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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Cirque and Mist 2007 > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

Sierra Designs Mist Sleeping Bag


Initial Report - February 2007
Field Report - April 2007
Long Term Report - June 2007

Mist overview
Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  49
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
Shoulder Girth:  50 in (127 cm)
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking 3 years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, but managed a week long section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) last year.  I hike and backpack mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but will be section hiking more of the AT this year.  I’m usually a hammock sleeper, but will soon be testing a Tarptent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist, and I try to cut as muck pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Bag topInitial Report - February 2007

Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Sierra Designs
Manufacturer Website:  http://www.sierradesigns.com
Year of manufacture:  2007
Model:  Mist
Size:  Long
Temperature Rating:  0 F/-18 C
Color: purple/lime
MSRP:  $439 US
Manufacturer's stated stuff size:  9 x 19 in (23 x 48 cm)
Measured stuff size:  9 x 19 in (23 x 48 cm)
Manufacturer's stated weight:  3 lb 9 oz (1.62 kg) size long
Measured weight:  3 lb 11.6 oz (1.69 kg) - sleeping bag only
                             5.6 oz (159 g) - compression stuff sack
                             3.6 oz (102 g) - cotton storage bag

Hood detailConstruction details:  DriZone exterior fabric (40 D nylon)
                                 40 D polyester interior
                                 800 fill power goose down insulation
                                 Welded seam construction
                                  Zippered storm flap
                                  Dual draft tubes
                                  Draft collar
                                  Expedition Jacket Hood

Product Description:

The Sierra Designs Mist sleeping bag can best be described with just two words - soft and fat.  Fat with down that is.  This bag has some serious loft - approximately 6 in (15 cm) at the chest, knee, and foot areas and about 4 in (10 cm) at the hip.  In addition to feeling soft because of the lofty down, the interior 40D polyester fabric feels very soft and supple to the touch, and the puffy dual draft tubes along the side zipper, the fat full draft collar, and the double draft tubes around the hood all contribute to the soft luxurious feel of the Mist.  The Mist is available only in right zip.

The exterior waterproof-breathable DriZone fabric is light purple in color and has a small, barely visible ripstop pattern.  Approximately every 6 in (15 cm) a small variation in color is noticeable - this is where the baffle is welded to the shell. 
The interior of the bag is a light lime color with a pattern of small darker lime circles with a light purple dot in the center.  The baffles appear to be sewn to the interior liner with small even stitches of matching color thread.  Although the Mist is supposed to have fixed side baffle construction, I was able to push down from one side to the other easily, so it appears to be continuous baffle construction instead.    Manufacturer labeling is modest and tasteful - a small Sierra Designs logo appears on the right side near the foot, along with the model name (Mist), the fill power (800-fill), and the temperature rating (0 F/18 C); and the logo is also printed on the zipper pull.

The Mist has numerous technical features designed to help keep me warm in cold conditions.  First are the dual draft tubes - one on the bottom and one on the top of the zipper.  The top of the upper draft tube meets what I would call a throat draft tube - a fat tube of down that rests under my chin when the bag is zipped up.  The left side of this tube also keeps the toggle for the outside hood adjustment from contacting my skin, and attaches to an "inner" down filled tube on the hood that snugs down around my face.  The lower draft tube reaches to the top of the zipper, not quite meeting the "outer" down filled tube on the hood.  Both the throat draft tube and the inner face tube meet and overlay the lower draft tube, sealing to keep warmth in and breezes out.  In addition to the throat tube, there is an additional full draft collar which fastens on the right side with a wide strip of hook and loop fastener. An additional 'loop' strip is attached to the rear of the draft collar to allow the hook side to be attached out of the way when not in use to prevent it from catching on skin, clothing, or the sleeping bag.  Also attached to the upper side of the draft collar is a small mesh pocket measuring approximately 3.5 x 4.5 in (9 x 11.5 cm).  I look forward to testing this pocket to hold my contacts in their case, hopefully keeping them warmer and thus more comfortable to insert in the morning after a cold night; and it may also prove a useful place to store my watch if I don't want to wear it at night.

 The 'Expedition Jacket Hood' is very ingenuous, consisting of an inner layer that snugs tightly around my face, and an outer layer that poofs up above my face.  I'm excited to see if this system will help keep the area of my face that's always exposed (my nose and mouth) warmer in cold weather.  I've often felt snuggly warm inside my bag in cooler temperatures, only to be woken up toward morning because my exposed nose feels so cold, so I hope the deep Jacket Hood will help remedy this by keeping the air near my face warmer.  The outer part of the hood adjusts with a medium sized round lime green toggled cord which hangs freely, and the inner part adjusts with a smaller black round elastic cord with a smaller toggle that is attached to the side of the inner face tube with a loop of grosgrain ribbon.  An interesting feature on the smaller cord is a small clear pony bead.  I assume this has been attached to make this cord easier to pull on to adjust, due to the left portion of the cord being fixed in place and only the right side adjusting.

