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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > The North Face Aleutian > Owner Review by Chad G Poindexter

THE NORTH FACE ALEUTIAN SLEEPING BAG
BY CHAD POINDEXTER
OWNER REVIEW
October 31, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Poindexter
EMAIL: cg-77 (at) hotmail (dot) com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I started backpacking this year and have hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail in north Georgia and in a few state parks in northeast Mississippi and Alabama. As a new backpacker I have collected mostly heavy gear, but want to go light. I use a tent at this time. I like a warm drink in the morning and a warm meal at night. Since I'm still new my distance is around 10 mi (16 km) or less per day, depending on terrain. I haven't done any solo hiking because either my fiancé or my son is along for company.

PRODUCT INFORMATION


Manufacturer: The North Face (TNF)
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.thenorthface.com
Size: Regular
MSRP: (US) $89.00 (Also available, Long: (US) $ 99.00)
Temperature Rating: 20 F (-7 C)
Listed Weight: 3 lb 6 oz (1545 g)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 4 oz (1474 g)
Fill Weight: 2 lb 1 oz (930 gm)
Insulation Type: Heatshield Optimal Technology (H.O.T. SL) synthetic insulation
Max User Height Listed: 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Shoulder Circumference Listed: 62 in (157 cm)
Hip Circumference Listed: 58 in (147 cm)
Foot Circumference Listed: 40 in (102 cm)
External Length Listed: 84 in (213 cm) (Length Verified Accurate)
Compressed Size Listed: 8 in x 17 in (20 cm x 43 cm)
Actual Compressed Size: 8.5 in x 16 in (22 cm x 41 cm)


PRODUCT DETAILS:

IMAGE 2


The Aleutian sleeping bag (hereafter referred to as "Aleutian" or "the bag") is a mummy-shaped bag and has a "The North Face" logo screen-printed on the center front of the bag just below the face opening (see picture below right) as well as a tag stating the name of the bag, insulation type, and temperature rating sewn in near the top of the bag just on the inside next to the zipper (see picture below left.) There is a consumer tag which states basic product information and cleaning instructions attached to the outside and located on the foot of the bag, as well as two hang tabs on either side of the foot box.

IMAGE 9
IMAGE 4The Aleutian features a 100% polyester Enduralite shell fabric on the outside of the bag and a silky polyester taffeta fabric that lines the entire inside of the bag. The bag features straight sewn overlapping shingle construction and is filled using H.O.T. SL synthetic insulation. Quoted from the North Face web site "Comprised of Heatshield Optimal Technology synthetic insulation, this sleeping bag won’t lose its softness, warmth or loftiness when compressed and shoved into a daypack for transport." The bag lofts up to 5 in (13 cm) at the foot of the bag and 3.5 in (9 cm) throughout the rest of the bag.

IMAGE 8



The bag also features a draft tube measuring 3 in (8 cm) wide that runs the entire length of the zipper, which stops 12 in (30 cm) from the bottom of the bag. It also has an easy grab zipper pull which is a 2.5 in (6 cm) gray-colored flat piece of nylon looped through the zipper and sewn together. There is an external zippered chest pocket that measures 3.5 in x 5.5 in (9 cm x 14 cm) and has a small flap covering the zipper located on the upper right hand side of the bag. The Aleutian also features a gray-colored rounded elastic drawcord that runs perpendicular to the zipper around the hood as well as across the chest and exits on the side opposite the zipper to cinch the hood around my face with a cord locking mechanism. The zipper runs from the opening at the face to 12 in (30 cm) from the bottom of the bag. There is a hook-and-loop zipper stay near the hood of the bag that is able to attach to either side of the zipper. The bag was accompanied by one 100 % nylon stuff sack and has a single handle on the bottom end for ease of removing the bag from the stuff sack. It is closed with a simple nylon pull cord that cinches the opening together and a cord locking mechanism. The stuff sack has a label inside the sack stating size "SM" and weighs 2 oz (57 g). Here is a picture of the bag in its stuff sack next to a gallon jug.

IMAGE 1



FIELD USE

I have used the Aleutian this past September on a 40 mile (64 km) hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in North Georgia. The temperatures reached 85 F (29 C) during the days and as low as 61 F (16 C) at night. Elevations ranged from 1,770 ft (539 m) where we began our hike to 4,450 ft (1356 m) where we made camp for our last night out. We set our tent up on a rocky / sandy bald atop Blood Mountain and I used a size regular REI Lite-Core 1.5 Self-Inflating Pad beneath the bag inside the tent.

IMAGE 5
Blood Mountain, elevation 4,450 ft (1356 m)

IMAGE 7

I have also used the Aleutian closer to home on overnight trips to Big Hill Pond State Park (BHPSP) multiple times since late spring this year. The elevation is listed at 500 ft (152 m) and the lowest temperatures that we experienced were around 50 F (10 C) during the spring of 2009. The picture to the right is from a trip to BHPSP and it had drizzled rain on us through out the entire day and as nighttime came more rain came with it! Again, I was inside a tent and I used the size regular REI Lite-Core 1.5 Self-Inflating Pad beneath the bag inside the tent.

REVIEW:

The Aleutian was one of my very first backpacking purchases when I decided I wanted to give backpacking a go this past April! I did not know a lot about sleeping bags when I made this purchase and I thought that since it was "The North Face," then it had to be a good bag. Sometime after the purchase I did more research on sleeping bags for backpacking in general, and found out that this bag was not top-of-the-line. But I was still going to give it a chance.


IMAGE 3And I did. The day I got it I was waiting on the UPS driver to arrive with the bag at the house so I could go out for the night car camping, so when he got here at 7:00 PM I immediately loaded it up and drove to the campsite and set up camp for the night, with my brand new bag (see picture to the left)! This was my very first night in a mummy bag ever. I used a blue closed cell foam pad beneath the bag, inside my tent. The ground was very hard. It had lots of ruts in it from just previously being bulldozed so I was somewhat uncomfortable from the uneven ground beneath me, so it was an interesting night for my first time in a mummy bag! The temperature was around 47 F (8 C) that night and I did get a little chilly, but I think that was due to the selection of clothing I was wearing inside the bag. I remember lying in the bag and thinking "Wow, I have no room for my feet to stretch out, but this is cool!"

It took me quite a few nights sleeping in the bag to get used to sleeping in a mummy style sleeping bag, but I have gotten quite used to it, and I have actually come to enjoy sleeping inside of it. The size is really not an issue for me anymore. I have learned to roll inside the bag and I can manipulate the bag very easily to become comfortable whether lying on my back, side, or my belly. Also, in my opinion it is not that noisy of a bag either, sure I can hear the rustle of the fabric whenever I move, but it does not bother me anymore than moving around under the covers in my bed. I have found that the zipper does stick some of the time, but it seems that it's mostly when zipping up the bag, as in towards the head and closing the bag up. However, it can be easily avoided if careful as to the way that the zipper is pulled on while zipping. So far it has not caused any damage to the bag, or the zipper, during any of the times that the zipper has become stuck, and it has been easy enough to back the zipper out of the snag and get it going again. Also, I have found that it can be a little difficult to get the bag back in the stuff sack while in smaller areas, such as inside a tent with another person. It can be done obviously, and the downside is that if a bigger stuff sack were involved then it would just take up more room, so it's just something I must get (and have gotten) used to, however this really isn't a real big deal to me. So far this bag lofts up to its full loft pretty much immediately after removing it from its stuff sack. At home I keep it in a large nylon bag that I already had since the sleeping bag did not come with any kind of storage sack.

Some other things that I have found while using the bag is that I like the external zippered pocket because it gives me a place to keep my ear plugs while not in use and not lose them. Also, I am really happy that the Aleutian's zipper zips down so far because the majority of my nights in it has been real warm, 50 F (10 C) or more, which makes it easy to get hot in the bag so I usually just keep it unzipped and just kind of thrown over me. I haven't used the hook-and-loop zipper stay located near the hood of the bag because I don't like having to fool with it just to get the zipper undone, so I just leave it attached to itself so it won't get in my way. And only during colder times, less than 40 F (4 C), have I felt that I needed to use the cinch cord around the hood and chest area. The bag keeps me plenty warm enough without having to cinch up the bag around my face unless I am exposed to, or in, direct winds. Also, I am very happy with the feel of the bag against my bare skin, it is soft and silky just as advertised. This is also nice because it feels that while keeping me warm on a chilly night it is also keeping my immediate skin slightly cool so as not to overheat and start sweating!

SUMMARY

There are a few things that I have found I would like different in this bag. First is a draft collar. While changing positions inside the bag while in cooler weather, warm air escapes around the face opening, and cooler air makes its way in. I have felt no cool air drifting in between the baffles so the overlapping construction is effective. I have, however, noticed that while stretching the bag to change positions, some cool air can sneak in around the draft tube, but once settled back down again, it's not a problem!

Also, I would like the shell to be more waterproof. I have found that with a heavy enough dew / condensation the bag will wet through. I have also found that during these times the temperature inside the bag does feel slightly cooler. The weight of the wet bag is more noticeable pressing down on top of me during these times as well. On a good note though, it does dry out in just a few short hours!

Overall, I am quite happy with this bag, even though I feel like it wouldn't take me to the proposed 20 F (-7 C). However, I'm not so sure that the temperature ratings indicate a comfort rating, but rather a survival rating. It's not an overly priced bag, in my opinion, for what it is. I was excited when I bought this bag, then a little worried because of comparisons I had made to other bags, but then after my own personal experiences with the bag, have come to be very happy with it!

I have a trip planned for Thanksgiving weekend (late November) this year and I'm hoping / expecting the temps to be pretty low as well as some wet conditions. I am very excited to be taking this bag out again to see how far I can continue to push it!

THINGS I LIKE

1. I like that the zipper runs (almost) the full length of the bag.
2. I like the external zippered pocket for my ear plug storage.
3. I like the price of the bag.
4. I like that it dries out fast if and when it gets wet.
5. I like that it is soft and comfy against my skin.

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

1. I don't like the weight.
2. I don't like the fact that it's a 20 F (-7 C) sleeping bag without a draft collar.
3. I don't like the stuffed size.
4. I wish it had a more waterproof coating.
5. I cannot understand why the bag does not come with a storage sack.

SIGNATURE

Chad Poindexter "Stick"

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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