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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Exxel Suisse Sport McKinley sleeping bag > Test Report by Erin Foudy

Suisse Sport McKinley Sleeping Bag
Test Series by Erin Foudy

Initial Report August 15th, 2012
Field Report October 24th, 2012
Long Term Report January 9th, 2013




Tester Info:           
Name:  Erin Foudy
Age:  31
Gender:  Female
Height:  5'11'' (1.8 m)
Weight:  150 lbs (68 kg)
Email address:  erinfoudyATyahooDOTcom
City, State, Country:  Tucson, Arizona, USA

Backpacking Background:
I started backpacking while working for the National Park service ten years ago.  I have been a backcountry ranger/law enforcement ranger and served on search and rescue crews.  I typically take two or more camping trips a month, year round.  I appreciate light weight, but am not obsessed by it.  I often carry a 30 lb (14 kg) pack and stay out from three to nine days at a time.  I also enjoy day trips with only water on my back.  I take trips to Colorado and Montana in the summertime and enjoy the outdoors there as well.

Initial Report

Product Information and Specifications:

Manufacturer: Exxel Outdoors
Year of Manufacture: 2012
URL: http://www.exxel.com/
MSRP: Not Listed
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 4.2 lb (1.9 kg)
Materials: 100% Polyester
Color: Blue and Gray with Red accent
Size: One Size


Description:


The Suisse Sport McKinley Sleeping Bag (hereafter referred to as the McKinley or the bag) comes with a two piece compression sack and is rated for 0 to 5 F (-18 to -15 C).  The McKinley is blue with grey stripes running lengthwise along each side.  The hood opening is outlined in a red colored fabric and the Suisse Sport logo is in red and white on top of the hood.  There is a hook-and-loop strap that closes over the zipper at the top of the bag.  The hook-and-loop strap can connect to itself as to not get caught up on the zipper side when working the zipper.  A tiny zippered pocket is located on the outside of the strap with the zipper running diagonally across the pocket for some sort of very small storage. 

There is a draft tube that runs the length of the zipper on the inside to help keep cold air from coming in through the zipper.  On the inside of the bag there is a chest baffle highlighted in red.  The baffle has a drawstring to secure the bag around my chest.  There is also a drawstring around the hood that can be used to tighten the hood down.  The bag is equipped with a standard foot box.  On the outside of the foot box there are two loops for hanging the bag to dry.


  Pictures of the small pocket located on the hook-and-loop strap.

Initial Impressions:

My first impression upon receiving the McKinley was that the the bag seemed very large for being in a  compression sack.  When I pulled the bag out of the sack I initially liked the colors and appearance of the bag but upon looking closer I found several features that left me with questions and concerns.  My first question was about the small pocket on the hook-and-loop strap.  I cannot begin to imagine what this pocket could possibly be useful for, it is incredibly small and with a diagonal pocket once the tiny pocket is open I would imagine most items would fall out.  When I opened the small pocket I noticed the fabric of the liner appeared to be unraveling.  This discovery prompted me to examine the rest of the bag's material.  The only other area I found where the fabric appeared to be unraveling was a small area along the zipper at the top of the bag.  These areas concern me about the quality of the fabric used to make the McKinley.  Next, I decided to get inside the bag to see how well I fit inside and how the zipper, chest baffle, and hood closure worked.  The bag fit me just fine, I was happy to find that it was long enough for me; I typically, because of my hight, buy sleeping bags with the option of tall or long.  When I zipped the bag up the zipper ran smoothly and did not get caught up in the fabric.  However, once the zipper was completely zipped closed and I started to move around to see how easy it was to access the chest baffle the zipper began to unzip.  I was then able to completely unzip the entire bag without ever putting my hands on the zipper pull.  As someone who tends to toss and turn in the night this concerns me, a zipper that unzips every time I roll over would become very annoying on a cold night.  After zipping myself back up in the bag I tightened the chest baffle.  The chest baffle cinched the bag tight below my shoulders around my upper arms, for me, creating the feeling of what I imagine it would feel like to be in a straight jacket.  Combining the chest baffle with the drawstring around the hood made me feel completely claustrophobic.        

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Inside of small pocket.

Summary:

So far, after examining the McKinley sleeping bag I have questions and concerns over the functionality of the bag and its durability.  I am confused as to the purpose of the small zippered bag on the hook-and-loop strap, and concerned about the fabric of the bag as it appears to be unraveling in places and the zipper that practically unzips on its own.  The bag is one sized which worked for me in the length of the bag but not in the placement of the chest baffle.  I look forward to extensively testing this bag to see how the McKinley actually performs in the field.

Pros:
1.  One sized bag is long enough for my tall frame

Cons:
1.  Unraveling fabric
2.  Zipper seems weak
3.  Chest baffle is located to low on my body
4.  Not sure what the function of the outside pocket is



Fraying material near zipper.


Field Report

Field Conditions:

Coronado National Forest, Mt. Lemon during two separate 2-day, 1-night car camping trips.  Elevation around 8,000 ft (2,438 m).  Temperatures ranged from the 40s F to the mid 80s F (10 C to 27 C). 

Coconino National Forest, near Greer, Arizona during a 2-day, 1-night car camping trip.  The Elevation near 8,500 ft (2,591 m).  Temperature got as low as 28 F (-2 C) in the early morning.

