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Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag Review


Zpack’s Classic Sleeping Bag is an ultralight hoodless sleeping bag with a 3/4 length zipper that weighs between 17 oz and 21.6 oz in the 20-degree model, depending on sizing. The zipper means you can also open it up like a quilt or blanket in warm weather when less insulation is needed. Hoodless sleeping bags, especially ones this lightweight are a great alternative for backpackers and campers who don’t like the confines of a mummy hood. They can also eliminate the risk of cold drafts because they can be zipped up completely, which can be a problem with quilts, particularly in colder temperatures.

Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag

Warmth
Weight
Comfort
Features
Versatility

Good for Back Sleepers

The Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag is designed for back sleepers with a 3/4 length zipper that you lie on top of to prevent drafts. Filled with high quality down, it's nice and warm, but more difficult to use for side sleepers.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Temperature rating: We tested a 20-degree bag. Also available in 10-degree and 30-degree models
  • Insulation: 950 fill power goose down, Downtek water-repellent treated, RDS-certified
  • Size Tested: Standard width, Medium length
  • Weight: 19.6 oz in a 20 degree, in a standard-width (60″), medium-length (72″) size
  • Fill Weight: 13.7 oz
  • Girth: 60″/60″/40″ (Shoulders/hip/feet)
  • Packed volume: 6 liters
  • Zipper: 3/4 length
  • Shell and liner: 7d Ventum Ripstop Nylon w/ DWR
  • For complete specs and sizing options, visit the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag product page

What’s better, a quilt or a sleeping bag for sleeping in 20-degree weather? That’s really a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer a hooded mummy bad when it gets colder, while others like a quilt. Personally, I like to split the difference and use a hoodless sleeping bag, augmented with an insulated hat or down hoodie because I’m a side sleeper and roll around at night. A mummy bag is too confining for my head and upper body, while a quilt is too drafty when temperatures drop to 20 degrees or less.

The Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag is a sophisticated sleeping bag that’s been optimized to save weight. I knew it would be lightweight because I’ve been using Zpacks’ gear for 10 years, but I wasn’t expecting such as nuanced and refined design.

Here are a few highlights of note:

  • The bag is insulated with 950 fill power goose down which is very top-shelf and overstuffed by 30% to ensure warmth for people who sleep cold.
  • The baffle construction is NOT sewn-through but boxed, eliminating cold spots along the seams. This becomes more important on bags and quilts rated for 30 degrees or colder.
  • The vertical baffles on top of the bag prevent goose down from dropping down the sides, keeping the down where you want it, which is on top for maximum warmth.
  • The zipper does NOT have a draft tube to seal out cold drafts because it’s assumed you’ll be lying on top of it.
  • The top of the zipper is reinforced with a buckle to keep it closed at night and to release stress on the zipper assembly.
  • The Classic is made with a thin windproof 7 denier shell and liner to keep it lightweight.
  • While tapered, the footbox is large enough so you can position your feet in any position.
  • The Classic is available in several widths and lengths to accommodate individual differences. You don’t get this degree of choice with most mass-market bought sleeping bags.

The nice thing about the Zpacks Classic is that it can be completely zipped up like a sleeping bag in cool weather or unzipped and used as a quilt/blanket when it’s warmer. Getting into the bag when it’s fully zipped requires scooching into it as you pull it up over your shoulders, but it’s really not difficult to do. While the zipper is designed to be laid on, under your back, you can rotate the bag so it’s on top or along your side and vent it from there, providing good versatility across a wide range of temperatures.

The collar drawstring is positioned above your chest when you lie on the zipper. But this can make it very difficult to reach if you roll inside the bag, or drafty if you roll over and expose the zipper to cold air.

But there’s a catch if you’re a side sleeper. The Classic has a drawstring to cinch the bag closed around your neck and seal in the heat. The drawstring is positioned in the center of the bag over your chest, but can’t be reached easily unless you lie on the zipper on your back. This is sub-optimal if you’re a side or stomach sleeper because it can become difficult to adjust the drawstring tension once you’ve zipped the bag closed. Hoodless bags and quilts with side collar controls are much easier to use for side sleepers for this reason.

