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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Arrow Rock Bag > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
SIERRA DESIGNS ARROW ROCK 30
TEST SERIES BY RALPH DITTON
INITIAL REPORT DATE: 21st June, 2008
FIELD REPORT DATE: 15th August, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT: 25th October, 2008
(Courtesy of Sierra Designs)
Name: Ralph Ditton
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Chest: 100 cm (39 in)
Weight: 71 kg (156 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
Location: Perth, Western Australia
I have been bushwalking for over eight years. My playgrounds are the Darling Range, Bibbulmun Track and the Coastal Plain Trail. I aim to become an end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. Just on 200 km (124 mi) to go. My pack weight 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 five days duration. My shelter of choice is a tent.
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs.
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.sierradesigns.com
Model: Men's Arrow Rock 30
Rating: -1 C (30 F)
Size: Regular. There is a long version
Made in: China
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Materials: Insulation is 600 - Fill Goose Down
Shell 30D Polyester
Liner 40D Polyester
Colour: Exterior - Orange
Interior - Grey
Zipper side: Left. Full length.
MSRP: USD 199 [Regular].
USD 219 [Long].
Manufacturer's Specifications using Imperial numerals
Size: Regular Long
Trail Weight 1.04 kg (2 lb 5 oz) 1.1 kg (2 lb 9 oz)
Fill Weight 453 g (16 oz) 510 g (18 oz)
Stuff Size 17.8 cm x 43.2 cm 17.8 cm x 43.2 cm
(7 in x 17 in) ( 7 in x 17 in)
Length 183 cm (6 ft) 198 cm (6 ft 6 in)
My Measurements using metric conversions
Weight of Stuff Sack: 42 g (1.5 oz)
Weight of Storage Sack: 96 g (3.4 oz)
Weight of Regular Sleeping Bag: 1.06 kg (2. 33 lb)
Stuff Size of Regular Sleeping Bag: 18 cm x 40 cm (7 in x 15.7 in)
Stuff Size Circumference: 59 cm (23 in)
Length, head to toe: 2 m (6.6 ft)
Length, neck to toe: 1.66 m (5.5 ft)
Width at shoulder: 65 cm (25.5 in)
Width at foot: 30 cm (11.8 in)
It appears from the web site that the warranty is limited to U.S. and Canadian customers. To read the full warranty details, click on the "Support" tool bar on Sierra Designs web page.
Product Description and Impression
The Sierra Designs Arrow Rock 30 Sleeping Bag (hereinafter known as the bag) is a three-season mummy-shaped bag. The fill is a minimum of 80% goose down and the balance is made up of down fibre, feathers and residual quills. The zipper is on the left hand side. The beauty of the mummy style is that it mimics the shape of the body: wide around the chest and hips and much narrower around the knees and feet. There is hardly any dead space to warm up from my body heat and the flex technology brings the fabric even closer but will stretch when I move around without losing heat.
Insulation and Loft
Sierra Designs makes a lot of use of the 600-Fill Goose Down in its bags. The little hang tag that came with the sleeping bags has photos of five bags with 600-Fill Goose Down but with ratings ranging from -9C (15 F) to 7 C (45 F). How can this be? The answer is the amount of fill put into each different type of bag. The more fill weight the lower the temperature rating because the more air that will be trapped. The 600 relates to the cubic inches per ounce.
To measure the bag's loft I shook the bag vertically and horizontally and let it fluff up over two days. I used the mid point of the third baffle which is 30 cm (11.8 in) down from the chin line as this is over the chest area. Holding a spirit level over the centre of the third baffle I used a ruler vertically from the floor and measured off against the base of the spirit level. The loft was 12 cm (4.7 in). Dividing by two to arrive at a single baffle loft I get 6 cm (2.3 in). A rough rule of thumb is that it requires 6 to 7.5 cm (2.3 to 2.9 in) of loft in a single baffle to achieve a comfortable temperature rating of 0 C (32 F). The bag is rated -1 (30 F), so going by the formula it would appear that the bag is close to the money.
There is a draw cord on the right hand side with a toggle clip to adjust the amount of closure that I will want. I can leave it fully open or close it up so that just my nose and mouth are visible. Very handy on a freezing morning.
There are three baffles for the hood with the biggest being on top of the head.
There is a little pocket on the outside of the bag on the right hand side just below the draw cord. It will be good for my little LED light to have a home in as I tend to get out of my bag during the night for a nature call. Banknotes would also fit in there when folded or rolled up for safekeeping during the night.
