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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > NEMO Harmony or Rhythm Spoon 40 > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

NEMO EQUIPMENT W'S HARMONY 40 PRIMALOFT
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - June 29, 2013
FIELD REPORT - September 29, 2013
LONG TERM REPORT - November 21, 2013

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 62
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.nemoequipment.com
MSRP: US$229.00
Listed Weight: 2 lb 1 oz (936 g)
Measured Weight: 2 lb 6 oz (1077 g)
Made in China

Warranty: "NEMO products carry a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials to the original owner, with proof of purchase."

Other Manufacturer Supplied Specifications:
* Fill Type/Weight: PrimaLoft® Synergy/18 oz / 498 g
* Fits Up To 5'6" / 168 cm
* Dimensions: Shoulder Girth 62 in/156 cm; Hip Girth 58 in/147 cm; Knee Girth 64 in/162 cm
* Packed Size: 14.5 x 9 in / 37 x 23 cm
* Compressed Volume: 5.7 L
* Construction Materials: Shell - 40D Nylon Ripstop+DWR; Footbox - 15D OSMO™ DT W/B+DWR; Lining- 30D Nylon Taffeta
* Color Aluminum/Marigold
W's Harmony 40 Primaloft Sleeping Bag
Picture Courtesy of NEMO Equipment

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The NEMO Equipment W's Harmony 40 Primaloft Sleeping bag, hereafter called "the Harmony", "the sleeping bag" or simply, "the bag" arrived stuffed in its own roll-top stuff sack and with an oversized cotton storage bag as well.

My first impression when I pulled the Harmony out of the very sturdy black stuff sack was, "do all manufacturers use only orange - ah, "marigold" - and grey - excuse me, "aluminum" fabric in the construction of sleeping bags? This the fourth one I have in those exact same colors! No worry, though, colors are cosmetic and the least of my concerns, besides, they are pleasant enough colors. The outer covering is in shades of grey to black and the interior lining is orange/marigold.

I like the way the fabric is sewn in "waves" - NEMO calls it "offset quilting construction" - which emphasizes the "hourglass waist" shape of the Harmony.

Silly me, when I first heard the term "spoon" used in relationship to a sleeping bag, I thought it was describing a "couples" bag and while the Harmony is generously wide, it's specifically described on the NEMO website as for one person. But, there is plenty of room width-wise. Checking it out, I found I can easily roll around and lay on my side without crunching my knees and shoulders which is very nice. Length-wise, initially, I am finding the Harmony "just right". I'm barely 5' 4" (163 cm) and I feel like I'm probably perfectly sized for this bag (or is the bag, perfectly sized for me?) NEMO specs the bag limit as being 5' 6" (168 cm) and while I'm thinking NEMO knows what they are talking about, I'm glad I'm a bit shorter.

Right away, I can see there are a couple of neat features I'm excited about in the Harmony, one being a "pillow pocket" in which I can stuff clothing or a travel pillow (if I ever spring for one!). This will keep - I hope - me from having to rout around in the middle of the night for that errant lump that should be under my head. I also am curious to see how the Blanket Fold - an extra flap of material at the front of the neck - works to keep drafts from chilling my neck and shoulders. Conversely, will I die of heat when it's not needed? It appears to be able to be tucked in nicely when necessary and folded down and out when not. I'll have to wait and see.

The hood is advertised as being contoured and adjustable. I get the contoured part, but haven't yet found any way to adjust it. As it is, the hood covers my head down to the bridge of my nose, so no condensation but plenty of protection there. When the hood is not needed, I can easily slide it off and rest on top of it.

Another "extra" is the zippered "watch" pocket on the outside top right of the Harmony. This is quite roomy and since I never take my watch off, I was pleased to see it is easily large enough for my glasses, a tissue or two and (oh, horrors!), my cell phone. Now I won't have to hunt around in the middle of the night for glasses when I have to stumble out into the darkness!

I am perplexed as to why the watch pocket is on the right side though. Though it's probably not politically correct for me to discriminate in favor of "righties" - for me, being the right-handed sort, it's a bit awkward to get into.

