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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Kelty Foraker > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Kelty Foraker 15 F sleeping bag


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Nov 6, 2008

Field Report: Jan 27, 2009

Long Term Report: Mar 20, 2009


Image of Kelty Foraker sleeping bag



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Kelty
Website: http://kelty.com/
MSRP: $300 US
Weight: (stated) 45 oz (2 lb 13 oz) (1300 g)
Weight: (actual) 41.8 oz (2 lb 9.8 oz) (1185 g)
Length|Girth: (stated) 80 in.| 62 in. (203.2 cm | 157.5 cm)
Length|Girth: (measured) 82 in. | 60 in. (208 cm | 152.4 cm)
Temperature rating: 15 F (-9 C)
Colour received: Fiery Red with gray accents



Initial Report:
November 6th, 2008

The Kelty Foraker sleeping bag is rated to 15 F (-9 C). This is a 750-fill down sleeping bag. The hood and foot box of this bag are made with DWR treated nylon taffeta making for a waterproof, and breathable surface. The bottom is DWR treated polyester. The top is a soft polyester microfiber material. The bag has loops located along the sides to allow for pad lock straps to lock the bag to the pad. There are two on each side at about the elbow and mid thigh area (just above the knee). There are also two larger loops at the foot of the bag to allow the bag to be hung up. There are internal loops for attaching a liner to. They are located at the top near the top of the zipper and at the bottom of the bag near the bottom of the zipper. The hood comes with two different cords, one to tighten the top of the hood and one for the collar. The bag is designed with trapezoidal baffle construction. From the outside, this looks like chevron shaped sections that alternate between a wide section then a narrow section. Included with the bag were a cotton storage sack and a small stuff sack. This is a real stuff sack with four adjustment straps and the lid that fits over the top of the stuff sack. The foot box and hood are welded to the main body of the bag and the seams are sewn then seam sealed. The other seams are just sewn. At the top of the zipper is a flap that covers the top of the zipper with a hook and loop closure. The same flap can also fold out of the way with a hoop and loop closure to itself. The collar on the bag has a draft collar that is narrower in the middle and hangs down further on the sides to fill in the gap between neck and shoulders.

Close up of Foraker top closure   Close up of Foraker drawcord

My initial impressions of this bag were what a beautiful colour. Then I thought that it seemed a little flatter then I expected. The bag came rolled up and compressed in a plastic bag. I unrolled the bag and allowed it to air out and re-loft overnight. The bag did loft up some, but I do not have any benchmark for how much loft it should have. The top polyester microfiber material is very soft to the touch and very nice to touch. I also really like the colour, this is an amazing colour. The hood and foot box nylon is stiffer than the microfiber material on the bottom of the bag and the top microfiber material is very soft and supple. I did not expect the bag to come with a real stuff sack. I assumed it would be a small sack to stuff the sleeping bag into. Rather this is a full fledged stuff sack with a top panel and four pull lines. I am impressed by the workmanship of the bag plus the attention to detail. I feel that the pad locks, DWR treated foot box and hood, real stuff sack, and the inner liner loops show this attention to detail.

Close up of Foraker bottom hang loop   Close up of Foraker tag

I normally get quite cold when I sleep, I also sleep either on my side or stomach meaning I shift and roll around a lot in the night. I am very interested in see at what lower temperature I can take this bag and still sleep comfortably through the night. As the DC area has only just entered fall, I am hoping to be able to step down with the temperature gradually until I determine what temperature is no longer comfortable for me. I sometimes use a liner, but until I determine what temperature I can comfortably handle with this bag, I will forgo the liner. I don't normally wear much more then a thin top and underwear in my sleeping bags. I will start with my normal sleeping habits and see how comfortable the bag is against my skin and how warm I remain. As needed I will wear thermal underwear and use the liner. I will also see how well the zipper moves without catching on the draft tube or sides of the bag. I was surprised to discover that the draft tube extends all the way to the bottom of the bag, meaning it extends past the zipper stop. The picture below attempts to show this and is a view of the draft tube looking down into the foot box.

Close up of Foraker zipper   Close up of Foraker draft tube

Specific testing plans on top of evaluating the temperature rating on the bag, will include looking into the general fit. I am 5 ft 8 in. (173 cm) and will check to see how much extra space this bag will give as it fits up to a 6 ft (183 cm) person. I will look into how well the bag fits a woman's body both in the shoulder area and the hip area. I will look into how easy it is to use the pad locks, if the placement of the loops works well with curling up on my side. Although the bag didn't come with straps, I will borrow a set from another bag to test the pad locks. I will evaluate how easy it is to tighten the hood and collar once inside the bag. Will I be able to figure out if the flat cord tightens the top or the bottom of the hood? I will evaluate the ease with which I can pull up and down the zipper from inside the bag. Not only does the zipper pull flip from the outside to the inside, but the zipper is also a two way zipper meaning I can actually open the bottom of the bag for foot ventilation. How easy it is to stuff the sleeping bag into the supplied stuff sack? As the hood and foot box are waterproof breathable, I will look for drops on the hood and foot box due to tent condensation and check how dry the inside of the sleeping bag stayed.

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the Kelty Foraker sleeping bag on all my overnight outdoor activities. This will include backpacking in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park as well as occasionally car camping. I will be interested in looking into how well the sleeping bag stands up to wear and tear as well as low temperatures.



Field Report:
January 27th 2009

Over the last two and a half months, I have seven nights of usage with this sleeping bag. The trips are varied as are the temperatures encountered. For the most part, these trips used a down sleeping mattress combined with thin and mid weight thermal wool underwear. I always wore a hat and some nights I wore down booties and gloves.

Trips:
My first trip out with this sleeping bag was a two night, three day trip out to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The temperature was forecast to drop to about freezing and a thermometer verified that the temperature did in fact drop to just below freezing overnight. The trip saw an elevation loss of 2000 ft (610 m) on the first day and camping was in a small field surrounded by scrub and trees. This first night I was in the light and fast option of my tent meaning there was about a 3 in. (7.5 cm) gap between the fly and the footprint. I was using an Exped Down mat #9. I jumped into the bag with most of my clothes on but once I warmed up the bag, I disrobed down to my base layer. I found I got chilled so I slowly started pulling items back on until I was fully clothed again with thermals, and out shells. I feel that the heat loss was from below and not above. I had the hood tightened down to just expose my nose and not much else. In the morning I discovered the front part of the bag was covered in a combination of condensation and ice from my breathing. I brushed or scraped most of it off before storing the bag. The next night out was spent in a three walled shelter with the same mat. I felt I was a little warmer but not by much. Temperatures were the same on the second night although it started to rain which eventually turned into ice. I didn't notice any condensation on the third morning.

My next trip out was an overnight trip out to Big Schloss in the George Washington National Forest. The overnight temperatures dropped to 23 F (-5 C). There was about 2 in. (5 cm) of snow on the ground and the trees were covered in ice from a previous ice storm. I again was using a down mat and this time I made sure to eat and drink plenty before bed to help ward off the night chills that I had the previous trip. This did help for the first part of the evening and as long as I didn't roll over to the cold side of the sleeping bag. After I made a last night run, I found I was able to sort of warm up but barely. I was wearing wool thermal pants and wool thermal top with a fleece hat, wool balaclava, and thick socks. I think my feet ended up being the worst offenders this trip as they got cold at some point during the night and I never managed to warm them up afterwards. I don't normally have cold feet issues, I did have on a dry pair of socks with a wool liner layer. I will be looking into this over subsequent trips. I found I had almost no condensation on the bag front this time using the balaclava. Breathing through the balaclava also kept my nose warm.

Another trip out was a three day two night trip with car camping for the first night followed by a 7 mile hike in to Little Bald Mountain in Virginia. The first night out I slept quite comfortably. Temperatures that night dropped to about 40 F (4 C). The temperatures rose slightly the next morning then proceeded to drop the rest of the day to near freezing by evening. The second night out, was very windy on the summit with freezing temperatures. I was able to stay somewhat warm at first but over the night, I found I cooled off. I had mild shivers in the morning every time I changed positions.

The next trip was mostly car camping, there was a short hike in but not worth mentioning. The temperatures were actually quite warm for December. Overnight temperatures dropped to about 40 F (about 4 C) each night. The first night I was actually a little cold but otherwise wasn't too bad. There was condensation on the front of the bag from my breathing. The second night I was warmer even though the temperature was about the same. I think I ate better and drank more. I had to vent some heat during the night. Again there was condensation on the bag, plus some condensation had rained down from the tent onto the body of the bag.

Impressions and Comments:
I have found that the hood toggles are fairly easy to work from the inside of the bag. Once I have the hood tightened, I am left with a long string loop that I find either floats around in the bag, or I toss it out of the bag then have to fish around for it later. As I hadn't tried to stuff the sleeping bag into the stuff sack until the first trip, I discovered that the sleeping bag is a tight fit. I initially found that I had to really push to get the last little bit (the hood) into the stuff sack. Once in, I noticed that while the top was well stuffed, the bottom was still a little loose. I have since been able to stuff the bottom more tightly into the stuff sack to make it easier to stuff the last bit in. Once inside the stuff sack, I find I can still get more compression out of the bag. The sleeping bag really packs down, which is great as it takes up very little room in my pack that way. I'd estimate it is just bigger then a football or rugby ball.

