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Western Mountaineering VersaLite

photo: Western Mountaineering VersaLite 3-season down sleeping bag

Specs

short medium large
Price Historic Range: $340.00-$640.00
Reviewers Paid: $306.00-$500.00
Shape Mummy Mummy Mummy
Size 5 ft 6 in 6 ft 0 in 6 ft 6 in
Rating 10° F 10° F 10° F
Loft 6 in 6 in 6 in
Inside Girth 62 in / 53 in / 39 in 62 in / 53 in / 39 in 63 in / 54 in / 39 in
Fill Weight 18 oz 20 oz 22 oz
Total Weight 1 lb 14 oz 2 lb 2 lb 2 oz
Stuff size 8 x 15 8 x 15 8 x 15
Sac Size S S S

Reviews

8 reviews
5-star:   7
4-star:   1
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

The Western Mountaineering Versalite is just an overall great sleeping bag. While a bit on the pricey side, the Versalite is a well thought out sleeping bag design that is roomy, provides great warmth for its weight, and utilizes quality materials and construction. The Western Mountaineering Versalite is a great choice for anyone who has reached the point where they are looking to invest in a sleeping bag that will provide great performance in a very lightweight design.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Quality construction
  • A truly snag free zipper
  • Outstanding draft collar and draft tube along zipper
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • The price is a bit on the high side

Overview

I’ve owned a number of sleeping bags over the years since I first got into backpacking back in the 1970s and really had no complaints with any of the bags I have owned. After I retired a number of years ago and started to get back into backpacking again I had picked up a Summit 20 sleeping bag made by Outdoor Vitals. The Summit 20 was a low cost and reasonable lightweight bag that I’ve used for the last five or so years and it does its job and I have no complaints.

As I creep up towards my mid 60s I’ve been tweaking my gear to save weight where I can as I’ve found the lighter my pack is the more I enjoy my trips. While the Summit 20 has been a good bag, it weighs 44 ounces and it seemed like there were lighter alternatives out there.  

I thought about switching to a quilt, and I do want to try one someday, but I settled on getting a new sleeping bag as I was willing to make an investment as this may be my “last sleeping bag”. Now that I am in my 60s I’m starting to realize that I won’t be able to do what I’m doing forever, so I might as well buy the gear that I’ll enjoy now as I may find it harder to justify spending the money ten years from now.

Since I had convinced myself to spend more than I normally would for a sleeping bag (I’m considered pretty cheap by my wife and friends…) I started looking for a bag. As luck would have it a local climbing shop, Backcountry Essentials up in Bellingham, Washington, had a Versalite on sale for only $453, which was a screaming deal since the bag normally sells for $625.

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While this is the first Western Mountaineering piece of gear I have ever purchased, I was a regular visitor to their shop that used to be down in San Jose, California, to buy climbing gear and other items when I went to college there back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Design and Construction

From a design perspective the Versalite is a basic mummy style bag that also incorporates a draft collar. What distinguishes the Versalite from other manufactures sleeping bags is their attention to details.

The down used in the Versalite is an ethically sourced large plume goose down that has an 850 Plus Fill Power that along with the differential cut construction used, provides 6 inches of lot for a 10 degree Fahrenheit temperature rating.  I found that my Versalite easy met and actually exceed the 6 inches of loft that is specified for this bag.

While the Versalite has a 10-degree Fahrenheit rating, it uses continuous baffles which allows you to shift the down from the top to the bottom of the bag during warmer conditions and vice versa when it’s cold which provides the flexibility to use the Versalite over a broad range of temperatures.

The one area of the Versalite design that really sold me on purchasing this sleeping bag is the design of the draft collar and draft tube that runs along and seals the zipper.

IMG_7157.jpg

Western Mountaineering uses 3-Dimensional sewn draft collars and draft tubes that are generous in size and a full of down and I can’t think of a sleeping bag I have owned in the past that even come close to the size of the tubes on my Versalite.

The picture below is another view of the draft collar withe the bag closed up, and I can say from experience that the draft collar feels and works as good as it looks.

IMG_9611.jpg

The above picture also shows the construction details around the areas where your shoulders would be and how the bag is cut to provide room for your upper body.  

The inside girth specifications for the standard 6'0" length bag that I purchased are 62" at the shoulders, 53" at the hips and 39" at the feet. I’m 5'11" tall, weigh around 195 pounds, and the girth around my arms and upper chest is about 52", and I found the girth dimensions of the Versalite to be very comfortable and not restricting by any means. 

One of the most frustrating things with a sleeping bag can be fabric getting caught in the zipper of the bag. With the Versalite, Western Mountaineering incorporates a flat semi-stiff tape along both sides of the zipper as shown in the pictures below.

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IMG_7155.jpg

In use, I have yet to snag the zipper or even come close. When you consider that a sleeping bag is a piece of gear that you will use for a number of years, it would be incredibly frustrating to own a sleeping bag where the zipper is always getting hung up. If you own a Versalite you’ll never have that issue.