Zip pull & storm flap
footbox


The YKK zipper has a moderate sized top pull made of a sueded material with a smooth back, which is attached to the metal zipper head.  This pull is reversible - that is, it can be pulled around to be operated from either the interior or exterior.  The bag can also be unzipped from the bottom with a normal metal zipper head without a fabric pull.  The catch is that this zipper can only be operated effectively from the interior of the bag.  It's a bit of a struggle, but the bag is wide enough that I can reach down into the foot area and unzip it with a little effort.  The zipper is near ground level, and runs nearly the full length of the bag, stopping about 9 in (23 cm) from the bottom.  The zipper is covered by a 2.5 in (6.5 cm) wide storm flap that fastens closed with 4 small hook and loop tabs spaced down the length of the bag.  The zipper is backed by a strip of fabric with a rolled edge that helps prevent snagging, and the teeth of the zipper are positioned to the inside, toward this 'snag free strip'.

The Mist measures approximately 90 in (229 cm) overall length on the exterior, 29 in (74 cm)wide at the chest, 30 in (76 cm) at the hip, and 14 in (36 cm) at the foot.  Two lime green colored 'pad locks' are attached to the back of the bag at approximately the chest and hip areas.  These pad locks are narrow strips of gross grain ribbon that attach to the sleeping bag via hook and loop fasteners that pass through small cord loops permanently sewn into the bag, adjust by small black plastic slide buckles, and are designed to help keep the sleeping bag in place on a sleeping pad.

Pad locks
Pad lock details


Care labelA large white care instruction tag is sewn to the bag on the outside of the upper draft tube.  The tag contains information for cleaning the bag in three different ways - dry cleaning, hand washing, or machine washing.  It specifies that if dry cleaning, use a dry cleaner experienced in cleaning down items who will guarantee their work.  It states when machine or hand washing, use mild soap or special down soap, rinsing very thoroughly to remove all soap residue.  When washing by machine it states not to use an agitator type machine.  The label states to drip dry or tumble dry in a cool dryer, not to use harsh detergent or bleach, and not to steam press or iron.  The label also gives the fabric content:  100% nylon shell, 100% polyester lining, and goose down insulation.

The Mist was shipped in a white cotton storage sack, measuring approximately 13 x 30 in (33 x 76 cm).  The bottom of the storage sack has an insert of the liner material of the Mist, and the manufacturer logo, model information, fill information, and temperature rating printed in green on the white cotton.  I was somewhat surprised with the size of the storage bag, because the loft of the down is compressed a good bit when the sleeping bag is stored in it, and it takes some effort to push the bag into the sack.  I typically store my sleeping bags in large plastic totes to protect them from dust and accidental damage from our dog and cat, large enough to hold the bag without compressing the loft, and plan to do so with this bag also.  A dark charcoal colored compression stuff sack measuring approximately 9 X 19 in (23 x 48 cm) with four compression straps was also included for packing the Mist for travel.  Again, some effort is required to stuff the Mist completely into the sack.  When the compression straps are tightened, the bag will stuff down to approximately 9 x 15 in (23 x 38 cm).

Comparison of Mist size to storage bag size
Stuffed size comparison

Initial Impressions:

The design and construction of the Mist sleeping bag both appear to be top quality.  I'm impressed with the care that obviously went into designing the bag for optimal warmth in cold weather, and I love the soft feel.  The only small nitpick so far is that the Mist is only available in a right zip, which seems a little awkward to get fastened and unfastened since I am used to a left zip bag.  I do wonder if all the various cinch cords around the head and neck area and the hook and loop fasteners on the storm flap will make it difficult to get out of the bag quickly for a late night nature call.  The bag is bulkier than I am used to when stuffed, so I'm a bit anxious about how well it will fit in my pack, but the Mist has a lower temperature rating by at least 20 F (11 C) than any of my other bags, so this is to be expected.

Field Report - April 2007

Field Conditions:

In February I used the Mist on two overnight backpacking trips in western West Virginia, hammocking on both occasions.  The temperature dropped to around 30 F (-1 C) during the night on the first trip with some snow and light wind.  On this trip I used a down underquilt for bottom insulation.  On the second trip temperatures were around 35 F (2 C), breezy, and with blowing rain for at least an hour.  On this trip, I used a hybrid sleeping pad of closed cell foam with a self inflating section as primary insulation and a thin closed cell foam pad folded and placed on my right side to cope with the typical cold spots caused by the way a hammock wraps around the sleeper.  I also used the Mist in March at Girl Scout camp, sleeping under the stars using the hybrid sleeping pad and a plastic drop cloth underneath.  Temperatures were around 35 F (2 C) with only a very slight occasional breeze and no precipitation.  In April I used the Mist on an overnight backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee, sleeping in Curley Maple Gap Shelter, using the hybrid sleeping pad.  Temperatures dropped to around 20 F (-7 C) during the night, with light breezes.

