Mountain Equipment have revamped their entire range of down sleeping bags for Spring 2017. Here’s what they’ve done and which bags you can find in each of the ranges.
I’m hesitating to call the Classics ‘Entry Level’, which is what they are in the Mountain Equipment Collection, as you get so many features and such a good performance from them. These bags make a great choice of bag for less demanding situations where a quality bag will still be appreciated. They offer a roomy design, making them comfortable to sleep in without excessive weight and still able to be packed up small. They are ideal for backpacking, trekking and general camping use.
Slanted box-wall construction throughout the body keeps the Classic range to a minimal weight but with thermal efficiency which is much better than a standard box construction. Higher fill densities are found on the underside of the bag and in the foot box to minimise migration whilst lower densities are found in the collar and hood allowing them to really wrap around your body minimizing heat loss.
Mountain Equipment are particularly proud of the 5 baffle hood which provides excellent down control and insulation at a low weight, and their 2 baffle Trapezium 2 foot piece which provides warmth with maximum comfort and space. Both these are features not often found on bags at this price.
The Mountain Equipment Extreme range is actually 3 ranges – Extreme Expedition, Extreme Alpine and Extreme Light.
The Extreme Expedition range is Mountain Equipment’s premier range and is designed to withstand the most hostile environments on earth. The bags feature rain resistant fabrics and are optimised to maximise warmth over extended periods. The expedition fit is longer and wider than most other bags giving comfort and space over extended use as well as allowing clothing to be worn in the bag for additional protection.
They feature a complex baffle system with V baffles in the foot piece and chest area and trapezoid baffles elsewhere. The clever placement of of down of different densities works with ground level seams to reduce moisture and down migration whilst maintaining the best thermal efficiency.
The Extreme range features the Gore Thermium Membrane. Gore Thermium is an exceptionally breathable and highly weather resistant membrane developed specifically by Gore for use with down and synthetic insulation. It allows the down to loft exceptionally well whilst providing unrivalled protection for the down against the outside elements.
Designed for winter alpine use the Extreme Alpine range features just 2 bags which have been perfected to provide maximum warmth for minimum weight. The Alpine fit on these bags is more tapered than the expedition fit, this saves weight and increases thermal efficiency.
Trapezoid baffles throughout combine with Mountain Equipment’s EXL technology. EXL is essentially the use of elasticated stitching which keeps the bag wrapped more closely around the body – this increases the thermal efficiency.
The outer material on the Extreme Alpine bags is Mountain Equipment’s own Drilite Loft Zero. Derived from their much used Drilite Loft fabric is has an impressive water resistance and weighs incredible 28g/m², making it one of the lightest water resistant fabrics available.
The Extreme Light range is, as you would expect, the top end range of Mountain Equipment’s lightest sleeping bags. These superlight bags have been developed for alpinists, ultra-distance backpackers and mountain athletes, they offer warmth at the absolute minimal weight.
Slanted Box Wall baffles throughout the main body keep the weight down and a lightweight collar baffle replaces the usual neck collar. EXL elasticated stitching has been added to the top half helping to seal out draughts and maximise lofting. As with other bags in the Extreme range careful attention has been paid to the density so that high compression areas maximise thermal resistance from a lower fill.
The outer fabric is one of the lightest downproof fabrics on the planet – 10D Plasma. Despite the tiny weight of 26g/m² it has exceptional tear resistance giving you confidence even in remote areas.
We’re are stocking the entire Extreme Light range which consists of the FireFlash, FireLite and FireFly giving a comprehensive range of lightweight bags suitable for temperatures between -1°C and -14°C.
The Glacier range is similar to the Extreme range bags but are aimed at slightly less demanding use. These bags are aimed at the adventurer and are designed to provide versatile protection and an all round performance that can be relied upon in a wide range of situations.
They feature a combination of Trapezoid and slanted box wall baffles which strikes a balance between down control, weight and versatility. The Glacier bags also feature the new Lode Lock closure instead of the traditional press stud fastener at the collar, this allows for easy opening and closing around the collar using sewn in magnets for a more efficient and reliable collar closure.
The fabric is Drilite Loft II a tough and water resistant fabric weighing in at 55g/m². This is noticeably heavier than the fabric in both the Extreme Alpine and Extreme Light bags, proof that the Glacier range is versatile enough to deal with tougher mountaineering missions.
We’re only stocking the Glacier Expedition and the Glacier 1000 bags in this range as there is probably something suitable in the other ranges if you’re looking for something for warmer or cooler temperatures. It’s worth noting that the Expedition Glacier has the more roomy expedition fit than the Glacier 1000 and also a higher down density to help it cope better with excessively cold conditions in damp climates.
The Helium range is the superlight range in the collection and aims to provide protection in warmer weather at minimal weight without losing too many features. They feature an alpine fit to maximise thermal efficiency.
Stitch through slanted box wall baffles save weight and a Trapezium 4 foot piece restricts down migration at minimum weight and bulk. As with all the other bags careful attention has been paid to down densities to maximise thermal retention and loft.
The outer fabric is where the Helium range takes it’s name from – 20D Helium fabric. It weighs 38g/m² and is compressible, tough and provides excellent wind resistance. They feature a different inner fabric – Supersoft 30 which is slightly heavier (49g/m²) than the outer Helium, but it does provide a comfortably soft touch as well as being breathable and durable.
The Synthetic bags haven’t been changed since last season so I won’t go into great details about them here. Mountain Equipment offer 2 ranges of synthetic fill bags, the Starlight range and the Aurora range.
The Starlight Range is similar to the Classic Range but has a purely synthetic fill. This means that it’s more suited to unpredictable or damp conditions. It also means that they don’t pack down quite as small and are a bit heavier, though they are cheaper.
The Aurora Range has been developed to provide durable protection and excellent packability for use in cold damp and humid environments. These bags make ideal expedition and adventure bags where keeping the sleeping bag dry is just going to be really difficult.