Performance in the Field:


Thus far in this test I would rate this bag as mediocre.  It isn't the greatest bag, however, it isn't bad either.  As mentioned in my initial report I was concerned about unraveling fabric.  So far during the testing I haven't had any additional spots of concern or further unraveling of the trouble spots originally reported.  Of course, I have only used this bag a total of three nights so far.  I am really hoping that as I get further into this test and as the McKinley gets more use that the fabric holds strong. 

As far as functionality I have been very pleased with the warmth of the bag.  I get cold, some would say, ridiculously easy.  I did use a sleeping bag liner all three nights I used this bag because I am such a sissy when it comes to the cold.  Even with my expensive cold weather sleeping bags I prefer to use a liner now because I become cold so easily.  I didn't find that I got too cold or hot while using the bag, it kept me at a very comfortable temperature even in below freezing temperatures.    

Some of the things I continue to be frustrated with on the Mckinley are the placement of the chest baffle, and the zipper.  The chest baffle is just annoying, it hits me around my shoulders in a way that is uncomfortable and constricting.  The chest baffle is, for me, completely unusable because of where it is located on the bag in relation to my height.  Additionally, the drawstring and plastic cinch wind up underneath me when I sleep and dig into my upper back or shoulder depending on how I am sleeping.   The zipper has a tendency to unzip itself if I move around too much.  As I reported in my initial report I can completely unzip the entire bag from inside without ever touching the pull on the zipper.  While I was using the Mckinley, typically what would happen is I would roll from my back to my side while sleeping and then when I went to roll back onto my back the bag would begin to unzip.  It wouldn't unzip completely but enough that it was noticeable and I then had to zip it back up to stay warm.  Not a huge problem but certainly annoying when trying to sleep. 

Summary:

This bag has surprised me with its warmth and despite my initial concerns about the integrity of its construction it has held up so far.  However, the chest baffle is misplaced for my height and the drawstring and plastic cinch makes the bag uncomfortable to sleep in at times.  In addition the zipper unzips itself as I move around during the night.   

Pros:
1.  One sized bag is long enough for my tall frame
2.  No further unraveling of the fabric
3.  Bag keeps me comfortable and warm

Cons:
1.  Zipper unzips on its own during the night
2.  Chest baffle is located to low on my body
3.  Chest baffle drawstring and plastic cinch dig into my back and shoulder





Long Term Report

Field Conditions:

Coronado National Forest, Josephine Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains for a 2-day, 1-night car camping trip over New Years.  Elevation at around 4,500 ft (1,370 m).  Temperatures ranged from 15 F to 45 F (-9 C to 7 C).

Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, Happy Valley on a 2-day, 1-night car camping trip. The elevation was about 4,500 ft (1,370 m).  Temperatures ranged from 25 F to 50 F (-4 to 10 C).

Coronado National Forest, Mt Lemmon for a 3-day, 2-night weekend car camping trip with some friends, kids, and dogs.  The elevation was about 8,000 ft (2,438 m) with temperatures ranging from 30 F to 50 F (-1 to 10 C).


Performance in the Field:

The majority of the time I have used the McKinley bag I have been pretty surprised, as well as satisfied, with the warmth this bag has provided.  That was true until the very last night I used the bag over New Years Eve.  As mentioned previously in this report, I get cold easily, and because of that I try to take the proper precautions while sleeping (long under ware, fleece leggings, a beanie, and a sleeping bag liner) so that I can in fact sleep.  The temperatures got pretty low where we were camping that night, it had even snowed on us a bit while we were setting up camp.  Considering the temperatures I wasn't surprised, albeit a little bummed, when I woke up very cold and shivering in the night.  Lucky for me my boyfriend was also awake from the cold and was willing to run to the truck to get our other sleeping bags.  Once in both bags, the McKinley inside my usual cold weather sleeping bag, I slept like a baby the rest of the night.

On the other nights I slept in the bag I experienced the same comfort as reported in my previous field report.  I slept comfortably as far as warmth but was annoyed by the placement of the chest baffle, along with the drawstring and plastic cinch for the chest baffle that dug into my back and shoulder.  The most inconvenient and annoying part of the McKinley bag was the zipper that continuously came unzipped whenever I moved while inside it.  Aside from these issues I have been pleased in how well the material of the bag has held up.  The fabric has not frayed or come apart any more then first noted when I received the bag.  Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the stuff sack the McKinley came in.  The fabric on the sack is wearing thin and looks as if it could rip apart at any second, see picture below. 


Summary:

The McKinley sleeping bag is about what I would expect for a more economically priced bag.  It has some design flaws, and the materials used for the bag are, in my opinion, not the best.  However, for a very affordable bag it got the job done in all but one night I used it.  The McKinley bag is rated for 0 to 5 F (-18 to -15 C), however, given my experiences using this bag I cannot recommend its use below 25 F (-4 C).

Pros:
1.  One sized bag is long enough for my tall frame
2.  No further unraveling of the fabric
3.  Bag keeps me comfortable and warm for the most part

Cons:
1.  Zipper unzips on its own during the night
2.  Chest baffle is located to low on my body
3.  Chest baffle drawstring and plastic cinch dig into my back and shoulder
4.  Bag does not hold up to its temperature rating of 0 to 5 F (-18 to -15 C)






Read more reviews of Exxel Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Erin Foudy

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Exxel Suisse Sport McKinley sleeping bag > Test Report by Erin Foudy



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