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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Kelty Galactic 35 F Sleeping Bag > Test Report by Derek Hansen
Kelty Galactic 35+ Sleeping Bag
Test Series by Derek Hansen
5 Sep 2009
Illustration by Derek Hansen
The Kelty Galactic 35+ Sleeping Bag (hereafter just ‘Galactic,’ ‘sleeping bag,’ or ‘bag’), is a rectangular, 600-fill-power down-filled sleeping bag rated for 35 F (2 C), or moderate 3-season camping conditions. The bag can be unzipped completely and unfolded to be used as a blanket. With the four sewn-in interior loops, a liner may be added for additional warmth or comfort. There are also four external snap loops that enable the Galactic to be used as a liner in another bag.
The bag can unzip from the foot for extra ventilation. On the top of the bag are two cords (“Fatman and Ribbon”) to cinch the top; one cord cinches the front, and the other cinches the back.
The sleeping bag arrived in excellent condition in a product display box. The bag came with a small black stuff sack, and a larger cotton storage bag. With the addition of the hang loops sewn to the bottom of the bag, I can also store the Galactic from a hanger in a closet.
The Kelty website was very easy to navigate, search, and locate the Galactic to get additional information about the features on the bag.
The Galactic is a well-made sleeping bag that packs down small and is very light. I really like the feel of the fabric and the rectangular construction. When I go backpacking, I prefer to sleep in a hammock, which makes the idea of “crawling into a sleeping bag” a bit of a trick. I typically unzip the bag, leaving the foot area closed and then use the bag as a kind of quilt. The Galactic works really well with this set up, especially since it doesn’t have a hood that flops over my face when used as a quilt.
What I wasn’t expecting, but am very happy to have, is a drawstring at the head of the bag. The Galactic is sewn with a different drawstring controlling the front and back, so I can easily adjust one or the other to my liking.
On the inside, there are four sewn-in loops where I can attach a liner. There are also four loops around the center of the bag where I can secure a sleeping pad. At the top and bottom of bag, on the outside, there are four snap loops so the Galactic can be used as a liner in a bigger bag.I don't expect I'll use the Galactic as a liner, but depending on how the temperatures hold up here in Flagstaff, Arizona through the testing period, I may need to add a liner to the sleeping bag. I'm new to the Flagstaff area, but I am expecting the average low temperatures through the end of September to be around 40 F (4 C); October around 30 F (-1 C); November around 22 F (-5 C); and December around 14 F (-10 C), according to the National Weather Service.
PRO—Lightweight; the material is smooth and comfortable; packs down small.
CON—None at this stage.
17 Nov 2009
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
September 25–26 ~ Sycamore Canyon, Kaibab National Forest. Out with the Boy Scouts at the Fall Camporee. A total of 5 miles (8 km) hiking. The low temperature was 35 F (2 C) and the high was 75 F (24 C). Elevation was 6600 ft (2012 m).
October 9–10 ~ Walnut Canyon, Coconino National Forest. Fast-packed 6 mi (13 km) into the Walnut Canyon area where the overnight low was 27 F (-3 C) and the daytime high was 65 F (18 C). Elevation was 6800 ft (2073 m).
November 10–11 ~ Sandys Canyon, Walnut Creek. Went on an impromptu overnight camp with my daughter to take advantage of the Veterans Day holiday. Hiked 2 mi (3.2 km) to the cliffs of Walnut Creek and "Le Petit Verdon." Overnight low temperature was 28 F (-2 C) and rose to 60 F (16 C) during the day.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
In all my field testing, I’ve used the Galactic in a hammock, which is my favorite way to backpack and camp outdoors. I was a little worried about the bags temperature rating in the cooler months I’ve been testing, but so far the bag has worked really well.
During the camporee with the scouts, I used the Galactic inside my hammock as a quilt; I left the foot box zipped and then tucked the sides around me. I used a torso-sized closed-cell-foam pad under me for insulation and I wore fleece pants and a fleece top to bed. Under these conditions, I slept fairly well and warm using only the Galactic as my top insulation. Down is an amazing material for warmth! I have a synthetic 0 F (-18 C) rated sleeping bag that I froze in at 32 F (0 C). I consider myself a cold sleeper, and I was very comfortable with only a few cold spots in the Galactic at 35 F (2 C).
