This year I bought The North Face’s Blue Kazoo for women.  It is a great lightweight three-season mummy sleeping bag (and it complements the color of my tent!).  While it may not be able to follow you up a mountain all year round (debatable, of course), it is relevant for the other eight or nine months!

It weighs 2 pounds and 9 ounces for the regular size (fitting up to 5’6”) and compresses down to the size of a small melon (compression sack included).   While I have a synthetic bag as well, I prefer down as it has greater longevity (short and long term), is warmer and lighter, and conforms to your shape more easily and comfortably; however, do not get it wet under any circumstances (only at your dry cleaner’s discretion while getting an annual cleaning and fluffing) or it is utterly useless in the field.  One other negative, it is usually more expensive than a synthetic bag, but it will last you YEARS longer (I usually rationalize expensive items as “investments!”).  I would like to point out that this bag has a DWR (Deluge Water Resistant) finish, making it a bit more versatile for the Pacific Northwest.  DWR is also breathable, keeping you dry (for the night sweaters) and warm at the same time.  Conversely, it has a silky lining for sleeping comfortably and rip stop exterior for durability.

It is scored to be comfortable down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit with 600+ Eastern European goose down (though I am not particularly partial where my down comes from!!).    As women are anatomically built differently than men (not a shocker here, I’m sure!), there are several features that make this a good purchase.  It has increased insulation in the areas that women lose heat the fastest (head, hips, and feet).  It also is narrower at the shoulders and generally shorter in length than the average men’s sleeping bag (though there is a long version that fits up to 6’0”).  It is important to buy one that fits you as too much room in your bag means that the body is working harder to keep that space warm, essentially a complete waste of energy.   You will be colder in a bag that is too big for you versus a well-fitted bag.  And, if you are looking for some extra heat, you can bring a sleeping bag liner (great for keeping your bag cleaner longer) for a few extra degrees warmth AND/OR dress in all the clothes that you brought with you.  My other suggestion for a few extra degrees in warmth, stretching this bag to a near four-season bag, is to consider your sleeping pads.  There are many different kinds of pads with different functions and capabilities.  I use a foam pad AND a self-inflating foam pad (rated at least a 4) during the winter for extra warmth.

There are also some cool “extras” about this bag.  It has a glow in the dark zipper (I can’t tell you how important this is if you are claustrophobic! Or just need to use the facilities with any urgency!).  It also has a pocket near the head; I usually keep my Chapstick and watch in that pocket.  If you are traveling with your partner, you can also zip this bag together with most sleeping bags (there is a men’s Blue Kazoo too!).  Last, it comes with sleeping pad retention loops.  When you lock these loops around your pad, you will be able to fall asleep (and toss) while staying ON your pad (I’m afraid that I move quite a bit when I sleep).  With this sleeping bag, I can sleep solidly through the night without waking up on a cold ground with a jagged rock imprint on my cheek (not an overly pretty sight!!).

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