Most lightweight sleeping bags are trending the way of skinny jeans, but Nemo Equipment bucked the current minimal mummy style with an innovative “relaxed fit” Spoon Shape design that generously contours around the body.
Nemo claims to have exhaustively scrutinized the design, sending 50 bags out for user testing and incorporating more than 300 revisions into the final. The result? It’s certainly not our dad’s sleeping bag.
The hourglass shape flares out at the prominent articulations (knees and elbow joints) to provide an unrestricted restful night. Word on the street is it’s been overwhelmingly embraced by consumers, tripling Nemo’s forecasted numbers in 2013. Here’s a look at why it’s feeling the love. —Steve Graepel
The Gear: Nemo Nocturne 30
Where To Test It: Camping
Who’s It For: Claustrophobic sleepers
Boring But Important: The Nocturne uses 15 oz. of 700-fill DownTek water-repellant down that gives it a 30-degree rating. The outer shell is a 15D rip-stop nylon treated with a DWR that repels condensation. The brand wrapped the footbox in a waterproof/breathable nylon to protect the bag from wetting out when pressed against the tent wall. (Thank you, Nemo.) The inner shell is a sleek nylon that feels like sliding into silk pajamas.
Important Specs: After a long day in the hills you may feel like the walking dead, but that doesn’t mean you sleep like a mummy. Most people toss and turn from side to side throughout the night. Nemo’s design flares out from 32 inches at the shoulders, to 30 inches at the hips, to 34 inches at the knees, providing unrestricted movement. The knees are so generous that you can sit cross legged in your bag.
The hood is oversized; it fell over my eyes and sat just over the bridge of my nose. This is unique when compared to most bags that seal around the face, not over it.
We all do it, wad our extra clothes into a stuff sack and jam it under our head for a pillow. Nemo thoughtfully gave us a pillow pocket inside the hood. It’s a nice touch; you no longer risk rolling off your DIY pillow.
A bib-like down flap hangs below the chin. At first, it seems like a vestigial appendage that you might flip over the face. But it’s a clever design with a functional purpose. Traditional bags have a down draft tube that cinches around your neck at night. The “Blanket Fold” tucks inside the bag, comfortably filling the void around the chin, neck and shoulders.
Made In: China
Killer! You only have to roll over once to appreciate its roomy fit. Your legs and arms rest naturally inside the bag making it just like home. The “blanket fold” feature tucks you in just like mom.
Flaws: While the design really is innovative, all that extra internal volume translates to more space that your tired bones are going to have to work to heat up. As the mercury drops, it will tax your weary body and leave you feeling cold. So be aware of the bag’s temperature limits (rated to 30 degrees). If you read the NEMO customer reviews, you’ll see cold temperatures are the design’s achilles heel.
700-fill down was once considered high-end fill, but the standard is moving toward 850+ in top-of-the-line bags. This makes the Nocturne heavier and less compressible than bags at a similar price and temperature rating. It appears to have bias for camping over backpacking.
The zipper is a hassle to pull all the way shut. And because of the arching cut, once you get it there it wants to ride back down a few inches.
The roll-top stuff sack is highly breathable, pushing air out as you roll it close. But it isn’t waterproof, nor that compressible. If you want to bring it backpacking, you’ll need to buy an aftermarket compression sack.
Finally, at $350, the Nocturne bag runs $75-$100 more than its competition. Marmot’s Alpha 30 (with traditional 700-fill down) is $260. Big Agnes’ comparable bag, also with 700-fill DownTek, is $280.
First Impressions: The oversized hood seemed a little wonky, but the contoured design embraces the way we sleep.
Who Should Buy It: Side sleepers tired of wrestling with a good night’s sleep in a straightjacket.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Nemo
—Steve Graepel is a contributor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC