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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Arrow Rock Bag > Test Report by Michael Wheiler
SIERRA DESIGNS ARROW ROCK 30
SLEEPING BAG TEST SERIES REPORT
By Michael Wheiler
(May 31, 2008)
Product Specifications For the Arrow Rock 30 Per Sierra Designs Unless Otherwise Noted:
Product Features of the Arrow Rock 30 Per Sierra Designs:
Manufacturer's Warranty: "Sierra Designs guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed. This warranty does not cover damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown of materials over extended use and time. All defective or damaged products should be returned to us for evaluation and will be repaired or replaced at our discretion. Damages due to accident or improper care will be repaired at a reasonable rate. Products sent for repair must be cleaned prior to sending."
TESTER'S INITIAL OBSERVATIONS:
The box containing the Arrow Rock arrived late in the afternoon on May 23, 2008 carefully packaged and in excellent shape. Although the box was addressed to me, the sleeping bag was a size large (I requested a size regular) and the shipping invoice was addressed to Ryan Christensen. Ryan and I live in the same town and got together that evening to exchange bags. The Arrow Rock looked like what I expected after viewing the manufacturer's website. After a quick examination to make sure the sleeping bag was undamaged, I looked for a hang-tag or some other information from Sierra Designs regarding the bag but found only two small white tags attached to the foot box. One tag contained the style name, SKU number, and a reference that this was a "sales sample:2008." The second tag contained information regarding the flammability of the sleeping bag materials with a warning that the bag was not flame resistant and should be kept away from "open flame and heat source!"
I then began my examination of the bag beginning with the hood. At the bottom of the hood on the left-hand side is a hook and loop closure near the top of the zipper which, when closed covers the top of the zipper and the gap between the hood and the bag where the zipper ends. There is also an elastic draw cord and plastic cord lock on the right-hand side of the hood which can be used to reduce the size of the opening between the hood and the bag. The zipper pull has a cloth extension with the Sierra Designs' name and logo printed on it. This extension makes it easier to find and pull the zipper while inside the bag. There is a narrow insulated draft tube around the edge of the hood. The draw cord for the hood is sewn into the material right behind this draft tube.
There is also an insulated draft tube that runs the entire length of the zipper. The draft tube is approximately 3.5 "/9 cm in width. Sierra Designs also installed what it refers to as "snag free zipper tracks." The zipper tracks appear to be made of nylon webbing doubled over with some sort of cord in between. The zipper tracks are approximately 0.5"/1.3 cm in width and run the entire length of the zipper. The zipper tracks are located under each side of the zipper track so as to keep the zipper away from the bag material. While inspecting the bag and crawling inside, I used the zipper several times and so far, the zipper tracks have provided me with snag free zipping.
The Arrow Rock 30 is one of the bags offered by Sierra Designs with full Flex technology. As noted above, the Flex technology consists of "technically advanced elastic binding tape" and up to 8"/20 cm of expandable baffles. According to research done by Sierra Designs, restrictive bags are "the number one reason why people sleep restlessly in the backcountry." The Flex technology allows the bag to move with the user and adapt to the user's shape for thermal efficiency. According to Sierra Designs, "You will not find a more comfortable, thermally efficient bag anywhere...period."
The Arrow Rock 30 is a mummy style sleeping bag which tapers from approximately 26 "/66 cm at the widest point in the shoulder area to approximately 15"/38 cm at the narrowest point in the foot box.
When I crawled into the bag, I found that the bag fit my 5'10"/178 cm frame comfortably but I was able to easily touch the end of the foot box with my toes. Not unexpectedly (due to the mummy style), the Arrow Rock 30 was comfortably snug in the shoulder area but I was able to roll to my left and right side and from my back to my stomach without feeling that the bag was binding or restricting my movement. The hood fit snugly but comfortably around my head. I was able to adjust the opening by pulling on the elastic draw cord and moving the plastic cord lock but it required the use of both hands. When I closed the hood, the opening closed around my head but the design left my mouth and part of my face uncovered. This was not unexpected for a summer weight bag. The hook and loop closure was easy to use even with just one hand.
