Western Mountaineering Tamarak
Historic Range: $162.00-$285.00
I have this sleeping bag on trial from the local retailer to give him my feedback on its suitability for Australian conditions. First off, it weighs very little and takes up a minimum of space. The shell is very breathable and the loft is phenomenal for its weight. WM say it lofts to 4 inches, but I measured it at 4.5.
My primary use will be as a foot-sack/elephants foot for emergency use when ski touring but, as this is a very narrow bag (a good thing in my opinion, less dead air to warm up ), it will have a secondary function as a liner for my double bag system. It would also make a superb sleeping bag for a teenager or younger walker as the semi-rectangular cut makes its use as a quilt in warm weather another option.
As a foot-sack the zipper is redundant and if WM ever wanted to make a dedicated half bag all they need to do is shorten this bag a touch and remove the zipper.
(4-Year Update below)
- Warmth-for-weight ratio
- Compact stuffed size
- Full length zipper
- Excellence of materials and workmanship
- Breathability of the shell fabric
- For climbing use the zipper is redundant, and for climbing use the more weather resistant microfiber shell may have been a better fabric
Having tried the bag on only one windy and chilly night I do believe that it is much warmer than the manufacturers rating of-2°C.
I am a cold sleeper and halfway through a night that got down to 5°C I had to open the bag up and vent the heat from my legs.
Although a lightweight shell fabric, it was more wind resistant than I would have thought, but in winter I would not use to without a tent or bivvy.
I slept as I usually do in spring in silk weight longs but no socks or beanie, on top of a combination of Ridgerest Solar and a 32mm half length Thermarest that is now more patch than original fabric under a small tarp and using a Level 7 Army insulated jacket, which is a clone of the Patagonia DAS belay parka and an old but comfortable cashmere jumper, more moth hole than wool these days.
I had no trouble pulling the bag up under my armpits and then doing up the jacket. I'm reasonably tall at 185cm and the bag covers my legs and torso admirably.
I will be able to write a long term usage review after the winter, but I intend to buy this bag for my own use. I have always been a user of half bags and this bag fits inside my big expedition cut winter bag with enough room to spare to allow the outer bag full loft.
Luckily I am still reasonably skinny but Western Mountaineering does describe it as such and a narrow bag warms up much more quickly so the narrow cut is a plus in my opinion. For my use it would be better without the zip but the zipper does make this bag much more versatile.
EDIT May 18, 2017
I have been using this bag every winter since I wrote the first review, nothing has changed.
It is awesome as a booster and WM musy have taken note of my comments/communications as they now have a zipperless half bag that looks even better spec'd for UL use. I did get a discount on the purchase, but I would have been happy with it at full retail.
Source: Trialing for the local retailer, as this bag is a manufacturer's sample. I did get a discount on the purchase.