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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Cirque and Mist 2007 > Test Report by Ray Estrella

SIERRA DESIGNS CIRQUE SLEEPING BAG
TEST SERIES BY RAYMOND ESTRELLA
LONG-TERM REPORT
June 06, 2007

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrella@hotmail.com
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.


INITIAL REPORT

The Product

Manufacturer: Sierra Designs (a division of American Recreation Products)
Web site: www.sierradesigns.com
Product: Cirque
Size: Long
Rating: 0 F (-18 C)
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: $ 439.00 (US)
Weight listed: 3 lb 15 oz (1.79 kg) Actual weight 4 lb 1 oz (1.84 kg)
Average loft: 7.5 in (19 cm)
Insulation type: 800 fill power goose down.
Fill weight: 31 oz (879 g)
Color: Yellow
Stuffed size listed: 9 x 19 in (23 x 48 cm) Actual measured 9 x 18.25 in (23 x 46 cm)
Compressed size (in compression sack included): 9 x 13.5 in (23 x 34 cm)
Warranty: (from company web site) "Sierra Designs guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed."

IMAGE 1

Product Description

The Sierra Designs Cirque sleeping bag (hereafter referred to as the Cirque, or the bag) is a mummy style down filled sleeping bag. The entire outer shell is yellow. A blue trimmed drawstring surrounds the hood.

The outer shell is made of Sierra Designs' (SD) proprietary waterproof/breathable DriZone fabric. Here is what SD says about it. "Breathable fabric allows moisture to escape while keeping mother nature's moisture out, (t)echnical characteristics provide the opportunity to sleep outside the tent". While they say that the "fabric" is waterproof, no claim is made that the "bag" is waterproof. Indeed they say that the bag is "weatherproof".
IMAGE 2
The DriZone fabric is soft and slick to the touch, and is slightly "crinkly". It is translucent on the Cirque. I can see the clumps of down through the shell of the bag. It is kind of cool.

Centered at sternum level, the Sierra Designs logo is applied to the shell. On the bottom of the foot box just above the zipper the Sierra Designs logo, and Cirque name fill and rating are also applied. To either side of the foot box is a hang-loop, and at the bottom are two attached tags. One is the standard consumer tag, with fill type, weight, and "Made in China". The second, smaller hang tag has fabric fire warnings.

According to the web site, the inner lining is made of 40 denier polyester fabric in a blue striped pattern. It feels very slick. The laundering intructions are sewn inside of the bag. They are the standard down instructions. Machine wash gentle, use mild soap. Drip dry or tumble dry, cool.

The bag has a 2-way, blue nylon YKK zipper running to within one foot (30 cm) of the end of the bag. It sits very low on the bag from the bottom to just shy of shoulder level, then the zipper climbs and curves in to its ending point at the side of the hood. The zipper is placed on the left side of the bag, the only option for the Cirque. They say that it has, "New innovative Snag-Free Zipper Tracks feature prevents the dreaded stuck zipper by creating a barrier between the lining and the zipper track". And they are using a "reversed zipper coil". They sew the zipper on reversed of the way it normally is. This presents a very flat face to the outside. The part of the teeth that stick out and catch are now facing inside where they run against the tow ½ inch (1.25 cm) zipper tracks. The tracks have a piece of cord sewn into the edge to help keep the zipper from sliding past and grabbing the lining. Here is a picture of the zipper tracks.

Backing the zipper inside of the bag is not one, but two fat 3 in (7.6 cm) down and synthetic filled draft tubes to help ensure that the cold is kept at bay. They can be seen in this picture of the insides of the bag.

IMAGE 3


As the zipper itself is not waterproof, SD has added a "Storm Flap" that covers the zipper keeping moisture from getting to it. This shingled flap is 2 in (5 cm) wide and is held closed by means of four sections of hook-and-loop fasteners spaced along its length. This flap also adds another level of cold blocking protection too.

Slightly trapezoidal 6 in (15 cm) wide baffles are used throughout the body of the bag to retain the down, and eliminate cold spots. The offset is about 1 in (2.5 cm). The baffles are sewn to the inner lining of the bag, but are welded to the outer DriZone shell. Welding is a way of chemical bonding (gluing) the fabric together to eliminate stitched penetrations in the shell. This takes away one of the possible ways for water to access the bag. The seams at the hood and down the side of the bag (lengthwise) are welded too.

Inside of the bag at shoulder level, is a fat 2.5 x 4 in (6 x 10 cm) insulated draft collar. It has a drawstring and cord lock on the right side of the bag, away from the zipper. It also has a hook-and-loop attachment to keep it together when the zipper is open. Attached to the collar on the right side is a 3 x 4.5 in (8 x 11 cm) mesh "internal media pocket". It is secured with a small piece of hook-and-loop.

The hood is very cool. They call it the Expedition Jacket Hood, and claim that it is "the most thermally efficient hood on the market." It has two draft stops. One sits on my neck, and the other wraps around my head. They are adjusted with a drawstring on the right side that goes through a single tethered cord-lock allowing for one handed adjustment.

IMAGE 4


A 5.6 oz (159 g) dark grey nylon compression sack was provided. It also came with a cotton storage bag.

IMAGE 5


On the bottom of the Cirque are two pad locks, removable straps for attaching a sleeping pad to the bag to reduce the occurrence of the bag and pad separating from each other.

So far I am pretty impressed with this bag. I have had 6 other Sierra Designs bags over the years. (I still have two in Minnesota plus my children have Sun Ribbons, first generation DriZone bags.) The Cirque is by far the nicest bag I have seen from them. I can find nothing wrong with the construction of the bag. It is very "cushy" feeling. The down lofts up great. The bag seems to have extra down in the foot box and chest area.

