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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > GoLite Adrenaline 20 Sleeping Bag > Test Report by Andre Corterier

GoLite Adrenaline 20 F Sleeping Bag

Test Report by Andrť Corterier
Initial Report 27 February 2008
Field Report 30 April 2008
Long Term Report 6 July 2008

GoLite Adrenaline 20 F Men's Regular (image by GoLite)

GoLite Adrenaline 20 F Men's Regular on my balcony Personal Biographical Information:
Name: Andrť Corterier
Gender: M
Age: 36
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Shoulder Girth: 122 cm (48 in)
Email: andreDOTcorterierATfreenetDOTde
Home: Bonn, Germany

Backpacking Background:
I have started out with backpacking slowly Ė 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-camper. Iíve begun upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water) of a little less than 10 kg (22 lb) for three-season camping.

Year of manufacture: 2007 ?
Manufacturer: GoLite, LLC
URL: http://www.golite.com/
MSRP: 325.00 USD

listed weight: 1 lb 13 oz / 850 g (sic)
measured weight, size regular: 898 g (1 lb 15.68 oz)
stuff sack weight: 21 g (0.74 oz)
max given user height: 6 ft (1.83 m) (size regular)


Introduction:
The GoLite Adrenaline 20 F sleeping bag is the mid-range sleeping bag of the GoLite company's lightest line of full-wrap bags, unsurprisingly called the "Adrenaline" series. According to the manufacturer, the Adrenaline bags feature 800 cuin fill power down, lightweight construction, a trim mummy-shaped "male-specific" fit and a half zipper down the center of the chest. Also included are a baffled hood and insulated draft tubes in the hood and along the zipper. The top and foot end of the bag make up "waterproof Pertex Endurance Arid Zones" (manufacturer's web page). Of course, the hang tag coming with the bag states that the manufacturer of the Pertex Endurance fabric describes it as "windproof" and "extremely water resistant", which is an important distinction to water*proof*.

The Adrenaline series features entries in the 0, 20 and 40 degree Fahrenheit (-18, -7 and 4 degrees C) range, colour-coded in "Orange Pop/Grease" (orange/grey), "Poseidon/Grease" (blue/grey) and "Lawn/Grease" (green/grey), respectively.

The Adrenaline 20 which is the subject of this test series features, according to the manufacturer, 6 in (15 cm) baffles with 5 in (12.5 cm) of loft. It is blue in the center, with the hood and foot piece in grey. The inside is a dark, nearly black material.

Fit:
I tried it on the moment I got it home from customs. I was worried it might not fit (I had indicated preference for the "long" version due to the manufacturer's sizing specs, but those had been sold out. So it was decided to try it with the regular size so as not to hold up the test, and I'm happy to report that it fits! Perfectly, in fact. I'm glad I didn't get a long version with an extra 6 in (15 cm) of bag space to heat. My feet, stuck way down into the footbox, contact the footbox bottom though with no perceptible pressure exerted on the bag, while my head lies so that my face is exactly centered in the hood's (small) face opening. I'm guessing this particular bag might fit someone another inch or so (2-3 cm) taller than I, but that would have to be the upper limit. Given the need for certain manufacturing tolerances, I have to say the folks at GoLite aren't far off and I wouldn't recommend going with the regular size to anyone taller than I.

As far as the "girth" of the bag is considered, it noticeably slims down at the hip. You can see it in the picture. As I'm slender, I have sufficient - if not quite ample - room in the chest area that I can keep my arms over my chest, along the chest and in various other positions without feeling that I'm exerting pressure against the bag from the inside. Not so with my legs - either I pull them both up, or they stay extended. I don't have a problem with that. While I sometimes pull up one leg and leave the other extended when underneath a blanket, that is not a position I expect to be able to enter while in a sleeping bag. My slight initial concern that this bag might feel overly constrictive - given that its tight fit is even part of its marketing, and that I've been using a stretchy bag in the recent past - is assuaged. I'm looking forward to taking this bag out into the field.

