User Review: Big Agnes Ethel 0°
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $249
This was the solution to my wife's freezing cold nights!
- Warm, warm warm!
- Packs down small for such a plush bag
- Makes my wife smile every time she uses it!
- The zipper snags easily
My wife and I have been camping for 25 years, and motorcycle camping for over 20 of those years. During that time we've used all manner of sleeping bags and pads/mattresses, from bulky Coleman stuff to used backpacking bags, and nothing really did the business. Big Agnes solved that for both of us.
I'm a warm sleeper, as most men tend to be. My wife is most definitely not, which is true of many women. I researched dozens of bags and pads in an effort to make her outdoor nights more comfortable, which would, in turn, make her happier. That's a win for everyone! The final choice needed to pack small for motorcycle trips, keep her warm in temperatures down into the 20's, and she had to like how it looked. The Big Agnes Ethel Zero-degree bag filled all of those requirements and then some.
To be honest, I was skeptical of the "no insulation on the bottom" advertising of the BA products, and leery of spending big bucks on both a bag and pad that might not work out. I needn't have worried. My wife's first night with Ethel produced a huge, sleepy grin the following morning! There's no way to put a price on that.
My bag is a Big Agnes Summit Park 15-degree, and it has an opposite zipper to the Ethel so that the bags may be zipped together to form a wonderful sleeping system for two. Both bags are easy-in, easy-out, but the zippers do tend to snag quite a bit. Care is required to get things done in one motion. My wife sleeps soundly and happily with no cold spots, and she has plenty of room for her 5'4" frame. There's a nifty draft collar and hood that work superbly to keep heat in on particularly chilly overnights, too. The bag is down filled, and does not have any special waterproofing coatings built in. Moisture has never been a problem, even during drenching storms.
My wife has had Ethel (yeah, she calls it by the name) for four years, and during that time it's been washed 6 or 7 times using Nikwax products. The bag never fails to fluff up as if new, and the down stays very nicely distributed throughout. It packs down to a 10" x 10" bundle using a compression stuff sack, and usually fluffs up in about thirty minutes when unpacked. I'd estimate that she's spent somewhere between 80-100 nights in this bag, and it still performs perfectly, time after time.
As with all Big Agnes sleeping bags, this one requires the use of a fitted sleeping pad to complete the ensemble. Initially we used the BA Insulated Air Core pads, but deflating and blowing up by lung power night after night on a motorcycle trip was a pain, moreso at high altitudes. We purchased Exped SynMat 7's in 2011, and they feature a built-in pump which is a fantastic solution. We could not be happier!
It's really fun for me to see my wife smile every time she gets the Ethel bag out of the closet to get ready for a trip. Knowing that she's going to sleep well is very satisfying. The fact that she digs the colors is icing on the cake.