Vegan Sleeping Bags

Kelty Taku 15 Sleeping Bag

I have a reader, named Randy, who contacted me recently seeking advice on 3 season synthetic sleeping bags. He's adopted a vegan lifestyle and doesn't want to use a goose down bag. This will be his first sleeping bag so I volunteered to suggest some alternatives for him. He's selected a tent from Six Moon Designs (a great choice), and just needs a sleeping bag and pad to complete his sleep system.

I wanted to see if I could find him some synthetic sleeping bags to choose from that are both lightweight and high quality. I guess I was surprised by how little choice there is in the US market for synthetic bags. If you ignore the store-branded bags from REI and EMS, the manufacturers that provide synthetic bags are The North Face, Mountain Hardware, Kelty, Marmot, and Montbell. Big Agnes also makes a few synthetic models, but they are giant.

When it comes to synthetic bags, size and compressibility are almost as important as weight, because you don't want a bag that is so large that it will use up all of the space in your backpack. For example, I own a Polarguard filled, 0 Degree North Face Snowshoe sleeping bag (3lbs. 8 oz.), which I am quite happy with, but it's simply too big for 3 season use, even in a compression sack.

I started my search by looking at 15-20 degree F bags with the goal of staying under or close to 3 lbs in weight. For lightweight hiking, it's good to try to keep your big three (sleeping bag, shelter and backpack) under 3 lbs each or 9 lbs total. I also wanted to find a mummy bag with a full length zipper, as it adds to the flexibility of a sleeping bag in warmer weather because you can open it up and use it as a quilt. Half zips, dual zips, center zips, and zippered foot boxes all have their place, but not on your first 3 season sleeping bag.

One of the lightest and most compressible bags I found was the Kelty Taku, a 15 F bag weighing 3 lbs. 5 oz. available at Altrec.com for $129, but on sale while supplies last for $89. It is filled with Polarguard and is lined with very cozy polyester fleece. It also has a neck baffle and draft tube which are nice features for colder weather and that you find on higher end goose down bags. Personally, I like the hoods of Kelty mummy bags quite a lot, and think this bag is worth a try.

Can you recommend any other synthetic sleeping bags for Randy to look at?

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6 comments

  1. Hi,

    depending on how lightweight Ray wants to go and which seasons he wants to cover the synthetic quilts from Mountain Laurel Designs are a great buy

  2. I considered bringing up the quilt angle, but he's a beginner and the MLD quilts require a lot more integration with sleeping pads and extra worn clothing to provide the same effect as a 3 season bag. Thanks for posting this comment though – quilts are a viable alternative to synthetic mummies if you are determined to cut your weight and you understand the "system" concept more intimately.

  3. As a newbie in the gear buying/selecting stage of things, is there a reason you avoid the REI/EMS branded stuff? I've looked at a few bags from them that seem reasonably priced and light enough to consider. Is there a craftsmanship issue or something?

  4. No rational reason. I've owned an REI bag in the past and found it kind of generic. They're a decent value, but they're OEMed from other manufacturers and relabelled by REI, so you can't expect much innovation.

  5. Thanks for the this discussion of vegan options!

    My girlfriend is searching for synthetic bags. Here’s what we’ve found:

    The REI Co-OP Joule (women) is only 2lb2oz (20 degree)! (It’s on sale right now too 4/2017).

    And, she saw the men’s Kelty Cosmic is 2lb10oz (20 degree)…almost 6 oz less than the women’s bag. The price is $150.

    Enlightened Equipment Revelation Apex (20 degrees) is 1lb10oz for $195.

    Our search is a bit longer, but we think once we came across the Revelation Apex, we’re simply stopping our search there!

    • Opps, the REI Co-Op is DOWN filled! Stupid REI filter/search has let us down again. Sigh.

      We still think she’s going with Apex though.

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