On the right-hand side of the exterior of the bag near the hood's draw cord is a small zippered pocket. The pocket is sort of an oblong shape. At the longest and widest points, the interior of the pocket is approximately 9"/23 cm long and 4"/10 cm wide. My backpacking flashlight fit easily into the pocket. Though I wouldn't likely put these items in the pocket, to give you an idea of its size, I was also able to store each of the following items separately in the pocket: a Garmin Vista GPS, my cell phone, and my pocket knife.
The hood draw cord and the exterior zippered pocket.
In addition to the features listed above, I found one large cloth loop at the end of the zipper and cloth two loops on the foot box of the bag for hanging it up to air-out and/or dry. There are no cloth loops inside the bag for attaching a liner.
I then turned the bag over and examined the integrated Pad Locks. The Pad Locks are designed to help keep the sleeping pad in place under the sleeping bag. There are two Pad Locks located approximately 22.5"/57 cm apart near the middle of the bottom of the sleeping bag. Each Pad Lock is made up of two strips of narrow orange nylon webbing with one strip sewn into the seams on each side of the bottom of the bag. The two strips are attached by a black plastic adjustable buckle. The Pad Locks are not removable. I am curious as to how the Pad Locks work in conjunction with the Flex technology. My primary question is, "Does securing the sleeping bag to a rigid sleeping pad interfere with the Flex technology's intended purpose of allowing the bag to move with the user?"
The Arrow Rock came stowed in a large cotton storage sack with the company name, logo, the name of the bag, size of the bag, the fill material and temperature rating on the bottom. Inside the sleeping bag was a black stuff sack with a draw cord and plastic cord lock. Sewn into the bottom of the stuff sack is a handle made of nylon material which also sports the company name and logo. The Arrow Rock compacts nicely into the stuff sack and I believe it would compress even smaller if placed into a compression sack. The photographs below show the Arrow Rock 30 in the stuff sack as compared to a 34 fl oz/1 liter Nalgene water bottle.
The Arrow Rock 30 in the stuff sack provided by Sierra Designs.
The Arrow Rock 30 in the stuff sack provided by Sierra Designs.
Instructions for cleaning the Arrow Rock 30 were found on the Sierra Designs web page but were also provided on a cloth tag sewn inside the bag on the draft tube near the top of the zipper. According to the instructions, the bag can be professionally cleaned by a cleaner with experience in cleaning down items and who will guarantee the work. Sierra Designs warns that solvents used in dry cleaning can strip the natural oils in the down that help it retain its loft. The bag can also be washed at home. According to Sierra Designs, the bag should be washed in a front loading, tumble washer not a top loading washer. Machine wash on the gentle cycle in cool water with a mild soap. Detergents specifically designed for sleeping bags are recommended. Rinse very thoroughly to remove all soap residue. Drip dry or tumble dry at a low heat setting. Check the bag frequently during the drying process. Sierra Designs also recommends throwing a couple of tennis balls in the dryer with the bag to help separate the down. Do not steam, press or iron the bag. The company suggests storing the bag loosely in a storage sack or hanging in a cool, dry place.
I was impressed by my initial inspection of the Arrow Rock 30 sleeping bag. The shell material feels soft but I did not find a single loose thread or feather. The lining of the bag is soft to the touch and felt good next to my skin. The bag appears to be well constructed. During the next two months I plan to use the Arrow Rock 30 as my only sleeping bag. Among other things, I will be looking closely at the accuracy of the temperature rating for me, the bag's comfort and durability, and the bag's ability to regain loft after being compressed.
(August 26, 2008)
Test Locations and Conditions.
During the Field Test period, I used the Arrow Rock a total of ten nights.