Opening the right-hand side, full-length zipper for the first time, I realized too late that it was a dual close/open zipper and pulled the zipper pull past the "end". Dual close/open zippers are great for being able to ventilate the footbox but not so great to re-close once the zipper is fully opened and disconnected. As a matter of fact, after several minutes of intense struggling to re-close the zipper, in frustration, I gave up and just stuffed the bag back into its storage sack! I'll have to get it back together before my upcoming outing but right now, I'm giving in. Zipper -1, Me - 0

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

At the foot of the Harmony is a cloth tag with Care Instructions.

They are simple enough and as follows:
Hand wash or machine wash warm, gentle cycle in front loading washer only. (Good thing my brand new washer is front loading, eh?) Use mild, non-detergent soap. Do not bleach. Rinse thoroughly. Do not wring. Air dry or tumble dry low in a heavy duty dryer. Do not iron (like that was ever a possibility!). Do not dry clean.

On the NEMO website, there are additional tips for care, my favorite part being "Repairing a tear (Hint - It's not with duct tape!)". Really? Dang! NEMO suggests using Tenacious Tape patches by Gear Aid. I'll just have to get me some of those as I'm fairly likely to snag the bag on something, somewhere, sometime!

I Almost forgot - it's not on the bag tag, but on the NEMO website, they say after each trip to air dry the bag for at least 24 hours before storing. And to not store the bag in the included stuff sack but to hang the bag (handy loop at the bottom of the footbox for this) or to store it in the also included, 100% cotton oversized storage bag in a cool, dry space. This will keep my sleeping bag's loft and warmth trapping ability at its best.

SUMMARY

This week, we've been breaking heat records here in Colorado. It was 104 F (40 C) just yesterday. However, one of the great things about living in a high desert climate (and where I backpack the most) is:

"when the sun goes down, we'll be groovin.
When the sun goes down, we'll be feelin all right.
When the sun sinks down over the mountains
Everything gets COOLER when the sun goes down"
(my apologies to Kenny Chesney and be happy, dear reader, you didn't have to listen to me sing!).


So I will be most interested to see whether or not a 40 F (4.4 C) sleeping bag will work for me. First try out will be over the 4th of July Holiday - can't wait!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the last two months, I've had the NEMO Harmony sleeping bag out on three separate weekend backpacking trips. Two of those trips took place in the Cooper Mountain Range in the Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge area near our home in Canon City, Colorado. The third was near Huron Peak in the Sawatch Mountain Range, Chaffee County, Colorado.

July 5 through 7 - Trip One ( two overnights) - Cooper Mountain Range, Fremont County, Colorado
Elevation/Terrain: 5600+ ft (1700 m) on hard, relatively flat, packed dirt surface
General Weather Conditions: Cloudy with early afternoon light rain showers both days
Nighttime Temperature Low: 65 F (18 C)

July 12 through 14 - Trip Two ( two overnights) - Huron Peak trailhead, Sawatch Mountain Range, Chaffee County, Colorado
Elevation/Terrain: 10,500+ ft (3200 m) on a grassy, flat alpine meadow filled with wildflowers
General Weather Conditions: Intermittent afternoon and early evening showers and long periods of daytime sunshine
Nighttime Temperature Low: Just about the freezing point

September 22 through 23 - Trip Three (single overnight) - Cooper Mountain Range, Fremont County, Colorado
Elevation/Terrain: 5600+ ft (1700 m) on hard, relatively flat, packed dirt surface
General Weather Conditions: Cloudy with early afternoon heavy rain downpour
Nighttime Temperature Low: 45 F (7 C)
View of Sawatch Mountain Range
View from Tent at Huron Peak Trailhead Camp
Inviting NEMO Harmony
Inviting NEMO Harmony after Huron Peak trek

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

First off, let me say, that despite my difficulty in getting the zipper back together in my initial try-out, I was able to quickly get it zippered properly when I was packing up for my first backpack outing with the NEMO Harmony. I guess I was just tired and frustrated that first time because, now, as long as I have adequate lighting, I'm good. If it's dark, all bets are off and I just beg someone else with decent eyesight to do it.