The other detail associated with the tape is that this where Western Mountaineering attaches the label with the name of the person who sewed your sleeping bag right here in the USA, which is a nice touch.

IMG_7153.jpg

There is one design feature on the Versalite that I was a little on the fence with when I first bought the bag and that was with the design of the hood. As hoods go, the hood on the Versalite doesn’t seem all that deep when you first look at it.

IMG_7142.jpg

While I haven’t yet used the Versalite at low temperatures where I needed to cinch up the opening so that just my nose was poking out, I’ve found I can easily do it and the hood still feels comfortably loose around my head. I think if I was taller than six feet it might become an issue, but at 5'11" tall the bag has more than enough length that allows to hood to easily cover my head.

Another nice feature that Western Mountaineering incorporated into the hood design is a differential cut between the amount of material inside the hood compared to the outside with more material actually being used inside the hood. The additional material inside the hood actually allows the down to expand and fill the areas around you head so the is no dead space for cold air to settle in and is a nice design detail that can make those really cold nights more enjoyable.

I’ve just touched on several of the unique design features of the Versalite, but I have provided this link to the page at the Western Mountaineering website that goes into detail on all the design features used in the construction of their sleeping bags.

My experience actually using the Western Mountaineering Versalite

In the eleven months that I have owned the Versalite I mostly have been using it on trips this last summer, so I haven’t really put to the test in any low temperature conditions to see how comfortable it would keep me at its 10-degrees Fahrenheit rating. Hopefully this winter I have a chance to use in in some colder conditions.

For the trips I have taken it out on it's only gotten down into the upper 30s or low 40s and the bag performed great.

I consider myself pretty temperature tolerant and never really become overheated when sleeping, so I like having a warmer bag like the Versalite even for summer trips.

I’ve been using the Versalite with a large Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite mattress and that combination has worked well so far. Probably the biggest issue I’ve run into while using the Versalite is the left-hand zipper.

All the sleeping bags I have ever owned have had right-hand zippers and when I bought the Versalite I knew it had a left-side zipper, but the price being as cheap as it was I figured I could put up with a left-hand zipper.

IMG_7161.jpg

A lot of my trips I do solo and with most of my one-person tents my other sleeping bags with right hand zippers were convenient because if I wanted to get some gear I left in the vestibule I would unzip my bag a little and then the door of my tent was easily accessible. Now with the left-hand zipper I have to open the bag quite a bit and then flip the top of the sleeping bag off so I can get to the zippers on the door. Was the saving I got going with a left-hand zipper worth the inconvenience? Yea, because I’m cheap and it was worth the $150 I saved and I’m sure at some point I'll get used to having the zipper on the left-hand side.

It’s also with mentioning the Wester Mountaineering includes a nice large cotton storage bag with each sleeping bag sold, which is a nice detail as it really is needed to to store any down bag appropriately.

Overall I have been very happy using the Versalite as it is has been a roomy and warm bag and is about twelve ounces lighter than the previous down bag I have been using, so it's a nice reduction to the base weight of my pack.

Weight of the Western Mountaineering Versalite 

One of the primary reasons I was looking for a new sleeping bag was to save some weight. The 6'0" version of the Versalite is advertised as weighing 32 ounces. The 6'0" Versalite with the included 8" x 15" stuff bag weighs in at 35 ounces, which is slightly greater than what Western Mountaineering advertises, but I think it is within the variability you would expect and I have no complaints with the weight. 

IMG_7150.jpg

Price

As I mention earlier, I bought this sleeping bag when it was on sale for $453 and that it normally sells for $625, which is at the high end of what most 10 degree down bags go for. A sleeping bag can last a long time if it is well cared for, so I think if you can afford it, it’s worth the extra money to buy a quality bag, especially one manufactured here in the USA. I also think that it’s worthwhile to support small gear manufactures who work to make and sell quality gear and offer an extensive number of options to customize your gear that will never be available from the large retail manufactures who only produce gear overseas.

Summary and Recommendation

I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the Western Mountaineering Versalite sleeping bag to anyone looking for a quality three-season bag. The combination of a well thought out design, excellent materials and quality construction, really make this one of the best if not the best lightweight option for the backpacker looking for a quality sleeping bag that will provide many years of use

Experience

I've been using the Versalite for a number of trips this past year and it will be my go-to bag for trips this winter and for trips into the future for as long as I am able to go backpacking :-).

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $453

About the Author

Mike Mineart is a retired mechanical engineer who enjoys hiking and backpacking in the Western Washington Cascades and down in California's Sierra where his recent focus has been doing section hikes along the John Muir Trail. Mike also enjoys fly fishing and is an active member of the Snohomish County (WA) Volunteer Search and Rescue and the Everett Mountain Rescue Unit.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review and product info, Mike!


2 months ago
Mike Mineart

Thanks Alicia!


2 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thank you, Mike!


2 months ago

Warm, light, and super comfy... WM does it right!

