Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gear Review: Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Sleeping Bag

When most people are getting into backpacking, they (me included) tend to cut corners in in their sleep system. Sleeping bags can be VERY expensive and sleeping pads seem unnecessary. A quick search on Amazon will reveal a number of synthetic "20℉ Backpacking" mummy bags right around the $50 mark affirming a newbies suspicions that a down sleeping bag is a ridiculous expense. But one night spent shivering in the woods, unable to sleep because your teeth are chattering too loud, (even though it's just barely 40°) is all it takes to reveal the importance of a quality sleeping bag. Still, acquiring high quality equipment can be a pricy endeavor and takes most people a substantial amount of time. So what do you do when you need a decent sleeping bag but $300+ is simply out of the question? The way I see it, you have two choices: 1. Make your own sleeping bag or quilt from scratch. Or (much more reasonable for most people) 2. Find a good quality, entry level, down sleeping bag.

Let me introduce you to the Kelty Cosmic Down 20. Often found online selling for $125-$150 the Cosmic Down 20 is warm, moderately lightweight, and built to last. In 2016 Kelty upgraded the bag from 550 fill down to 600 fill drydown. For those who don't fully understand fill power, just know that the upgrade means needing less filling to achieve the same warmth (ergo the sleeping bag got lighter). Also, Kelty bags are EN rated with a lower limit of 19℉ and a comfort rating of 30℉. As a general interpretation: that means that an average man can be comfortable to the first temperature and an average woman, the second (CLICK HERE for more info on EN ratings). I personally have slept out in my bag wearing light pajama pants, a long sleeve tee, and a hat, and slept quite comfortably on a snowy 25° night.

The Cosmic 20 comes in 3 sizes: Short - fits up to 5'6", Regular - fits up to 6' and Long - fits up to 6'6". Chanda has the short and I have the long although, to be honest, the long is more sleeping bag than I need - being 5'10" (But at the time of it's purchase, it was on sale so it's what I ended up with). Chanda's bag weighs in at just about 2.5lbs and mine just about 3lbs. As with all down bags, they compress quite nicely and pack into the bottom of our bags just fine.

The Cosmic 20 shell and liner are made of 50D Down-proof Polyester. There are advantages and disadvantages to the heavier fabric used in this sleeping bag compared to the 10D and 20D fabrics used on more expensive bags. The advantage is durability. This is a sleeping bag that will take a lot of abuse. Wanna throw it right on the ground? No worries! Toss it up into a tree to dry out? Go for it. The heavier material is far more durable and puncture resistant than it's lightweight counterparts! It's also far more wind resistant, meaning that if you're sleeping under a tarp and the wind is ripping through camp, this bad boy won't be robbed of warmth as much as some higher end bags. The downside is that it isn't as breathable. This means that the Cosmic 20 will feel stuffy at lower temps than a highly breathable bag. Additionally, it will take longer for moisture to escape and dry out. So, don't tuck your head inside or you could be sleeping in a wet bag for the rest of your trip.

The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is my go-to recommendation for anyone in the market for a budget down sleeping bag. I anticipate getting many years of use out of ours. And I love that I can feel confident passing them down to our children (as we upgrade our equipment) knowing that they will be snuggly tucked in a bundle of downy goodness on chilly spring or fall backpacking trips. If you are looking to take the leap from synthetic to down, I highly recommend checking out the Kelty Cosmic 20.