It also means that heat will be lost and cold drafts will enter the zipper if you roll over and expose it to cold air because it is not protected by an insulated draft tube to prevent heat loss. Zippers leak heat and if you look at the Classic zipper closely, you’ll see lots of light showing through the needle holes in the fabric that holds it in place. Hoodless bags with zipper drafts tubes or zipperless bags are better for side sleepers in cooler temperatures. The Zpacks Full Zip Sleeping Bag,  which is virtually identical to the Classic, does have a zipper draft tube and is a better option for side sleepers. With the Full Zip, you can roll onto your side or stomach without experiencing zipper heat leakage, and still easily adjust the top drawstring.

You’ll want to wear an insulated hat, hoody, or hooded jacket in colder temperatures, in addition to long underwear, with the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag

Comparable Hoodless Sleeping Bags

Make / ModelFootboxZipperDraft TubeCollar Controls
Enlightened Equipment Conundrum Sleeping BagClosed3/4YesCenter
Enlightened Equipment Convert Sleeping BagDrawstringFullYesCenter
Feather Friends Flicker 20 UL 20 Quilt Sleeping BagDrawstringFullYesSides
Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL Sleeping BagClosedNoneNACenter
Nunatak 3D QuiltClosed3/4Sides
NEMO BansheeDrawstringFullYesSides
Zpacks Classic Sleeping BagClosed3/4NoCenter
Zpacks Full Zip Sleeping BagClosedFullYesCenter

Recommendation

The Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag is a great option if you’re a back sleeper and prefer using a hoodless zippered sleeping bag in cooler weather because it’s less prone to cold drafts than a quilt. The sleeping bag is well-designed, made with high-grade materials, and is available in a wide range of widths and lengths for every body type and length. However, if you’re a side or stomach sleeper, we’d recommend getting the Zpacks Full Zip Sleeping Bag instead, because it has an insulated draft tube to the cover the zipper. This means that you can roll over without experiencing drafts through the zipper, while still keeping the center collar control positioned within easy reach over your chest

Disclosure: Zpacks provided the author with a sleeping bag for this review, but the opinions expressed are my own.

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6 comments

  1. I’ve been using the ZPacks 10 degree bag for about five years, and although expensive, it’s the best piece of gear I’ve ever bought. I got the full length zipper. It gives a better quilt layout. And I opted for the heavier zipper which Joe recommended to reduce jamming (another ounce, gasp!). He also recommended getting one size wider and longer than the minimum, which is far more comfortable for most people (and is just long enough to pull over my head if really needed).

    I’ve slept many nights at 20-30 degrees and stayed warm with a balaclava and wool cap (even though I am a cold sleeper). I even use it car camping on 40-50 degree nights, although it does get warm but not so much when loosely draped as an open quilt.

  2. I bought this exact Zpack classic 20º sleeping bag in 2016. At the time I didn’t know women were supposed to add 10º to the bag rating. I also didn’t know that the rating (on all brands) meant you won’t freeze to death at 20º, but you won’t be warm either. I would never use this bag if the temp was going to be under 40º, and closer to 50º would be better.

    • Quilt temperature ratings are subjective, at the whim of most manufacturers.
      Fox guarding the henhouse. That’s why people like sleeping bag temperature ratings so much. They take some of the power out of the hands of the manufacturer’s sales team and protect consumers.

  3. I tried a Zpacks bag a couple of years ago but the foot box is made way too small. Even increasing the bag width doesn’t increase the footbox width. I had to send it back. I tried a couple of times to have them make a wider footbox for me and I’d pay whatever cost they wanted to add but they always said no. Now they are even more streamlined only offering a few degree ratings. I do own a few other items from them but not the big three.

  4. I have this bag in 10 degrees and am ambivalent about it. On the plus side, the quality of the down and the fabric is excellent. The DCF stuff sack it comes with is also high quality. On the negative side, the zipper is so fine that it opens by itself when I move around in the bag, unless of course you leave it all the way open or secured all the way closed. The problem is so bad that I rarely use the bag any more. Zpacks should bring back the option mentioned by Kurt in Colorado of a heavier zipper. The drawstring cord also dangles directly in my face when the zipper is positioned on the ground, and the top is left open which is annoying. It should be moved to one side, as in most sleeping bags. I wish I had ordered a zipper baffle. My mistake.

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