Pros

  • High quality down and construction
  • Lightweight for the warmth
  • Efficiently sized, but not tight
  • Full zip
  • Compact when stuffed
  • Comfy, comfy, comfy

Cons

  • Pricey, but as usual with WM you get what you pay for

This is my second WM bag (my first was a summer-oriented Megalite, that I like very much). I needed a bag with some extra warmth for colder conditions. I purchased the Versalite and used it for the first time during a week long fall hike around the Tetons. Weather forecast was iffy (trip was squeezed between two storm fronts). In the end, I had everything, rain, sun, snow, and wind, so was glad I had the beefier bag!

Compared to the Megalite, the Versalite has more down/loft (warmer temperature rating), is slightly heavier (only up to 2lbs), and is not as wide. Fabrics on both are very comfortable. Both bags have full zips, which in addition to making entry and exit easy, allow needed heat ventilation when temps are warm (used frequently with the Megalite on summer trips). The narrower cut of the Versalite helps keep weight down and is more efficient in colder conditions, as I experienced during my Teton circumnavigation. Never got cold or chilly...

Add me to the crowd of folks that rave about WM bags... After using bags from various manufacturers (e.g., Marmot, MH, TNF, REI) over my many decades of hiking, backpacking, climbing in the Pacific Northwest, WM has come out on top as the best investment. I expect these will be the last sleeping bag purchases I'll ever need.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: about $500

Best bag EVER for shoulder season activities in the Canadian Rockies.

Pros

  • Very light and compact
  • Very warm

Cons

  • None noticed yet

I have three WM sleeping bags. I use this bag for shoulder season activities [late fall and early spring] here in the Canadian Rockies. I also use it in the winter when I'm using mountain huts and shelters when I'm ski touring.  

IT ROCKS! It's so light, and it's so comfy and warm. You seriously CANNOT do better than Western Mountaineering when it comes to down sleeping bags. They are the best. 

This one, like all of them, is true to its temp rating. It's rated to -12°C, and I've been in it to -16°C [as read off my keychain thermometer I keep on my pack] in just my undies, and been toasty warm.

With some layering clothing [and of course making sure you're on a good insulated sleeping pad] this bag would be good down to -20°C.

I find it to be nice and roomy... a bit more room than the Ultralite [another more popular bag from WM] but not so much room as to create drafts.

This bag is the bomb! The best product on the market for a bag of this temp rating. I swear by WM bags. Yes, they're very expensive, but you buy them for LIFE!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ~$500

I purchased this bag because I was tired of being cold and the sales person at Midwest Mountaineering said that this was the bag to buy. I also needed a really lightweight bag for a long backpacking trip.

I have owned this bag and used it for about 2.5 years and still love it. The loft is amazing and held up over 2 months of hiking with it. I have washed it and it still continues to provide great warmth.

The only downside to this bag is that as with all down, it doesn't do well in wet climates. I got pretty cold winter camping due to the amount of moisture in the tent which fell onto the bag. It is great for a dry climate and cool temps.

Design: Mummy
Fill: 850 down
Temperature Rating: 10 F
Weight: 2 lbs
Price Paid: $320

Well constructed, very light and compressible.

Pros

  • Light
  • Roomy

The bag weighs close to nothing. If you're looking to save weight and have a bomber bag look no further. Western Mountaineering got it right here.

I use this bag year round. When hot I just sleep on top of it. The loft is so sweet. You roll it out and it blows up like a balloon. I've had it for a few years and it keeps on ticking.

I think I paid $450 for it, but I did the research, knew what I wanted and pulled the trigger. I'm writing this review because I got what I paid for. A great product.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $450

markhor

Sounds like you're quite happy with this bag. What did you knock off a star for, if you don't mind me asking?


6 years ago

The Best Sleeping bag I have ever owned! Western Mountaineering still makes their stuff in the USA. I have tried many other bags that claim to be high end, nothing compares to WM.

I own three WM bags. The best down you can get from Europe not China. By far the best loft. When it comes to staying warm in the backcountry my only choice is Western Mountaineering! Also great customer service. 

You will not find a better bag in this temp rating category!

Super comfy .. Extremely well made .. super light .. super compressible and good lookin!

BTW, I got a screamin deal through 02 gear.

Design: mummy
Fill: 850+
Temperature Rating: 10 degrees F
Weight: 2 lbs
Price Paid: $306

After looking around at LOTS of bags, I narrowed it down to Western Mountaineering. I chose the VersaLite because of its super weight, along with a little larger cut than a traditional mummy bag. I did sacrifice a little on the durability factor with the ultra-light shell.

As far as the tempature rating: Well Western Mountaineerings claim to be conservative is right on the money. I have used this "20 F" bag down to 5 F with no problem. I wouldn't want to push it much lower, but I am thrilled with the results.

Design: Modified Mummy
Fill: 700 fill down
Temperature Rating: 20 F
Weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz.
Price Paid: $315

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