Gear Review Kelty light trekker 20 degree down sleeping bag

Tyler

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I was able to get this bag out and use it for the first time this past weekend on our camping trip to the Capitol Reef/Escalante area. This was the first down sleeping bag I purchased and I was mostly excited about the possibility of having a down sleeping bag and getting one at an awesome price ($60 on sale), but I didn't think to look at he brand I'm dealing with.

Kelty does make some decent outdoor gear, but I think since they're owned by a private investment firm, their product quality has likely slipped over time to take a back seat to better brands out there (of which are also likely owned by other private investment firms, but their quality seems to not have slipped). However, I figured if it was truly a down sleeping bag that I'd enjoy it.

The first night I used it sleeping under the stars without my tent in about 40 degree weather outside Capitol Reef NP at Meeks Mesa. Being that the forecast only called for 40 degrees, I figured my 20 degree rated bag would be just fine but I was pretty uncomfortable that evening. I went to bed wearing wool socks, jeans, and 3 layers of shirt (breathable tee shirt, long sleeved shirt, and a long-sleeved button-up shirt). I used my down jacket stuffed in a sack as a pillow (I can't sleep without a pillow) and I only recall being in and out of sleep all night long.

I tried really hard to be objective about my comfort level. Was it because I was sleeping without a tent (I would find out the next evening that wasn't it)? Was it because I was trying a new sleeping pad (gear review to come for that soon and I found this to not be the problem either)? Was it because I'm a larger guy trying to stuff myself into this mummy bag (I'm 5'11" and 225 lbs)? Maybe. Could it be that since U.S. products aren't required to truly be rated at what they state, that my bag really wasn't a 20 degree rated bag? I'm thinking yes.

The second night we backpacked in starting at the Boulder Mail Trail near the Boulder air strip. That same evening I experienced the same cold discomfort. Keep in mind that it takes a lot to make me cold as I have plenty of insulation on my body (yes, it's all muscle), but on this evening I actually was in a tent, I added another layer inside my jeans of fleece PJ's, I wore my beenie, AND I ended up putting my 750 fill down jacket on. By then I was warm enough, however I was uncomfortable the rest of the evening because I didn't have any sort of pillow to prop my head on. I tried to blow up one of my dry sacks, but the air eventually leaked out. I'm blaming my lack of sleep both nights on the sleeping bag.

Positives:

Lightweight at only 2 lbs 8 oz
Stuffs into a small compression sack and takes up hardly any room in your backpack

Negatives

I have my doubts about it holding up to its 20 degree rating - This was the major issue with my discomfort.
A little too tight for my frame, but wasn't necessarily a major problem

As a comparison my son brought along our REI synthetic filled 25 degree bag and he had zero issues with being cold. In fact, at times he was half out the bag at night because he was so warm. I've used the same bag before and did not have any issues with being cold either, but the down side is that it's synthetic filled, is a couple of pounds heavier and takes up more space in your pack. I would have traded all that for a good nights sleep.

I'll have to keep my eye out on a good down bag deal. Anyone else have any suggestions for bags they really like? I'm talking more to the "larger", um, I mean, "MUSCULAR" crowd out there for advice on down bags.
 

uintahiker

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I have a 20* down lighyear that's several years old. Love the bag.

Is the light trekker a mummy? I love rectangular bags. Mummy bags are too mummylike. Maybe you need a rectangular bag too.
Also have the RE Halo 15* down mummy. I like how it zips together with my wife's bag, but other than that I like the rectangle bags way better.
 

Tyler

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I didn't have an issue with my REI mummy bag, but it was a "long" and so it had more room for sure. I still think a rectangular bag would be much better for me however. I'll have to look into them.
 

Deadeye008

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I've got this bag and a Cosmic Down 20, which is basically the same bag with a different name, and really like them both. I used my bag this past weekend on Cedar Mesa where the night time temps were right around 40. I had on thermal bottoms and a fleece top. I also had on some down booties/slippers that I was trying out and ended up taking them off after about 15 min because I was overheating. My 5 yr old boy slept in this same bag in just his flannel PJs and said he was warm. I was on my Big Agnes Sand Mountain Insulated pad and my boy was on my Exped Synmat Basic pad. In January of 2011 I used this bag while down on Comb Ridge and the temps were in the single digits. I had my down jacket and down pants on inside the bag though. I'm about your same height but only weigh 150. Maybe the problem is that the bag is too small for you and therefore the down is getting compressed and loosing it's insulating power. In that case a rectangular bag would be the way to go.
 

uintahiker

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A big thing with down is how you store it. Do you store your down bag compressed, or in a bigger bag so it is fluffed up? If you store it compressed it will lose it's insulating ability pretty quickly.
 

