THE NORTH FACE SNOWSHOE SLEEPING BAG
BY BRETT HAYDIN
February 09, 2011
bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
Salida, CO, USA
5' 11" (1.80 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
42 in (107 cm)
36 in (91 cm)
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
The fill is kept in place by 5.5 in (14 cm) overlapping layers, or shingles throughout the bag. The image above shows how the fill is incorporated into the bag.. There are also nylon hang loops; 2 at the foot box and 2 along the length of the bag on the back side on both sides (making four). On the bottom of the bag are a number of consumer tags with care instructions, material listings and North Face logo.
Manufacturer: The North Face
|Image courtesy of North Face|
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.thenorthface.com
MSRP: US$ 189.00
Listed Weight: 3 lb 8 oz (1590 g)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 6 oz (1530 g)
Temperature Rating: 0 F (-18 C)
Size Reviewed: Regular (Also available in Long)
Insulation Fill: Climashield® Prism
Insulation Fill Weight: 2 lb 3 oz (990 g)
Stuff Sack Size Listed: 9.5 in. x 18 in. (24 cm x 46 cm)
Stuff Sack Measured: 9.5 in. x 18 in. (24 cm x 46 cm)
Other details provided by manufacturer:
- 0°F bag for year-round mountaineering
- Climashield™ Prism synthetic insulation
- Overlapping shingle construction
- Firestorm™ top shell fabric
- Soft and breathable silken lining
- Adjustable synthetic-filled draft collar with micro-fleece cord tunnel
- Full-length draft tube
- Welded No-Snag stiffener in zip column
- Head level zip garage with welded reinforced Velcro® flap
- Chest level watch pocket with infusion
- One-hand pull cord for easy hood adjustments with flat cordlock and Neoprene cover
- Glow-in-the-dark zip pull
- One nylon/mesh storage bag and one compression stuffsack included
The North Face Snowshoe Sleeping Bag is a mummy style synthetic-filled sleeping bag rated to 0 F (-18 C). The bag is generally green with grey and black trim. There is one external zippered pocket at shoulder level to store items close by while sleeping with "Snowshoe" embroidered on it.
The outer shell is made of Firestorm™ which according to the manufacturer is lightweight as well as water, wind and abrasion resistant. There is a The North Face Logo embroidered on the front of the bag on the opposite shoulder from the zipper. Above the logo is a Climashield logo that is printed on the bag. The outer shell feels tough, but is also smooth and feels good.
I purchased a left hand zipper which I prefer, but the Snowshoe is also available with one on the right. The zipper measures 62 in (157 CM) which is almost the entire length of the bag. The YKK zipper pull is nice and hefty, making it easy to find in the dark; made easier by being glow-in-the-dark! Near the top of the zipper is a nylon flap that can hold the two zipper sides in place with a hook and loop tab. The zipper is buffered on the interior side with a single draft tube.
|Image courtesy of The North Face|
Climbing into the Snowshoe, the interior lining is a silky feeling nylon that is quite comfortable. There is a 4 in (10 CM) wide draft tube at the collar that also has a fleece-lined draw cord. The draw cord is anchored allowing it to be used with just one hand. The draft tube is also closed with two 2 x 3 in (5 x 8 cm) hook and loop tabs.
The hood is tapered well and fits my noggin easily. There is another drawstring to cinch the hood nice and tight on cold nights. The release button for the drawstring is actually covered by a stretchy synthetic fabric but it was intuitive to find.
The Snowshoe comes with two storage sacks. One is a mesh and nylon oversized storage bag. The other is a nylon compression stuff sack that weighs 4 oz (113 g). The stuff sack has a standard drawstring opening with a nylon flap for the top. There are four nylon compression straps that run the length of the sack. The picture on the right shows the compressed Snowshoe ready to go.
The bag is easy to adjust throughout the night and in the dark. Thanks to the clever glow-in-the-dark zipper pull, I can actually put my headlamp away before zipping up for the night. Thanks to the anchored draw cords, I can easily find the elastic draw cords and hunker down for the night with just one hand. The image above is an at home shot of me with the hood drawn closed. One item of note is that when the elastic draw cord is pulled all the way, the slack just nags in the way. This is inherent in most bags I have owned, but maybe the placement of the slack has made it more noticeable to me.
I have used the Snowshoe for the past two winters as well as late fall and early spring for approximately 25 nights in a wide variety of conditions. I have experienced temperatures from 0 to 40 F (-18 to 4 C). All of my backcountry uses have been in three or four season tents and I always use a sleeping pad, although the style varies. The image to the left shows me getting ready for the night in the Pike National Forest (although not a great image of the bag).
|Getting ready for sleep|
Almost all of my uses have been in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, although I have used the Snowshoe in Moab Utah as well. I have slept at elevations from 6,000 to 13,000 ft (1,800 to 4,000 m).
I originally purchased this bag as a winter mountaineering bag as I started to hike and camp more in the winter. While I already had a cold weather bag, it was heavier did not compress to a size I wanted. I didn't want to spend the money for a down bag at the time and this bag seemed to fit all the requirements I had.
I generally sleep hot and this bag has kept me warm in some pretty cold temperatures! I would say the temperature rating is accurate as I have slept at 0 F (-18 C) comfortably in long underwear. There have been some nights where I think that the temperature went lower, but since I wasn't brave enough to open my tent to find out I can't say for sure. I do remember a particularly cold night camped at 12,000 ft (3,700 m) on Mount Antero in Colorado that I opted to add a fleece layer. That seemed to do the trick!
I have found the bag very comfortable to sleep in. While I do toss and turn quite a bit, the bag generally follows me around. I generally sleep on my side and switch throughout the night. I don't feel claustrophobic in the bag and there is enough room to fit my frame. I consider myself about average sized, maybe a little on the stockier side, and the girth is just right for me. I have room to keep some extra clothes and a warm water bottle as needed without feeling like a packed sardine!
After two years of use, the bag still has good loft and still continues to keep me warm. I still see no major issues with the construction as all the seams and stitching remains intact. This actually impresses me quite a bit since I have a dog who is my near constant companion, even in the winter. In the colder temperatures below 20 F (-7 C) he does tend to try and jump in the bag with me (even though we bring additional blankets for him!) so with his paws clambering to get in and out I would consider this durable fabric...
The bag does compress reasonably well for a synthetic bag which I like. I can easily compress the Snowshoe from 18 in to 9 in (46 to 23 cm). I have used three separate backpacks and each one accommodates the bag in the sleeping bag compartment with room to spare.
I do wish that the external pocket was on the interior instead of the exterior. If I want to access it at night I have to unzip the bag to get at items, but this is only a minor concern. Since there is no pouch for a pillow, my head can slide off the makeshift pillows I generally make out of a stuff sack.
Overall I am very happy with the Snowshoe. It has become my go-to bag in the winter months. While I do avoid temperatures below 0 F (-18 C) for camping in, this bag has suited me well in the conditions I have experienced.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
Things I like:
- It isn't too heavy
- Keeps me warm in the rated temperatures
- Glow-in-the-dark zipper pull is pretty cool!
- Comfortable and roomy enough for me
Things I don't care for:
- Elastic draw cord hangs loose in the bag, gets in the way
- Exterior pocket limits use, but is still nice
I do plan to use this bag for the foreseeable future. Little has changed with the Snowshoe since I first purchased it and I would not hesitate to purchase a new model when mine wears out.
Read more reviews of The North Face gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin