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Kelty SB 20

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Kelty SB 20 3-season down sleeping bag

Testing the SB20 down to 13 degrees.


  • Ranks up there with bags costing twice as much.
  • 800 fill Dry Down
  • Performs as designed
  • Accurately rated at 20 degrees
  • Lightweight


  • A little narrow when sleeping with your arms down at your sides.

After an exhaustive search for a shoulder season bag, I stumbled across the SB20 on sale and couldn't pass it up. I had looked at the Montbell bags, which were heavier and not as warm. The Western Mountaineering Alpinlite was 2 oz lighter, but was more than double the price at $540. Not a good price per ounce saved in my opinion.

I knew that Kelty made bombproof backpacks, but I've never considered one of their bags, because they've always been too heavy. Until now! 

The fact that you can get an 800 fill dry down bag at this low price point is crazy. The quality of the outer also seems to be higher than one would expect as well. The lining is soft and warm feeling. The outer is coated at the head and foot to further protect the bag from condensation.

The zipper has been snag free, and the draft tube and draft collars work well. The bag looks nice and packs up relatively small. A lighter compression sack may be in order though. 

The fit of the bag is OK. I sleep on my side and change position many times throughout the night. The bag in this position, and on my stomach, seems roomy. But if I roll over on my back, and try to put my arms down to my sides, the fabric pulls tight across my chest. I'm 5'10" and 190, so if you're any bigger, and a back sleeper, this bag may not be for you. All in all I am very happy with the construction of the bag.

And now the performance. 

  • The first test for this bag was 24 degrees. I was in my tent on a Neo Air Xlite short. I stayed toasty warm throughout the night until I crawled out of my bag the next morning. No problem. (A few notes: I sleep in thermals and wool socks. I'm a warm sleeper typically, until just before daybreak when my body cools down and then my feet usually get cold and I wake up.)
  • The next test was a trip to Otter Creek Wilderness where the temps dropped to 19°. I slept under a tarp on a closed cell foam mat. I was perfectly comfortable the entire night, but when I woke at daybreak, I noticed a cold spot on my hip, and my feet were starting to get a little cold. I really wasn't what you would call uncomfortable, just not toasty warm.  Considering I didn't have anything blocking the breeze, I still thought the bag did really well.
  • The third test is the one that really surprised me. On a trip near Valley Falls State Park, the temps dropped to around 16 Degrees. I was in my Fly Creek UL1 on a thermal mat. I made sure to bring a fleece liner and space blankets with me just in case. I didn't even need them. Granted the temperature in the tent probably never dropped as low as the outside temperature. But still, that is part of my sleep system and I'm happy with the results. 

I wanted to test the extremes of the bag, so I decided to do another test in my back yard, under a tarp. 13 degrees was the low. I woke at 4 a.m. with cold spots down my side, so I flipped over on my back and fell back to sleep for about 15 minutes before the cold woke me again. Every 15 minutes or so after that I had to flip over to be comfortable enough to fall back to sleep.

As day broke my feet were cold enough that I was getting uncomfortable, and I had to get up. Considering the outside temp, and the fact that this bag is only rated to 20, I believe it performed well. 

This bag does what it was designed to do. I am very happy with it, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good shoulder season bag at a reasonable price.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $220

An excellent 3-season down bag for the money. Quality made product and impressive customer service. I've turned several people on to this bag. Was able to purchase for a promotional price, but wouldn't hesitate paying retail.


  • Fairly lightweight
  • Relatively Small when compressed
  • WARM!
  • Temp rating is correct
  • Quality fabric
  • Dri-Down works!


  • Typical, occasional zipper snag

Me: 6'1" and 210 pounds. I chose the long bag and it fits perfectly.

My tent: Big Agnes Slater UL 2+. The Slater series has no mesh so it does help my stabilize temps in colder weather.

Ground Pad: Big Agnes 15 degree insulated Q-Core pad. (5 stars plus for comfort! best night's sleep in the woods ever).

Base Layer: Icebreaker 200 merino wool top and bottom. Smartwool socks. Wool beanie.

I have a little moisture build-up due to the lack of mesh in this tent and this Dri-Down filled bag has handled it like a champ. I have never felt like the moistness in the tent has affected its ability to keep me warm. The toe box and and head fabric treatment prohibits moisture from penetrating the bag when accidentally touching the tent walls. I'm surprised this isn't an industry standard since it works so well. This bag dries rapidly when complete with my trips.

I have used this bag for two seasons now in varying temps. One late summer kayak and left it open and was comfortable. Also, one bitterly-cold, moisture-rich night and I stayed perfectly warm. I'm guessing the temps were mid 20's, high dew points and strong constant winds. It felt miserable outside.

I typically find myself shedding all my clothing in temps above freezing. I plan to hike soon and really test the lower 20's end temps on this bag. I believe with my base layer and pad, it will be plenty warm. I also typically put my Craghoppers 700 fill down jacket in the toe box and I never have cold feet.

I used to freeze all night in my North Face 20 degree bag.

So far, I have been thrilled with all of the Kelty products I have purchased, especially this bag. It's the most economical brand out there. It and Big Agnes are my two favorite brands.

Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: Contractually can't say.

I would highly reccomend this sleeping bag. It was warm, and the head and foot box will always be dry. Dri-Down is an excellent advantage over the normal down.


  • Dri-Down
  • Mummy shape
  • Light weight
  • Head and foot boxes are water protected


  • A little tight for guy with big shoulders

We got the SB 20 because I was looking for a lightweight, DriDown bag. I got this one because of the extra protection Kelty puts on the bags. The head and foot boxes each have a water resistant covering to help you stay protected from any condensation that comes off of a tent. 

The bag was plenty warm for me, and felt good. All the zippers were easy to use and the bag was easy to get in and out of. The bag comes with a compression sack that really works well. The bag reduces in size considerably. It lofts back up pretty quickly. 

While I like the feel of the fabric both outside and inside I could see it wearing out as it is pretty soft, but I have not had it that long so I could not be certain on that. 

In all Kelty really nailed this one. The only thing I would want to see, even thought it was not a problem, is some sort of zipper stay at the top. I have had bags with Velcro that made sure the zipper would not creep down during the night. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300

Lightweight 800-fill Dri-Down bag kept me warm and dry.


  • Lightweight
  • Dri-Down and waterproof coating at feet and head


  • Fragile stiching of draft collar
  • Zipper

I took this EN20 rated bag on a backpacking trip into the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico just as the region's "monsoon" season started. Camping above 9,000 feet with rain and overnight temps dropping into the upper 30s and lower 40s had me worried, but the SB 20 handled the soggy conditions without a problem. The waterproof coating at the head and foot kept the bag dry even with heavy condensation inside the tent. 

I think the EN rating was accurate. I'm usually a warm sleeper and slept with the bag unzipped from the bottom to vent while some of my companions were sleeping with their fleeces on. I used a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X Lite short pad and substituted the included compression bag with a Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack.

The main zipper was difficult to use, even though the anti-snag design (a stiff fabric that ran the length of the zip) performed well at keeping the fabric from getting caught in the zipper.

The biggest gripe I have with this bag is the draft tube. The free end ripped off while I was trying to adjust it from inside.

Would I recommend this bag? Yes. Despite the rip, this bag kept me warm under very difficult conditions and packed down small and light.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $220

A quality down bag that is as good as some much higher priced sleeping bags.


  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • DriDown
  • Very warm
  • Waterproof at the top and bottom to avoid dripping condensation


  • Occasional zipper snag

I bought this bag for backpacking in the Sierras and I have used it over the past two years. It's very comfortable and warm — true to the 20 degree spec.

I am 6'1" and this bag has plenty of room for me.  Because this sleeping bag has DriDown, it has great loft and also packs down very small into the included stuff sack.  A storage sack is also included.

I would definitely buy it again!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $260

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