The Zipper:
Tear in the draft tube The zipper runs down (or up) the center of the chest, from about waist level to the face opening. There's an insulated draft tube running along its length. While the draft tube seems sewn to the bag in such a way that it tends to cover the zipper when the bag is closed, I have two initial concerns in its regard:

One is that tossing and turning in the bag, particularly if I move my right arm across my chest, might move the draft tube (which is sewn to the bag to the left of the zipper when I look at it from inside the bag) away from the zipper, in which case heat loss through the zipper might become an issue.

The other is that the draft tube material might easily become entangled in the zipper, particularly as there is no "zipper guard" of stronger material sewn in to prevent this.

I was thinking about just this possibility when I exited the bag after having been in it for the first time, trying it on for size. On my first closer inspection of the bag, immediately thereafter, I saw a hole in the draft tube, with a bit of down peeking out - obviously damage due to an unfortunate entanglement in the ripper, um, zipper. Hmm. I am almost entirely certain that this hadn't been there when I first spread out the bag - while it's a small spot, the white down is quite visible against the dark fabric of the draft tube. So it appears that I made this hole the very first time I used the zipper. Well - too bad. I intend to fix this with a bit of sticky tape and have resolved to be extra careful in the future. I should state that I did not feel any indication of the zipper having snagged when I closed it or opened it, except maybe for it running less than entirely smoothly. I should also state that I understand (and appreciate) that ultralight bags are made of the lightest material that will still contain down. And I have posited in the past that most "zipper guard" contraptions are only effective about half of the time, and therefore a waste of time and money and - worst of all - excess weight. So I guess I'll just have to be careful.

Hood detail The Hood:
GoLite calls this a "SkullGlove" hood. I have a jacket by the same manufacturer that was marketed as coming with a "SkullGlove", in this case, a balaclava sewn to the jacket. It was a nice balaclava (I still use it) though I didn't see the point of it being sewn to the jacket (it no longer is). In the case at hand, the hood isn't a rounded top end for the sleeping bag. Rather, the bag has distinct shoulders where the sides of the bag come in, with a hood for only the head, much like on a jacket. That seems smart - less volume to heat, and where it counts the most!

I'm sure it takes some trixity sewing to make a differentially cut bag conform to three-dimensional contours like that, but my initial impression is that it seems to work. It fits just as well as other hoods I'm used to, only tighter.

The face opening, though, is really small - even with the adjustable pull fully extended. I find that I can look out okay, so I'm not bothered by its tight fit, but it seems as though I'll have to use the zipper to vent this bag even a little. It can be adjusted to be made even smaller, apparently to a degree where only my nose will peep out. As usually with bags, I wonder how much of this ability the manufacturer took into account when deciding to rate this bag to 20 F (-7 C).

Also, again as usually, I wonder why there are two cord locks to reduce the face opening. They both attach to the same line which is running through the hood's seam, so it appears to me as though one such cord lock would do the trick. Why the extra one? I know that I personally require both hands to adjust these things anyway, but maybe some people prefer the one more easily accessible for their preferred hand. Whatever the case, it's probably very few grams that I can save by taking one of these off after the Long Term Report.

The Arid Zones:
The top and foot end of the bag are made from a different material than the rest of the bag. According to the blurb on the bag's hang tag regarding its material, these zones are made from Pertex Endurance, supposedly "totally windproof, extremely water resistant and highly breathable". I wonder how much heavier or more expensive it is that GoLite decided not to cut the whole bag from this cloth. But it seems like a good spot for some additional protection, particularly as I sometimes use a rather minimalist shaped tarp and find that I sometimes touch it at night with head or toe. This has led to some moisture sinking into my bag before, and I'd be happy if that can be avoided in the future.

Comfort:
The inside surface of this bag is very soft against the skin - more so than in a number of bags I've recently touched. Almost a shame that I'll mostly be wearing at least a base layer inside the bag. However, going naked inside the bag when approaching the warm side of its temperature envelope is something I'm looking forward to already.

