KELTY LIGHT YEAR 3D 45 SLEEPING BAG
TEST SERIES BY AMANDA TIKKANEN
October 30, 2007
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5' 3" (1.60 m)
140 lb (63.50 kg)
I have been hiking and backpacking since the spring of 2000 throughout Michigan and Indiana, covering several hundred miles, always with a dog by my side. Beau, my second trail dog, has been happily carrying a pack since 2002.
My style of backpacking is moving from overnights to long distance hiking, including multi-day trips. Even though I have Beau with me, I'm usually the solo human on the trek, so I like to go as light as possible while still being comfortable.
I document our adventures and misadventures on my website, www.uberpest.com.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.kelty.com
Size: Regular (fits to 6 ft /1.8 m)
Listed Weight: 1 lb 13 oz (.8 kg)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 14.5 oz (.86 kg) including stuff sack (stuff sack is 1.5 oz/42.5 g of that weight)
7 x 16 in (18 x 41 cm) stuffed
80 in (203 cm) long
62 in (152 cm) girth
6.5 x 14.5 in (17 x 39 cm) stuffed
80 in (203 cm) from top of hood to bottom of footbox.
55 in (140 cm) girth
Color: Goldenrod and silver. Goldenrod is a cheery yellow, silver is a neutral gray.
The Kelty Light Year 3D 45 sleeping bag arrived stored loosely in a large orange cotton sack to store the bag in for the long term, along with a stuff sack for carrying in a backpack, a few hangtags describing the item and its materials, and a product registration card.
The bag itself is a typical mummy shape, which tapers with the user's body and has a hood around the user's head. The hood has two drawcords, a flat black cord at the top of the hood and a round gray cord on the bottom. The manufacturer calls this the "FatMan and Ribbon" drawcords. The drawcords are secured to the user's left side of the hood with a cordlock which is sewn to the bag's body.
On the user's right side there is a two-way separating zipper. The zipper is hip length and opens either from the hood to hip direction, or the hip to hood direction to allow the user to get out of the bag or open it for venting. A draft tube of insulation sandwiched between two layers of shell/liner material sits inside the zipper. It is slightly stiff, but flexible. Each zipper pull tab has a small piece of utility cord, like the "FatMan" drawcord, tied into a loop. Near the top of the zipper is a hook-and-loop tag with the Kelty logo which is presumably to hold the zipper closed once the user is inside.
The bag's insulation is synthetic "Polarguard 3D" which gives the bag part of its name. The shell is ripstop nylon-polyester blend and the liner polyester taffeta. The insulation is attached to the shell and liner in a chevron pattern, with the points of the chevron near the centerline of the user's chest. At the foot of the bag there is another zipper to allow the bag to open at that location, also presumably for ventilation.
Along the sides of the bag near the side seams are small loops and snaps to attach the pad to a sleeping pad or hang it to dry. The inside has loops to secure a Kelty bag liner.
The stuff sack is labeled with the model name of the bag, as is the storage sack. The stuff sack has a small pocket sewn into the closed end to grab while pulling the bag out of the carry sack.
TRYING IT OUT
I climbed inside the bag to see how it fit. It's a tad long, which I expected being only 5' 4" (163 cm) and the bag fitting someone up to 8" (20 cm) taller than I am. This doesn't bother me since I like to have a little wiggle room inside my bag. The material draped well over my body and I didn't notice any cold spots or drafts once I pulled the hood tight around my face. The draft tube is stiff enough where, at least at this initial inspection, I don't need to hold it tight to the zipper-- it appears to do that on its own. Both the zippers move freely. I stuffed the bag into its carry sack with little effort and it pulled back out freely.
I am currently planning a trip for the fall that will take Beau and me approximately 140 miles (224 km) and 10 days on the North Country National Scenic Trail through the Manistee National Forest in Northern Lower Michigan. This trip will occur during the testing of this sleeping bag. I recently broke my ankle and am recovering nicely. Part of my rehab is to hike as much as possible (and who am *I* to ignore doctor's orders?). I am mostly day hiking, with some overnights, about one a month, to get ready for my long trip. Being a little spontaneous in my overnight trip planning, I rarely have the exact dates and locations of my other trips set in stone, however all will be somewhere in the Midwest.
As stated in my bio, I hike (almost) solo and am always interested in new items that can improve a solo experience. Sometimes that improvement is in lighter weight. I think the Light Year neatly fits into the lightweight category since it weighs less than a liter of water! I'm getting into longer distances, which requires me to regularly analyze what works and what doesn't to keep my pack weight low. Breaking my ankle this winter has also put this in a different light-I need to keep my loads light to keep stress off my joints, while still being safe in case something unfortunate would happen to me while I'm on the trail.
I will be using the bag primarily in a tent (either an MSR Missing Link or Harry Shires' TarpTent Cloudburst 2). Both of my tents are single wall tents. I may at some point use a tarp, or possibly no shelter at all, depending on the bug and rain conditions. Sometimes I use a self-inflating sleeping pad, sometimes I use a closed cell foam pad. Either of these will be used with the bag.
