KELTY FORAKER 15 SLEEPING BAG
TEST SERIES BY TIM TESSIER
November 23, 2008
Field Report Added January 27, 2009
Long Term Report Added March 30, 2009
6' 2" (1.88 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
Backpacking Background: I hiked as a child with my father and started hiking with my now 17 year old son 9 years ago. We now routinely take 20 mile weekend hikes (2 nights) approximately once a month year round. Additionally, we take one, 5 - 7 day extended trip each summer. Most of our hiking is done in NC, southern VA, TN, KY, and WV. We go regardless of weather so we have experience in all types of conditions. We do not tend to travel very light, with a typical pack weight of 25 lb (11.3 kg) exclusive of food.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Field Report added January 27, 2009
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kelty.com
Listed Weight: 3 lb 1oz (1.39 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 1oz (1.39 kg)
All specifications listed are for the long version.
Length - 7' 2" (218 cm)
Girth at shoulders - 5' 3" (163 cm)
Approximate girth at footbox - 3' (91 cm)
Length of Zipper - 4' 11" (150 cm)
Width of Draft Tube - 6" (15.2 cm)
Stuffed Dimensions - 7" X 15" (17.8 cm X 38.1 cm)
These dimensions (except the footbox) is from the Kelty website. I checked each of them with a tape measure and they are uniformly accurate.
The Kelty Foraker 15 is a trapezoidal shaped mummy bag design. It features 750-fill-power goose down insulation. This is contained in approximately 16 chevron cut baffles to minimize shifting of the insulation. At both the head and the footbox there is waterproof fabric and welded construction approximately 14 " (35.6 cm) wide.
|Baxter is ready to go!|
The Foraker features sleeping pad security loops along both edges. It also features a "Fat Man and Ribbon" drawstring system. Basically this means you have a wide drawstring around the hood and a narrow one across the chest, both of which are captured through a single barrel lock fastener. This fastener is captured on the left side of the face so that the user has one adjustment point.
There is a 6" (15.2 cm) draft tube across the chest and another, approximately 3" (7.6 cm) wide, following the zipper.
The product came with a breathable cotton storage bag and a nylon stuff sack with 4 vertically mounted web straps for compression.
The sleeping bag came in a plain plastic bag. Also included in the package is a stuff sack and a cotton storage sack. The stuff sack had an attached hangtag which pointed out the features of this product.
|Detail of the hood area|
My first impression as I pulled the bag out and unrolled it was that it was both very soft and very lightweight. Indeed the fabric is very supple and has an extremely pleasing feel to it. The bag is a dark orange color on top and a silver color on both the bottom and interior.
All of the stitching, drawstrings, and zipper appear to be of top quality. I could find no defects in workmanship whatsoever.
The stuffsack is of an unusual design. It is in two pieces with a small "cap" attached to the main part of the stuffsack by the compression straps. Two of the straps have quick release buckles on the web straps allowing the user to unhook them and flip the cap over in order to load or unload the stuffsack. While odd looking at first this arrangement is very effective as it makes it easy to get the bag in and out of the stuffsack while still providing very good compression ability.
|Stuff sack with a standard Nalgene bottle|
TRYING IT OUT
I rolled the bag out and climbed into it. The fit seems to be just right. There is plenty of room for my shoulders and it is long enough (the long version) for my 6' 2" (1.88 m) frame. I snugged the hood down around my face and tightened the shoulder baffle and felt very snug and comfortable. The fit seems to be very good and I am anxious to try it on a chilly winter night to test if the down insulation performs at or near its rating.
The Fat Man and Ribbon adjustment system seems to be effective, though loosening it after snugging it thoroughly seems at first try to be a bit of a challenge. The zipper drew smoothly and was not prone to snagging on the draft tube. There was plenty of room in the footbox for my size 12 feet.
All in all, I like the look and feel of this product. I am anxious to get it out in the field for a real test.
I will be testing this product throughout the winter months in the southern Appalachian mountains in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. I will use it as we take our weekend hikes in the mountains in this area. We will be at elevations up to 6,000' (1829 m) and will, I am sure, have opportunities to test it right to the edge of its temperature rating.
I will be using it in a tent, in 3-sided Appalachian Trail shelters, and will make a point to sleep out under the stars in it as well. I will be reporting on its comfort, its ability to shed moisture, and its warmth. Additionally, I have a mild allergic reaction to goose down if the product is not manufactured properly and starts to leak feathers. I look forward to reporting if this product allows me to sleep through a cold night with the hood cinched down without experiencing sinus trouble due to this condition.
I am impressed with this product to date. It seems to be of the high quality that you would expect of a product in the class and price range.
I look forward to testing it to its full capability.
Please check back in late January for my Field Report.
Thanks to Backpackgeartest and Kelty for the opportunity to test this product.
This concludes my Initial Report.
Field Report - January 27, 2009
To date I have used the Kelty Foraker a total of 4 nights. These include 2 nights in Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in 3-sided Appalachian Trail shelters, and 2 nights in a tent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Our Mt. Rogers trip was in mid-December. We hiked approximately 4 miles on a Friday evening arriving at our shelter well after dark. The night was clear which resulted in a low temperature of approximately 30F (-1C). We hiked approximately 11 miles on Saturday arriving at a different shelter to spend the night. During the day a warm front had come in bringing drizzly rain. The temperature that night was approximately 42F (5.6C).
The first night I slept in thermal underwear, a pair of dry wool socks (that I carry specifically to sleep in), and a stocking cap. I slept on the wooden floor of the shelter on an Exped Synmat 7 sleep mat. As we were late getting in we had some tea, a chocolate bar, and climbed in bed. The sleeping bag was roomy enough, without being huge. It was extremely comfortable to lounge in while I enjoyed playing a game of backgammon with my son. I slept with the chest baffle snugged up tight and the hood up and cinched tight as well. I slept soundly throughout the night but did feel somewhat chilly when I awoke at dawn. As the air was moving freely in and out of the single story shelter I did not notice any condensation on the bag the next morning.
The next day started off cold and clear but the weather warmed as the wind shifted and started to come from the south. It also began to drizzle that afternoon. When we arrived at the shelter it was drizzling and damp. The temperature was warmer, approximately 42F (5.6C) that evening. I slept on the same sleep mat and in the same clothes as the night before. Again, we hung around and talked for a while. I found the bag to be very cozy for this. When I settled in to sleep I zipped the bag up and pulled the chest baffle. I did not, however, pull the hood down tight around my head.
As I slept in the night I was startled awake by the feeling of a snake/bug/lizard slithering across my face. I instantly sat up, unzipped the bag partially to free my hands, grabbed my headlight and checked everything out. I could not find anything that would have awakened me. When my heart slowed down I pulled the bag back up around my shoulders and lay back down. As I rolled over on my side the ribbon cord fell down and landed across my face. This was what I had felt earlier. I didn't notice it when I had the hood snug around my face because most of my face was covered. However, when I had the hood more open and my face was showing I felt the ribbon cord as it flopped across my face.
I went back to sleep and slept comfortably, though I did wake up sometime in the night and pull the hood tight. The next morning the bag, along with everything else, was damp on the outside. The inside seemed perfectly dry to the touch.
The second trip was a long weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We arrived on a Saturday and hiked about 6 miles into a backcountry campsite. It was cold and clear. The ground was frozen but there was no snow. That night it was about 30F (-1C) but the wind was blowing approximately 15 mph (24 kph). Needless to say, we climbed in our tent early. I slept kitted out the same as before: Exped mat, long underwear, socks, stocking cap. I can't say exactly what the difference was, possibly the wind, possibly the frozen ground, but whereas I had been comfortable earlier at 30F (-1C) this night I was cold. I awoke shivering about 2:00 am. I pulled on a pair of fleece pants and tried curling up in a little ball. I was cold the rest of the night and slept fitfully.
The next day remained cold throughout the day and that night was crystal clear, allowing us to easily see the Milky Way. The wind had died down but the temperature had gone to approximately 22F (-5.6C). This night, I was prepared. I had a snack before bed and crawled into bed early. By about 10:00 I was starting to get chilled so I reached out into my tent vestibule, fired up my stove, and boiled the quart of water standing by in a pan. I poured that into a Nalgene bottle, put the Nalgene down into the wool socks I had worn that day and threw it down into my bag. Within 15 minutes I was nice and snug and slept well that night.
As I am a fairly cold sleeper by nature, I found this to be acceptable performance for a 15 degree bag. The bag conformed well to my shape and was quite comfortable to sleep in. If you look at the weight/warmth ratio I feel that this bag performed exceptionally well.
