BWCA Dispatch: 50-Night Sleeping Bag Test

Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a full year living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota. Here, they review a critical piece of gear for their endeavor, the Sea To Summit Talus Ts II sleeping bag.

amy-freeman

I have been sleeping in this bag for 50 nights. The temperature has steadily gotten colder since the start of our expedition on September 23rd.

As my primary bed, the Talus Ts II has proven to be comfortable and warm as winter takes over the BWCA. Here’s my review from the field.

Sea to Summit Talus Ts II ($335 on Backcountry.com)

Where To Test It: On your next camping trip — backcountry or front-country, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, biking, whatever. Depending on where you live, this could be a four-season bag. It has been great well into the fall as Dave and I are canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We’ll be anticipating winter temps below zero and will have to switch to a beefier winter bag eventually.

sea-to-summit-bag

Talus II Testing

After about 50 days of continuous use this fall, I have come to really appreciate this sleeping bag. I have used it in temps ranging from the 50s to the upper teens. On the warmer end of that spectrum, I’ve left it mostly unzipped to avoid sweating. On the colder nights, fully cinched down, wearing long underwear, wool socks and a warm hat to bed, I’ve been perfectly comfortable.

The fabric is quite breathable, so even if I misjudged the nighttime temps and woke up sweating, that moisture has dissipated by morning. The 750 fill power Ultra-Drydown is great in that it has not lost any loft even when I’ve brushed up against a wet tent wall or even spilled water on it.

Generous Cut

The length of the regular size bag is ample for my 5’10” height. My side-sleeper test for sleeping bags is to pull my knees up to my chest while fully zipped in. Every other bag I’ve used before this one has been a squeeze.

The “relaxed mummy” style means plenty of wiggle room. But the cut of the interior fabric is such that the bottom fill actually lofts around you. That’s what the company means by its “reverse differential cut”; the liner is larger than the shell on the underside of the bag.

talus zipper

Despite the added room in the bag, I have no air pockets or draft issues. One other note about the loft is that it literally “inflates” — I’ve pulled this bag out of its compression sack and watched it grow before my eyes. When I sit on it or am packing up, it almost feels like packing a sleeping pad as the air slowly gets squeezed out.

No-Snag Zipper

I’ve marveled at how the zipper never snags. Any other sleeping bag I’ve owned has been tedious to zip, because the inner fabric catches. With this bag, you can zip fully and quickly with no hitches.

The other little bit of genius in this bag design is that the inside is black. This makes it ideal for drying and airing out in the sun, as the dark color serves as a heat sink.

Sea To Summit Talus Ts II

  • Weight: 2 lb 5 oz/1045g
  • Temp Rating: 14 F (lower limit) to 27 F
  • Down: ULTRA-DRYDown 750+ loft
  • Fit: Relaxed mummy
  • Zipper draft tube with anti-snag
  • Neck draft tube with dual elastic adjustment
  • Cushioned internal hood drawcord
  • Internal zipper pocket

Flaw: Rough Velcro on the draft collar. When open and not in use, the Velcro can catch on fuzzy clothing.

Final Thoughts: This is a well-designed sleeping bag. Sea to Summit gave great attention to detail and the temperature rating is spot on for sleeping outdoors night after night.

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

—Amy Freeman and her husband Dave are spending a year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in an effort to protect the Boundary Waters from a series of sulfide-ore  copper mines that are proposed along the edge of our nation’s most popular Wilderness. Throughout their Year in the Wilderness they are sharing regular reviews on GearJunkie.com. Amy and Dave were named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year in 2014.

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