The zipper is on the left hand side of the bag. It is a two-way, YKK 8CF coil zipper. At the top near the head, there is a flap which closes over the zipper head and locks into place by way of a hook and loop system. This flap prevents the zipper from accidentally becoming partially undone. Can be a bit of a problem when searching for the zipper in the dark and forgetting that the flap is in place. Been there, done that. Panic for a short time until I realized that the zipper was covered. The zipper head has a fabric strip attached to the finger pull to make it easier to operate and possibly find in the dark. There is no material on the zipper finger pull on the chest pocket.
There are two webbed snag free zipper tracks, one on either side of the zipper coil. At the top of the tracks there is rounded rail which guides the zipper head to prevent it from grabbing fabric. It is 15 mm (0.59 in) wide and grey in colour.
The zipper runs nearly the full length of the left hand side. It stops at the third baffle from the foot box. There is another zipper at this end. When the two zippers meet at the bottom end, I can remove the end of one side of the zipper out of the zipper heads. There is a difficulty in trying to rehouse the zipper side into the heads. It took me about eight tries to get the zipper to fully seat into the two heads before I was able to do the zipper up.
There is a fabric loop sewn onto the bag next to the end of the zipper at the foot end.
On the underside of the top section of the bag, there is a draft tube stitched next to the snag free zipper track. It is quite fluffy. The depth is 7cm (2.7 in) and around 6 cm (2.3 in) thick. It runs all the way down to the foot box, past the end of the zipper track.
The elastic flex is only on the top outer shell and it stretches in one direction only. That is across the body to take into account my moving around by tossing and turning. The idea is to keep the bag close to the body so that less body heat energy is used in heating a small amount of air. It eliminates dead space areas that occur in some tapered and rectangular bags.
The elastic flex occurs between each baffle, so on the front there are eleven lines of it. The foot box and hood do not have any flex in them.
On the back of the bag, there are two straps that constitute the pad locks. They are spaced 60 cm (23.5 in) apart. The bottom strap is located 76 cm (30 in) from the foot box and the top strap is located 57 cm (22.5 in) from the crown. The straps themselves are 13 mm (0.5 in) wide. The buckle is a simple affair. The adjusting strap feeds in and out of the buckle and relies on little serrations on the leading edge of the buckle to retain tension.
The bottom buckle has been attached upside down and this has the effect of causing a twist in the strap.
My Exped Synmat fits beautifully under the bag using the pad locks. The inflated height of the mat is 7 cm (2.5 in).
The bag has an embroidered Sierra Designs logo in the centre of the second baffle from the chin line.
Down in the left hand corner near the foot box on the top of the bag, there is a smaller embroidered Sierra Designs logo. On the next baffle above it there appears the following embroidered lettering: "Arrow Rock 30 Reg 600-fill Down 30°F -1°C FLEX™"
Whilst not logos, there are three tags stitched to the edge of the foot box. One is "Made in China". The smaller tag is a compliance tag that informs that the bag conforms to CPA 1-75 Rate of Burn. It basically says to keep the bag away from open flame and heat source.
The larger tag is a certificate stating that the bag contains a minimum of 80% goose down which has been sterilized, the finished size, style, date of delivery, net weight of filling material and what the inner and outer materials are. In this case polyester. Other incidental items are also listed. On the reverse is a little sticker with "1" on it and a stamped number "37127". It is possibly a quality assurance batch number.
Whilst some impressions have been mentioned above I still have a few more observations.
When I opened up the box it came in I saw that the bag was inside the large cotton storage bag and I was most impressed. It meant that the down was not subjected to compression during transit. I have seen far too many sleeping bags in camping stores in their compression stuff sacks waiting to be sold. A big tick for sending it uncompressed.
After removing the bag from the sack, I examined it from head to foot and giving the elastic flex a good old tug to see how much it stretched. I was expecting the flex to extend all around the exterior and interior of the bag just like the one that I own. The flex is only on the exterior. It is on the top shell extending from the chin line to the foot box, but not including the foot box. The web site did not qualify the extent of the flex.
I then checked out the snag free zipper tracks. Zippers catching on fabric are the bane of my camping experience. I find that there is nothing worse than trying to free a zipper in the confines of a tent at night whilst wanting to attend to a nature call. I look forward to a snag free existence.
When I saw the straps on the back of the bag I was momentarily non-plussed. I thought "What in the hell are these straps for?" I went back to my file and saw on the page that I had printed off that there was mention of pad locks which I had completely forgotten about. Then the penny dropped. That is when I tried out my self-inflating mat for size.
Whilst looking at my file I also saw listed a chest pocket. Well I hunted for a while inside the bag because that is where all of the other pockets on my other bags are. No luck. So I began a search on the outer shell. It took me a little while to locate it because it blended in so well.
