BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Nahche and Winema Bags > Test Report by Jason Boyle

Sierra Designs Nahche Sleeping Bag

Test Series

Initial Report - November 17, 2007
Field Report - January 20, 2008
Long Term Report - April 9, 2008

A cold night on Lake Easton, Nahche is on the Right

Tester Information:
Name: Jason Boyle
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 180 lb/ 82 kg
Chest: 42"/ 107 cm
Shoulder girth: 48”/122 cm
Hip girth: 43”/107 cm
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, U. S.

Backpacking Background:
I have been camping and backpacking for about 19 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked mostly in the Southeastern and Northeastern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I currently reside in the Pacific Northwest and spend most of my time hiking and backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but I can be found exploring the other wild areas of Washington!

Product Information:
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
Model: Nahche
Size: Regular
Color: Grey and Black
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Country of Manufacture China
URL: www.sierradesigns.com
Listed weight: 4 lbs 1 oz (1.84 kg) This is what SD calls Trail weight.
Measured weight: 4 lb 9.1oz (2.07 kg) Total Weight (stuff sack and bag)
Nahche weight 4 lb 2 oz (1.87 kg)
Compression Sack 7.1 oz (201 g)
Cotton Storage Sack 3.65 oz (103 g)
Dimensions: Length: 72” (1.83 m)
Circumference (shoulder/hip/foot): 64”/60”/ 43” (1.63 m/1.52 m/1.09 m)
Fabric (outer/inner): EcoSensor Recycled/Cocona Recycled
Fill: Primaloft Eco
MSRP: N/A
Temperature rating: 0 F/ -18 C

Product Description:
The Sierra Designs Nahche is a mummy shaped sleeping bag made of “eco friendly” materials, part of SD’s “Green Effect” line. The colors scheme is pretty simple, grey on top, black on bottom with a little flare through a silver embroidered Sierra Designs logo near the top of the bag, and the name of the bag and rating embroidered near the foot. There is also a small “Green Effect” tag sewn to the outside of the bag near the foot. The shell is made of EcoSensor Recycled fabric, a recycled polyester and the liner material is made from Cocona Recycled fabric, which is a mix of Cocona yarn and recycled polyester. Surprisingly, these fabrics don’t feel any different from other sleeping bag fabrics I have felt in the past. The inner Cocona liner is very soft and I look forward to snuggling into it on cold nights. The bag has a full length two way zipper and has “Snag Free Zipper Tracks”. The “Snag Free Zipper Tracks” are basically a piece of fabric with a rounded edge that extends past the zipper. It looks like they should keep the zippers from snagging on the fabric by keeping the zipper and the shell fabric separate. There are two pad locks to keep the bag attached to my sleeping pad and two fabric loops at the foot of the bag should I want to add another cord to make my own pad lock. The hood is an “Expedition Jacket Hood” which fits around my head comfortably and has its own draft collar. There is an internal mesh pocket in the main draft collar that is large enough to hold a 30 GB Video iPod or other similar sized items. The bag has generously sized draft tubes to cover the zipper track and across the chest. Included with the bag were a white cotton storage sack and a grey nylon non waterproof compression sack.

Initial Report – November 16, 2007

Initial Impressions:
The bag arrived in good condition stored in the cotton stuff sack. I was surprised by how dense the bag felt when I pulled it out of the stuff sack. However when I weighed it on my scale it was right on with the Sierra Designs marketed weight. Kudos to Sierra Designs for putting an accurate weight on their marketing materials!

I laid the bag out on the floor of my living room and tried it out. Of course my daughter had to help me try it out too.

My daughter and I playing in the bag

As stated earlier it is a mummy shaped bag and is a good 6 inches (15 cm) longer than I am tall and will provide me room to stuff some clothing into the foot of the bag. I expected the bag to be generously cut in the chest, but when I zipped the bag up completely it seemed a bit snug in the chest area. I am not sure if it was just because I had been playing with my daughter or what, but this an area that I will report on again in the Field Report. I like the Jacket shaped hood. I usually don’t get the most out of the hoods on my sleeping bags because I am a side sleeper and if I am using the hood I usually end up breathing into my bag, something I don’t want to do in really cold weather. Since the Nahche hood contours my head, I should be able to easily roll from side to side without burying my face in the bag. The pad locks are a good concept and work well based on my experience using them on my Sierra Designs Wicked Light Bag, however that bag doesn't have a hood like the Nahche. I probably won't use the pad locks on this bag because of the hood, I don't want to breathe into the bag.