Accessories:
The bag shipped with a large cotton storage sack and a small stuff sack which appears to be made from silnylon. It is the lightest sleeping bag stuff sack I have encountered so far. I'll be sure to store the bag in the cotton sack while I'm at home. In the next couple of weeks, however, it will likely spend a couple of days in the stuff sack and the balance of days hung by the hang loop at the bottom of the sleeping bag. Oh, and I found an additional hang loop on the *inside* of the bag, in the foot box. I guess that will make it much easier to hang it out to air inside out. Neat.


Field Report:

Field Experience:
The GoLite Adrenaline on Kumotori-san, Mt. Fuji in the distance I've had the bag out for four nights total. Unfortunately, two of those nights were above freezing and one around freezing, so I'm glad the first night actually hit the bag's advertised rating of 20 F (-7 C) on the mark. This first night was on the top of Kumotori-san in Japan, at an elevation of 2018 m (6621 ft), with wind picking up from still to strong but no precipitation (except for what the wind picked up from the ground). The remainder of the nights were spent nearby, at elevations around 100 m (330 ft), temps from just below freezing to 7 C (45 F).

Warmth:
For me, who - as far as I can tell - sleeps neither particularly warm nor cold, the bag seems rated just about correctly, though definitely not conservatively. The one night I tested the bag at its rated temperature, I had covered around 1700 m (5600 ft) of elevation gain in one 8-hour hike. I arrived at the top of Kumotori-san at midnight and have to say that I was pretty beat. Unpacking the bag was no problem and it seemed to loft up well while I spent too much time pumping up my down air mattress. I wasn't at my best anymore, and took much longer than I should. The end result was that I was rather cold as I crept into the bag, particularly my feet (which had gotten wet on my ascent). In the bag, I took off the fleece jacket I had put on while setting up "camp" (believing that a bag's rating should reflect an occupant wearing a base layer, but no more) and tried to shiver myself warm. This was partially effective. I felt less acutely chilled when the wind began to pick up. Due to the wind, I felt forced to vacate my position just outside of the summit emergency shelter on top of Kumotori-san and move inside. I believe that if it had remained calm, I would have become "warm" enough to relax a little and get some sleep. This is, in my opinion, the absolute minimum requirement of a bag at its rating. Taking into account that I was physically fatigued to a much larger extent than I usually am at the end of even long, hard hiking days, resting at an altitude I was not accustomed to and had been cold when getting into the bag, leads me to say that the bag seems adequately rated. I'll just remember that at least when using bags (rather than testing them), having some safety margin in the bag's insulation or creating it by wearing more clothes to bag is the sensible thing to do.

As it was, I continued the remainder of the night inside the shelter. While it was warmer inside the hut (with several other sleepers), it was still below freezing (as attested to by my frozen water bottle the next day). After having had to go to the outhouse again, for which I put on most of my clothes, I left them on when going back to bag and became warm enough to sleep. I was, in fact, finally nicely and snugly warm (wearing a fleece jacket and beanie). The other nights, spent several degrees above the bag's rating and begun much less exhausted, did not create any problems at all. The latter two nights I spent in the bag naked, which did not create any warmth problems (with the possible exception of a few drafts, for which see below).

Wind:
The manufacturer indicates that the top and bottom sections of the bag are windproof and water resistant, while - presumably - the center section is neither. On top of Kumotori-san, I first camped outside the emergency shelter, because the temperatures outside were right at the bag's posted rating, making for a perfect testing opportunity. It was a very calm night, with no perceptible wind when I arrived on Kumotori-san right at midnight. I spent some time in the bag trying to get warm and just as I was getting the impression that I might be successful at it, wind picked up. It was just a little bit at first, but soon got stronger. I first pulled out the emergency space blanket I carry, and wrapped it around the bag, careful to have the silver side facing it. This worked for a while, until the wind really picked up. Picked up snow crystals, that is, and dumped them into my bag through the face opening. That's when I gave up and retired inside.

