REI Radiant +20



I really wanted to like it, but it was disappointing.

Rating: rated 2 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $220


I really wanted to like it, but it was disappointing.


  • Very wide shoulder girth
  • Compresses to a very small size
  • Nice sewn-in loops to secure a sleeping pad


  • The 20°F temp rating is not accurate
  • Zipper snags like crazy

I bought the long and wide version of the REI Radiant 20F down bag with my 2014 REI dividend, and I thought I would like this bag, but it really fell short in a few areas. It seemed like a good value for $220 so I tried it out in the store and it fit great (I'm a big guy) but unfortunately, that is about where the good ends.

The first issue is the zipper. I know it's unavoidable that all zippers will get snagged every so often, but the zipper on this bag was getting snagged just about every single time I zipped it open or closed. It snagged in the store when I tried it out, but I thought, no big deal...but it became a big deal and very frustrating, especially in the dark and in the cold outdoors and when it happened all the time. 

Secondly, and far more importantly is the temp rating. As another review said (on the REI website), the 20°F degree temp rating on this bag does not seem accurate. I tested the bag overnight recently when the temps fell to 27°F. I am a very, very warm sleeper, but my feet were cold when I woke up. I used two insulated ground pads and was inside of a double-walled, 4-season expedition tent (a North Face Mountain 25), so a 27F degree night should have been well within this bag's limits; especially inside a bomb-proof tent.

I think if the temps actually got down to 20°F, my whole body would have been cold, and not just my feet. It seems like this bag would be a great in the 35°F-40°F range.

I know that down insulates with loft, and this bag has very little loft. The entire bag including the footbox had a mere 2-3 inches of loft. The down is a 600 fill duck down.

On the positive side, I LOVED this bag's very wide shoulder girth. I am a big guy at 6'3", 250 lbs and had PLENTY of room to move my arms about and sleep on my side in this bag when fully zipped all the way up. The light weight of this bag is also a plus, and when using a compression sack, this bag will get down to just slightly larger than the size of a football.

I also liked the sewn-in elastic loops around the edges which let you strap a sleeping pad to the underside of the bag so you don't roll off of the pad in the middle of the night.

l returned this bag to the fine folks at REI last week. I have already replaced this bag with the long version of the Western Mountaineering AlpinLite 20F bag. Although I have not even tested the AlpinLite bag yet, I have no doubt it will more than exceed my expectations. For starters, the stiff Dacron strips sewn into all WM bags right next to the zipper keep snags to a very rare occurrence.  

The second thing is I know the temp ratings on all WM are very conservative, and based on hundreds of reviews I have read, the 20°F AlpinLite will easily keep me warm well into the low teens. The loft of the AlpiLite is about 5-6 inches of 800 fill goose down. The WM was more than twice the price of the REI bag, but I know the investment will pay dividends for many years of super comfy camping under the stars in the spring and fall.

There is a HUGE difference in design, materials and craftsmanship between the mass-produced in China (REI bag) vs. the hand made in the USA (Western Mountaineering, San Jose, CA).

The AlpinLite is my second Western Mountaineering bag, and I doubt I will ever buy another bag from any other manufacturer. I'm spoiled, what can I say.

You get what you pay for! 

When I returned this bag to REI, they took it back and refunded me immediately with no hassle, but I was a bit surprised they didn't even ask me why I was returning it. Oh well.

With all this said, I still LOVE REI and especially when it comes to customer service they are second to none.


Thanks for the review, Lee. Sorry to hear about the bad experience. I'm glad REI has a decent return policy.

5 months ago

Thanks for the review, Lee. I hope you'll share a review of the AlpinLite once you've tested it out in the field.

5 months ago
Lee Patterson

Hi Alicia! I will do that and include photos as well. I will be using it above 6,000 feet on Mt. Mitchell, NC at the end of this month. :)

5 months ago

Sounds fun, Lee!

5 months ago

REI Radiant +20

$219.00 (men's)

The REI Radiant +20 is not available from the stores we monitor. It was last seen March 21, 2013 at REI.

If you're looking for a new 3-season down sleeping bag, check out the best reviewed current models.