Quest Thermolite bags

2:15 p.m. on December 25, 2007 (EST)

I'm an avid outdoorsmen that sleeps outdoors for weeks at a time for my job in the the Adirondacks Mountains of NY. I recently recieved a Quest thermolite bag as a gift. I have to return it because it's not warm enough, but I was wondering if I should look for another brand while I'm at it. I really don't know anything about the company. Are they a decent product?

2:24 a.m. on December 26, 2007 (EST)
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I know nothing about this bag. However, there is a review here (look in the Reviews section for it) that tells me that this a very inexpensive synthetic bag, which by itself is not why you got cold. You were just using the bag beyond its temperature rating.

The reviewer paid $50 for his bag; I paid about 5 times that much for my down MacPac bag, which is rated only down to -5C (23F), so in colder weather, I would want a lower rated bag regardless of price.

Good bags are not cheap. Down bags are more expensive than synthetic bags. There are dozens of good bags made by different manufacturers in different temperature ratings. Read the reviews here and elsewhere on the net and start comparison shopping. Educate yourself as to what is available, how they are made and what to expect at certain price points.

If this seems like a lot of work, it is. If you want a quick answer, there isn't one. There are too many choices and no one right answer.

However, if you are spending as much time out as you say you are, I'd look at Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends bags-top of the line; very expensive ($5-600+); very well made.

12:24 p.m. on December 26, 2007 (EST)
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I believe you're referencing the review I submitted on my Quest Thermolite sleeping bag. So far my bag has held up nicely. It is rated to 0 degrees and has kept me warm when the temp was in the mid-teens. Because it has synthetic fill, I keep it out of its stuff sack when not in use.

When I can afford it, I'd like to upgrade to a goose down bag because it's lighter and more compressable. But, I'd take my Quest Thermolite winter camping without question.

If you are going to use your bag for extended periods of time, you might want to invest in a bag liner. That will add some warmth, but mainly it will keep your bag clean inside.

1:57 a.m. on December 27, 2007 (EST)
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Yep, that's the one. Good to hear you still like it. Sounds like a rare bargain.

A liner is a good idea. There are several different ones-I'd stay away from cotton liners, though-once they get wet, they are worse than useless. Silk, light wool or synthetic would be my choice. I don't have one, but I do have an overbag and a lightweight winter bivy sack to keep my bag dry.

1:44 p.m. on December 27, 2007 (EST)
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I'm not sure I'd call it a rare bargain. You can pick one up at your local Dick's. I'd say it's a good starter bag because it's inexpensive, yet handles the low temps pretty well.

Still, I'd like a lighter, more compressible bag, which means I'll need to upgrade to goose down.

7:08 p.m. on December 27, 2007 (EST)
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Relevant question: ought somebody spending a single, predictable, full season, out in the elements, purchase, at a relatively low price, a bag (synthetic, probably) that will die after a few months, or ought this person go for the premium product, at some multiple and absurdly high price?

Slings and arrows are always bad. These cheap bags will probably be a bit heavy, but if the plan is to ditch them after a few months, why pay some wacko amount of money to save a half a pound? Dunno myself.

9:29 a.m. on December 28, 2007 (EST)
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I don't think the the bag in question will "die" after a few months of use, assuming one takes care of it. While I would like a lighter bag, 2.8lbs is a lot lighter than the cheap Coleman sleeping bags that are available at the discount retailers.

10:38 a.m. on January 2, 2008 (EST)
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This New Year's weekend, I took the kids camping again. The temp was in the mid-20s, and I was warm as toast in my Quest Thermolite sleeping bag. Even the kids did well in their kids-size Quest Thermolite 20 degree bags.

3:25 p.m. on January 12, 2008 (EST)
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I have a Quest 0 degree bag, its been very durable, its a really good bag for the price. I wouldnt take it in 0 degree weahter though. I have a 25 degree kelty down bag and the two offer about the same warmth, you'll probablly be decently comfortable down to around 20 degrees, assuming you are in a tent.

1:17 a.m. on January 13, 2008 (EST)
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By "rare" I didn't mean hard to find that bag in particular; what I meant was that when it comes to backpacking gear, you usually get what you pay for. If a bag is cheap, there is a reason; if it works for you and is durable at that price point,then that is not all that common. We see complaints all the time about cheap gear that comes apart, isn't warm, etc.

Calamity has a good point, which I agree with. The OP said he is out for weeks at a time-multiply that by a couple of years and the per night cost of a premium bag drops dramatically. Sample math - a $300 bag used 5 weeks a year for 2 years = $30 a week or less than $5 a night.

7:41 p.m. on January 18, 2008 (EST)

I have -10 Quest Thermolite bag that is new, I have never used it. Do you think it would be safe to use in 10 degree weather?

10:08 p.m. on January 18, 2008 (EST)
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Jason, It depends-I know that isn't a great answer, but it really does-it depends on how realistic the bag rating is and on you. If the bag rating is accurate and you are a warm sleeper, it might be fine. If you are a cold sleeper, probably not, but this would apply to most any bag rating.

Bag ratings are usually determined by the manufacturer and they can vary widely on what they mean. Bags sold in the EU (European Union)must pass a standardized test that uses a test dummy with sensors in it, so the bags can be compared from brand to brand.

MacPac, for example, a New Zealand brand, rates its bags on a continuum-from comfortable to "extreme" or "cold but probably survivable" rating. Here is an example from their website-

As you can see, the rating (below the pic of the bag) ranges from -6C to -12C to -32C for the extreme limit. This is a wide range of temps. -6C = +21F; -12C = +10F and -32 = -25F a range of 46 degrees F.

So, how was your bag rated? Who knows? My advice-get a thermometer and try out the bag in your backyard or somewhere where your survival doesn't depend on the bag. Then you will have an idea how it works without finding yourself with no way to get warm.

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