Apart from sleeping exposed to the wind, the choice of fabrics on the various areas of the sleeping bag has worked for me. Where moisture contacted the head section of the bag (once), it did not seep into the fabric. That was reassuring.

The one issue I have is with the bag's draft tube. I have on occasion, both up on the mountain and in warmer climes when sleeping inside the bag naked, felt a bit of a draft when moving inside the bag. I guess this creates a bellows effect, which may be more pronounced in this narrowly cut bag than in some others. This seems to combine with the centered zipper and the particular attachment of the draft tube in a way which means that the bag sucks in a bit of air from the outside through the zipper. This has been moderately annoying a few times, though it's never made me cold.

Comfort:
I've found the bag mostly comfortable to sleep in. The fabric isn't too noisy and feels good against the skin. The zipper was easily found and operated from inside the bag, though I've felt I had to take extra care not to snag the draft tube. Getting in and out of the bag has been slightly more involved than with bags with a longer zipper. This hasn't been at all annoying, however. Of course, I was sleeping on flat ground. I'll make sure to test the bag in my hammock for the Long Term Report as well.

Due to my height (*just* over the max recommended user height), it's been very important to consciously slip down into the bag as far as possible before putting the hood over my head and closing the zipper, or I'd create downward pressure from the inside of the hood onto the top of my head. But with my feet planted inside the shaped footbox, I needed to experience no pressure either at the head or the feet.

The hood has remained a small, warmth-conserving window onto the world out there. It seems to serve its purpose. In warmer temperatures I have sometimes looked for a way to relax the hood in order to create a larger hood opening. The drawcord around the hood opening doesn't allow me to do this, as the maximum width of the hood opening is still pretty small (though it can be made even smaller with that drawcord). The center zipper serves that function, however. While opening the zipper changes the shape of the hood opening in a way I'm not used to, I *can* achieve a larger opening when I want to. The hood has prevented drafts from coming in through the top (though I've felt some along the zipper). So the shape and size of the hood seem to do away with the need for a more substantial draft collar around the neck.

The "Skullglove" does not, however, move with my head. As with some jacket hoods (at least whenever I'm not wearing my glasses), turning my head means that it turns inside the hood. As I tend to turn inside the sleeping bag, this also means that the hood remains facing upward while I turn my head to the side. This has sometimes been a little uncomfortable.

Given the tight fit of the bag around the legs (which doesn't allow me to pull up one leg while leaving the other extended, but hasn't been particularly uncomfortable at all), I am surprised at the amount of room I have in the chest area of the bag. When keeping my arms next to me, they have been able to roll off the (thick) Down Air Mat I was resting on to almost touch the ground - inside the bag. Of course, I'm rather slender and this may be good news to people a little larger around the chest than I. It should also provide a lot of room for layering in case I want to take the bag out into *real* cold.

Durability:
I've had no durability issues with the bag so far. Of course it hasn't seen the kind of use which would lead one to expect such. The one concern I had regarding the draft tube has not resurfaced during the field report phase. While I generally tried to be extra careful with the draft tube, I believe I didn't always live up to that when leaving the bag in the middle of the night for a potty break. Nevertheless, while I may or may not have snagged the draft tube again (not always quite clear in memory the next day) I have not had another hole. So I'm happy about that.

Provisional Summary:
Likes: Light and Warm.
Dislikes: Draft tube doesn't keep out all drafts and gets in the way of the zipper.


Long Term Report:

6 July 2008

Field Experience:
Iíve used the bag for another five nights during the Long Term testing phase. Elevations were between 100 and 300 m (350 and 1000 ft), night time low temperatures between just above freezing to about 14 C (57 F). There was little precipitation at night, to none of which the bag was exposed. Itís been used inside half-open shelters and under the open sky, on top of a Down Air Mat. I had meant to try it out in a hammock, but the weekend designated for that turned out to be *way* too warm for a bag rated to 20 F (-7 C).

Warmth:
Iíve tested the low end of the bagís temperature envelope during the Field Report test phase, so I was happy to be able to approach the bagís top end during the Long Term Report phase. Iíve found it to hover right around the area of about 15 C (about 60 F).