Field Use:

Sleeping under the starsOn all occasions so far the Mist has kept me sufficiently warm, and I've had to vent the bag a few times each night to keep from getting too warm.  On two of the backpacking overnights and the night under the stars I used the pad locks to secure the Mist to the sleeping pad.  The pad locks are simple to use and adjust easily, but the positioning of the pad locks near the zipper seems to interfere with zipping the bag, especially near the upper pad lock.  The zipper operates smoothly enough, but it takes a lot of pressure to move it past the pad locks, especially the upper one.  I found I had to use both hands to operate it, pulling down against the bag with one hand and operating the zipper with the other.  I've also found that the hook and loop fasteners on the storm flap slow down my exit from the bag since I have to unzip the bag to the first fastener, pull it apart, zip down to the next fastener and pull it apart, then unzip again before I can easily exit the bag, so no fast night time exits.  Still this seems a fairly small sacrifice for the added draft protection of the storm flap.

Most of the time so far I've found the bag too warm to totally snug down the hood and snug the draft collars tight, preferring to keep them loose.  Even with the adjustments loose the deep hood with the ample down filled tubes surrounding it provides sufficient warmth for temperatures down to 20 F (-7 C).  The few times I've tightened the face and neck drawcords, I've found them a little hard to draw, and the one for the throat draft tube a little difficult to find during the night due to the puffiness of the various down tubes in that area.

On the night I hammocked in the wind and blowing rain, the foot of the Mist got a little wet when the hammock fly sagged from the rain and started flapping around, allowing a little rain to spray in.  Exiting the hammock and adjusting the fly stopped the rain spray, and although the surface of the foot area of the Mist appeared 'wetted out', it didn't seem to soak into the down since it remained light and fluffy.  On this trip, the bag was still a little damp at the foot when I packed it up, but it was dry before I unpacked it later that day at home to air it out.  The foot of the bag also got a little wet the night I slept under the stars, when it slipped off the bottom of the sleeping pad, but this time it dried before I packed it up.

In Curley Maple shelterOn my last trip, I found the mesh pocket at the chest especially useful.  Since the temperatures were well below freezing and the air was dry, I stored a lip balm and my contact lenses in the pocket.  I was able to apply lip balm during the night to keep my lips from drying out and chapping, and it was nice to have relatively warm lenses when I put my contacts in the next morning.  The hook and loop closure worked well to keep both of these items inside the pocket even though I shifted from side to side several times during the night.

Fitting the Mist into the compression sack still takes a little effort, but I've found it easier when I leave the sleeping bag unzipped and start stuffing the foot end in first, allowing the air to escape out the top as I stuff the bag in.  Once inside the stuff sack, the compression straps are easy to operate, compressing the bag several more inches.  Even compressed, the Mist is fairly bulky, and it takes a little effort to fit it into the bottom of my pack, which is my preferred place to store it when I'm backpacking.  I've also stored it on one side with my clothing and miscellaneous gear and my sleeping pad on the opposite side, but this is less space efficient since there is a lot of space left by the curved shape in the center part of the pack.  Still, for the warmth of the bag, the Mist compresses well enough, and losing a little pack space is a small sacrifice for staying toasty warm in sub-freezing temperatures.

Conclusions:

So far the bag seems top quality.  All the stitching remains secure and I've only noticed a couple of small feathers escaping the shell.  The down filled tubes make the Mist very cozy and snuggly, and the warmth the bag provides has been incredible.  On my most recent backpacking trip my companions all said they were cold during the night, but I was toasty warm.  The only improvement I would suggest so far is to move the pad locks a bit away from the zipper to make it easier to operate.

This concludes my Field Report.

Long Term Report - June 2007

Field Conditions:

In early May I used the Sierra Designs Mist for two nights at Girl Scout Camp, the first camping in a field near one of gravel access roads, and the second on a short overnight  backpacking trip.

The first evening temperatures were around 60 F (16 C) overnight with some light breeze, with a high around 75 F (25 C) the next day.  The elevation was around 700 ft (200 m), and the ground was fairly level.  The second night the overnight temperatures were in the low 40 F (4 C) range, with steady moderate rain in the evening through the middle of the night, with little to no wind.  The elevation around 900 ft (300 m), and the ground was slightly sloped.  I was using the Mist inside a Tarptent Double Rainbow, sleeping on a Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper High Mtn sleeping pad both nights. 

I was unable to use the Mist on any other trips during this portion of the test due to the early arrival of warm overnight temperatures, for which the substantial insulation of the Mist would have been very much too hot.

Field Use:

On the first night I found I was too warm during most of the night, sleeping most of the time with the bag unzipped to about the knee, and having to frequently throw the top of the bag to the side and remain uncovered for a few minutes to avoid serious overheating.  I'm typically a side sleeper, and when I did have the top of the bag over me, I found I was too warm if I slept facing the zipper.  When I turned over the other way, I found my backside would get cold in a few minutes.  I generally prefer sleeping on my left side, but didn't find this comfortable due to the cold zone caused by the open zipper.  I couldn't keep the bag zipped up without overheating, so I found I was frequently zipping and unzipping the bag, and tossing and turning trying to stay comfortable, especially in the early morning hours.  Due to the warm temperatures, I did not use the pad locks.  I occasionally slid off my sleeping pad, and would wake up and notice, but didn't really get cold from not being on the pad.  There was no noticeable condensation on the bag in the morning or any time I woke up to change my sleeping position during the night.

During the short (1 mi or 2.5 km) hike into camp and the time I was setting up camp (all in a steady, moderate rain) I ended up pretty much soaked through, with wet hair, clothing, and shoes.  As temperatures dropped, I found I was getting quite chilled, and it felt great to change into a lightweight base layer bottom and a mid-weight wool top and crawl into the warmth of the Mist.  I found I slept comfortably warm all night.  I used the pad locks this night, and the sleeping bag stayed put on the pad well, but on the uneven ground the pad kept sliding sideways on the silnylon floor and I kept sliding down into the bottom of the bag.  This caused the sides of the bag to come into contact with the mesh surrounding the floor of the Tarptent, and the top of the bag to be a little annoying around my face, but I found I could fold the hood over and make it into a great little pillow this way.  I didn't notice any condensation during the night or when I packed the Mist into its stuff sack the next morning, but when I got home and unpacked it I noticed it felt a little damp in the footbox area with a slightly clumpy damp feel to the down.  This may have been caused by the bag being stored in my pack with my soaked clothing, and it dried out quickly (within an hour or so).

Conclusions:

Overall I found the Sierra Designs Mist a good quality bag that keeps me warm and cozy, and even with several nights use, it still looks like new.  The shell fabric has been pretty good to repel stray droplets of water and keep moisture away from the down (with the exception of the single instance noted above), although the surface does sometimes seem to 'wet out' a little when there is significant condensation.  The fabric is also easy to keep clean, and I haven't yet had to wash the entire bag.  I once got a small bit of grass stain on it from contact with the ground, but I found it wiped right off with a damp cloth.

I found the included compression stuff sack handy to shrink the bag to a manageable size in my pack.  While it took a bit of stuffing to get the amply filled Mist into the sack, I found if I started packing it at the foot end I could more easily get most of the air out of the Mist and it would fit adequately into the stuff sack.  The way the sack is designed, with quick release buckles on two adjacent strips of webbing, it was then easy to put the top part of the compression system over the stuff sack, snap the straps in place, and pull the webbing to shrink the size of the packed Mist several more inches.  I would like to see the compression stuff sack be a few ounces lighter though.

The one real downfall of the bag seems to be the positioning of the zipper (or the combination of this and the cut of the bag), which causes it to be difficult to operate, especially as it nears the neck area.  I sometimes found I had to put pressure on the bottom of the bag by digging into it with my toes to pull the bag taut in the zipper area so I could get it zipped up.  I'd also like to see the bag offered with a left zip, which always seems more comfortable to me, especially when hammocking.

Due to my wide shoulders (not to mention a little more padding on my body than strictly necessary), I made the decision to order the long model even though my height would have been within the sizing of the regular model.  I'm glad I got the long since it is a bit wider than the regular and I still occasionally felt a little constrained when the bag was entirely zipped up.  I would suggest the bag be available in a 'wide' model as well as the long for those of us who are amply endowed but not very tall.

The Mist is easy enough to ventilate that I found I could use it in a fairly wide range of temperatures comfortably, and even though I didn't experience cold enough temperatures to test the 0 F (-18 C), I have reason to believe it will prove adequate to keep me warm enough in temperatures several degrees below the lowest temperature (20 F/-7 C) that I was able to test it in based on how warmly I slept that night.   It's a little bulky and heavy to take backpacking when I don't expect temperatures below freezing, but for winter and colder early spring/late fall trips I'll happily put up with a little extra weight and bulk over a less generously filled bag to make sure I stay warm, and plan for the Mist to be my primary bag when I expect temperatures below freezing.  In those cases, I find it actually saves a bit of weight and bulk in my pack because I always packed much heavier clothing and sometimes a light quilt or fleece throw in addition to a sleeping bag rated to 20 F (-7 C) for that little extra bit of 'insurance' against sleeping cold.

Thanks to Sierra Designs and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Mist sleeping bag.


Read more reviews of Sierra Designs gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Cirque and Mist 2007 > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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