Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gear Review: Highlite Sleeping Bag

Having an effective sleeping system is crucial to any backcountry explorer. After a full day of hiking or bushwhacking it is essential to get a good night’s rest. The sleeping bag is the most important part of any sleeping system as it provides insulation from the cooler evening temperatures allowing for a restful night’s sleep.

A good backcountry sleeping bag should be light weight, compressible, insulating, and durable. Western Mountaineering’s Highlite down sleeping bag meets all those criteria and is an ideal bag for the Adirondacks from late spring to early fall. The Highlite is incredibly light-weight, compresses down to the size of a loaf of bread and is worthy of Western Mountaineering’s reputation for impeccable quality.

Everything about the Highlite has been designed with reducing weight in mind. In fact, this sleeping bag is the lightest one on the market. The Highlite comes in three different sizes based on a person’s height and weighs from 15 to 17 ounces depending on the size.

The sleeping bag is rated down to a temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It is insulated with 850+ goose down and has a total fill weight of 7 to 9 ounces (depending on the size).

The down is wrapped in a .9 ounce ExtremeLite™ shell fabric purported to be the lightest and densest (measured by threads per inch) on the market. This fabric appears to be dense enough to prevent the sleeping bag from losing any but a small amount of it precious down feathers. But with any light-weight fabric special care is necessary to avoid ware and tear.

The zipper is the weakest part of this sleeping bag. The one-way zipper is small and cut to half of the bag length to cut down on weight. Although the zipper works well but zips apart at the bottom, which can be irritating when it happens in the middle of the night and it becomes difficult to zip it up to avoid a mid-night chill.

The bag is cut in such a way as to reduce both excess weight and internal volume and thus increase the internal heating rate. This allows the bag to heat up more quickly, which can be greatly appreciated on a chilly evening.

The Highlite is purple on the outside and black on the inside. The dark colors make it easier to dry the sleeping bag in the sun on long trips.

As a bonus the Highlite is made in the good ole U.S. of A.

The Highlite is an awesome sleeping bag for the spring to fall seasons in the Adirondacks. This sleeping bag has been my go-to bag for many years. I have found it always comfortable and rarely needs any supplements like a silk liner or wearing extra clothing.

Although some people might hesitate using a down bag in the Adirondacks where the risk of rain is ever present but if one takes the required precautions (e.g. using a waterproof stuff sack, pack liner and/or pack cover) there should be no problem with the Highlite.

For a light-weight, warm, comfortable and well made sleeping bag for any backcountry adventure you cannot go wrong with Western Mountaineering’s Highlite sleeping bag. It will keep you comfortable on those chilly Adirondack evenings in most conditions but it will not weigh down your backpack or take up too much space.

Photos: Highlite sleeping bag by Western Mountaineering.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.

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Dan Crane writes regularly about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. He has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry for almost two decades. He is also life-long naturalist with a Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line.

Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He is also the creator of the blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures.




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