This temperature was encountered on a three-day trip with a few of my friends and both of my daughters into the German-Luxembourg Nature Preserve in May, on what was to be an unseasonably warm (long) weekend. The puffy GoLite bag looked like overkill on the ground next to the sleeping bags of my buddies and even my daughters. And indeed it was, but I managed nevertheless.

Of course, the bag vents via a center zipper Ė this not only allowed for a wide opening on top, it made it impossible for me to achieve a long, small opening. The further down I moved the zipper, the further open fell the top end of the bag. In the first night under these conditions, I experienced moments in which I was (ever so slightly) sweating around the groin area while simultaneously feeling just a little chilled on my upper body (owing to the temperature, I had chosen to sleep naked).

On the second night, I put on a long-sleeved wool top. This allowed me to open the bag a bit further to compensate for the warmth of the top layer, without feeling chilled on the top of my body. In fact, I was now able to adjust the zipper of the bag as well as the zipper on my base layer which made it easy to find a comfortable heat distribution. With the base layer pulled down as far as it would go over my butt and groin, I never felt drafts even though the bag was most of the way open. I slept very well, if on the warm side.

The next morning, just after sunrise, I confirmed the temperature on the ground next to my bag and pad to be 14 C (57 F).

Comfort:
Another key feature of a bag. Iíve found the inside material of the bag quite comfortable on my naked skin, and not to generate undue amounts of static electricity when rubbing against my base layer. It occurs to me as I write this that itís been in contact only with a merino wool base layer and I am therefore unable to comment on how it would fare in contact with synthetics.

I found the bagís center zipper initially problematic when it got warmer. With a side zipper, the open portion of the bag still rests on top of me, providing a reduced, but still present, bit of insulation. With the center zipper, the top of the bag fell away from my shoulder, thus exposing my upper body. I found this to be slightly uncomfortable when sleeping in the bag naked in temperatures above freezing but below 10 C (50 F), where I wanted to vent the bag just a little.

As mentioned above, I found a lightweight, long-sleeved base layer to be the perfect accessory for the bag. It served as an equalizer between the covered and uncovered portions of my body, thereby letting me sleep comfortably in the higher temperature range. A bit counter-intuitive perhaps, but I like wearing a base layer to bag anyway Ė keeps body oils one more layer away from the bagís down and means I donít have to get semi-dressed before heading for a potty break in the middle of the night. So I was happy with this solution.

Getting into and out of the bag wasnít hard. Yes, itís cut slim around the legs, but as the center zipper opens down to the waist, that did not constitute a problem (with the bag on the ground). Around the upper body the bag is actually cut rather wide, so I donít foresee any issues using this bag even if I were to gain a lot of weight (and see the possibility of taking this bag a bit further down, temperature-wise, by wearing a puffy jacket at night).

Durability:
I have no (further) durability issues with the bag. Itís held up well. It is now a greyish blue on top and bottom where dust stubbornly clings to it, but I donít mind that much, so havenít started a serious effort of cleaning it there. The duct tape I used to cover the one tear I seem to have created when first trying out the bag still serves as a patch with no sign of detaching, which seems to bode well for possible future field repairs. Iíve been careful regarding the draft tube, and havenít snagged it seriously during the test since that first time.

I have not had any exposure of the bag during the Long Term testing period which would shed additional light on the windproof/water resistant aspects of the bag's top and bottom.

Summary:
Pros: Warm for the weight. It gets me about 10 degrees C (18 degrees F) further down at a weight ďpenaltyĒ of only 230 g (8 oz) compared to my other quality down bag. If one could extend this further down, an 1100 g (39 oz) bag should keep me warm down to -17 C (0 F), which I donít believe is currently possible. So this bag does seem to deliver a lot of punch for the pound.
Cons: The draft tube didnít work quite as well as it should and was prone to be caught in the zipper.

The GoLite Adrenaline 20 will be my cold weather bag for the foreseeable future. I'd like to thank GoLite and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.



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