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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > NEMO Harmony or Rhythm Spoon 40 > Test Report by Kurt Papke

NEMO Equipment Rhythm Spoon 40 Primaloft Sleeping Bag

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - July 21, 2013

Field Report - September 24, 2013

Long-Term Report - December 5, 2013

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 59
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 235 lbs (107 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking experience is a combination of Minnesota where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona where I moved to take a new job about four years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  I have been an ardent hammock camper for a number of years, but the Arizona desert limits the places I can hang, so I have been looking for comfortable alternative sleeping gear that does not require trees.

Initial Report

Product Information

Nemo Bag
Photo courtesy NEMO Equipment

Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
Model:
Rhythm Spoon 40 Long Primaloft
Year of manufacture: 2013
MSRP:
US $239.95
Manufacturer website: http://www.nemoequipment.com
Color tested:
Aluminum/Riptide (blue/gray).  This is the only available color listed on the website.
Materials:
Shell Fabric: 40D Nylon Ripstop + DWR (Durable Water-Repellent)
Footbox Fabric: 15D OSMO™ DT W/B + DWR (waterproof/breathable coating on the back side of the fabric and DWR on the exterior, which protects against tent wall condensation and allows the footbox to breathe)
Lining Fabric: 30D Nylon Taffeta
Fill: Primaloft Synergy
Dimensions:
Listed:
Length: 84 in (213 cm)
Shoulder width: 33 in (84 cm)
Hip width: 30 in (76 cm)
Knee width: 35 in (89 cm)
Measured:
Length: 84 in (213 cm)
Shoulder width: 29.5 in (75 cm)
Hip width: 26 in (66 cm)
Knee width: 30 in (76 cm)
Packed Dimensions:
Listed: 15.5 x 9 in (39 x 23 cm)
Measured: same as listed in the supplied stuff sack
Weight: Listed: 2 lbs 9 oz (1.2 kg)
Measured: 2 lbs 9.2 oz (1.167 kg) without stuff sack
Stuff sack: 2.15 oz (61 g)

The length and weight were reasonably close to the manufacturer's specifications.  As can be seen in the illustration above, the NEMO Spoon sleeping bags are neither rectangular nor cocoon shaped, which makes the dimensions difficult to verify.  There are some discrepancies between the listed and measured widths, but I may not have been measuring at exactly the right spot, and I may not have stretched the fabric in the same fashion as the manufacturer.

The features listed by the manufacturer include:
  • Spoon shape
  • Pillow pocket
  • Blanket Foldtm  - this is the blue piece of fabric in the right panel in the photo below that provides extra warmth when gathered around the shoulders, or additional venting when folded down.
  • Waterproof/breathable footbox
  • Adjustable hood
  • Zippered watch pocket

A truly unique feature of this sleeping bag is the spoon shape.  It is designed to give extra room to move in the shoulders and knees while conserving weight and bulk.  As the above illustration shows, it is also designed to allow the user to sit "tailor" style.

Initial Inspection

Photos of Nemo bag

The photo above left shows the included accessories: a storage bag, roll-top stuff sack, and a page of NEMO decals.  The stuff sack is very lightweight, airy and has a nice carrying strap.  The above right photo shows the hood adjust cord, and the Blanket Foldtm feature, with the fold half-up and half-down.  Looks like it will be nice and snuggly.  The lower right photo depicts the zippered watch pocket.

I am impressed with the workmanship and quality of the product.  The fabrics are silky smooth, the zippers work like butter.  I could find no loose threads or other obvious defects in construction.

Trying It Out

I climbed into the bag on a carpeted floor and tried it out.  I am just short of the maximum height for the Long model of the bag I am testing, and can happily report that I fit just fine from a height perspective.  The bag is definitely roomier than a mummy design - it was easy for me to roll onto my side without rolling the whole bag as I often have to do in my mummy bag.  On the other hand, my legs seemed a bit too long to sit tailor-style sitting up, but I do not regularly sit that way so it is not a capability I shall greatly miss.

I tried the various features: zipped it open/closed, put my hand into the watch pocket, played with the Blanket Foldtm and hood adjustment.  Everything worked as I expected.  I put the bag into the supplied stuff sack:

Stuff sacks

At top is the Rhythm in the supplied stuff sack, and at bottom is my go-to down sleeping back in an 8 L (qt) waterproof stuff sack that I like to use to carry my sleeping bag in.  There is quite a size discrepancy.  I tried to get the Rhythm into the sleeping bag compartment of my backpack, and it just would not fit.  I then crammed the bag into the smaller stuff sack shown above.  I could get most of it in, but could not get the roll-top closed.  In this configuration, I was able to get the bag to fit into my backpack compartment.

Summary

I am really excited to get the Rhythm out into the field and spend a night in it.  This is a very innovative design, and I am very curious to see how it really works in the back country.

Things I Like So Far:

  • Very high quality design and workmanship.
  • Appears to be very comfortable.

Things That Concern Me Upfront:

  • Bulk - this bag takes up a lot of space.  Primaloft does not compact as much as down does, and this is the tradeoff made to achieve the other advantages of the fill material.

Field Report

Field Conditions

Date
Location
Trail
Distance

Terrain/ trail type
Weather
Altitude range
June 14-16, 2013 Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona Carr Canyon
12 mi
(19 km)
Steep canyon
Sunny, 50-80 F
(10-27 C)
7200-9462 ft
(2200-2884 m)
June 21-22, 2013 Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona AZT
19 mi
(31 km)
Sky island canyon and ridgelines Sunny, 55-85 F
(13-29 C)
5600-8500 ft
(1710-2590 m)
July 5-7, 2013
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness north of Mammoth, Arizona
Aravaipa
28 mi
(45 km)

Creek running through canyon + slot canyon
Sunny, 70-100 F
(21-38 C)

2550-4000 ft
(780-1220 m)
July 26-28, 2013 Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona Crest Trail
11.5 mi
(18.5 km)
Sky island canyons and ridgelines Sunny/rain mix, 55-80 F
(13-27 C)
6600-9000 ft
(2010-2740 m)
August 10-11, 2013 Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon 12 mi
(19 km)
Sky island canyon Sunny, hot, 59-102 F
(15-39 C)
2600-5100 ft
(790-1550 m)
September 21-22, 2013
Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon 10.5 mi
(17 km)
Sky island canyon Overnight showers, 60-85 F
(16-29 C)
2600-4770 ft
(790-1450 m)

Carr Canyon

I have had good intentions of backpacking the Huachuca Mountains for some time, and finally made it there for a 3-day/2 night trip.  The first night was car-camping at a National Forest campground just a few steps from the trailhead, night two camp was on top of a ridgeline.  Here's a photo of the inside-out bag on my cot on night #1:

Nemo at Carr Canyon

Why inside out?  For some reason (maybe because my old bag is blue) set it up that way on this trip without thinking about it.  It worked just fine that way, though it was not subjected to any wet conditions.  The next night was up near a saddle point in the Huachuca's:

Nemo in the Huachucas

Another pleasant inside-out night. The feature I really appreciated both nights was the pillow pocket - it was wonderful to stuff my fleece pullover in there and not chase it around all night long as it stayed in the same place in the bag.  The temperatures were quite moderate both nights, so no troubles staying warm, though I did zip all the way up.

Arizona National Scenic Trail - West Huachuca's

I car camped near the trailhead at Parker Canyon Lake on Friday night:

Nemo at Parker Canyon Lake

Note this time I actually had the bag right-side (grey) out.  That night was very windy, hence the "V" tarp pitch, but I was snug and warm in the Nemo bag.  I had intended to spend Saturday night on the trail, but I made such good time that arrived back at the trailhead in time to drive home that night.  This was an odd experience for me - I carried a full backpack all day long including the Nemo bag, only to load it back up into the car at the end of the day.

Aravaipa Canyon

This trip was a return after a three-year hiatus to one of my favorite spots in the desert southwest for a 3-day, 2-night backpack trip.  I ended up spending both nights in the same campsite despite breaking camp and lugging my gear all day two.  I tried not to over-plan on this trip, and things just ended up that way.  Here's a photo of the Nemo bag in Aravaipa Canyon:

Nemo in Aravaipa

It was very warm and humid both nights, and for the most part I didn't cover myself with the bag except during early morning hours when things cooled down a little.  I did have a few problems with zipper snags, otherwise the bag performed flawlessly.

Crest Trail

I returned the Huachuca Mountains looking for a respite from the hot and humid Tucson monsoon season, only to run into rainstorms.  I didn't get in a lot of mileage in, but I did get a break from the heat.  I was sleeping on the cot as depicted in the photos above, but in an attempt to lighten my pack I left my sleeping pad at home.  The first night I used my fleece pullover as a pillow, and was a little chilled beneath me wherever my sleeping bag insulation was compressed by my body weight.  On the second night I used a bundle of clothes for a pillow, wore my fleece during the night, and was plenty warm despite similar temperatures as night one.  Unlike sleeping on the ground, the cot allows cold night air to circulate underneath the sleeping bag, so the insulating ability of the bottom of the bag was as important as the top.

Overall I had very good experiences both nights with the Nemo bag.  No complaints.

Romero Canyon

Nemo in Romero CanyonNemo stuff sackThis was a hot summer weekend, and I wasn't at a high enough altitude to stress the Nemo bag's insulation qualities and 40 F (4 C) rating, but I spent a comfortable night in it nonetheless.  I used my camping hammock on this trip for the first time with this sleeping bag.  Many hammock campers prefer a quilt, but I've always used a sleeping bag in mine.  The photo at left shows a photo early in the morning just before breaking camp.

I started out the evening just laying on top of the bag, then tucked my legs in as it started to cool down, and finally zipped it up to my waist as it cooled even more.  I didn't bother to stuff my fleece into the pillow pocket of the bag, as I didn't intend to "mummy up" that night.

This was also the first trip that I used the supplied stuff sack.  I normally use a waterproof sack for my sleeping bag as I am paranoid about it getting wet.  On this trip there was little chance of precipitation, and I was not canyoneering where I might need to swim my pack, so I decided to use the one supplied by Nemo.  It works fine, it was easy to get the bag into the sack and compress it down as the sack is not airtight as my waterproof sacks are - an airtight sack can be a little tricky to get the air out and the bag fully compressed.  The photo at right shows the stuff sack with sleeping bag packed inside as I was breaking camp.  My Jetboil stove is next to it as a size reference.  This bag just does not compress down to a very small size.

The second trip to Romero Canyon was about a month later, so daytime temperatures were a little more moderate, but surprisingly enough the nighttime temperatures were about the same.  This was another hammock camping trip, and the Nemo bag worked wonderfully

Summary

Things I liked:

  • Love the pillow pocket!
  • Soft fabric is very comfortable against my skin
  • Insulation resists compression and keeps me warm underneath, a feature I particularly appreciated in the hammock

Things I didn't like so much:

  • Bulky - it is not easy to pack this bag in a smaller backpack designed for overnight use.  

Long-Term Report

I was only able to make it into the backcountry for one trip during the Long-Term Report period, but it was a good test of the sleeping bag.

My hike began November 16, 2013 from near the summit of Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains at the edge of the city of Tucson, Arizona.  The trailhead is at about 9000 ft (2740 m), and the outdoor thermometer in my Jeep read 46 F (8 C) at my departure.  The wind was howling up the canyons and through the trees.  I knew this would be an interesting night.

I hiked down to an area I've wanted to camp in since I first explored the Samaniego Ridge trail.  It is a tremendous stand of Ponderosa pine, the ground carpeted by pine needles, and best of all protected from the wind.  Total round-trip hiking distance was about 7.5 miles (12 km), but the campsite was at about 7400 ft (2260 m), so the morning hike out was a lung-buster.

The temperature dropped to about 40 F (4 C) by the time I set up camp, so while cooking dinner I covered my legs with the Nemo bag which kept me reasonably warm.

I slept in my hammock that night; the temperature dropped to just a hair above freezing according to my thermometer, and the winds continued to howl all night long.  Despite camping in a sheltered area, I had enough wind to keep my tarp flapping continuously, and the Nemo bag was tasked with keeping the wind off of me.

Since the temperatures were near the rating of the bag at the time I turned in, I slept with every stitch of clothing I had with me: silk long underwear tops and bottoms, hiking pants, light merino wool T-shirt, merino wool LS shirt, and my windshirt.  I stayed quite warm on the topside all night, and had just a slight chill beneath me, as I only had an open-cell foam pad beneath my hammock.

I appreciated the unique shape of the Nemo bag - one of the sleeping positions I employ in my hammock is with one leg bent and crossed over the other, like a number "4".  I was able to use this position in the Nemo due to the spoon shape.  I also spread my knees off to the sides while I was reading before going to sleep, again a position that would not be possible in a traditional mummy bag.

The other feature I fell in love with that night is the Blanket Fold.  As the temperature dropped I fluffed it around my neck leaving only my nose and mouth exposed, and it really kept my throat and shoulders nice and warm.

Summary

In addition to the things I liked/disliked from the Field Report testing, I would add the following likes to the list:

  • Spoon shape allows flexibility of leg positions while sleeping or relaxing
  • Blanket Fold does a great job of adding extra warmth to the throat and shoulder area when needed

My bottom line is the Nemo Rhythm Spoon 40 delivers on its temperature rating, and that the unique spoon shape can add another level of comfort when backpacking.  It is a high-quality synthetic-filled bag with several user-friendly features that I came to appreciate in colder weather.  I will continue to use it when the nighttime temperatures are in the rated range for the bag, and the weather forecast is for wet conditions where synthetic insulation is called for.

This concludes my Long Term Report.


Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and NEMO Equipment for the opportunity to contribute to this test.



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