Sewn into the seams of the foot box are two material loops which can be used to hang the bag for airing and drying purposes when only slightly damp say from perspiration.
Also sewn onto the draft tube is a label setting out the "Care Instructions". It is the cleaning instructions. All pretty straight forward. Don't use solvents. Don't dry clean. Don't use harsh detergents or bleaches. Do not steam press or iron. Do use a down cleaning soap at home and so on.
After looking the bag over for the various features that it has I did the next obvious thing; hop into it for size. Guess what happened when I was doing the zipper up? Yes, I snagged it on the draft tube. Fortunately, it was easy to unsnag. I just reversed the zipper and it let the little bit of the draft tube fabric go.
The length of the bag was very good. My feet did not touch the end as I am only 1.76 m (5. 7 ft) tall. There was a little bit of space around my chest when I laid on my side and my chest measurement is 100 cm (39 in). When I lightly pushed against the inner shell above my chest I could feel the elastic giving as it is supposed to do.
In a matter of moments I started to feel warm as the bag trapped my body heat. It was very efficient.
To operate the zipper was not difficult. All I had to do was try and find the finger pull to operate the zipper. The zipper slid down the coil track easily when I opened up the bag to get out.
Pulling on the draw cord for the hood was a little more difficult. I didn't think it moved easily because it was dragging against the open ends of where the draw cords come out. The problem is the angle of operation when laying inside the bag and trying to close the hood tighter against my face. When I was out of the bag and tried it there was no dragging due to the angle. It was a lot smoother to operate.
Bibbulmun Track: Sea level to 585 metres elevation (0 to 1,920 ft). Within this region I backpack along old forestry roads, sandy tracks, and purpose built walking tracks.
Daytime temperatures will range during the testing period, from a minimum 16 C to 20 C (61 F to 68 F) during May to September, 2008. Overnight temperatures on average during autumn to mid winter range from -1 C to 8 C (30 F to 46 F).
Prickly Bark campsite on the Coastal Plain Trail is roughly 80 m (262 ft) elevation. The trail from the eastern terminus to the campsite is a sandy track that is mostly flat with a steep climb up a sand dune over the last half a kilometre (0.31 mi) to the campsite.
Daytime temperatures can range from 9 C to 20 C (48 F to 68 F) during May to September, 2008. Overnight temperatures on average during autumn to mid winter range from -1C to 8 C (30 F to 46 F).
At both of the above, the minimum can get as low as -5C (23 F) on occasions. Usually only for a few days before reverting back to the normal average range.
The Bibbulmun Track passes through the Darling Range, so apart from camping along the track, I use the Darling Range for mainly day walks with my walking club.
Snow does not occur in the areas that I hike, just heavy frost with occasional fog with low dew points causing condensation.
The areas that I hike in have kangaroo ticks, huntsmen spiders, various species of snakes and many prickly bushes that shed leaves with needle like spikes such as the Parrot Bush (Drydrandra sessilis).
A sweep of the ground before pitching my tent and laying my sleeping pad and sleeping bag down is a must to avoid obvious puncture objects.
Other locations will present themselves with the Perth Bushwalking Club as they put out a monthly activity list and I will be participating in overnight bushwalks with them as I am now a member.
How did the bag stack up against the web site information?
I got mostly what I expected and more as I forgot about the pad locks and chest pocket. The only disappointment was that the flex system did not extend to all of the bag, just the exterior shell and then only the top from the chin line down to the foot box. As stated above, there was no information stating how much of a flex system there was.
There was no loose stitching or loose threads on the bag. The bag appears to be well made and to date no feathers with quills have escaped through the fabric and I have been tossing and turning the bag over whilst writing this report looking at its various features.
The bag, from my brief insertion was lovely and warm and the fabric felt good against my skin on my face and arms. I am certainly looking forward to see how the bag performs in our winter. We have been having lots of 3 C (37 F) nights lately.
DATE: 15th August, 2008
Testing locations and conditions
My only outing during the past two months was for three nights and four days at the Prickly Bark campsite on the Coastal Plain Trail which sits at 60 m (197 ft). The soil is very sandy. Overnight temperatures over the three nights ranged from a low of 0.3 C to a high of 10.8 C (32.5 F to 51.5 F). The Steadman Apparent Temperature in shade recordings for the first night whilst in the sleeping bag, ranged from a low of -1.5 C (29 F) to a high of 4 C (39 F), the second night 1.8 C (35 F) to 8.2 C (47 F) and the third night 6.3 C (43 F) to 11 C (52 F). On the last night, rain fell for a short time and 2 mm (0.08 in) was recorded. (Source: Bureau of Meteorology). The camp is about 5km (3 mi) from a weather station.