In the Compression Sack

I was skeptical that the bag would fit into the provided compression sack, but I was able to stuff it into the compression sack with ease and able to compress it to a size a little larger than a basketball. Another cool thing about the compression sack that is different from other compression sacks I have used is that there are two quick disconnect buckles and two normal tightening straps. On my other compression sacks there are 4 tightening straps, which usually turns into a mess once I pull the bag out of the sack and causes me to spend 10 minutes sorting the straps out before I can compress my sleeping bag.

I look forward to getting the bag out into the elements for some real world testing. I will focus my testing on three main areas – fit, durability, and warmth.

Field Report – January 20, 2008

Summary:
Though I have not been able to reach 0 F (- 18 C) temperatures with the bag yet, I have been pleased with the bag. It is much roomier than I previously thought and the fill has shrugged off some dampness to keep me warm through the night. At this point I don’t have any negatives for the bag.

Field Conditions/Report:
I have used the bag on three overnight trips so far which I outline below:

November 17-18, 2007 – Melakwa Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness: This trip involved a 5 mile (8 km) night hike through rain and light snow as we gained elevation. Final elevation was 4500’ (1370 m), with a low temperature of 25 F (- 4 C). I used the bag inside of a Black Diamond Lighthouse tent with a Therm-a-Rest Toughskin as my pad. I wore a dry pair of lightweight tights, a lightweight long sleeve shirt, dry socks, Sierra Designs Sleepies, and a beanie. I also used my REI silk liner inside the bag. I do this more to keep the sleeping bag clean than to provide additional warmth although I am sure it adds some. I slept pretty fitfully this night. I think I didn’t eat enough and though I was never cold, I think that is what caused my restlessness.

November 21-22, 2007 – Lake Easton State Park: This was a car camping trip. Elevation was around 3000’ (910 m), with a low temperature of at least 18 F (-7 C). I slept in the bag under the stars with an Exped Downmat 9 DLX as my sleeping pad. I wore the same clothes as I had on the previous trip and slept pretty well except for some slightly chilled feet in the morning. I ate well the night before and had not performed any real physical exertion except some beer bottle curls. A nice thin layer of frost covered the bag in the morning except for the upper torso part which was clear.

December 28 – 29, 2007 – Ollalie Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness: This trip involved a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) backpack though steady snow. Final elevation was 3900’ (1190 m) and the low temperature was 22 F (-5 C). I used the bag with a REI Minimalist bivy and my shelter was a Black Diamond Mega Light Tarp. I used an Exped Downmat 9 as my pad. The shelter was not set up very taut so as it snowed through the night the walls caved in a bit. Additionally there was a large amount of frozen condensation that would rain down during the night when I hit the walls to knock the snow off of them. I ate well this night, 2 packages of Ramen, various snacks while hiking, and a Butterfinger Candy bar right before bed. I only wore a pair of shorts, a dry L/S shirt, clean socks, Sierra Design Sleepies, and a beanie. The hood became damp from condensation overnight from brushing against the tarp wall. There was also some condensation on the bag between it and the bivy. However I was completely warm and never felt damp or cold inside of the bag.

The inside of our Black Diamond Mega Light the next morning

I was initially concerned with the fit of the bag, however I am happy to report the bag is very roomy and there is plenty of room inside of the bag. I never felt constrained in any way and had plenty of room to stretch out. I was able to comfortably wear a light base layer while inside of the bag and had plenty of room to bring other clothes into the bag to dry overnight. The inner Cocona fabric is soft and nice to snuggle into. The hood fits well and I really like how it conforms to my head and turns with me. I am happy to report that when the hood is completely cinched down that there are no annoying toggles, or excess cords to get in the way, and that the hook and loop fastener is not anywhere near the face.

The durability of the bag has been good thus far. I mentioned some condensation and frost forming on the shell on a couple of the trips, but neither appeared to penetrate the Primaloft fill and create a cold or wet spot. One area I am surprised about is that Primaloft doesn’t loft very much. I am used to down bags that have incredible loft after being compressed. I don’t think that anything is wrong with the bag, just surprised that the bag doesn’t loft much. The “Snag Free Zipper Tracks” have done a good job as I have not snagged the zipper on the bag. I really like the long zipper, it makes getting into and out of the bag very easy.

