Therm-A-Rest Haven Top Bag

If your mantra reads something like “Less is more,” your backpacking toothbrush is sawed in half, or you just like gear that does its job a little differently, then you should take a look at the Haven Top Bag by Therm-A-Rest. The Haven, rated to be warm to 20 degrees F, weighs a scant 22 ounces, has no zipper, and sports a giant hole in the bottom of it (put there in the name of saving weight).

Therm-A-Rest designed the bag to do away with some of what the company calls “redundant and un-utilized insulation.” I suppose the designers figured that with a camping mattress beneath you, that insulation is superfluous. A zipper is seen as an unnecessary convenience item, so the company eliminated that, too.

ThermaRest_Haven_2.jpg

The (zipperless) Haven Top Sleeping Bag

When I pulled the Haven out on a recent backpacking trip, my buddies gave me raised-eyebrow looks and questioned the missing parts of my bag. A quick explanation of the idea got them nodding in agreement that the design made sense, especially when they saw how light and small it packed. The Haven easily packs to half the size of my other 20F bag.

Thermarest_Haven_1.jpg

Haven with ProLite sleeping pad

But being different takes a bit of getting used to. At first, I grumbled about having to shimmy into the bag from the top with no zipper on the side. But once you’re inside, the bag feels like every other bag, only maybe a little roomier. There’s a bit of set-up involved, too. If you use the tapered ProLite pads from Therm-A-Rest, they slip neatly into the bag, creating a draft-free system. If you use any other pad, you need to connect the Haven to the pad using the included straps. And if you sleep “hot” or find yourself in warmer than expected temps, you can use the hole on the bottom as a vent by simply not strapping the bag to your pad.

In most cases, for sleeping bags in general temperature ratings tend to run too cold for me. If a bag is rated to 20F, I am usually only comfortable to about 30F. As it did not dip below 35 degrees on my recent test trip I cannot speak for the accuracy of the Haven’s rating. But if I had to guess, I suspect that one might get cold in the Haven at 20 degrees outside. At least I might be cold. The bag was just warm enough for me in the mid-30s at night on my trip this past month.

Climbers, adventure racers and ultra-light backpackers — people who are already used to giving up a little convenience for weight savings — are going to love this bag. It packs small, weighs little, and it is warm enough for most nights three seasons of the year.

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The catch is mainly in its lack of conveniences. I like zippers. They allow easy entry and exit as well as venting when I get too warm. On my test, once in the bag, I settled down and focused on drifting to sleep. But the first few moments spent with the bag left me feeling a little trapped. If you lean toward claustrophobic, you would do well to try this bag before buying.

Overall, I like the bag and its unique features. I look forward to the Haven riding small and light in my pack on my next adventure — right next to my ultralight tent and my toothbrush, cut in half, of course.

—T.C. Worley

Posted by Hiking Lady - 05/11/2010 09:11 AM

That sure is innovative! I’m a fan of zippers too, but the concept is great for ultralighters. I guess if you roll around a bit when sleeping your back could get cold if the sleeping pad isn’t secured well.

Posted by andy - 05/11/2010 09:50 AM

cool looking bag – but far from innovative – Go-lite had similar models out years ago (long since discontinued) and a number of other high end, UL bag makers such as Nunatak from alaska have even lighter bags on offer – typically called sleeping quilts. Even NF has zipperless designs that strap onto a pad. That being said, if it performs as promised it’ll be a nice addition to what’s already available.

Posted by NeuroBio - 05/11/2010 10:49 AM

You and your buddies must not get out much. Big Agnes has been making this sort of sleeping system for years. This isn’t an innovation, at least not Therm-a-Rest’s innovation.

Posted by editor - 05/11/2010 03:35 PM

Via email, Therm-A-Rest’s design team provided this feedback (posted here with permission): “Conventional sleeping bag users may not see the difference in design, but someone who regularly uses a quilt or other type unconventional system may better understand the innovation in the Haven. In the design process, we looked at all the other unconventional sleeping systems on the market and found a need for a sleep system that integrates with a mattress yet is significantly lighter weight and offers a full hood for total coverage in cold weather. The Haven bag is unique in that it offers all of those features in a zipperless design with full hood, foot box and wrap-around coverage to provide reliable warmth, while super light at 1 lb. 6 oz (regular size).”

Posted by SR - 05/11/2010 03:41 PM

I think the “hole” in the bottom also makes it unique. I haven’t tried the GoLite or TNF bags mentioned. But as compared to Big Agnes, which has a similar design with no insulation underneath, the Thermarest is different. At least with the Big Agnes bags I have used, they are slightly heavier, have zippers, and have a pad sleeve — not a hole — on the bottom.

Posted by t.c. worley - 05/11/2010 07:29 PM

Yeh, my buddies have likely all had their bags for years and have not researched the latest sleeping bag technologies—that’s hardly a fault.

Posted by t.c. worley - 05/12/2010 08:48 AM

Rick,
Perhaps you’re thinking of another pad – the Prolite weighs one pound. Or was this a “tongue-in-cheek” comment?

http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/prolite/product

And the MontBell is not lighter (at 1 lb, 15 oz) and is only rated to 40F. Not really apples to apples. Seems like a decent bag all the same.

http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2321220

Posted by kathryn - 05/12/2010 09:38 AM

It is interesting but really limited to back and maybe side sleepers. I could just see myself managing to roll over inside and not being able to breath. I like it but when they design something for a stomach sleeper then I will be happier.

I agree that this isn’t like BA at all. BA bags are heavy and at least the two I have tried did not come close to their temperature rating.

Posted by newt - 05/26/2010 09:34 PM

I agree, interesting but hardly innovative.

Ray has been doing it for years! Check out: http://www.rayjardine.com/

Posted by redon73 - 09/21/2010 10:55 AM

I used this for my recent hiking trip in the trans himalayas. While the bag is warm and good, one major flaw is that the feathers keep coming out. By the end of my 10 day trip enough feathers were out to make it even lighter. I am quite disappointed with the product quality.

Posted by Moby - 05/01/2012 10:25 PM

Could somebody tell me how small this top-bag rolls up (compressed size)?

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