The zipper never noticeably snagged at all. I took care when opening or closing it and I don't recall it ever snagging on the draft tube.
There is one other thing I want to mention, I am mildly allergic to goose down. If I sleep on a down pillow, for instance, my sinuses will be clogged the next day. I suffered no ill effects from this sleeping bag at all. This is an indication to me that this is a very well made bag. I did not see any leakage of feathers whatsoever.
I have used this sleeping bag in conditions approaching its rated temperature with no ill effects. It seems to be adequate down to around 30F (-1C) with no assistance, and near its rated temperature with some assistance (hot water bottle or chemical hand warmer). It is quite comfortable both for sleeping and for lounging in a shelter or tent. The water repellent fabric seems to be effective as it has become damp to the touch but the inside of the bag remains warm and snug.
All in all, I have found that this bag exhibits the qualities one would expect for a top quality sleeping bag except that the 15 degree rating may be a touch generous. 20 or 25 would probably be more honest. However, I am extremely impressed by the weight/warmth ratio of this product.
I want to thank BackpackGearTest and Kelty for the opportunity to test this outstanding product.
This concludes my field report. Please check back in late March for my long term report.
Long Term Report - March 30, 2009
I have had one additional opportunity to use the Kelty bag since the Field Report was posted. This was a two night trip to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia. The area had received 8 inches (20 cm) of snow the previous weekend. When we arrived the temperature was around 45 F (7 C) and fog was rising up from the snow. I had intended to spend this night under the stars but the snow and fog encouraged me to use a 3-sided Appalachian Trail shelter instead.
As the trip in had been something of a challenge, and we did not arrive at the shelter until after 11:00 pm, I was ready to go to bed immediately. I walked into the shelter, removed my pack, blew up my Exped air mattress, changed into dry thermal underwear, a pair of dry wool socks and climbed in my sleeping bag. The sleeping bag had virtually no time to loft. As a result, it was cold for a while. However, within about an hour I was nice and toasty.
That night my air mattress was punctured by a jagged nail. I awoke in the morning having been let down (both literally and figuratively) by my air mattress. Remarkably, though I was a little stiff, I was warm throughout. The fog had generally dampened everything in the shelter. The sleeping bag felt damp to the touch but the moisture did not seem to penetrate and certainly did not affect the lofting qualities of the down filler in any noticeable way.
We left our sleeping bags in the shelter the next day as we enjoyed a long day hike. We arrived back in a very windy, chilly evening. As I fixed dinner I sat with my sleeping bag around my legs. Again, I found the sleeping bag to be quite comfortable. As it was cooler and much windier this second night I slept with a stocking cap on, and started with the bag fully zipped and the hood cinched down tight. I was quite warm and actually had to loosen up the hood and let a little more air circulate around my face during the night.
The next morning the bag easily stuffed into the sleeping bag compartment in my pack.
Finally, I took the bag to a local laundromat and washed and dried it in a commercial front load washer and dryer. The bag came out with a decidedly different odor but none the worse for wear.
All in all I have to say that this is an extremely well made and comfortable sleeping bag. As I said to a fellow tester, the combination of the Exped mat, and this sleeping bag is all I need. I would rate the comfortable temperature range, unaided, as 50 - 30 F (10 to -1 C). When aided with chemical hand warmers, or a hot water bottle I would not hesitate to use this bag down to around 15 F (-9 C). I slept in it comfortably at temperatures just above this.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
The bag has performed precisely as advertised. It is indeed water repellent and maintains its loft in adverse conditions. The bag lofts quickly and stuffs down remarkably well.
This is a premium product that performs exactly as one would expect from a bag of this quality.
Things I like:
1) The bag performs near its rated temperature and will reach its rated temperature with the aid of chemical warmers or a hot water bottle.
2) The manufacture and quality of materials seem to be first rate.
3) The water repellent fabric on the hood and footbox seems to be effective and just where it needs to be.
Things I don't like:
1) The long cord to cinch the hood tends to flop around and get in my face sometimes.
I want to thank BackpackGearTest and Kelty for the opportunity to test this outstanding product.
This concludes my report on the Kelty Foraker sleeping bag.
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Read more gear reviews by Tim Tessier