I will wear clothing while testing this bag. The type depends on the weather--on cooler nights I may wear light long underwear, while on hot nights it might not be more than a tank top and shorts. With the luck I've had on summer trips I may also be wearing a stocking cap in the summer bag! In general, I expect night time temps in the next four months to be in the 40s to 70s F (4-21 C), with the middle of the spectrum being most likely.
While testing the Light Year 3D 45 I will be looking at the following, in no particular order, plus anything else that strikes my fancy along the way.
-I live in a damp part of the country. In fact, right now it is raining. One of the regular pros for synthetic insulation is that it keeps its user warm even if damp. If the bag becomes damp or wet, does it keep me warm?
-How well does the shell repel water, such as blown-in rain or condensation?
-Does the bag compress easily in the standard carry bag? Does it take up a crazy amount of space in my summer pack?
-Does the carry bag keep the bag dry from any accidental moisture encounters? I know enough to carry the bag in order to keep it dry, however, sudden rain showers are not uncommon, nor is a leaky water bottle/bladder.
-Does the bag lose loft from being compressed in the carry bag?
-Does the bag loft out quickly before bedtime?
-Does the bag unzip at all for possible use as a quilt on warmer nights? If so, does it cover my hiking partner (usually Beau the Dog) and me?
-How does Beau the Dog affect the use of the Light Year 3D 45? Sometimes his short hair does carry some moisture inside the tent. Does this affect the insulation?
-I tend to move a lot while sleeping. Does the bag allow me to move easily? How so--is it so big that I get cold or does it hug my body?
-I am a short 5' 4" (1.6 m) and the bag fits to 6' (1.8m). In the past longer bags have not been a problem for my comfort--either in warmth or size. Is that true of this bag?
-Do the zippers move freely? Do they allow me quick escape from the bag when nature calls? Do they fail at any point during testing? If so, how?
-Do the drawcords operate easily when I'm snuggling in for the night or when trying to get out in the morning?
-Is the foot box roomy enough for my feet to move around, or does it leave my tootsies cold?
-Does the unzipped foot box allow me to walk while still in the bag?
-Does the draft tube really keep out drafts?
-Do the two-way zipper and foot box zipper allow good ventilation while sleeping?
-Does the bag stay on my sleeping pad or do I slide around all night?
-I tend to be cold while falling asleep then wake up warm some time later. Does venting help with this problem? Does the insulation flatten with any of my sweat?
-Does the bag allow me to stay a comfortable temperature. Since this is a warm-weather bag, I hope the bag allows me to sleep without shivering all night on cooler nights, while not roasting on warmer ones.
I thank Kelty and Backpack Gear Test for the opportunity to test the Kelty Light Year 3D 45. Please check back for my Field Report in approximately two months.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I tested this bag in Northern Indiana and Southeastern Michigan for two trail nights. Each trip was different.
The trip in Indiana saw little moisture but the night time temperatures were cool enough for me to see my breath, though I don't know the actual temperature. On this trip I used the bag with a self-inflating sleeping pad which, unbeknown to me, had a pinhole leak. I will report on the performance below. On this trip the bag was used inside a double wall tent. Beau and a hiking partner of mine were in the tent with me.
On the trip in Michigan there wasn't any precipitation, however humidity was well above 80%. Daytime temps were well over 90 F (32 C), which made me get chilled at night when the mercury dropped to 70 F (21 C). Before the temps dropped for the night I was content to sleep on top of the bag. Once they got "cold", however, I was happy to crawl into the bag to take the chill away. I was in a single wall tent with Beau and used a closed cell foam pad.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On my trip in Indiana, when used with the leaky self-inflater, the bag didn't slip off the pad any more than I'm used to. However, I was cold and uncomfortable from below. I do not blame the bag since the pad was not there to provide insulation. I used the bag in a pack that was approximately 4400 cubic inches (72 L). The bag was barely even noticeable inside the pack.
On my trip to Michigan I was very comfortable with how the Light Year performed. I was using my pack as a pillow and a small amount of water leaked from my hydration bladder (I didn't close the bite valve) and a small section of the insulation of the bag near the zipper got soaked. Since this wasn't a large area, I didn't notice the spot until morning. I didn't notice any cold spots related to the moisture, nor did the insulation suffer any ill effects, such as shifting or clumping. I used the bag opened up like a quilt over Beau and me. On this trip I used a 3400 cubic in (56 L) internal frame pack loaded for an overnight fastpack. I didn't feel the bag took up an excessive amount of space since I still had room for a tent body, stove, and other sundry items.
At this time I feel comfortable using this bag. I think the number one thing to note about it is that while I'm sleeping I don't think about the bag. I can easily open and close the side zipper and hood without needing to be terribly conscious to do so. I haven't yet needed to vent my feet, so I can't comment on the foot box zipper.
My only real comment is that, at this time, I would like the side zipper to open farther down so I can open the bag up fully for use as a quilt. When I pulled Beau--who weighs about 80 lbs (36 kg) inside to keep him warm I couldn't quite cover him up. I think this option would be good for other hikers who need to share their bags with small hikers.
So far I have no complaints about this bag-- I really like it. It kept me warm on my two nights of use, including when it got damp.