For the first night I used a Thermolite Reactor liner to protect the sleeping bag from my body oils. In addition, I had tightened the pad lock straps up that go around the sleeping pad which prevents the sleeping bag from sliding off the sleeping pad.
Despite the very low temperatures during the night, I was as warm as toast. Only my cheeks and nose knew that it was a tad chilly out.
When I first got into the sleeping bag I had great difficulty in doing up the zipper. I am right handed, so I reached across with my right hand to operate the left hand side zipper. Initially, the zipper glided along beautifully. When I came to the first pad lock strap there was a slight "V" in the bottom track of the zipper because of the pad lock strap pulling it towards the ground and the zipper head baulked at it. I pulled the top zipper track down towards the bottom zipper track and after a bit of effort got it underway. When I reached the second pad lock strap the same thing happened. I repeated the process. Further up towards my shoulder I had difficulty in moving the zipper. It took me a good three minutes to do up the zipper. I could not find any reason for its recalcitrant behaviour in the latter stages of the operation. Also, the finger pull on the zipper head always swung outside the bag when I let it go. I had to fish for it in the dark with my fingers.
Undoing the zipper had similar problems, but not as time wasting, only about a minute.
The next night I loosened the pad lock straps so that no "V" formed when doing up the zipper. I had the same result for the second and third night-a lot of difficulty operating the zipper when in the sleeping bag. The strange thing is that when I am out of the sleeping bag and operating the zipper to see why it is playing up, it works perfectly fine and only takes seconds to open and close.
On the third night, as can be seen by the temperatures above, I was very warm and I did not use my Thermolite Reactor liner. During the night I was stripping off as I was too hot and I ended up having the zipper only done up to half way between my elbow and shoulder so that I could vent the hot air. I started to perspire on my lower legs. By 4 am I was down to my base layer top and undies with a beanie on my head. The sleeping bag was very warm.
When I got home I let it air in a room in the house for over a week before storing. I wanted to make sure that it was completely dry. A part of the outer top fabric did get damp when I took it out of the tent. It brushed against the doorway edge which was wet from the overnight rain.
I have used the bag quiet a number of times at home when I had a Saturday afternoon sleep. Due to the great heat retention of the bag, I am always lightly dressed, shirt and shorts. I still manage to perspire on my lower legs so I have to air the bag for a few days to make sure that it is dry. I am just being cautious. It is hard to tell if the 30D Polyester shell material breathes well and allows my perspiration vapours to pass through the fabric. That is why I air it for a number of days before storing it in the special bag supplied by the manufacturer.
Sometimes when the temperature is around 11 C to 15 C (52 F to 59 F) during the afternoon, I will fully unzip the bag and lay it on me as a doona (continental quilt) with my feet tucked into the foot box. The zipper does not go all of the way down the side. It finishes 33 cm (13 in) above the foot box.
Even at home where I am not using a pad, but the bed, I am having problems doing up the zipper whilst in the bag but it has become a bit easier to undo.
Running my fingers along the teeth of the zipper I can feel little kinks along the upper and lower tracks. I suspect that the zipper has been bent in numerous places when the sleeping bag has been stuffed into the compression sack.
When I hold the zipper tracks up to my eye level and look down the length of it, I can see little sharp angles.
These little angles/kinks do not affect the operation of the zipper when I do it up and open it when I am outside the bag possibly due to the angle that I am operating the zipper and I can use a good bit of speed to open and close the zipper.
To date the stitching is still good and I have not noticed any feathers working their way out through the fabric.
At this stage I have not washed the bag.
Overall to date I am very happy with the sleeping bag. The matter of the zipper is the only bugbear but with patience I can operate the zipper when I am in the bag.
I know that I am a warm sleeper, hence my predisposition to perspire when my legs are closely enclosed by insulating materials such as a mummy style sleeping bag.
I am looking forward to getting out during the next phase when our weather will still be cool with overnight temperatures in the range of 3C to 8 C (37 F to 46 F).
The things that I like and dislike are still the same as the Initial Report.
This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report should be completed in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
LONG TERM REPORT
DATE: 25th October, 2008
I took two overnighters to sleep in a hut on the Coastal Plain Trail. The overnight temperatures ranged from a high of 15 C (59 F) when I went to bed and reached a low of 7 C (45 F) around 5 am. These temperatures were consistent with both the nights that I stayed there.
Elevation at the campsite is 60 m (197 ft).
I used a self inflating mat on a sleeping platform in the hut so as to experience another type of shelter apart from my tent.
