User Review: The North Face Elkhorn
Fill: "Heatshield Optimal Technology"
Temperature Rating: O Fahrenheit
Weight: 5 lbs, roughly
Price Paid: $50
I just gave this bag its first real test in subfreezing temperatures in the Great Basin. The Elkhorn kept me plenty warm, though without a sleeping pad (oops) I found it difficult to keep the ground side of things from getting a little numb. Woke up with the bag covered in ice but didn't once feel any concern over my comfort, let alone safety. The temperature was moderate at about 18-degrees Fahrenheit/-8 Celsius.
Interestingly, my friend was carrying a 'Cat's Meow' (20 F rating) from the same company and nearly froze to death while wearing full thermal gear(seriously)! A last note: the head cover felt difficult to adjust and it is a real pain to fiddle around in windy, sub-freezing air for more than a few moments.
I too picked up this bag on sale at a Big Outdoor Store. Due to its poor compression and weight, this is not a great bag for long hikes, but it is warm and cheap. For the price, this is an outstanding bag that I will continue to keep in the truck for spontaneity's sake-that is, so that I know I have the gear to keep me warm and safe whenever I decide to spend the night out.
However, as a rule, I assume that temp-ratings for bags err on the optimistic side, and based on my experience I would not rely on this bag alone in 0 F/-18 C temperatures. Finally, for long treks I would continue to use something less bulky.