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NEMO Banshee 20 Quilt Sleeping Bag Review

NEMO Banshee 20 Quilt Sleeping Bag Review

NEMO Banshee 20 Quilt Sleeping Bag

Warmth
Weight
Comfort
Features
Versatility
Ease of Use

Warm but Fussy

While the NEMO Banshee 20 looks great on paper, it falls short on execution. A hard-to-use zipper and loose footbox, make it difficult to appreciate its other attributes

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The NEMO Banshee 20 is a quilt sleeping bag with a full length zipper, drawstring collar, and drawstring foot box. Weighing 27 oz, the Banshee 20 is best thought of as a hoodless sleeping bag rather than a backpacking quilt because it doesn’t have an open back and doesn’t require the use of sleeping pad straps to use. Hoodless sleeping bags are a great alternative to quilts because you can close them up completely to eliminate drafts, something that’s a real plus when temperatures drop to 20 degrees. Since the Banshee lacks a hood, you’ll sleep warmer if wear a fleece cap or down hood when sleeping with one, in addition to an appropriately rated sleeping pad.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Unisex
  • Insulation: 850 fill power, duck down
  • Weight: 27 oz
  • Fill weight: 13 oz
  • Zipper: Full length, center
  • Footbox vent: Yes
  • Draft collar: Yes
  • Length (fits up to): 72″
  • Shoulder Girth / Hip / Knee: 60″ / 56″ / 45″
  • Shell Fabric: 10D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR
  • Lining Fabric: 20D Nylon Taffeta w/ DWR
The Nemo Banshee 20 has a full length center zipper
The Nemo Banshee 20 has a full length center zipper

The Nemo Banshee 20 has a center zip, which makes it equally easy to get out on the right or left side of your sleeping bag at night or to vent it in warm weather without a huge effort. It’s a full length zipper so you can also unzip it completely and use the Banshee as a blanket in warm weather.

The center zip is insulated with two down-filled draft tubes that converge underneath it to prevent drafts when the zipper is closed, and there is a zipper garage at the top end near your neck so the zipper doesn’t get caught on your beard or clothing. However, the liner fabric along the sides of the zipper is not protected by a reinforced tape stiffener so it catches on the soft adjacent fabric nearly every time you try to zip it closed. The interior fabric is slippery enough that you can pull it out of the zipper with careful pressure,  but it’s an annoyance that could have been prevented with a more robust design.

The top of the bag can be cinched around your neck using two drawcords
The top of the bag can be cinched around your neck using two drawcords

Drawstring Neck

The top of the Banshee can be tightened around your neck using two drawstrings located on the left and right hand side of the bag. The tension of the cord locks holding the drawstrings closed is tight enough that they won’t loosen at night if you roll around in the bag, but relaxed enough that you can simple push open the sides to get out at night. The bag’s 60″ shoulder girth is also large enough that you can move your arms and hands to reach the drawcords while lying in the bag. You can also roll onto your side or stomach without difficulty.

While the Banshee 20 doesn’t have a draft collar, the drawstring neck acts very much like one, pulling the down in the top of the bag around your upper shoulders and neck so heat doesn’t escape when you move around inside. I was surprised at how effective it was compared to draft collars found on other hoodless sleeping bags.

Drawstring Footbox

The Banshee 20 has a vent at the footbox end of the bag that you leave part way open to cool your feet at night or pull close with a drawstring keep your feet warm.  The drawstring is tensioned with a cordlock, but has a tendency to loosen because the cord is too thin to be held securely in place. You can prevent this by tying a slip knot in the drawstring so it can’t be pulled through the cordlock, but a more reliable closure would be preferable at the foot end.

Note: NEMO is aware of the drawstring slippage and fixing this issue. 

The footbox can also be cinched tight using a drawstring
The footbox can also be cinched tight using a drawstring

When the Banshee is completely opened like a blanket, there is a small pocket on the outside of the footbox where you can stash the cord and cordlock to keep them out of the way.

.Comparable Hoodless (Quilt) Sleeping bags

Make / ModelTypeZipperWeightPrice
Feathered Friends Tanager 20Sleeping BagNone18.6 oz$369
Feathered Friends Flicker 20 ULSleeping BagFull Length26 oz$424
NEMO Banshee 22Sleeping BagFull Length27 oz$370
Katabatic Gear Flex 20Sleeping BagFull Length22.5 oz$370
Zpacks Classic 20Sleeping BagFull Length21.3 oz$399
Enlightened Equip. Conundrum 20 Sleeping BagFull Length25.47 oz$360
Enlightened Equip. Convert 20 Sleeping BagFull Length26.45 oz$375
Nunatak 3D Zippered Quilt 15Sleeping BagFull Length27 oz$490

Assessment

While the NEMO Banshee 20 looks great on paper, with a center zipper, drawstring collar, and drawstring foot box, it falls short on execution. The snagging center zipper and loose drawstring controlling the footbox are irritating to deal with on cold nights and in the dark. It’s too bad, because the Banshee is otherwise quite a warm and comfortable sleeping bag, but these flaws make it difficult to appreciate it potential versatility.

Disclosure: The author received a sleeping bag for this review.

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