CONTINUED TESTING STRATEGY
To further test the Kelty Light Year 3D 45 I am taking a week long backpack trip through Michigan's Manistee National forest. I should have a minimum of six trail nights during the long term test phase of this series. The weather forecast for this trip is warm days and cool nights, with overnight lows in the 50-60 F range (10-16 C). Rain is expected. I will be using a single wall tarptent for this trip. Since the trip is rather long, I will be traveling as lightly as possible, so that means no self-inflating sleeping pad, only a 3/4 length closed-cell foam pad for insulation under the bag. Beau will be along with me and will also be under the bag, as he was during the field test phase of the series. I will be wearing thermal clothing as well as a wool stocking cap and socks as needed for conditions.
I will keep an eye on how the bag performs in the potentially damp environment of a single wall tent with two hikers in the rain. I will see how it performs if it gets a large area wet due to possible rain or spilled water bottles.
I will also launder the bag once I get home and report on how it reacts to being washed in a large front-loading machine at my local laundromat.
I will still be watching for any and all durability and comfort issues that may arise.
I thank Kelty and Backpack Gear Test for the opportunity to test the Kelty Light Year 3D 45. Please check back for my Long Term Report in approximately two months.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Long Term Testing phase of this series I tested this bag a total of 4 nights. I spent 2 nights each in Northern Michigan (Manistee National Forest) and Southern Indiana (O'Bannon Woods State Park & Hoosier National Forest). Nighttime temps ranged from 40-60 F (4.4-15.5 C). Daytime temperatures were in the 90s (30s C). Terrain ranged from rolling glacial deposits in Northern Michigan to rocky hills in Southern Indiana. Elevations were approximately 620 ft (189 m) in Northern Michigan and approximately 600 ft (183 m) in Southern Indiana. Due to the drought in the Midwest humidity was low.
For both trips I used the bag inside my Harry Shires' Tarptent Cloudburst 2 single wall tent with a 3/4 length Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest closed cell foam sleeping pad and my feet on my pack. On the cooler nights I wore a silk long-sleeved T-shirt, silk boxer shorts, synthetic close-fitting long john bottoms, wool blend socks, and wool knit earflap cap. One night I also wore my rain jacket. On warmer nights I wore a synthetic T-shirt, silk boxer shorts, and wool socks.
Beau slept in my tent with me and helped me stay warm by crawling under the opened up bag with me on the cooler nights.
In my Field Report I stated I was going to test the bag on a weeklong trip in the Manistee National Forest. Unfortunately, I had some minor injuries that caused me to cut my trip short. After healing up I headed south for a 3-day/2-night trip in Indiana.
During this phase of the series the bag was stored in its compression stuff sack inside my pack while I was hiking. While inside my pack it was sat on when I took breaks on the trail. It was also stored inside its compression sack for about a week while I was moving from one end of the state to the other. Otherwise it was stored loosely in its large cotton storage sack in my closet.
The Light Year didn't encounter any accidental moisture during this phase of the test, only my perspiration.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My travel forecast for the MNF trip was for nighttime temperatures well above the Light Year's rating. Unfortunately for me, the weatherman was very wrong. Temps dropped to 5 (3 C) degrees below the bag's rating. I was definitely chilled on those nights, though I can't blame the bag for that shortcoming. On the warmer nights I was comfortable with the bag's warmth.
The hood snugged down tightly around my face, which was welcome on the cold nights. It also had plenty of room for me to wear extra clothing inside the bag.
I never really felt like I was swimming in the bag, despite it being cut for a taller hiker. Other short hikers may find it too long since I did have about 9 inches (23 cm) of extra length in the bag. I do wish the zipper was longer--possibly even full length-- so I could open the bag completely flat for venting/use as a quilt on warm nights. As it is the zipper only opens to about my knees, which leaves my legs feeling confined. Many times I'd roll over and the bag would tangle a bit. This may also have been due to the extra length of the bag.
The footbox was still quite comfortable in regards to size. I did have cold toes on the 40 degree (22 C) night, though that is justifiable since the bag is rated for a higher temperature. I also noticed that the edge of the zipper tape used in the footbox is quite sharp. The corners are right angles and coated with plastic, presumably to make the tape stiff and easier to sew. Those edges scraped and poked at my ankles and toes and were mildly painful. It would be nice to see the corners rounded a bit to remedy this.
Since these trips I have since washed the bag at a laundromat using a liquid detergent and a front-loading washer. I then dried the bag on low temp in a commercial dryer. The bag hasn't had any noticable loss of loft due to use, storage, or cleaning. I also haven't noticed any tears, loose threads, or other reportable signs of wear.
Comfortable in rated temperatures
Easy to launder
Sharp edges on zipper in foot box
No short/women's model
I like this bag quite a bit and fully intend to use it in the future. Now that I'm headed into winter the bag is being stored until summer.
The Kelty Light Year 3D 45 is a great light weight summer sleeping bag that performs best on nights above 45 degrees (7.2 C).
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and Kelty for the opportunity to test and review the Light Year 3D 45 sleeping bag.
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Read more gear reviews by Amanda Tikkanen