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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Exxel Suisse Sport McKinley sleeping bag > Test Report by Derek Hansen

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Photo courtesy exxel.com

Suisse Sport — McKinley 0°F Sleeping Bag

Test Series by Derek Hansen

TESTER INFORMATION

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NameDerek Hansen
Age36
GenderMale
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight175 lb (79 kg)
Email Address pix-obfuscated
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), which includes food and water. Because I pack less than 20 lb (9 kg), I prefer lightweight trail-running shoes. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer Suisse Sport
Year of Manufacture 2012, made in China
Distributor’s Website exxel.com
MSRP N/A
Listed Features
  • 0 to 5°F (-18 to -15°C) temperature rating
  • 3 lbs (1.4 kg) Hollowblend Microtekk Z1 insulation
  • Durable polyester out and liner
  • Double-layer offset quilt
  • Full chest baffle and draft tube
  • Two-piece compression sack
Manufacturer Recommendations
  • Leave bag zipped when washing
  • Use a front-loading non-agitating washing machine
  • Shake bag out vigorously to re-adjust insulation, if needed
  • Do not dry clean
  • Do not use a damp sleeping bag
Measurements
Specifications What They Say What I Say
Weight 3 lbs (1.4 kg) 4.3 lbs (2 kg)
Dimensions 33 (head) 24 (foot) x 84 28 (head) 20 (foot) x 80 in (71/51 x 203 cm)
Colors Blue and grey with red highlights
Sizes One size
Warranty None listed.
Materials Polyester filling and shell


INITIAL REPORT

9 Aug 2012

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

As a 0°F (-18°C) rated mummy-style sleeping bag, the Suisse Sport McKinley 0°F Sleeping Bag is arguably designed for the winter season, but could work for all seasons with proper venting. The bag features a double-layer offset quilt and a zipper on the right-hand side. The zipper does not extend around the foot end of the bag and leaves 15 in (38 cm) for a foot box.

There is a full chest baffle and a draft tube along the zipper to help eliminate drafts. The chest baffle can be cinched closed. There is also a cord lock cinch that can close up the hood.

A small patch of hook-and-loop fastener folds over the zipper when it is fully zipped to add security to the closure around the head. This patch of fabric can fold over itself to another strip of hook-and-loop fabric to eliminate snagging when the zipper is open.

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This small closing patch has a small zipper that creates a pocket on the flap. The pocket/patch measures 3.25 x 4 in (8.3 x 10.1 cm). The zipper is sewn on the diagonal. I'm not exactly sure the purpose of the zippered pocket: it's too small for my iPhone or digital camera, and I wouldn't want to store any snacks in there.

The outer fabric has the appearance of a shiny diamond pattern, but it looks purely cosmetic and not structural (e.g., ripstop).

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

This sleeping bag and its companion stuff sack have the feel of inexpensive components and materials. The material is soft, but nothing out of the ordinary. The draw strings for both the chest and head baffles are located on the left side. I felt that the chest baffle was located too low. It crosses my body just below my shoulders -- to high to fit my arms above and too low for my neck. Once cinched, I feel very confined, almost tied up in the bag. The tightness is increased by the narrow shoulder region. I began to feel stifled in the bag.

I can also pull the inner fabric layer away from the outer shell, and it feels as though there are two layers of insulation: one sewn onto the inner fabric layer, and one sewn onto the outer fabric shell. It is very strange that I can pull the inner and outer fabric parts away from each other, almost like I can turn the bag inside itself.

I'm a little disappointed in the zipper already. After a few days of examining and testing at home, the zipper end is separating from the teeth and I have to be careful if the zipper comes out because getting the zipper to feed into the pulls requires some diligent aligning otherwise the zipper will fail.

As I prefer to hammock camp when I can, I often use a sleeping bag unzipped anyway, so this bag has worked out great as a modified quilt in my home hammock tests. The temperatures have been in the 60s and I've been very comfortable.

On the ground, in contrast, the bag feels very confining when it is all zipped up.

In the past, I would rate myself as a cold sleeper, especially when using synthetic-filled sleeping bags. I am curious at how this bag will perform.

INITIAL SUMMARY

Overall, the McKinley sleeping bag feels ordinary and somewhat like a low-end budget sleeping bag. I'm going to keep my eye on the zipper to see if it becomes unserviceable. I have no idea of the purpose behind the diagonal zipper pocket.

PRO—Smooth fabric.

CON—Cheap materials. Tight in the shoulders. Awkwardly placed chest baffle. Zipper separating near foot end.

FIELD REPORT

23 Oct 2012

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've taken the sleeping bag on four overnight camping trips in the last few months. I've also used the sleeping bag on numerous sleepovers in my house and two car trips.

Aug 9-10, 17-18: Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff, Arizona. These were both family camping trips with minimal hiking. Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,100 m).

Aug 24-25: Sycamore Canyon, near Williams, Arizona. The elevation was 6,500 ft (2,000 m). During the night, the temperature dropped into the mid-50s °F (10 °C).

Sep 28-29: Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona. I went on an overnight camping trip with my Boy Scout troop. The overnight low was in the upper 30s °F (3 °C) and around 70 °F (21 °C) in the day. The elevation was 7,000 ft (2,100 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Despite my initial misgivings about this sleeping bag, I'm very impressed with its warmth. I consider myself a borderline "cold" sleeper, and I find that synthetic-filled bags leave me colder than similarly-rated down-filled bags. I have been very pleased to discover that this bag has kept me warm when other synthetic bags have left me frigid.

