Climashield vs Primaloft

3:47 a.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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I was looking at the North Face Orion 20 Degree Sleeping Bag which uses climashield prism fill. I've noticed that the experienced and elder statesmen of this forum have swore by primaloft which is why a come asking if it will make that much of a difference for me, a beginning backpacker in Southern California. I like this bag because of its packability, it packs down to 7.5" x 13" which will fit perfectly in my Kelty Pawnee 3300. Also I know that a down bag will pack more efficiently but I'm not sure if I can keep it dry and as I've read repeatedly on this site you should make sure you can do so before investing in a much higher quality down bag which will be worthless when wet.

1:02 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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In many respects, Climashield and Primaloft are similar. They were both developed in response to the need by the military for a synthetic fiber with warmth/weight ratio comparable to down, plus a compressability similar to down. Primaloft has been available for much longer than Climashield, so us "elder statesmen" (is that a snide remark about crusty old codgers?) have quite a bit of experience with it in long-term use and durability. I have been using sleeping bags with Primaloft for about 17-18 years and jackets, vests, and pants for 10-12 years. I have not put any Climashield gear to significant long-term test (or really even short-term). I do use down for my expedition use, though.

That said, I will note that Primaloft has undergone quite a bit of evolution over the almost 2 decades I have been using it, with the newer varieties being much improved over the older ones. My newest Primaloft sleeping bag (Integral Designs) compresses almost as well as a down bag of the same warmth rating (down, by the way, has also improved over the years, thanks to much improved sorting and grading techniques, but still has the problem of losing loft when wet). This 15 deg bag compresses to a 6 inch diameter by 10 inch long cylinder weighing about 2.5 pounds (including the compression sack).

I do get a bit annoyed at the overblown statements from the various synthetic insulation companies. Both Climashield and Primaloft claim to be "the best" is all aspects. How can both Primaloft One be "14% warmer than other continuous filament insulations" while Climashield is "30% warmer than competitive continuous filament insulations"? Who is the "competing continuous filament insulation" in each case (I suspect they are not comparing to each other)? The only real comparison is what they are like in the field. What I would like to do is have two otherwise identical sleeping bags (same bag maker, same design, etc), one with Climashield and one with Primaloft that I can try out in a cold snow camping scenario for a week. I suspect I would find them to be pretty much the same (the technologies are fairly close to each other). Unfortunately, I do not believe I would ever get the chance to make that comparison.

In the end, though, it comes down to more than just which filler is used. The quality and design (I mean functional design, not "fashion") of the bag makes more of a difference than solely the filler. In getting a synthetic bag, I would choose Integral Designs first (Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends make only down bags, and I think that is true of Valandre as well), then Marmot, with TNF farther down the list. In the absence of direct experience with Climashield, I would stick with Primaloft, because of long-term experience with it.

Now if Climashield wants to give me a bag comparable to my ID Primaloft bag to test, I am certainly willing to give it an unbiased, but tough test.

4:45 p.m. on March 8, 2010 (EST)
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Actually that was a respectful attempt to get you, Bill specifically, to answer my question. It seems that any forum with a good question has a post from you, who seems to have done and tried everything out there. Thanks for the incredibly detailed response btw. I too am sick of seeing every manufacturer out there saying that their product is the best. For somebody like me who has read reviews on dozens of bags it just ends up confusing me even more.

12:09 a.m. on March 10, 2010 (EST)
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I hope to he!! PrimaLoft HAS gone through "... quite a bit of evolution..." since I owned a Caribou Mountaineering PrimaLoft sleeping bag in the mid 90s. That bag, in 2 summers, rapidly became just "Prima" - no more loft. Soured me on that fill for good.

So I'd buy a Climashield bag because of its good reputation for loft durability.

Eric

September 2, 2014
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