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for me to have a good day's trek. If I'm too hot, too cold or too confined at night, while I love my time on the trail the next day, I know I'm not at my best. So, my sleep system is very important to me.

On these last three forays, I have used the NEMO Harmony sleeping bag exclusively. I've used it with various sleeping pads, from a very cushy blow-up mattress at a base camp to a very thin self-inflating pad and a blow-up insulated pad on hard ground.

I've slept in as little as only a tee-shirt/ shorts on my first outing; everything I had (pants, tee-shirt, fleece jacket, socks & hat) at Huron Peak, and just a long-sleeve base layer top with base layer pants on the last overnight.

On all those nights, I was snug as a bug in the rug, EXCEPT for my first night at Huron Peak.

For that trek, I totally was lazy about checking the weather forecast, blithely assuming it would be as balmy at 10,500 ft (3200 m) as it was at half that elevation the week before. I also didn't want to rout through my warmer packed-away clothing for my base layers. Well, it wasn't as warm as the previous weekend and I should have taken the time to pull out those boxes! It was freezing, in fact, and I spent a miserable night, curled up as tightly as I could manage, trying to stay warm (and to sleep) with all my clothing on, including 2 pairs of socks and a synthetic cap. And this was the night I was "glamping" on a full-sized blow-up mattress! I can hardly fault the Harmony though as my tent-mates also complained of the cold, including my granddaughter who was using a 15 degree sleeping bag.

The very next night, at the same location using the same padding, I was able to shed most of my clothing and just sleep in cotton leggings and my light fleece jacket. No hat or socks needed! Yay!

Where the NEMO Harmony gets my undying gratitude is the "spoon" design that allows me to move naturally when I sleep. Unless I'm downright comatose (even then, I suspect), I move around a lot during the night. I generally start out on my back, but as soon as I doze off, I'm onto my side. From there, I flop to my stomach, back to my side and continue to rotate like a chicken on the grill - sometimes that hot as well!

In other mummy-style bags, this presents a problem as I can't easily change positions without waking up and annoying the heck out of myself. No matter what the temperature is outside, I end up unzipping the sleeping bag so I can move and then, of course, I'm awakened because I'm now uncovered and cold. Grrrr!

With the Harmony, I can move as much as I want without any bother or rude awakenings when I realize I'm suffocating with a sleeping bag jammed against my nose and mouth. There is plenty of leg room for my knees, even if they are bent and my shoulders never feel like they are going to tear right through the lining. Ahhh. So nice!
Though initially, I thought it would be a really great feature, I found that I couldn't use the built-in pillow sleeve. I had high hopes for it and it works great as long as I stay flat on my back.

However, that isn't the way I sleep. I tend to move around a lot (ask my husband) and mostly end up on my side in a semi-fetal position with my arm under my pillow tightly clutching it for dear life. Since the pillow sleeve is sewn into the body of the bag on three sides, I can't wiggle into my usual position. After a very short time of frustrating readjusting, on my very first outing, I pulled my fleece jacket/pillow out of the sleeve and happily went to sleep like a baby on my left side with my knees up and clutching my blankie, I mean, pillow. (And no, I didn't suck my thumb!)

Again, thanks to my nighttime restlessness, I didn't use the zippered stash pocket as fully as I could if I were a back-sleeper. I move around so much that putting my glasses in there was just asking to find them in pieces in the morning. Ditto anything else that is remotely fragile. Any object that is heavy - like my cell phone - was just plain annoying to have flapping around in the pocket as well. The pocket is great for tissues, my lip balm and my always-present migraine meds (I often get migraines when sleeping.). The pocket keeps these sorts of items handy and safe.

My only real complaint regarding the NEMO Harmony isn't with the performance of the sleeping bag at all - it's with the included stuff sack. The stuff sack is of the roll-top variety and is just too big and bulky for me. It's very, very easy to get the Harmony into the stuff sack because the sack is not "space-saving" in the least. I can compress the Harmony down quite a bit more to a more pack-friendly size. As it is, the Harmony is the biggest space-hog in my backpack.
Now that these first couple of months' field experiences are in the books, I plan to use a third-party stuff sack.