On my family camps and with the scouts in the Coconino National Forest I slept in a tent on a closed-cell foam pad. While I'm not fond of ground sleeping, I was comfortable enough and very warm in the bag. I didn't wear anything extra special to bed (I typically sleep in my hiking clothes), but I do change my socks and throw on a balaclava or hat.

I've spent many nights with the sleeping bag indoors in a hammock. While the conditions indoors are not equal the the variables in the outdoors, we do keep the house cool at night, in the mid 60s°F (18°C). Typically I need something extra underneath me in a hammock to keep warm when temperatures drop below 75°F (24°C), but the McKinley bag worked great and I didn't need a pad or bottom quilt at all. To get in the hammock with the sleeping bag, I would unzip the bag completely and lay it down on the hammock, then I would sit in the bag and get inside and zip myself up.

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On occasions when I did use a pad in my hammock, I would leave the sleeping bag unzipped, leaving only the sewn-up footbox closed. For a hammock, this is ideal because I can slip my feet in the bottom of the bag and tuck the sleeping bag around me, making this the easiest way to get "tucked in" into a hammock.

My confidence in the bag's warmth led me to bring it on an overnight trip with the Boy Scouts where I opted for a hammock and no other insulation besides the McKinley. The temperatures dropped into the 50s°F (10°C) and I began to feel cool on my back. It was enough that I wasn't getting any sleep and I had to rig something to stay warm. I had a spare poncho/tarp with me that I slung under the hammock. It was loose, but it helped cut the wind and trap some dead air. This is all it took for me to feel comfortable with only the McKinley sleeping bag as insulation.

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During one trip, as I was zipping up the bag and turning to my side, I heard and felt a "pop." I discovered that a seam had pulled near the zipper. On closer inspection, I could see "strained" seams all along the sleeping bag.

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Another failure in the bag is the zipper. At the foot box, the teeth on one side began to pull apart, making it difficult to attach the zipper pull and close the zipper. I worried it would fail and I tried to prevent the zipper from coming completely off, but to no avail. When the teeth became so loose that getting the zipper together was a nightmare, I decided to sew across the zipper a few inches above the end. It took a while to get the zipper put together, but now with the sewing, the zipper will not fail (or come apart) again.

FIELD USE SUMMARY

The bag's warmth nearly makes up for the construction flaws and material defects. I've never used the zipper pouch. The draft collar is still in the wrong place and just annoying.


LONG TERM REPORT

8 Jan 2013

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

This bag has become the "go-to" sleeping bag around the house for snuggling and sleeping. I use it about twice a week when I sleep in my hammock indoors. I was able to use it on a car camping trip for two nights with interesting results

Jan 6-8: Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona. I slept in a hammock with the bag and the overnight low was 6°F (-14°C). The elevation was 7,000 ft (2,100 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During my car camping experience, I brought along a few sleeping bags as the temperature was going to be pretty low (6°F/-14°C) and I didn't want to risk getting too cold. The McKinley bag is rated to 0°F (-18°C), yet the loft is not very thick, so I was worried about warmth. I have another 0°F (-18°C)-rated, synthetic-filled sleeping bag and I was absolutely frigid at 32°F (0°C), so I was a little worried about a similar experience in the McKinley.

During the first night, I wore two layers of fleece tops and bottoms and a make-shift vapor barrier liner: my rain gear. As I lay in my hammock, drifting off to sleep, I wondered how long it would take for me to cool off and add more sleeping bags to stay warm. To my surprise, I slept comfortably the whole night and woke up at 5 AM ready for the day. So far, so good. The only issue during the night was when I shifted my legs and my knees pressed the bag and I felt a cold spot. I sleep pretty still in a hammock, on my back, and I guess the bag stayed "lofted" above me with out touching me much except when I moved.

My only gripe with the sleeping bag in the hammock was trying to find the draw cord for the chest baffle. I was completely cocooned inside the sleeping bag with the zipper closed. I knew the draw cord was somewhere along the baffle but in the dark I was struggling to twist to find it. Cursing, I found it behind my left shoulder and I was able to loosen it to get a good fit in the bag. This twisting experience made me think that the cord lock would be better placed either by the zipper or in the center by the chest.

The next night I tried the McKinley again, but slept on the ground. I didn't wear as many layers this time, but I was wearing my rain gear. I was nice and hot when I went to bed, but within 30 minutes, I was developing cold spots where my lower body came in contact with the sleeping bag. First, my backside got cold, then my knees. I tried vigorously moving about to generate heat, but then lay on my back, staring up at the stars realizing that I could either sleep miserably all night or try something else. Thankfully I had backup and used it. I'm not sure why I grew so cold the second night with relatively the same conditions, but I'm guessing the way the hammock cocooned me and pushed the sleeping bag to loft above me probably helped. On the ground, the bag pressed more against my body and created conductive heat loss.

FINAL SUMMARY

I feel this bag as some clear construction flaws, including the misplaced chest baffle, draw cord locations, and mysterious zipper pocket. The bag was nice and comfortable to about 40°F (4°C), but my experiences pushing the bag's limits were "shivering." I realize that bag ratings are somewhat subjective, and the lower limits are sometimes referred to as the "survival" limit, not necessarily a "bliss" rating. I think with that description, the bag lives up to it's rating, but I wouldn't pick it for winter camping below 35°F (2°C).

PRO—Great for casual, moderate-weather car camping.

CON—Chest draw cord is inconveniently placed.


I would like to thank Exxel Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.



Read more reviews of Exxel Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Derek Hansen

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Exxel Suisse Sport McKinley sleeping bag > Test Report by Derek Hansen



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