On June 20-21, 2008 I camped overnight near Mt. Bell (elevation 11,612 ft/3,539 m) in the Lemhi Mountain Range near Howe, Idaho. The temperature overnight was 32 F/0 C. I slept in a Lighthouse tent. I used a Therm-a-Rest ProLite 4 pad which I attached to the bag with the Pad Locks. I ate a good meal fairly early and we retired to bed before it was dark outside. I wore only light cotton underwear to bed. Unless I am really tired, even when sleeping in a bed at home, I tend to turn over frequently. Although I recall having a fairly comfortable and restful night's sleep, my climbing partner claimed that during the night I was thrashing around and he asked me if I was "ok." He claims that I said, "No, I'm cold." However, I do not recall such a conversation and I believe he was delusional. He forgot his sleeping bag and was sleeping in his clothes, my coat and a bivy bag. I tend to think he was really the one who was cold. I remember being comfortably warm all night despite the fact that the temperature dropped to near the lowest rating for the Arrow Rock. The only difficulty I encountered was zipping the Arrow Rock up past my shoulders. The zipper seemed to stick at that location and it was hard to zip the bag past my shoulders. Once I got the zipper past my shoulders, it was easy to zip the bag up the rest of the way.
On June 23-24, 2008, I stayed at Treasure Mountain near Driggs, Idaho (elevation 6,300 ft/1,920 m). The Temperature overnight was 41 F/5 C. I again slept in a Lighthouse tent. On this outing, I used a Therm-a-Rest CampLite pad which is a bit wider and longer than the ProLite 4. It is also rectangular in shape rather than tapered like the ProLite 4. I used the Pad Locks to secure the pad to the bag. I ate my evening meal at around 6:00 p.m. I wore only light cotton underwear to bed. The temperature was warm enough that I slept with the bag partially unzipped most of the night. Once again, I found it difficult to get the zipper on the bag past my shoulders. It almost felt like my shoulders were producing too much tension on the bag at this point in the zipper. Once I got the zipper "over the hill" created by my shoulders, it zipped easily. During the night I also discovered that rolling from one side to the other was a bit constricted. The bag clung tightly to the pad and provided very little give when I was attempting to roll from side to side. I later discovered that loosening the Pad Locks a little created less tension between the bag and the pad and I was able to roll over much easier.
I next spent three nights, from July 2 to July 5, 2008, at Stanley Lake near Stanley, Idaho (elevation 6,537 ft/1,992 m). The overnight temperatures ranged from 42 F/6 C to 51 F/11 C. On this outing, I used a Big Agnes pad and the Sleeping Giant Pad Upgrade kit. This kit is also rectangularly shaped and a bit thicker than the other two pads I had previously used. I used the Pad Locks to secure the pad to the bag. I ate very well every night. I slept in light cotton underwear and cotton pj bottoms. One night just at bed time, we experienced a thunderstorm with rain and severe wind. The wind was so severe that it blew down trees in neighboring campsites. Fortunately none fell in our campsite. Each night, I slept very well and awoke rested and ready to face a new day. The temperatures on this outing never really challenged the Arrow Rock's temperature rating. I usually started the evening with the zipper only partially done up to allow for cooler air to circulate inside the bag. By early morning, I always zipped up the bag and always had at least a little difficulty getting the zipper past my shoulders.
I spent one night (July 18, 2008) near Henry's Lake near Island Park, Idaho (elevation 6,470 ft/1,972 m). This was a youth activity that I was helping to supervise and so I ended up sleeping in a cabin on top of a bed. I opened the window next to the bed which allowed a very cool breeze to circulate over my bed. The outside temperature overnight was 46 F/8 C. I ate a very good meal that night. I wore only light cotton underwear and cotton pj bottoms to bed. Surprisingly, given the outside temperature, I was very comfortable all night and slept very well. The cool breeze blew throughout the night which helped keep me from overheating.
