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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Echo and Electra 2007 > Test Report by Leesa Joiner
Sierra DesignsUpdated: Long Term Report - July 7, 2007
Electra Women's -20 Degree
Sleeping Bag - Long Version
Updated: Field Report - May 2, 2007
45 years old
5'7" (1.7 m)
160 lb (73 kg)
My camping, hiking and backpacking experiences includes trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips. Most outings involve my three children, while my style isn't as 'high adventure' as some, I do enjoy the time we spend outdoors. I guess that could be considered adventurous in itself.
In the past, my load was super heavy - think pack mule. Now that the kids carry all their own gear, plus the two oldest help carry the food, ect, my load is lighter. I still go for durability over weight when selecting gear.
While enjoying the outdoors, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping. I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.
Sierra Designs Electra Women's Long
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sierradesigns.com
Year of Manufacture: 2007
MSRP: US $499.00
Advertised Measurements for Long Size:
Shoulder- 59in (150 cm)
Hip- 58 in (147 cm)
Foot- 41 in (104 cm)
Advertised Weight: 4 lb 6 oz (1.98 kg)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 8 oz (2.2 kg)
Measured Stuff Sack Weight: 5.9 oz (1.7 kg)
Advertised Fill Weight: 40 oz (1.1 kg)
Advertised Stuff Size: 10 in X 20 in (25 cm X 51 cm)
Fill: 800-Fill Goose Down
Shell: 40D nylon
Lining: 40D polyester
DriZone Waterproof/Breathable Fabric
Dual Draft Tubes
Ergonomically Shaped Foot Box
Expedition Jacket Hood
Fixed Side Baffle Construction
Glow-in-the-Dark Zipper Pulls
Internal Media Pocket
Removable Pad Locks
Snag Free Zipper Tracks
Welded Seam Construction
Zipper Storm Flap
The Electra arrived in good shape. I was surprised by how small and compact it was though. After opening, I laid the bag across the back of a chair. About 15 minutes later I came back in the room and the bag had expanded quite a bit. It looked like it was going to take over the room! The outer part of the bag is a light green color, while the inside is a green swirl pattern. There is a purple accent trim on the bag also.
As impressive as seeing how much loft was gained so quickly, trying to stuff the bag into the stuff sack was a trick! After two tries, I found that laying on top of the bag helped to push air out fairly quickly. The bag packs snuggly into the stuff sack.
Sierra Designs advertises 'Welded seams last longer because there are no exposed stitches to abrade.' I checked out the seams and could actually feel a slight 'stiffness' to the seam. The rest of the bag has a smooth feel to it.
One concern I always have with any item with a zipper is how well the zipper moves, and if it catches on surrounding fabric. My initial inspection of the bags zipper found that it slides smoothly both up and down. I only had to move fabric out of the way when unzipping at the very top of the bag. The zipper baffle is quite substantial, and appears well made.
I did crawl inside the sleeping bag and found it quite comfortable, the loft did not compress as much underneath my weight as I thought it would. The hood is adjustable enough that I didn't feel like I was being 'squeezed' by it. I did find that I didn't have as much shoulder room as I would have expected. This may be due to the 'women's style' of the bag. It is cut narrower through the shoulders and wider through the hips. I will be looking at this on my first trip. A close fit is fine, as long as I can sleep without feeling that my movement is restricted. I really need a good night's sleep while backpacking, or the following day, I am not a 'happy camper'.
So far, I have found no areas that concern me regarding this bag. I will be taking it out this weekend, and will be able to record how comfortable it is to sleep in, how it performs in cold weather conditions and any areas that are of concern. Over the course of this test, I will be using it on three different long weekends, and toward the end of the test I will be going on a multiday trip. I am looking forward to testing in the wide range of weather we will have between now and April. During the coldest weather I will use the bag in either cabins or tents, and as the weather warms, I will use it in my hammock.
Living in Northern New England, I have the good fortune of being able to experience at least 4 seasons (sometimes within days of each other!) and some of the best outdoor areas around. During the next four months our temperature range will run from the current of 7 degrees F (-13 C) up to about 50 degrees F (10 C). My hiking and snowshoeing areas range from improved trails to rough and rocky.
