Suisse Sport Adventurer Sleeping Bag
Test Series by Sophie Pearson
Initial Report - July 18, 2009
Field Report - September 23, 2009
Long-Term Report - December 1, 2009
Name: Sophie Pearson
Height: 5' 8" (1.71 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Email address: sophiep3 at gmail dot com
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
I first started backpacking as a teenager in England. I did a
28-day trip in the Arctic, but most of my backpacking experience
has been weekend to 10-day trips, in a range of terrains and climates.
I am a volcanologist so I also do day hikes carrying loaded packs over
intense terrain. Nowadays I am generally in sub-tropical climates. I
am heading increasingly towards ultralight packing, and unless I am
sharing I use a bivy. I try to pack around 20 lb (9 kg) for long
weekend trips but have carried over 50 lb (23 kg).
July 18, 2009
Manufacturer: Suisse Sport (Sub-brand of Exxel Outdoors)
Year of Manufacture: 2009
MSRP: US $49.99
Comfort rating: 30 to 40 F (-1 to 4 C)
The stuffed listed dimensions are not official - they are from a "home-style test" that the rep emailed me about. When I stuffed the bag and then pulled on the straps the dimensions were 10.5 x 7.5 in (26.7 x 19.1 cm), the smaller stuffed dimensions in the table results from me really pulling hard on the straps to get it as small as I could. There are some slight discrepancies with the listed measurements, but it is hard to get accurate measurements with a sleeping bag, or to know exactly which part they were measuring. The weight was spot on, which is the main one! My third dimension in the sleeping bag size is the width at the foot.
|Bag dimensions||29 x 84 x 18 in (73.6 x 213.3 x 48 cm) ||28 x 77.5 x 13.5 in (71 x 197 x 34.3 cm)|
|Loosely stuffed dimensions||N/A||14.5 x 7.5 in (36.8 x 19.1 cm)|
|Compressed stuffed dimensions||8 x 6 in (20.3 x 15.2 cm)||9 x 6.5 in (22.9 x 16.5 cm)|
|Weight||2.8 lb (1.27 kg)||2.8 lb (1.27 kg)|
The Suisse Sport Adventurer sleeping bag is currently a prototype sleeping bag that will be available in mass market retail stores when it is ready. It is a synthetic mummy bag that stuffs down extremely small, especially for a synthetic bag. With a comfort rating of 30 to 40 F (-1 to 4 C), it is not a cold weather bag. According to the spec sheet the bag has 1.5 lbs. MicroTekk down-like .7 denier fill. It has a ripstop polyester outer, a soft polyester liner and double-layer offset quilt construction.
The bag appears to be a fairly standard mummy bag, although it is not as tapered as some I have seen. The back and inside are black and the front is blue, with orange material for the draft stop and inbuilt pocket. The outside in both colors has a diamond pattern to it, and is not as soft as the inside. The inside and the draft stop are a smoother material, and the black inside has seams sewn into it. The chest and hood both have elastic draw-strings. The hood one runs the entire way around, and the hood itself is deep. The chest one is sewn into the orange draft stop on each side of the zip. Both the bag itself and the chest baffle also have hook and loop closures, with a closing strip on each side of the opening so that it can be closed either across the bag while it is shut, or to itself when it is open. On the front side the orange material continues the entire way down the bag to the feet, and is just over 3 in (7.7 cm) wide. The zip itself has zipper-pulls at the foot and head end. The one at the foot end just has a pull on the outside, while the one at the head end has pulls on the inside and outside. It has material sewn in behind the zip along its length also. It does not reach the entire length of the bag - there are about 17 in (43 cm) between where the zip ends and the end of the sleeping bag. At the end of the sleeping bag there are loops on either side to hang it to dry. The bag is shipped in a compression stuff sack made of the same material as the outside of the sleeping bag, with a large material handle in the top.
This is a relatively light-weight synthetic sleeping bag. It has a zip almost the full length of the bag.
The draft stop and hood both have elastic draw strings.
The bag has hook and loop closures over the chest baffle and the zip.
There are loops at the foot end for carrying it.
This bag was slightly bigger and heavier than I was expecting. Having seen a picture where it sat comfortably in the palm of someone's hand, I either have to conclude that they have very large hands or the bag was stuffed smaller than I can get it. It is also a lot thicker and more padded than I was expecting. This I was pleasantly surprised by as I will be a lot more confident venturing out with it when I go traveling to colder climes. I have a down sleeping bag which is almost identical - same stuffed dimensions, same weight and approximately same temperature ratings. However, I am an avid kayaker and will happily hike in the rain, and I love the idea of a sleeping bag that does not have to be babied, without a trade-off in weight and size. The outside material of the bag is slightly stiff, but the inside feels softer. The construction all looks good except one loose thread in the chest baffle.
The construction looks good other than one loose thread.
Trying it out
When I got into the bag it felt like it could have been made for me! The width at the shoulder is perfect, enough to breathe without too much space to heat, and the length is great. With my feet at the end the shoulder baffle is around my neck - there is some extra space but not much. The hood is very deep, I will be checking to see if this is nice because it feel spacious, or if my head gets cold. The width the whole way down is good - wide enough to not feel constricting but tight enough that I won't be heating much extra space. It is definitely a better size for me than previous sleeping bags which tend to be far too long to accommodate my broad shoulders. I really like the material behind the zip too, as I always used to catch the zip in my old sleeping bag. I also like the extra padded material next to the zip as I tend to have a problem with my bottom getting cold where it is next to the uninsulated zip. I will have to see if this helps, and if the material sits across the zip comfortably or if it gets bunched up. I like the idea of the pocket, but it sits right above the chest so I think something like my phone would sit heavily in there. It is also very rectangular, and because the zip is slightly narrower than the material, this means that the opening to the pocket is a bit small and lies very flat. It would be nice if the pocket was slightly tapered so that the opening was wider and easier to fit things.
The main selling point of this bag (besides the relatively accessible price tag) is how small it stuffs. It is probably a quarter of the size of my old synthetic bag, although that one was rated to considerably lower temperatures. The main draw-back of synthetic bags is that they are bulky and heavy, but this one is comparable with my down bag. The compression sack is key to making it small though. The compression sack is comprised of a fairly long, skinny, black stuff sac (apparently the retail ones will be blue not black) with caps at either end made of the same material that the compression straps are attached to. In my initial test I could not get the bag as small as the rep said they did, but it wasn't far off. I tightened each of the four straps in turn until I couldn't get them any tighter. I then sat on the bag and pulled on the straps, but that seemed to make minimal difference. One of the things that worries me, that has failed with previous sleeping bag stuff sacks, is the seams. To fit the sleeping bag into the stuff sack requires considerable stuffing and I don't entirely trust the bag to not split at the seam. The construction appears to be solid, and with the compression straps running over the ends of the bag, that should hopefully spread the pressure of the compression part a bit more. I do find the parachute top slightly awkward to fit on, but my old compressions bag just had straps that slid over the top and that was a lot harder to evenly distribute pressure. I really like the generous handle on the sack for carrying the bag around.
When the bag is fitted into the sack but not compressed it is long and skinny.
It compresses down considerably though and has a nice big carrying handle to it.
This appears to be a relatively light-weight synthetic sleeping bag that packs nice and small. I have been pleasantly surprised by how padded and warm it seems. I am looking forward to trying it in a range of situations and climates!
September 23, 2009
I have used the sleeping bag on 3 trips in the last two months, totaling 7 nights. One of them was in north Florida, one in west central Florida, and one in Yosemite National Park in California. Locations varied from ocean-front to mountain top to middle of the woods to river bank. Temperatures ranged between 36 and 95 F (2 and 35 C). Humidity was anywhere up to 100%, rarely below 40% in Florida, but never any rain, which was nice!
I have been really pleasantly surprised by this sleeping bag, especially considering its supposedly budget price tag. It is not showing any signs of wear from its use, the stuff sack has held up great, and I have really enjoyed using it. Temperatures got down pretty low in California and I was using a hammock without a pad, so basically no insulation anywhere, and I never got cold in this bag. I sleep cold and especially suffer from a cold bottom in my down bag (which has a lower temperature rating), so this was a really nice surprise!
I still find this sleeping bag a really good fit for me. In Florida it was never cold enough to need to do it up, so I just lay it over the top of me. During the night I would generally slide my feet into the bottom but keep the rest of it as a quilt over me. I was always cozy without being hot. The zip goes down to about my calves, so it was the perfect shape when fully unzipped to keep my feet protected but the rest of me just covered. In California it got pretty cold. I slept fully inside the sleeping bag with it pulled down over my head. Because the hood is so deep I didn't bother to pull it tight around my face, I just physically held it over my face. As I sleep on my side with my hands under my head and don't move around too much, I actually found this less claustrophobic and more comfortable than using the draw-string.
Stuffing the sleeping bag is a little bit of a mission compared to my down sleeping bag. I find that I really have to push the sleeping bag far down into the stuff sack, and rotate the whole thing as I am going, to get the sleeping bag to fit. As there are compression straps I think the stuff sack could be a little bit more generously proportioned. To get the top lid of the compression section over the stuff sack is also a bit tricky, as the bag is long before it is compressed. The compression straps just end with a single depth rather than over-sewing and so there is nothing to stop them sliding out of the buckles. It is then a bit fiddly to feed them back through. I vary between just pulling two of the straps out of the buckles and then feeding them back through once the lid is over the bag, or squeezing the bag between the straps while avoiding loosening the straps to the point where they come free. Neither of these arrangements is ideal. The bag does compress down considerably, but I always find that it bulges to one side and there is air between it and the strap on the other side. That makes it a funny shape, but is not a problem.
The single ends to the compression straps make them slip through the buckles if I am not careful.
I haven't figured out how to compress the bag equally, but it still stuffs nice and small.
I was worried about the quality of the bag and stuff sack, but so far have not had any problems. The loose thread I found when it first arrived is still there but has not got any longer. It did get in my mouth a couple of times when I was inside the sleeping bag though; eventually I will get around to cutting it off! The stuff sack seams have held up great so far, somewhat to my surprise.
I really like the extra padding behind the zipper. With my old sleeping bag I found that the part of my body next to the zipper would get cold, but I have not noticed that with the Suisse Sport Adventurer sleeping bag. The thin material next to the zip does get caught in it, but I infinitely prefer that to catching the material itself and potentially ripping the bag and releasing the stuffing. I have not found the zip particularly noticeable even when I have ended up lying on it while shifting in my sleep.
Overall I have been really pleased with this sleeping bag. It packs down small enough that I have brought it on a round-the-world trip with me with no qualms, is not significantly heavier than down bags that are rated to similar temperatures, and is padded enough to feel really warm and cozy. I am looking forward to using it more in the next 2 months and seeing how it holds up.
December 1, 2009
I have used the bag on 3 more trips over the last 2 months. Two were overnight trips in central Florida, where temperatures ranged between 55 and 80 F (13 and 27 C). The other was a 2-night trip to the Everglades in southern Florida, where temperatures were between 45 and 80 F (7 and 27 C).
I have been really impressed with this bag. As a standard bag on the market it would be decent, but with its budget price point it is a great deal. Over the last two months I have used it in a tent and a hammock and never been cold at all. It is not showing any signs of wear, and even hasn't absorbed any smell (unlike my hiking boots!). This is particularly impressive as it was in my backpack with a box of white wine that got a hole in it. The wine leaked all over my sleeping bag, but by the time I got into it 3 hours later (all after dark) it had totally dried and I could hardly smell the wine at all. I will be washing the bag as soon as I can get access to a front-loading washing machine, but in the meantime it has still been perfectly usable.
I have always found this bag warm enough, and only once had to do it up totally.
I have found that the zipper snags on the material behind it, and sometimes on the bag itself. However, it has never ripped or pulled it. Even at the lowest temperatures during the last two months I never needed to do the zipper up the entire way anyway, and I still remained snug and warm. I am really sold on the big hood as I can pull it down over my head to keep light out and warmth in, without having to pull in the drawcord around my face. The deep footbox is particularly nice in my hammock, as I can tuck my feet away and keep them warm, but spread the rest of the sleeping bag over me like a quilt. Although this could be done with a sleeping bag with a longer zipper, this one doesn't have the problem of the zipper coming undone.
As I thought, I have found the chest pocket totally useless. The opening to it is too small and awkward to put things in, and the position directly over the chest makes it uncomfortable for anything heavy anyway. I have just ignored it and it hasn't been a problem, but I think it would be better either removed or moved more to the side. Other than that I think the bag itself is really good.
The stuff sack still remains my biggest complaint with this bag, although even that has out-performed my expectations. As the stuff sack is not very generously proportioned I was really worried the seam would give out, but it has held up well. It is stretched slightly, but that is to be expected considering the number of times I have stuffed and unstuffed this bag. I like the fact that the stuff sack is longer and skinnier, as I can compress it to make it short and fat or keep it long and thin depending on the space left in my backpack. I still wish the straps were a bit longer, as it is difficult to put the parachute-style lid over the sack before compressing it, but I now just totally release one of the straps and then thread it back through afterwards and it works OK.
The lengthwise stuff sack seam is starting to pull a bit, but not as badly as I expected.
Overall this is a durable, comfortable, 3-season sleeping bag. Although I have not used it in sub-freezing temperatures, I was never cold even at the low end of the comfort rating (and I am always cold!). The dimensions of the bag are really great for someone my size, a broad-chested, 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m) female. Even without the budget price tag I would recommend this bag, but at the suggested MSRP I think it is a really great deal.
Never felt even slightly cold in this bag.
Light, and packs small for a synthetic bag.
Deep hood and footbox make it cozy.
Fits me well.
Doesn't seem to retain odors.
Stuff sack has convenient, parachute-type lid.
Stuff sack is long and skinny but compresses short and fat, so fits into a variety of spaces.
Good value for the MSRP.
Zipper tends to snag.
Stuff sack could do with being a bit bigger.
Stuff sack straps are too short.
Stuff sack straps aren't oversewn, so pull out of the buckles.
Chest pocket has too small an opening and is uncomfortable with anything heavy / bulky.
This concludes my report. Many thanks to Exxel Outdoors Suisse Sport and to BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Suisse Sport Adventurer Sleeping Bag.
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Read more gear reviews by Sophie Pearson