User Review: Kelty Men's Mistral 20
Price Paid: Bought it in around 2001 for under $50
The Mistral was my first mummy bag. I made the purchase around 2001 or before (so, I'm guessing it's not the version for sale today). My purchase was based on the fact that I thought I would be getting an inexpensive, do-it-all bag. I thought I could take it car camping and when I was ready to go backpacking it would make the transition. I thought I could use it (because of the 20 deg f. temperature rating) in a gazillion situations! And it was a mummy! I thought, "I'm a pro!" Turns out, I was a moron!
Jury's out on whether I'm still a moron, but the upshot is that the Mistral's mummy shape misleadingly suggests that it will keep you warm in chilly temperatures, at least to its temperature rating. To keep you warm for reals, yo, it takes more than just a bag's shape. Who knew? To be fair, it has kept me warm on one occasion when the bag was relatively new and the temperature dipped to near freezing (the morning temp was approx 39 f.). Other than that...
In sub-freezing temps or after the bag was more than a year old in temps around 40 deg. f. it kept me from dying of hypothermia -- and while not dying is a great comfort -- I would wake every couple of hours or so because of the uncomfortable cold. I am also so cheap, that I am only now (after how many 4 a.m.'s thinking, "it'll be better next time?") looking at purchasing another bag.
The loss of "loft" is partially my fault; I stored the bag in its stuff sack...you know...out of the way, in the closet. Apparently one should store a bag laying comfortably splayed at its full length -- in its own temperature-controlled room and served freshly squeeze juice, I imagine. Live and learn. Seriously, though, synthetic fills lose loft quicker than down, and -- as you might imagine -- most cheaper synthetics lose loft quicker than most less-cheaper ones, and squishing bags up (like, in a stuff sack) will -- after time -- squish their stuffing permanently. Then they ain't warm anymore. And now the bag is officially old, so it wouldn't be as warm no matter what was inside.
Stuffing aside, however, when rolled, this bag is HUGE (approx 11 x 22. Inches. No kidding.). I got a compression sack for it, and it's still an enormous watermelon. It takes up a not insignificant portion of a 65 liter backpack. It's about as heavy as I might expect (lighter than my wife's non-mummy bag -- I was so smug -- but heavier than down), which is to say it's heavy, but competitive for synthetic mummies. But the stuffed size means it is totally inappropriate for backpacking, even if it were warm to its supposed temperature rating.
Even for car camping, which I do generally with company, it doesn't really work. Can I mate it with my wife's rectangular bag? Of course not. Can I squeeze my son in, if it gets too cold? Nope. Now that mummy shape is a problem.
If you car camp once a year, alone, in warmer temperatures, and have space to store this bag outside of its stuff sack, then this might be a bargain. Maybe. If this is you, though, you hardly need anything other than a rectangular bag. And generally, those are even cheaper.