I am looking forward to testing the Electra Sleeping Bag - it is a great looking bag. I appreciate the opportunity and thank Sierra Designs and Backpackgeartest.org. Photo is from Sierra Designs website http://www.sierradesigns.com
May 2, 2007
Over the last two months I have used the Electra on nine occasions. I had originally planned to spend two weekends sleeping out in a wooded area in western Maine, on some land owned by some friends. The friends planned on sleeping in a cabin with some of the kids. The friends backed out, so I needed to sleep inside the cabin with the kids. Five of those nights were spent in a cabin with minimal heat - a small wood stove fire that didn't last through the night. We had similar weather conditions on both occasions. Outdoor temperatures ranged from - 5 to 20 degrees F. (-20 to -6 C). Indoor temperatures went down to 32 F (0 C) according to my outdoor computer. We spent the days backpacking and eating - the boys were working on a cooking merit badge for Boy Scouts, and we 'needed' to eat a lot to keep warm!
The first weekend (3 nights) were cold, windy and snowy without significant accumulation. The bag provided for nice, warm nights of sleep - it kept the drafts out and my body heat in.
The next weekend out (2 nights) in the cabin were a little warmer to start with - the boys remembered to start the fire early, so the room would heat up. By early morning, the fire had gone out and the room was cold enough that ice formed on the inside of the windows, which I didn't notice the first time out. The outdoor computer didn't record the temperatures on this occasion unfortunately, but going by 'feelings', I believe it was well below freezing by morning. Again, the bag kept me warm and comfortable. On this weekend I did find that I had to unzip the bag to keep from overheating early on, and then zipped up as the room cooled off. I was pleased to see that the zipper slid very easily, not catching on the surrounding fabric, even though I was half-asleep.
Recently, I have been able to sleep in the bag inside my double walled tent while backpacking with some friends in northern New Hampshire. On the first two occasions the temperatures stayed right at the freezing point during the night. I used my Therm-a-Rest ToughSkin sleeping pad, and found that the combination of the pad and the bag worked very well together. The pad helped provide insulation from the still frozen ground and the bag helped keep my body temperature at a comfortable level. The extra cushioning of the bag really also helped make for a more comfortable night's sleep.
The first night, I felt cold when I went to crawl into my bag. Once warm, I slept well until about 4 a.m when the wind picked up and made the tent vibrate and caused some strange noises. I stayed in the bag for a while, hoping to fall back to sleep (which didn't happen), but I stayed warm, eventually putting on my outer garments while still in the bag. I really hated to give up the warmth of the bag. The second night with temperatures hovering at the freezing point, I wasn't chilled when I got in the bag, probably in part due to having just eaten a large meal. I fell asleep quickly, with the bag partially unzipped. I did awake about 2 a.m. and felt a little chilly. I zipped the bag and although it took a while to go back to sleep, it wasn't from being cold. I eventually was able to go back to sleep and found that I slept very late into the morning - it was 7 a.m. when I woke up. I was very rested, but felt guilty for wasting part of the morning! I can say that it was the best sleep I've had in ages - in a tent or house! I woke with no joint pain, as sometimes happens when I sleep on the ground. The bag didn't have any 'cold spots' where the fill became compressed.
Early in May, I used the sleeping bag in much colder conditions while backpacking in Northern Maine. The area is heavily wooded and the elevation is only about 1200 ft. (366 M) Daytime temperatures were in the mid 30's F (-1 C) and night temperatures were in the low 20's F (-6 C) at night. The winds were fairly strong and the cold wind could be felt inside the tent at times.
The first night I was a little chilly when I got into my sleeping bag (inside my tent) I found that I warmed up fairly quickly and slept well. On the second night, I took a cup of hot chocolate into the tent with me. I went to sleep while I was nice and warm. I slept through the night, without being chilled or overheating. Unfortunately during the night, I spilled the little bit of chocolate that was left and it dripped on my bag and sleeping pad. When I woke up, I was able to easily clean it off with just a damp cloth.
