Selecting my sleeping bag was probably one of the easier kit selections I had to make for this backpacking equipment. It certainly had the shortest shortlist in my notebook.
I decided quite early on that I wasn’t going to be able to afford a good down bag and besides, I didn’t need to cope with winter conditions, so a synthetic bag would be fine. This is another compromise of course, as down bags are much lighter for the same comfort level, but again I would rather carry a little more weight and save a good amount of money.
My shortlist was:
1) Vango Ultralite Voyager 100 – 1Kg – 10 degree lower comfort level – £30
2) Mountain Eqpt Sleepwalker TDS II – 1.6Kg – 4 degree lower comfort level – £60
I visited the local outdoor shop which, for a change, had both items in stock on the shelves so I could compare them. The Vango is a really small bag when compressed, but did feel quite thin and weedy. The ME bag was a little bigger compressed, but felt more likely to keep me warm, however this was reflected in its weight, at more than half as heavy again as the Vango.
I decided to go for the Vango. I rationalised that I would not need the higher comfort rating of the ME and if I got cold at night I would put a base layer on, or kill two birds with one stone and keep the inside of the bag clean and increase the comfort rating by using a bag liner.
I already knew that the price in the store was about the best I could get, so no need to go home and froogle it 🙂 I picked up one of the compressed bags on the shelf and was on my way to the checkout when I noticed that the bag in my hand was not the Ultralite, but the regular Voyager bag. I went back to the shelf only to find that all the bags were the regular Voyager and the only Ultralite they had was the one out on display.
I asked an assistant for help and instantly wished I hadn’t when my nose was assaulted by the old fish and moudly cheese he had rubbed under his armpits that morning. He proceeded to assure me that the bags were the same and the labels were wrong, or some other nonsense. However, I was in enough doubt that I decided to put off the purchase until I had another look on the Vango website. I left the shop empty handed and slightly light headed, although the fresh air outside soon restored my balance.
The Vango website told me that indeed these were two different bags, but it also told me that there was a very slightly heavier bag that was comfort rated down to 3 degrees for only a few extra quid. It was part of the new 2007 range, using some new fill fibre and lighter linings. The Vango Ultralite 300 – 1.2Kg – 4 degree lower comfort level – £49 at www.gear-zone.co.uk
Gear-zone was also the cheapest place I found for my chosen sleeping mat, the Therma-rest Prolite 3 regular. At almost £20 cheaper than anywhere else on the web, I placed an order for the two items together.
I had chosen the Therma-rest following an indirect recommendation from David Holmes, a guy who’s Land’s End to Cape Wrath journal had recently been published on Walking Places (click here).
Not so much how great the mattress was, but how it fitted into the Therma-rest Trekker chair and became a reclining seat for use at your camp site. Now I like a little sit down in the evening, and this idea appealed to me greatly. So I now have a Therma-rest mattress and Trekker chair.