This concludes the Initial Report. The following reflects the first two months of real-world use.

IMAGE 6
Compressed Cirque



FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions

I used the Cirque a couple of times in San Jacinto State Park. I was camped at 9200' (2800 m) elevation above Round Valley. Temps dropped down to 20 F (-7 C) at night, it was 24 F (-4 C) in the tent. I was also at a higher elevation once but can't tell because I will get in trouble. (Hmmm…someone's knocking at the door.)

I was back up that way for a last fling with winter on the last day of March. I set up at Mica camp above Tamarack Valley at 9300' (2835 m) elevation. The temps got down to 23 F (-5 C). I was on pine duff and dirt.

I had a total of three trips for four nights in the bag so far.

Observations

I really like this bag. It is easily my favorite bag from Sierra Designs to date. I had their Sam Jam 800 bag that used 800 fill down also, but this bag lofts up much nicer than the Sam Jam. To my eye, it is also much better made. The bag is very comfortable to lie in.

I have been able to roll the entire bag with me as I switch from side to side. Doing so has not resulted in a cold back as happens with my variable fill bags. The jacket hood helps in this regard as it stays in place quite well.

My fiancée is testing the SD Electra and brought it to California to test with me. The women's models are all right-side zippered and the men's are all left-side zippered. So imagine my surprise to find that they do not mate up. The zippers do not come undone from the track, but are sewn through keeping them permanently hooked up. I did not notice this when going through the bag for my description in the Initial Report. Neither did Jenn. Oh well, here is a picture of the Cirque and the Electra in the Hercules tent that I am testing for SD also. Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pads are being used under them.

Cirque with a freind


As the tent is so well ventilated, I got barely any condensation on the bag, just a little where I was breathing right on the shell kind of near my shoulder. No moisture soaked into the fabric.

So far I am a little ambivalent about the zipper. It does not work that well zipping from outside the bag, a habit I have picked up from sticky zippers that were always worse from inside. Knowing that the bag is made with the new Zipper Tracks I tried to remember to work the zipper from inside. It works much better. I can get snag-free pulls about 60% of the time so far. Maybe that will improve as I get used to it. It is still much better than the zippers on the other six of their bags in my past.

I love the double draft tubes. On a solo trip that saw a very windy night I had a lot of very cold wind blowing into the tent. I let it go for a while to see how the Cirque did. I felt nothing getting by the zipper, or any other spot on the bag for that matter. I finally closed the tent up though as my face started freezing. (I know, sissy…)

As part of a backpack test I used the dedicated sleeping bag compartment as the only stuff sack for the Cirque on my last trip. The down lofts up, and retains its loft so well that I had a hard time getting it into the compartment. Once stuffed it was no problem. It may be the closest to an actual temperature rating I have of all my bags because of the loft.

The only thing that I do not care for at this point is the hook-and-loop patches on the storm flap. They make it a pain using the zipper from the outside.

This concludes the Field Report phase of the test. The following are my observations from the final two months testing of the Cirque.


LONG-TERM REPORT

Field Conditions

I used the Cirque on a 4 night trip in Kings Canyon National Park. (One night was in the Sentinel campground at the trailhead.) The elevations I stayed at ranged from 6500' to 10500' (1980 to 3200 m). The low temps experienced ranged from just below freezing to 40 F (4 C). It rained one day and all sites were very near water. The terrain was dirt and rock under pines three nights and alpine tundra for the other. I carried the Cirque for 83.6 miles (135 km) over 4 days.

Observations

I have learned to take a 0 F (-18 C) rated bag to the high Sierra in spring and fall because of the wild weather swings it experiences. This trip did not get as cold as our last four, so the Cirque was not called on to keep me from freezing. On two of the nights I slept in it with the zipper completely opened and was fine. On the other two I used it as a quilt. To do this I stuck my feet into the bottom section that does not have the zipper and let the rest spread out like a V over me, while I lay directly on my Big Agnes pad.

It worked pretty well this way, although the Jacket Hood would clobber me as I toss and turn in the night as it can't be opened up and spread out like a conventional hood. But I am not complaining about it as I have come to really appreciate this hood design. My brother-in-law liked my bag so much that he bought the 20 F (-7 C) version, the Trade Winds right before we left on the hike. (I may get one myself for the ol' quiver.)

My second night was spent around dozens of tarns and a creek. The ground was saturated from snow melt and the rain storm the day before. I woke up in the middle of the night to a lot of condensation on the upper portion of the bag. It did not saturate the shell the least bit. I opened up my tent fly and went back to sleep. The next morning the bag was dry to the touch.

To save space I really compressed the bag down with the compression sack. It stayed in it for at least 12 hours per day. Even on night four it lofted up very fast and held it. It really takes some effort getting it back into the stuff sack. I love the 800 fill.

The zipper has continued to be fairly snag-free. I still do not like the hook-and-loop sections on the Storm Flap. It is a pain opening the zipper from the outside with it.

I have not needed to clean it as I always wear a lightweight base layer to sleep in to keep the trail grime away from the bag if I can't rinse off at the end of the day. I turn the bag inside out and air it for a day at the end of each trip. The outside has stayed very clean too, but much of its use has been in snow so that helps.

All told I am very happy with the Cirque. So much so that I gave my other 0 F (-18 C) bag (a Sierra Designs Thor) to a family member and am keeping the Cirque as my regular bag.

This concludes my test of the Cirque. My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Sierra Designs for the opportunity to test and to keep this great sleeping bag.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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