It seems as I get older, my body temperature fluctuates quite a bit. I used to always be warm, now I find that I get chilled more easily. Of course, if I wait long enough, that changes too! I would have thought that under normal conditions, this bag would have made me overheat - but it seemed to work very well at more moderate temperatures. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to test at colder temperatures. That may have to wait until next year. Before long, I will be reaching the upper limits of use, temperature-wise.
I am extremely happy with how well this bag is made. There are no signs of wear. The stitched area is still intact, and there is no fraying of fabric. The zipper slides easily and without catching on the fabric. The dual storm flaps and draft tubes keep cold air from coming in around the ziper without being bulky. The draft collar is a tube shaped, insulated area around the back of the neck and front torso area that helps to hold in body heat. Once inside the bag, it was not even noticable. I had thought it would feel strange and would be 'lumpy', but really didn't know it was there when inside the bag.
The bag's Drizone feature is claimed to keep out moisture from the outside, and to wick away body moisture, helping to maintain body temperature. I did notice that when the bag got snow on it (not while I was in it), it was easy to shake it off, and that even resulting water did not seep through the outer layer, but instead beaded up on the surface until being shaken off. I did not ever notice any moisture inside the bag.
I have used the internal media pocket for storing my outdoor computer, gps and watch. It held these things without any problem, and I didn't feel them while I was sleeping.
One thing I was concerned about was the shoulder room. I haven't really had any issues with that while sleeping. There is enough room both in width and length to allow for some movement, without a lot of space for cold air. The hood is not restrictive while sleeping and does help keep my neck and head area warm.
Because of the amount of loft that the bag has, condensing it enough to fit in the stuff sack takes some work. I usually lay it out flat, and then lay on top of it to push out as much air as possible. Working from the foot end, I then roll it up, expelling as much air as I can. Once I get to the top, I can push it into the stuff sack fairly easily. The stuff sack itself is easy to strap on to my backpack. I have also put it inside of my pack on one backpacking trip occasison I wasn't carrying enough to fill the pack. Upon removal from the sack, it 'fluffs' up very quickly. I store it in a storage bag when not using it outdoors. I am still amazed at the amount of loft this bag has.
The bag is easy to clean off if it gets dirty - a quick wipe with a damp cloth is all it took to clean off a small spot of hot chocolate. I have not had to clean the whole bag, so can't report on drying time.
I am looking forward to continued testing of this bag. This concludes my field report. The long term report should be completed by July 3, 2007. Please check back then for further information.
Long Term Report
July 7, 2007
I had few opportunities to use the Electra since writing my Field Report. The weather warmed up quickly and soon became too warm for a cold weather bag. I did use it one night in my hammock, when the night temperatures were 42 F (6 C). It was damp and I thought the extra insulation that the bag would provide would make for a more comfortable nights sleep. After rearranging myself and the bag a few times within the hammock, I found I was most comfortable sleeping on top of the bag. It did provide protection from the dampness and I slept very well. Of course, that is not what the bag was designed for. I have put the bag away until next year, when it will once again be put to use.
I am very happy with the Electra - it has held up very well, showing little sign of wear. The bag has maintained its loft, with no noticeable compression of the fill. The zippers continue to work smoothly without snagging.
I have slept very well while using it, and appreciate a good nights sleep! I hesitate to comment on the temperature rating (-20 F/-29 C). I was not able to test it at its advertised temperature limit. I did remain comfortable though at the lowest temperatures I experienced: 20 F (-6 C). I would not hesitate to take it out at lower temperatures from the experiences I have had so far. I do plan on using it again once our temperatures drop in late fall, and will post an update at that time.
Even though the Electra has many useful features, the basic bag is really nice. I particularly like that it holds its loft and 'fluffs' up after being in the stuff sack. Another nice feature is that the stuff sack is actually big enough to easily stuff the bag into while backpacking without a struggle. I can't say anything negative about the bag - it has performed well, proven itself durable and allowed me to sleep well while out.
Thanks to Sierra Designs and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test the Electra.
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