During my trips in October and November, however, the overnight temperatures were low enough that I tried something new. In October, I read about “pull-up” bags around hammocks, which is basically pulling the sleeping bag completely around the hammock. I brought the Galactic, plus a small fleece blanket and my torso-sized closed-cell foam pad for insulation. I also tried wrapping a Mylar "space blanket" around the outside of the hammock. The Galactic was AMAZING as a pull-up bag. I was much, much warmer (over 80 F/27 C) inside the bag at night, with ambient outside temperatures of 27 F (-3 C). The bag over the hammock made a significant difference in warmth!
In November, I made myself an “under-quilt,” after reading HammockForums.net. An under-quilt is basically a sleeping bag that hangs below the hammock for added warmth. I made mine out of a synthetic poncho liner. As it was cold (28 F/-2C) that night, I wore my down jacket to bed and again wore my fleece pants and wrapped up inside the Galactic sleeping bag. I didn't use the space blanket this time. After only 30 minutes, I was cold! I quickly changed things and wrapped the Galactic bag around my hammock and brought the poncho liner inside. I was thrilled that within minutes I warmed up and was comfortable the rest of the night.
Using the Galactic bag as a pull-up bag over my hammock has been perfect. The zipper on the foot made it easy for me to slip the sleeping bag over the hammock and the rectangle design allowed me to still sleep at a slight angle for maximum comfort in the hammock. Even using the bag as a quilt has been very nice. The full zipper lets me adjust the foot box and I like that there is no hood to get in my way when I’ve spread the bag and tucked it around me.
The drawstring closure at the top is spot-on. After I pulled the bag over me, I was able to easily cinch up the bag around my face. As a pull-up bag, I didn’t worry about the Fat-man or Ribbon cords because I pulled each equally to enclose the bag around my hammock.
However, on my trip in November when I used the bag inside the hammock, I did use the Fat-man and Ribbon cords to only cinch up the top of the bag as needed. Although it was dark and I was wearing gloves at the time, I was able to easily feel the difference between the two cord types and pull the one I needed for adjustment. I really like this feature!
During my backpacking trips, I left the stuff sack at home, preferring to save the weight and use my backpack as a glorified stuff sack. I find it easier to stuff the sleeping bag directly into the bottom of my backpack, inside a thick plastic garbage sack for moisture protection. The Galactic packs down pretty small, and I’ve found that I’ve been able to use smaller volume packs during my overnight trips. When not packed, I’ve been storing the Galactic in the cotton storage bag.
FIELD USE SUMMARYOnce I discovered using the Galactic sleeping bag as a "pull-up" bag around my hammock, I've slept much warmer. For me as a cold sleeper, I feel the bag is living up to its temperature rating, even as I've been using it in and around my hammock. I like the hook-and-loop closure to keep the snagging barbs off the fabric, and I've found the zipper to work very well with little or no snagging. I love the rectangular, no-hood design, with the addition of the drawstring closure; I can shift my sleeping position and not worry about breathing into the bag and adding vapor moisture into the insulation.
While I will continue to use the Galactic sleeping bag in my hammock, I haven’t tried the bag on the ground in the traditional way. I hope to sneak in a trip where I can do this and get a feel for how well the bag performs on the ground.
LONG TERM REPORT
19 Jan 2010
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During this test period, I used the Galactic twice in a tent and five times in a hammock for a total of seven nights as follows:
November 26–28 ~ Red Mountain, Snow Canyon, Southern Utah. For the Thanksgiving holiday, I did some car camping with the family. We took several of the cousins geocaching and hiked (bushwhacked) more than 5 mi (8 km) hunting for caches. Overnight low temperature was 30 F (-1 C) and rose to 63 F (17 C) during the day. We experienced light sprinkles of rain. I slept in a hammock.
December 4–5 ~ Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona. I went car camping and actually slept in a tent! My intention was specifically to test the Galactic on the ground. The overnight low temperature was 13 F (-8 C).
December 11–12 ~ Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona. Another S24O car camping expedition to sleep on the ground (ug!). Earlier this week more than two feet of snow fell on Flagstaff, so I had to dig out my camping spot. It sprinkled snow throughout the night. The overnight low was 28 F (-2 C).
December 29–31 ~ Orem, Utah. Visiting family over the holidays, I decided to try some backyard testing, as daily snowfall prevented any trips. I slept in a hammock for two nights. The overnight low was 12 F (-11 C).
January 15–16, 2010 ~ Fossil Creek Wilderness, Arizona. Went on an 8-mile (13 km) backpacking trip with my two oldest kids and followed the Fossil Springs Trail down to a beautiful riparian area. We all slept in hammocks. Overnight low was 30 F (-1 C). The trail begins at an elevation of 5680 ft (1731 m) and descends to 4280 ft (1305 m), an elevation change of 1400 ft (427 m) in 4 miles (6.4 km).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
In Southern Utah, I left my hammock set up for three days and two nights. I used the Galactic as a pull-up bag over my hammock, which really worked well. I supplemented the bag’s insulation with a fleece blanket inside as it was a little cool overnight.