On one of my trips out, the bag did get some moisture on it from the tent. When I woke, I was surprised to discover wet spots all over the top of the bag. I am used to the one condensation spot on the chest from breathing, but this was all over the body. I did not feel any wetness inside the bag, nor did I notice any cold spots or coldness while laying in the bag the following morning. For the most part, it seems the moisture was only on the surface and as it wasn't substantial moisture it didn't soak all the way through. The moisture came from the condensation raining down from the tent.

Given the range of temperatures I have taken the bag down to. I have been somewhat comfortable between 30 and 35 F (-1 to 2 C). Having taken it down to 25 F (-4 C) before, I found that the cold creeps in and I am shivering by morning. Between 35 and 40 F (2 to 4 C) is my best comfort zone where I am warm and happy and occasionally have to vent a little warm air. I could also shed some wool thermal layers to remain comfortable without becoming too warm. I have yet to take the bag above those temperatures nor have I taken it much below freezing. Given that I am comfortable down to freezing, should the temperature be expected to drop well below freezing, I would likely have to take an overbag to remain comfortable.

Wrap-up
Pros so far include small stuffed size and water resistant hood and footbox. Cons so far include, warm down to about 30 F (-1 C). I do get condensation build up on the chest area from breathing but I can't blame that on the bag. Knowing that though, I would like to see a waterproof panel across the first chest baffle to decrease the chance of wetting the down across the chest.

Comparison of the stuffed Foraker to a standard 32 oz (1L) Nalgene bottle



Long Term Report:
March 20th 2009

The bag has seen 3 more overnight trips for a total of 5 nights of use. I continued to have temperature issues. Read on for more details.

Trips:
I took this sleeping bag out on a two night, two day car camping trip out to West Virginia. As I knew the overnight temperatures were going to be much lower then the bag could handle alone, I paired the bag with an overbag to extend the rating. Overnight temperatures dropped to about -24 F (-31 C). The Kelty bag worked very well with a 0 F (-17 C) rated overbag and was quite comfortable. I also used the Kelty bag near the campfire to sit in for warmth. As the footbox of the bag is DWR treated, I didn't feel bad about sitting with the footbox directly against the snow covered ground. The footbox did not seem to absorb any moisture from the ground. The second night, the temperature came up to 24 F (-4 C). Although I started off with just the Kelty alone, I eventually pulled the overbag back on as I had been unable to warm up after the day hike and before going to bed. The two bags together were too much later in the night but the Kelty alone was unable to get me warm initially.

The next backpacking trip was out in the Laurel highlands in Pennsylvania. Temperatures for both nights were about 23 and 18 F (-5 and -8 C). The first night out, due to a lack of food intake, I was quite cold through the night and ended up having to switch bags with someone who was a warmer sleeper. They fared much better at 24 F (-5 C) in the Kelty then I did. The next night out, as the temperatures were going to be even colder, I ended up trading bags once again in order to remain warm.

The last trip out with the bag saw some blowing snow conditions and an overnight low of 13 F (-10 C). Snow blew into the shelter and covered everything with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of powder. The temperatures made for cold sleeping. While the snow was on top of the bag, the bag remained fine, but rolling caused some snow to end up underneath the bag which melted and caused the bag to become wet. Once wet, the bag lost a lot of its insulating properties. Good thing it was close to sunrise. The bag dried out nicely once I got it home and laid it out.

Impressions and Comments:
This bag has been through quite a few different conditions from blowing snow to sub-zero temperatures to humid conditions. The bag didn't fare well with me below 24 F (-4 C). I am a cold sleeper and that likely has an impact on the rating. I have felt the most comfortable in the bag when the temperature is no lower then 35 F (2 C) The bag has been a joy to use when the temperatures are in my comfort zone and I will continue using the bag within that zone, about 35 - 40 f (2 - 4 C). Below that comfort zone and I found I have to pair the bag with an overbag in order to remain comfortable.

In blowing snow conditions, the bag seemed fine with snow on top, but when the snow ended up underneath, the snow melted and caused the bag to become wet. Other then temperature issues, the bag is still in very good condition in spite of a wetting with the snow. I also spilled my supper on my lap while sitting in the bag and was able to brush most of the liquid off before it soaked in. The draw cords and toggles are still easy to work and the cords move smoothly through the toggles. The zipper sometimes catches on the draft tube, so a little care is required for me to smoothly zip up the bag. The DWR treated footbox has been a nice feature as it allowed me to sit in a camp chair in the snow with my feet directly on the ground without worrying about melting snow being absorbed.

Wrap-up
Pros:

    - DWR treated sections appropriately placed
    - compresses well and has a good compression sack provided
Cons:
    - remaining material not water resistant
    - wasn't suitable for me below 24 F (-4 C)


This concludes my long report on the Kelty Foraker 15 F sleeping bag. Thank you for following this test series and I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Kelty for the opportunity to use this sleep bag.


Read more reviews of Kelty gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Kelty Foraker > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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