What I found initially when the temperature was around the 15 C (59 F) mark, I started to perspire on my legs, between my knees and ankles. I was wearing synthetic thermal pants. I had to vent the bag to let heat escape and wipe my legs down so that the bag did not become wet. I then removed the thermal pants. The result was much better.
My next camping experience was in a tent in the Mundaring area.
Elevations ranged from 150 m to 300 m (500 ft to 1,000 ft).
The overnight temperature reached a low of 8 C (46 F) and it was very still with light rain in the morning whilst I was still in the sleeping bag.
I wore a loose track suit pants and a tee shirt. I did not experience any perspiration on my legs at all. I was very comfortable inside the bag.
The inside of the single skin tent was covered in condensation and I had the misfortune of the condensation starting to run and then drop on the bag and my face. Compounding this, it was made worse when large drops of water fell from the wandoo tree leaves above the tent, hit the outside fabric which resulted in me and the sleeping bag receiving an explosion of condensation from inside the tent roof. The outside of the foot box of the bag got wet from touching the end wall of the tent. The wetness did not penetrate through to wet my feet.
I am still having trouble operating the zipper when I am inside the bag. It wants to jam at certain points along the track.
My last overnighter was in my tent in the Melaleuca Park north of Perth. The terrain is very sandy and flat. Elevation is around 40 m (131 ft). The overnight temperatures whilst in bed fluctuated from a high of 17 C (63 F) at 8 pm to a low of 15 C (59 F) at 6 am. Relative humidity during the same time frame went from 64% to a high of 87% at 1 am before dropping back to 70% when I got up.
Needless to say, I was very hot inside the sleeping bag, so I got out of it very early in the night and left it unzippered. In this fashion, I used the sleeping bag as a doona (quilt) with a leg stuck outside the sleeping bag as a means of temperature control. I only wore budgie smugglers (jocks) to bed due to the warm night.
When I got home from all of my trips, I aired the sleeping bag by laying it across the top of the lounge settee and turning it inside out for three days, then turned it back around the right way for another three days. This way I am making sure that the bag is completely dry from moisture and perspiration before storing it away in the provided storage sack.
To date I have not washed the bag but I envisage that I will have to very soon after a few more uses of the bag. There is a slight whiff about it when I get my nose down close to it.
How did it perform?
One thing about the bag is that it does take up a good deal of space inside my backpack. Initially, I thought that it was a good size that it packed down to, but at 18 cm x 40 cm (7 in x 15.7 in) with a circumference of 59 cm (23 in), I found that the provided stuff sack did not compress it far enough when I was using a 65 litre (3966 cu in) pack.
The weight of 1.04 kg (2 lb 5 oz) was very good, no problem there.
On occasions, the zipper did catch on the fabric despite the presence of a snag free zipper track. All I had to do was back up the zipper to free it from the fabric. No damage was done to the fabric.
As mentioned during the previous report, I still had trouble with the zipper when trying to unzip or do up the zip when laying inside the sleeping bag.
As far as a rating of -1 C (30 F) goes, it is pretty well on the money. I would not use it again for overnight temperatures say over 12 C (53 F). It is just too warm above that if I wanted to stay inside the sleeping bag.
Only the odd feather escaped from the bag when in use. I could count them on one hand the number of feathers inside the tent after a night's sleeping.
I liked the fact that the hood was stuffed with feathers also, unlike another bag that I own that has no fill in the hood. My head was kept nice and warm and I also wore a beanie to protect the hood from body oil. My hair becomes greasy when I am out in the wilds.
The elastic type lines across the top of the sleeping bag allow me to move around inside the bag by stretching a bit. When I am not moving around, the bag is pulled closer to my chest thereby reducing the amount of air that my body has to heat.
I did not experience any shift in down inside the baffles. The down stayed where it should have.
The pad locks did the job and are easily adjusted for the various thicknesses of my sleeping mats. The sleeping bag stayed on top of the mat. When I used it as a doona, I did not use the pad locks.
Overall I am very happy with the sleeping bag and it performed as it should. My only gripe is with the zipper being difficult to operate whilst inside the sleeping bag. It wants to jam at certain spots along the track.
The little chest pocket was an excellent spot for my button LED torch to live. I was able to locate it easily in the dark.
This sleeping bag is definitely for cold weather, not for mild to warm temperatures above 12 C (53 F). Above this temperature I sweat freely and have to open the sleeping bag up to vent the warm air.
Thank you Sierra Designs for the opportunity to test this sleeping bag.
This report concludes the series of reports.
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Read more gear reviews by Ralph Ditton
Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Arrow Rock Bag > Test Report by Ralph Ditton