in (47 cm)
(appears accurate - difficult to get an exact measurement)
Year of manufacture: 2009
MSRP: None listed
The Exxel Youth bag is a mummy-shaped synthetic bag sized for people less than about five feet tall. It comes in two funky
variations of the camouflage scheme, in either blue or pink. My daughter is testing the pink version, and it was
love at first sight.
It's a mummy bag. Once I got over the bright pink camouflage pattern, I began to see the similarities to other bags: Side zipper running down to about ankle level
(so not meant to be zipped up far enought to become a blanket), draft tube for the zipper to snag on (that's what I do with the draft tubes on all of *my*
bags - admittedly they also keep out drafts), a draft collar (which is a nice detail on a youth bag) and a cord and toggle to cinch the face opening closed.
It came in a stuff sack, which allows compressing the bag rather severely. I don't like to do that to a bag, and even at maximum extension of the compression
cords it seems to me as though the bag could loft some more. But the point is moot, as it's already become another comforter on my daughter's bed (the fact
that it doesn't quite zip open into a blanket did not deter her in the least).
The bag has no obvious flaws in its workmanship. It has a nice, silky feeling to it both inside and outside.
The bag is rated to 20 F (-6 C) by the manufacturer. There are no claims for special reflective barriers inside the bag or anything else that would promise
better warmth retention than the loft of the bag would indicate. My daughter has another bag with the same rating, which has more loft, and kept
her warm, fully clothed, down to -2 C (29 F). So while I generally take manufacturers' ratings with a large dose of salt and particularly as regards
children's bags, this one raises both my eyebrows. Unfortunately, it is now summer and we won't be able to test it at the rating's limit. On the other hand,
it does appear to be a nice summer bag, and we'll definitely give it a good test in that environment.
The bag was used outdoors a total of nine nights. Four of these were in the German/Luxembourg Nature Preserve, of which she slept under a tarp one night and in
her hammock the other nights. Temperatures were in the 15 to 25 C (60 to 75 F) range, with heavy rain the first night, elevation around 400 m (1300 ft). Another four were near Lissburg castle,
in a larger medieval tent, at similar elevation. Temperatures were in the 10 to 20 C (50 to 70 F) range, with rain on two nights. The last night was spent on a nearby hill (elevation 150 m / 500 ft),
temperatures throughout the night between 10 and 15 C (50 to 60 F). It was calm that night and did not rain (though her younger sister and I had chosen to sleep underneath the rain fly of her
hammock in anticipation of a possible shower).
My daughter continues to be more than happy with the bag. This appears to be due to both the feel of the bag on her skin and an infatuation with the odd pink
camouflage scheme of the bag. In any event, the bag is now stored (unzipped) inside her bed, where it does duty side by side with her usual blanket.
In the temperatures encountered so far, the bag has been fully adequate. My daughter has never complained about being cold, nor did I ever get the feeling (when
checking up on her at night) that she was sleeping too cold. She has mostly stayed on her insulation pad during the nights. As the bag does not have a means
of attaching it to the pad, she did sometimes come off her pad at night. Anticipating this, I had usually placed her so that she wouldn't end up on the
naked ground. Both on the ground and in her hammock (where she often contacted the sides of the hammock without an intervening pad) this did not create problems.
The bag is usually packed into her ultralight pack by unrolling her pad inside the pack and then stuffing the sleeping bag into the middle. As she usually does not
carry much more than this (and her pack features an additional pocket for other things), usually that's all that is packed. This does not require serious compression
of the bag. It's easy for my eight year old daughter to accomplish by herself, and has usually resulted in the bag appearing virtually uncompressed shortly after it
came out of the pack.
The bag has held up remarkably well so far. It's been babied less than I tend to baby my own bags - it's my daughter's, after all. Which means that she's dragged it
around our home with her younger sister zipped into it (she would have fallen out otherwise, she was laughing so hard). I'm somewhat disappointed with the zipper - it seems
designed to snag. My daughter has managed to snag it so badly that it took me several minutes to free the zipper. On the up side, this has never happened in a way which
would have prevented her from getting out of the bag sufficiently quickly for a potty break, nor has it resulted in holes torn into the bag.
Summary So Far:
I'm happy with it so far. My daughter loves it. Verdict on its lower limit still outstanding - we may be able to test that after we move to the US. Stay tuned.
LONG TERM REPORT:
We have not, unfortunately, been able to test the lower end of the bag's temperature spectrum. Cold weather was slow to arrive in Germany, and when it finally did get there I was on a business trip in Brazil and shortly thereafter relocated to the US and am now on a business trip in the Solomon Islands. So we have only slept one additional night outdoors, in circumstances pretty much exactly like the last one described above.
The bag continues to share the number one spot in my daughter's nighttime snuggly things along with the quilted blanket my wife made for her many years ago. As such, it's seen a lot of use outside its role as an actual sleeping bag - this has included being dragged around the hardwood floor of our new place with Renee's little sister zipped into it.
I maintain the concern I have regarding the total thickness of the bag in view to its temperature rating. However, the bag has taken everything my daughters could throw at it with impressive nonchalance, which is good.
The bag looks weird and feels nice. It seems to be on the thin side but is certainly more rugged than the playful pink camouflage pattern lets on. It appears that this will be my daughter's warm weather sleeping bag for some time to come.
Read more reviews of Exxel Outdoors gear
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