The Gear Junkie: Big Agnes Dream Island Sleeping Bag
By STEPHEN REGENOLD
With the right equipment, sleeping on the cold, hard ground can be quite luxurious. Take the $190 Dream Island from Big Agnes as example: This behemoth bag, a two-person model that measures more than 50 inches wide, lofts high with 4.5 pounds of insulating fill.
It’s rated to 15 degrees. It has built-in pillow pockets to hold your folded fleece jacket as an ad hoc headrest. There’s a zipper on each side, allowing easy access for both sleepers to get in and out at night.
But what seals the deal is Big Agnes’ signature pad sleeve, a large pocket that is custom sewn into the underside of the bag to accommodate a sleeping pad. Slip a pad inside and it’s held tightly in place, becoming one with the big puffy bag. You can’t slip off or roll over the edge.
The effect with the pad in place and the sleeping bag cozy over the top creates a cushy platform akin to a queen-size bed.
Big Agnes (www.bigagnes.com) recommends its inflatable Hinman pad to mate with the Dream Island. The Hinman, which costs $140, measures 50×78 inches at 2.5 inches thick.
Add the $190 bag and with tax and shipping your dream sleep system is running upwards of $350.
Is it worth the cash? For the consummate car camper, probably so. If you’re the type who totes along a camp-stove espresso maker, Lexan wine glasses and leg-rest-equipped camp chairs, then the Big Agnes setup will be up your alley.
The bag and pad’s size and weight makes this package applicable only for car camping: Each one weighs more than 9 pounds—that’s about 19 pounds for the duo.
They don’t pack up small either, each one requiring significant trunk real estate rolled up and stuffed in my stationwagon.
But with price and portability aside, if you want the ultimate in-the-wild sleep system—the simulacrum of a mattress and quilt in your tent—then the Dream Island might just be your bed.
(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)