After the second night in Utah, I noticed that the down had all shifted to the underside of the sleeping bag as it was hanging over the hammock. It was at this point I discovered the Galactic has continuous baffles, so the down could move easily from the top and bottom of the bag. This was an important discovery for me because at first I thought the Galactic had a separator to keep the down from shifting to the underside of the bag.
Sleeping On The Ground
As an experiment, I took the Galactic and shook all the down out of the bottom of the bag so all the insulation was on the top of the bag. The loft was amazing—more than 3 inches! Since the insulation underneath me compresses while I sleep, it isn’t doing me much good there. Having all the insulation on the top would also make the bag a little warmer. I tested this on a cold night in a floorless tent in Flagstaff. I used a closed-cell foam pad, a self-inflating pad, and a piece of Insulex reflective bubble wrap as my ground insulation and the Galactic bag as my top insulation.
I wore wool socks, fleece tights, a fleece balaclava, and a mid-weight fleece top to bed. I also boiled some water and put it in a 1L Nalgene water bottle, which went inside the sleeping bag with me. The hot water bottle kept me toasty and helped warm the bag up quickly. I knew it was going to be a cold night, below 20 F (-7 C), and since I was car camping, I brought along a second sleeping bag and a fleece throw and kept them nearby, just in case. Surprisingly, I slept fine through most of the night. I felt a few cold spots near my feet, most likely because there was a lot of space to heat down there with the rectangle foot box. I slept fairly well but finally woke up chilled (not shivering). I took a look at my watch and noticed it was 5 AM! I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to sleep through most of the night, but the bag did an amazing job when it was 13 F (-8 C) outside! At this point, I threw my extra sleeping bag (a 20 F/-7 C down mummy bag) inside the Galactic and slept the next few hours in absolute bliss. My mummy bag fit nicely inside the Galactic.
I took the Galactic out on another car camping adventure to sleep on the ground in a tent. There was about a foot (30 cm) of snow on the ground and the forecast was calling for a snow flurry. I decided to go camping because the temperatures had risen from the teens to above 30 F (-1 C), which would be good testing conditions for the Galactic. My tent was a traditional 2-person tent with a bathtub floor. I wore wool socks, fleece tights, a fleece hat, and a mid-weight fleece top to bed. I used a closed-cell foam pad and a self-inflating pad as my ground insulation. I brought along a fleece blanket, just in case, but I ended up not needing it. I had a thermometer inside my tent, which hovered around 35 F (2 C). My watch thermometer inside the bag with me registered 80 F (27 C). I was nice and comfortable all night.
The Fat Man/Ribbon draw cords have worked great while sleeping on the ground. I mostly sleep on my side or stomach on the ground and I was able to easily reach the cords, although it took a second to get the right drawstring I was looking for. I mostly cinched up the top cord and left the bottom flat. The zipper has been working great; I hardly ever have a snag, and when I do, it usually snags on the hang tags on the bottom of the bag, which seem to always fall into the zipper.
One thing I also really like about this bag is its lack of a hood. Since I tend to sleep on my side and stomach when I tent, it is nice that I'm not breathing into a hood or getting tangled in the bag. I could easily roll around in the bag and find a comfortable spot without the bag shifting.
Back In The Trees
Over this test period, I’ve had another five nights using the Galactic in a hammock. Most of these times the Galactic was used as a pull-up bag, cocoon-style around the hammock. This method is warm enough, with some added insulation inside, but I noticed that it really constricted my ability to sleep comfortably and I suffered from some shoulder strain.
I purchased an under quilt for my hammock and took the Galactic out again for a hammock test in the Fossil Springs Wilderness. With the dedicated under quilt, I was able to use the Galactic “normally” inside the hammock. I was perfectly warm inside the hammock, and my watch thermometer measured 75 F (24 C) inside my bag. The overnight low was 30 F (-1 C).
The bag has been very durable during the entire testing period. I found only two stray down clusters that found their way out of the material. The zipper runs smooth and has only slightly snagged on the hang loops and customer tag.
This testing period truly strained the temperature rating limits of the Galactic, but I feel it has performed very well. I think this bag lives up to its temperature rating.
PRO—This is a very versatile sleeping bag, warm to comfort rating, "adjustable" down baffles.
I would like to thank Kelty and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.
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