On July 23-25, 2008, I spent two nights at Earley Park near Tremonton, Utah (elevation 5,766 ft/1,757 m). The overnight temperatures were in the low 50s F/10-11 C. I slept in a Kelty 6-man tent. I used a Big Agnes pad and Sleeping Giant Pad Upgrade kit. As an experiment, I did not use the Pad Locks one night. Again, I ate very well every night. I wore cotton underwear and cotton pj bottoms to bed. As has been my practice for most of the summer, I started the night with the bag only partially zipped but by early morning zipped the bag the rest of the way. I still had the same difficulty with the zipper as previously mentioned. I was comfortable both nights but the bag slipped off the pad frequently during the night that I failed to use the Pad Locks. The shell material is silky to the touch and seemed to slip off the pad with ease. I will attach the Arrow Rock to the sleeping pad by way of the Pad Locks from now on.
Finally, on August 4-6, 2008, I used the Arrow Rock for two nights during a backpacking trip into Copper Basin near MacKay, Idaho. We spent one night at Moose Lake (elevation 9,345 ft/2,848 m) and one night in Surprise Canyon near the base of Standhope Peak (elevation 10,148 ft/3,093 m). I used my Lighthouse tent. I used a Therm-a-Rest ProLite 4 sleeping pad and attached the pad to the bag with the Pad Locks. Overnight temperatures were in the low 40s F/4-6 C both nights. I ate relatively light meals both nights. I slept in light cotton underwear and cotton pj bottoms both nights. We only hiked about 6 miles each day but we had some significant elevation gains both days and I was ready for bed when the sun went down. I slept very well both nights. The Arrow Rock was in the stuff sack inside my backpack for at least six hours each day. After I set up my tent, I laid out my pad and placed the Arrow Rock on top of the pad to air out and regain its loft. When I checked an hour or so later, the bag had regained its full loft and was ready for use. It may have helped that I hung the Arrow Rock over a nylon cord each morning to help it air out before squashing it back into the stuff sack for the day.
Performance in the Field.
While I have found one or two loose feathers inside the tent or on the bag itself after a night's use, feather loss has not been significant. I found no shifting of the insulation in the Arrow Rock. To this point in time, there are no signs of wear or tear on the bag. The zipper worked smoothly with very little snagging but it does hang up in the area of my shoulders. I think the tension on the zipper at that location is a bit much and therefore it becomes a bit difficult to zip the bag at that location. Once I have gotten the zipper past that point, it zips easily. As long as I did not overly tighten the bag to the pad with the Pad Locks, the Arrow Rock was roomy enough to allow me to flop around, switching from side to back to side to front, etc. without difficulty. With the exception of it being a little tight in the shoulder area when fully zipped, the Arrow Rock is comfortable. The Pad Locks kept various pads in place. This is a very nice design feature. In the past, with other sleeping bag/pad combinations, I have frequently awakened to find my bag and pad had separated.
So far, the temperature rating has been pretty accurate for me. I used the bag once in temperatures close to the lower limits of the Arrow Rock and did not feel cold. However, I have not yet really tested the temperature rating but hope to do so in the future. The Arrow Rock also has the ability to regain loft after being compressed. Although it has not yet really been a problem due to the summer temperatures, I can feel body heat escaping out the top of the Arrow Rock. There is no draft collar to prevent heat loss and, at this point, I am wondering how this will affect my use of the Arrow Rock in temperatures closer to 30 F/-1 C or a bit lower. I have not really used the zippered pocket near the hood of the Arrow Rock. It will hold small items but I usually don't have anything I need to stow near my face overnight. If I still wore contact lenses, I would store my contact case in this pocket.
Summary: Likes and Dislikes.
Likes so far:
I will continue to monitor the durability of the Arrow Rock 30 and its temperature rating especially as the temperatures start to drop now that fall is approaching.