I have also been pleased with the warmth thus far. In my opinion what I eat is almost as important as the bag and I have tried really hard to make sure I am eating enough. I am not completely sure what to make of the frost that appeared every where on the bag at Lake Easton except on the chest area. I don’t think I tossed and turned too much which might have cleared it. If there is an area where heat loss was occurring it would cause the frost to melt, but I hope that is not the case as I hope that the torso area would have good insulation to keep my core warm. I will investigate this further as I try to get in colder temperatures.

Long Term Report – April 9, 2008

Summary:
I have been pleasantly surprised with the performance of this bag. I wasn't sure how the bag would perform at temperatures down to the 0 F (-17 C) rating, but I slept comfortably on the one night I experienced these temperatures. It has shed condensation well, kept me dry even in damp conditions, and the jacket hood is great! The only trade offs for a synthetic bag is weight and packability, my two nitpicks for this bag.

Field Conditions:
I used the bag on two more trips since the Field Report for a total of three more nights. I will outline the locations below:

January 20-21, 2008 – Gold Creek Basin, Snoqualmie Pass, Washington: This trip was a mile and a half (2.4 km) snowshoe to a neat little overlook I found earlier in the winter. Elevation was around 3000’ (914 m) and temperatures ranged from 0 F to 32 F (-17 C to 0 C). I used the bag inside of an MSR Dragontail tent and used an Exped Downmat 9 as my sleeping pad. I wore a lightweight turtleneck, tights, clean wool socks, down socks, North Face down booties, beanie and a pair of fleece mitts. It sounds like a lot of clothing but it was my normal winter clothing. I ate half of a dehydrated meal, some brownies, a small Larabar, and some M & M’s. This was my coldest night in the bag and I was surprisingly warm all night.

March 14-16, 2008 – Hannegan Pass, North Cascades, Washington: This trip was a 5 mile (8 km) snowshoe to our camping spot, then 6 miles (9.6 km) of snowshoeing further up the valley the following day before heading out the way we came on the third day. Elevation was around 3000’ (914 m) and temperatures ranged from 24 F to 32 F (-4 C to 0 C). I used the bag inside of an MSR Dragontail tent and used an Exped Downmat 9 as my sleeping pad. I wore a short sleeve t shirt, a pair of shirts, clean socks, a beanie, and my down booties. I ate cooked meals each night and had lots of snacks like pastrami and cheese so there were plenty of calories. I slept well each night as expected, because of the warm temperatures. There was some condensation in the tent that fell on the bag but nothing penetrated the shell.

Report:
As I mentioned before the fit of the bag has been great. I have no problems wearing single baselayers in the bag and there is plenty of room for me to stretch out. The draft collars are nice and fat, but don’t take up as much room as I thought they might inside of the bag. I was also initially concerned that the guillotine draft collar on the jacket hood might be uncomfortable, but I never really noticed it. The inner lining is great. I was plenty comfortable wearing shorts and having my bare legs against the lining. I have become more of a fan of the jacket style hood since my Field Report. It is a great feature; I like being able to lie on my side and having the hood move with me.

The durability of the bag has continued to be good. I haven’t noticed any issues with the shell, inner lining, or zipper. There hasn’t been any Primaloft leakage through the seams, though I didn’t really expect there to be. Even though the bag doesn’t really loft much, I have not seen any loft degradation or compression over the last four months. I have used the included compression sack for storage while backpacking and the included laundry sack for storage at home. I encountered some condensation, but stayed nice and dry inside of the bag. The shell and Primaloft repelled the condensation easily, but I am not sure that I would want to use the bag in the rain without a bivy.

I wasn’t sure I would get to 0 F (-17 C) but was pleasantly surprised by a clear, cold night in the Cascades. I was able to sleep comfortably on my down mat with no issues. I made sure to eat plenty to keep my internal furnace going, but I think the bag did a good job and I didn’t need to add any extra layering to stay warm.

I want to reiterate that what I eat is as important as the bag is when trying to stay warm. It takes a lot more calories to stay warm in cold weather so I always tried to make sure I was getting adequate calories to keep me warm overnight and I usually kept a gel or some nuts close by on the cold nights in case I needed an extra boost to keep me warm.

This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Sierra Designs for allowing me to participate in this test.

Read more reviews of Sierra Designs gear
Read more gear reviews by Jason Boyle

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Sierra Designs Nahche and Winema Bags > Test Report by Jason Boyle



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson