Root Family

Root Family

Mar 29, 2012

Gear Review: Kelty light trekker 20 degree down sleeping bag

Kelty light Trekker 20* down bag

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 US 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.


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


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.


Christian Paul said...

What is the R-Value of the pad you have? I have been in 20 degree weather in the Uintas in the fall, October to be precise, and was totally warm with a 4.2 R-Value sleeping pad. I think why you were cold is you must have had a low R-Value sleeping pad. What pad were you using? Without a sufficient R-Value in your sleeping pad, your temp rating on your sleeping bag is worthless.

Tyler Root said...

Good question Christian. I should have specified that. I was using a Big Agnes insulated air core pad, which has an R-value of 4.1. I thought for sure I would have no problems. That side of my sleeping was warm, it was on top of the bag that I felt really cold.