Deadeye008

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A big thing with down is how you store it. Do you store your down bag compressed, or in a bigger bag so it is fluffed up? If you store it compressed it will lose it's insulating ability pretty quickly.

His bag is pretty new so it shouldn't have lost much loft by now but I agree, down bags(well, any kind of insulation really) need to be stored properly in order to retain their loft. I hang mine from the two loops on the bottom of the sack. I think as long as you keep them out of the compression sack you should be fine. You can also put down bags in the dryer, no heat, with a couple of tennis balls or similiar to restore some loft. What I meant by the down compressing is that he might be too big for the mummy bag and so instead of the bag having lots of loft, which equals warmth, the down is being compressed against the outside fabric layer of the bag and therefore losing it's loft, in which case a larger bag or rectangular bag would resolve the issue.
 

uintahiker

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His bag is pretty new so it shouldn't have lost much loft by now but I agree, down bags(well, any kind of insulation really) need to be stored properly in order to retain their loft. I hang mine from the two loops on the bottom of the sack. I think as long as you keep them out of the compression sack you should be fine. You can also put down bags in the dryer, no heat, with a couple of tennis balls or similiar to restore some loft. What I meant by the down compressing is that he might be too big for the mummy bag and so instead of the bag having lots of loft, which equals warmth, the down is being compressed against the outside fabric layer of the bag and therefore losing it's loft, in which case a larger bag or rectangular bag would resolve the issue.


I assumed that's what you were referring to. I thought it might also be an issue caused from the way the bag was stored.
 

pixie1339

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Sorry your new bag wasn't to your liking. I slept comfortably on the night I camped with you guys in Boulder, and I tend to sleep cold. I have the North Face Blue Kazoo 15 degree bag. Mine is the women's short version, but they also have a unisex version in long if you're interested. Mine is pretty snug, which takes some getting used to, but having a snug bag keeps you warmer than a loose bag anyway, so for warmth it's ideal.
 

Tyler

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A big thing with down is how you store it. Do you store your down bag compressed, or in a bigger bag so it is fluffed up? If you store it compressed it will lose it's insulating ability pretty quickly.
Yeah, when I first bought it I was concerned with how to store it. At first I exclusively hung them in my garage, but then was made aware that I could just keep them in a large stuff sack, which is what I've been doing since.

I think Deadeye008 is onto something; that I might be so big that I'm kind of compressing the down material too much.
 

Nick

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I also think Deadeye could be on the right track. I have stuffed a dog into my sleeping bag on more than one occasion. I clearly remember having a mighty cold backside when I was squished up against one side, compressing the insulation.
 

Bill

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Im going to defend this bag. I have the same bag/pad combo and have spend 4 nights over the last two weeks with the temps hitting low 40's and high 30's with no issues at all. I even think of myself as a cold sleeper.

It was 33° Saturday morning and I was a bit cold in the bag. I was only wearing thin pants and a t-shirt... but I wasn't cold enough to get out of my bag to put on more clothes.
 

Tyler

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I'm either a whimp when it comes to cold (which I've never really had a problem with in the past) or I got a bum-bag?? It just wasn't comfortable at all.

I'm glad it worked out for you though.
 

gloo

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adding to the compressing the loft thing - the more layers you put on the less your bag has room to loft up so to say. I don't know if this is completely supported with raw data or not but an old adage about down bags is to sleep with as little clothing as possible. This seems to have worked for me. reasons behind that are, as mentioned a little more loft and less stretching out the bag, and the other is how down insulates. It doesn't insulate by sheer weight like a blanket. It traps body heat in and keeps could air from coming in, creating a sort of barrier that keeps warm air in and cold air out. The thicker this barrier..loft..the warmer the bag will be (that's why a zero degree bag needs like 4 inches of loft vs 2.5ish on a 20 degree bag). If you wear 3 shirts your body heat gets diffused and the down thus becomes less effective, if that makes sense. I wonder if your bag might perform a little better if you wear less to bed on your next outing.
 

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