LONG TERM REPORTArrow Rock On An Open-cell Foam Pad
(October 28, 2008)
During the last three months I have used the Arrow Rock 30 eight nights. I spent three nights in the Arrow Rock from August 29-31, 2008 near Quaken Aspen Creek (elevation 6,724 ft/2,049 m) which is located east of Leadore, Idaho in the Salmon National Forest. The weather was stormy and temperatures steadily declined to the point that we received about 1"/2.5 cm of snow the last day of our outing. Overnight temperatures ranged from the low 40s F to the mid 30s F (2 to 6 C). Because we were taking day trips from a base camp, I slept on a thick open-cell foam pad. I ate well every night before bed and slept only in cotton underwear. I slept warm and comfortably each night. I did not attach the foam pad to the bag with the Pad Locks but found that the bag did not tend to travel on the open-cell foam pad.
I next used the Arrow Rock 30 on October 12-17, 2008 near Hawley Creek (elevation 6,660 ft/2,030 m) which is also located east of Leadore, Idaho in the Salmon National Forest. This area received a good deal of snow (approximately 12-18"/30-46 cm in the high country and 3-5"/8-13 cm in the bottom of the canyons). Again, we established a base camp and were doing day hikes. The temperatures were predicted to be well below the Arrow Rock's temperature rating the first three nights and, as such, I did not attempt to use the bag outside but slept inside a camp trailer. Temperatures inside the camp trailer overnight were still in the upper 30s F (2-3 C) depending upon how often I turned on the heater. Overnight temperatures steadily rose during the week and on the 4th night the temperatures were supposed to be in the low 30s F (-0.5 to -0.6 C). As such, I set up my Black Diamond Oasis tent and slept outside on a thick open-cell foam pad. According to my thermometer, the low temperature for the night was 31 F (-0.5 C). I opted to sleep in the trailer the final night so I could pack up the tent for an early departure the next morning. The final night the low temperature was 33 F (-0.6 C) outside the trailer and in the low 40s F (5-6 C) inside the trailer.
I ate very well each night and slept each night in only cotton underwear. Each night I slept comfortably and warm. However, at approximately 5:00 a.m. on the morning that I slept in the tent, I awoke and could feel that it was cold outside of the bag. My body wasn't cold but I could tell that I was reaching the lower end of the temperature rating for the Arrow Rock 30. I also noticed that when I rolled over or otherwise repositioned my body inside the bag, warm air would be lost out of the opening around my face. There is no draft collar in the Arrow Rock 30 to trap or otherwise prevent this loss of warm air. I did not attach the foam pad to the bag with the Pad Locks but again, had no difficulty with the bag separating from the pad during the night. The next day, while packing the bag back into the trailer, I did notice two small pieces of white down protruding from a seam in the body of the bag. This was the first time in 17 nights of use that I found any evidence of down loss in the Arrow Rock.
Long Term Observations:
The Sierra Designs Arrow Rock 30 is soundly constructed of quality materials. Other than two small pieces of down which I found protruding through a seam in the body of the bag, there is no evidence of down loss or other wear/tear on the bag. The zipper is still a bit difficult to maneuver when it gets up to about my shoulders but I have found it easier to flip the pull tab around so it is inside the bag, reduce stress on the zipper by laying as flat as possible, and pulling then zipping up from inside the bag. The Flex Technology continues to work well for this "restless sleeper" as long as I don't cinch the bag down to the sleeping pad with the Pad Locks. The Pad Locks work with a large variety of sleeping pads and I found it was unnecessary to use the Pad Locks when using a thick open-cell foam pad. For me, the temperature rating of 30 F (-1 C) seems to be accurate. I was starting to feel the cold at 31 F (0.5 C). At that temperature, I really noticed the loss of heat through the opening near my face every time I repositioned myself in the bag. I believe this was due to the lack of a draft collar which would have helped trap the heated air inside the bag. The Arrow Rock compresses into its stuff sack with relative ease and regains its loft in a fairly short period of time. I had no difficulty with moisture and, therefore, cannot comment on how well the Arrow Rock handles moisture.
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