SUMMARY

For these last two months, I've greatly enjoyed using the NEMO Harmony sleeping bag. It's roomy and has been generally comfortably warm. I love the lack on constraint on my night-time wiggliness. Overall, sleeping in the NEMO Harmony sleeping bag is a very, very comfortable way to sleep.

In two weeks, I will be backpacking in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado where the temperatures will probably be a bit colder - definitely below what I've experienced so far. It will be interesting to see just how low - temperature wise - I can take the Harmony and still get a decent night's sleep.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Due to a ridiculously busy work, travel and house construction schedule, I was only able to escape into the outdoors twice over the last two months. Trying to find some free time and to drag my husband away from his computer and our almost-completed house was way more difficult than any peak I've ever climbed! However, I did convince him a couple of breaks would do us a world of good and 2 days away wouldn't cause a total collapse of the economy or the roof.

Both treks were local in the Wet Mountains south of Canon City and both were quick overnights - no lingering in the beautiful fall colors for me this year. Dang! The first overnight was near Bigelow Divide, elevation 9403 ft (2866 m) and the second at Hardscrabble Pass, elevation 9085 ft (2769 m). The Wet Mountains are noticeably different from other sections of the Rocky Mountains range area in that they are less "harsh", more rounded with broad valleys. They are named "Wet" for a reason and get more snow and rain than the Arkansas River Valley which lies at their base. I usually plan to go there when it's NOT wet though.

On both backpacks, the weather was stellar - bluebird skies, mild temperatures, and low humidity. Nighttime temperatures were in the mid 40s F (7 C) in the early evening hours and became progressively colder into the wee hours just before dawn, down to 35 F (1.7 C) on the first outing and a chilly 31 F (0.6 C) on the second. Thanks to our high desert climate, the humidity never went above 30% or so at night (during the daytime, humidity is generally in the teens!).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The NEMO Harmony continues to please in the comfort department. As with my experiences during the initial two months, I find the Harmony great for my style of restless sleeping. Roomy enough to move around freely but thanks to the spoon shape of the bag, not so excessively roomy as to be difficult to retain body heat which meant a lot more as the fall season progresses into full-fledged winter (it's snowing right now as I type this).

The big difference in my last overnights versus the previous ones is the outside temperature. It was a bit colder and a bit more humid which translates to "damper" and less comfortable. Quite pleasant around the campfire under the stars, but not quite so pleasant once the last embers died out and I had to crawl into my tent on what now was bone-chilling hard ground.

Because I was aware of the weather (this time), I prepared for the night-time hours better. I wore mid-weight base layer pants and a mid-weight long-sleeve base layer top with heavy-weight socks. For a sleeping pad, I used an inflatable pad. I also used a light-weight microfleece sleeping bag liner. I'm happy to say I was very, very comfortable all night long!

I was initially concerned that using a sleeping bag liner would cause me to be more constricted in the Harmony - I have had that experience with other sleeping pad/liner combo - but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't so. Again, thanks to the Harmony's spoon shape, the liner was able to slide into the bag without bunching up and wrapping around my legs and trapping me like some fuzzy, many-armed creature.

I'm happy to report I've had no snags, rips, broken zippers or any other mishaps during these past 4 months and the bag is still in great shape. I have not had to wash it as of yet and have kept the bag stored in its loose storage sack between outings.

Throughout this whole evaluation period, the NEMO Harmony continued to perform like a mother's lullaby for this "babe-in-the-woods"!

SUMMARY

After four months and seven nights in the field, the NEMO Harmony Primaloft sleeping bag gets a standing ovation from me! I found the spoon shape to be well-suited for my sleeping habits and I never woke up because I was twisted or constricted. That's where the Harmony really "sings".

However, it is definitely (as advertised) a three-season sleeping bag, and alas, even with a liner, I'm afraid, for now, the Harmony will need to be carefully stored until warmer weather arrives next spring. It's just too cold for a 40 degree (4.4 C) bag now here in the mountains.

The Harmony has definitely earned a place in my gear closet and will see plenty of action next year to be sure.

This concludes my Long Term Report. I wish to thank NEMO Equipment and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to try out the W's Harmony Sleeping Bag.

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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