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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Selkbag 4G Lite Sleepwear > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
Selk'Bag - 4G Lite Sleepwear
TEST SERIES BY RALPH DITTON
INITIAL REPORT : 10th October, 2011
FIELD REPORT : 2nd January, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT : 27th February, 2012
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track, the Coastal Plain Trail, Darling Scarp and Cape to Cape Track. I lead walks for my bushwalking club and they consist of day walks and overnighters. My pack weight for multi day trips including food and water, tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to six days duration.
The Selk'Bag 4G Lite Sleepwear is a sleeping bag with arms and legs that allows me to stand, walk, sit and grab items with my hands. I have full articulation of my hands and legs.
Entry into the bag is through the chest area. On the right hand side there is a zipper that goes down level with the groin. On the left hand side that zipper only goes down as far as the bottom of my ribs. There is plenty of room to enter the bag.
The insulated hood has a drawstring on both sides that are locked into place by spring loaded toggles. Within this hood there are at the neck level and around the head thermal collars to prevent drafts. Also, there are exaggerated draft tubes to stop heat loss around the zippers.
The soles of the feet are made out of reinforced nylon to prevent wear and there are two lateral grips on each sole to give traction on multiple surfaces.
Each arm has one hook and two loop pads. The hook and loop pads are at the end of the sleeve with a strap length of 13 cm (5 in) and the other loop pad 23.5 cm (9.25 in) away up towards the elbow. Should I want my hands free to do work and not get the end of the sleeve dirty/wet, I can pull apart the hook and loop at the end of the arm, bring the strap with the hook patch up to the other loop pad near my elbow which gets the end of the sleeve out of the way.
Each arm has a slit that is 10 cm (4 in) long. This slit allows me to put my hand through it so that my hands become free of the bag to do whatever task I wish to undertake. This slit is closed by a hook and loop system. The top photo shows my hands through the slits.
When I opened the posted box I was surprised at how big the stuff sack containing the bag was. As I am used to down filled bags I had a mental picture of a much smaller package. My next thought was that this item will take up a large amount of volume in my backpack. I will just have to work around this aspect. I compared it to a tin of 410 g (14 oz) tin of tomatoes.
Removing the bag from the stuff sack was a tad difficult but by holding my tongue the right way I managed to coax it out of its cosy fit.
comparison of size
Conversely, when I rerolled it and tried to put it back into the stuff sack I had some difficulty. I got there in the end after a few trial and error packing styles but it is so squeezy.
I then unrolled it to spread it out and it looked exactly like the picture on the web site. So, no surprise there. I then proceeded to step into the bag which was quite easy to do. The fit was quite good considering that it caters for a range of heights within a 20 cm (8 in) variation. The crutch area was roomy and the bag in the vertical sagged a bit around my waist.
I then proceeded to show my dog what I had received. Do not do this if you do not want a look of total surprise expressing "What the....You look like a prize dill".
In the short time I was enclosed in the bag I noticed that I got very warm quickly. It would have been no more than a minute.
The finish of the bag leaves a bit to be desired. There are four loose threads. There are two on each side of top of the zippers. Two are short and two are very long. On the back of the right leg and sole of the left foot, the white filling is showing through the stitched seams. I could not locate any quality control tag on the item.
insulation showing through seams loose threads
The draw cords for the hood operate without any difficulty. The toggle is held in place by a short ribbon looped through an eyelet on the side of the toggle.
At the back of the neck on the inside there is a loop for hanging the bag up. This is very handy when I will want to air the bag after use. I tend to perspire in enclosed spaces such as sleeping bags. All I have to do is turn the arms and legs inside out. I have already done this for a test run and it is very easy to turn them inside out.
In this phase I was only able to try out the Selk'Bag on two occasions due to the pressure of work whereby I was working mainly 6 1/2 days a week for nearly two months. The next phase will be a lot better work wise so I'll be able to get out camping much more.
On both occasions I went to the three sided hut on the Coastal Plain Trail north of Perth where it sits at an elevation of 80 metres (263 ft). Temperatures during the evenings and nights ranged from 18 C to 24 C (64 F to 75 F). As can be seen by the temperatures, it is now our summer and this bag is advertised as a two season bag for autumn and winter down to a comfort level of 7 C (45 F), no maximum temperature is mentioned, so how did it perform?
As I went to bed around midnight on both occasions, the temperature was on the slide with a cooling westerly wind. I was able to get at least 4 hours of comfortable sleep before waking up all sweaty. I then got out of the bag, dried myself off on the torso and legs then threw the bag on top of me whilst I lay on the mattress. By 4 am on both outings the temperature started to climb into the low 20's ( 68 + F).
It was too hot to be inside the bag but by laying it on top of me it kept the chill off me from the easterly that was blowing. We get easterlies in the mornings and westerlies in the evenings.
As far as clothing went I just wore underpants when sleeping.
I did not have the hood cord pulled in tightly. I just had it on loose.
There was no point in wearing it around camp for two reasons. One, the ground around the campsite is made up of crushed limestone which is very powdery and gets on everything making it dirty and secondly, the temperatures around 6 pm to 10 pm ranged from 27 C to 38 C (81 F to 100 F). I would have been perspiring very quickly in the bag.
Attached are photos showing the powdery nature of the ground (see feet of man and boy) and the hut we stayed in. The photos are from other trips that I have undertaken there.
dust on feet Prickly Bark Hut
I had my friend take some photos of me getting into the bag and then preparing to go to sleep. It was just on midnight.
getting into bag going to sleep
Fortunately I was only going away for one night on each occasion that I went camping. The reason for this statement is that when I loaded the bag into my 65 litre (3,966 cu in) backpack there was not a lot of room left for other gear. The bag does not compress down very well. It takes up a lot of space. I can see this as being a problem with consecutive overnights out in the field when additional food and clothing need to be taken.
Apart from that issue, I found that I was comfortable inside the bag for around 4 hours at a time from midnight to about 4 am due to the season of the year.
What has not helped is that our region has experienced the hottest year in recorded history and in addition we are receiving less and less rainfall. All due to climate change as stated by our Bureau of Meteorology and the trend is for more of the same.
There is no change from my initial "Likes and Dislikes" in my Initial Report.
This concludes my Field Report.
Long Term Report
During this phase I camped out at Margaret River for three nights in the Cape Naturaliste region some 3 hours car drive south of Perth.
Elevation was around 80 metres (263 ft). Temperatures of an evening when I went to bed around 9.30 pm ranged from 12.3 C (54 F) to 18.4 C (65 F) at 6.30 am when I rose. [Source: Bureau of Meteorology]
This was a car base camp and I slept in a one person tent.
Fortunately I was blessed with some cooler weather in the evenings. I even had light rain on my final evening.
Performance in the Field
During this phase I was able to spend the whole night inside the bag as the outside temperature was just chilly enough to give me a comfortable night's sleep. I was only dressed in my underpants.
The bag is a tad long for me when walking around. I had to hang onto the legs and pull them up so that my feet inside the "booties" section of the bag were hard up against the soles of my feet. If I did not hang onto the sides of the bag opposite my hips, the "booties" would flop to one side with my feet not inside them and I was walking on the leg section just above the "booties". See photo.
I did not wear the bag around the camp as the evening was still pleasant for shorts and a T shirt. I would have been too hot to wear it around camp. When I went to bed the temperature had dropped to a pleasant level with a slight chill from the wind blowing from a SSE direction ranging between 15 km/h to 22 km/h (9.3 mph to 14 mph).
Lying on my sleeping mat and pillow inside my bag I was very comfortable and was not conscious of any crushing of the fill between my body and the sleeping platforms mentioned above. I did not experience any cold spots. What I did never overcome was having my hands inside the sleeve. I always prefer to sleep with my hands uncovered, even while in a sleeping bag when I must hold my hands near my face. With this bag I just tucked them under the arm pit region and they kept warm.
What I did miss in this bag was a little pocket to put say a key for the ablution block or button LED torch.
Speaking of ablutions, I had to be very careful when passing urine that I did not accidentally wash the inside ends of the sleeves as they are very close to the plumbing especially when only using partial moonlight (last quarter phase) which was just bright enough to see where I was going.
On my final night, there was a period of light rain that wet the ground and my tent. Water did pool on my groundsheet under the tent near the foot end. I was in two minds as to whether to get out of the bag and go to my tent in just my underpants and bare feet (the shoes were in the tent's vestibule) or chance it and see how wet the soles of the bag got.
For the sake of the test, I walked on the wet grass to my tent, unzipped the fly, knelt on the dry groundsheet and entered the tent head first. I checked the soles of the bag and found that they were wet but the water did not penetrate the lining as far as I could tell. I certainly felt no wetness by my feet. The sleeping mat got a bit wet from the surface of the bag but nothing to worry about.
I have had the misfortune to experience the hottest summer temperatures on record for our region so I was limited to my use of this wonderful concept. Fortunately I did manage to jag three consecutive cool nights after relatively warm days whereby I could sleep the whole night inside the bag. What would I like to see changed? I would like to see a little pouch/pocket for small items that would be close to hand and minimize the chance of dropping something in the dark. The second thing that came to me when it was raining was a facility for the feet to exit the legs similar in fashion to the hands being able to exit through the slits on the inner of the arms.
I will continue to use this bag when camping and I am really looking forward to see how it will perform in my colder climate in May/June when temperatures get down to -3 C (27 F). I am happy to add an addendum to this report after that experience.
I have nothing further to add to my "Likes" and "Dislikes" that appear in the Initial Report.
Many thanks to Selk'Bag USA and BackPackGearTest for allowing me to test this product.
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