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Zpacks Zip-Around Sleeping Bag (10 Degree) Review

Zpacks Zip-Around Sleeping Bag Review

The Zpacks Zip-Around Sleeping Bag is a hoodless sleeping bag insulated with 900 water-resistant goose down. It has a two-way full-length zipper that wraps around the footbox so you can open it up fully like a blanket or you can just vent the footbox while keeping the zipper closed along the side. Down baffles oriented horizontally over the foot box and vertically over the torso keep the insulation in place and help prevent down migration.

This bag is available in multiple temperature ratings (10F, 20F, 30F), in different lengths including short (5’6″), regular (6′), long models (6’6″), and in different widths (55″, 60″) to accommodate a multitude of body sizes and shapes. It does not have a draft collar however in order to save weight, as this is something easily compensated for by wearing a hooded down jacket for sleeping, something that you’re probably already carrying on colder weather trips.

Specs at a glance

  • Model tested:  10 degrees (F), regular size, medium width
  • Mfg Weight: 26 oz (738g)
  • Actual Weight: 27 oz (765g)
  • Down fill power: 900, water-resistant goose down, includes 30% overfill
  • Down weight: 18.7 oz (531g)
  • RDS-certified down: Yes
  • Zipper: two-way
  • Draft tube: Yes
  • Draft collar: No
  • Shell fabric: PFC-free, 7D ripstop nylon with C0 DWR to shed moisture inside and out
  • Stuff Sack: DCF Roll-top dry-bag included, adds (0.9 ounces /25.5 grams) to weight
  • Packed size: 7″ x 31″ / 18″ x 33″
  • For complete specs, visit zpacks.com

Overview

The Zpacks Zip-Around Sleeping Bag incorporates many best-of-breed design concepts that have been developed by other hoodless sleeping bag and quilt manufacturers over the years, including Zpacks, into a very nicely packaged hoodless sleeping bag. If you don’t like the confines of a quilt, you struggle with the pad attachment straps required to keep a quilt over you at night, or you simply want a very warm but lightweight hoodless sleeping bag, the Zpacks Zip Around Sleeping Bag is a sound choice.

While I do own backpacking quilts (without backs), I mainly use them when I sleep in a hammock. For ground use, my preference is to use a hoodless sleeping bag because I hate messing with quilt-pad attachment straps and the weight and volume difference of a high fill-power hoodless sleeping bag vs a down quilt is so minor. I also find quilts noticeably colder in temperatures under 20 degrees unless used with a bivy sack. When you add up that extra bivy sack weight (about 5-8 oz extra), you might as well just get a hoodless sleeping bag.

The Zip-Around Sleeping Bag has vertical baffles over the torso and horizontal ones over the legs to help eliminate cold spots.
The Zip-Around Sleeping Bag has vertical baffles over the torso and horizontal ones over the legs to help eliminate cold spots.

Features

The Zip-Around sleeping bag has vertical baffles positioned over the torso and horizontal baffles positioned over the legs and feet in order to keep the down from shifting or creating cold spots with use.  The baffles are overstuffed with an extra 30% down insulation which also ensures excellent warmth. The seams are not sewn through the inner and outer fabric eliminating any chance of cold air squeezing through the needle holes. That is good.

The Zip-Around has a full-length zipper on one side and a drawstring to cinch the top of the bag closed on the opposite one, so you aren’t forced to choose between a bag with a right-hand zipper or a left one: you can just flip the bag over to orient the zipper on the side you prefer. The only downside with this is that you can’t sleep with the zipper on top of the bag, which is possible on the Feathered Friends Flicker, because that would put the drawstring behind your back and impossible to reach.

There is a piece of grosgrain sewn alongside the zipper that prevents it from snagging and tearing the delicate shell fabric.
There is a piece of grosgrain sewn alongside the zipper that prevents it from snagging and tearing the delicate shell fabric.

The zipper is backed by a down-filled draft tube that drops down over the inside of the zipper and prevents cold air from leaking in through the zipper teeth and needle holes. There’s also a piece of grosgrain running alongside the zipper that prevents zipper snags that can tear the delicate 7D shell fabric. It works great.

The zipper extends all the way down the side of the bag and around the rectangular footbox. It has two sliders, so you can unzip the bottom of the bag to vent your feet if they’re too warm while keeping the rest of the bag shut or vice versa. One really nice feature on the Zip-Around bag is a small down plug, sewn into the bag’s draft tube, behind the spot where the zipper terminates in the footbox to seal out drafts.

There is a small down plug in the footbox that seals the zipper and prevents drafts.
There is a small down plug sewn in the footbox that seals the zipper and prevents drafts.

The interior of the Zip-Around is a black fabric to promote drying when you open the bag and place it in sunlight while you eat breakfast. The interior and exterior shell is a silky soft 7D ripstop nylon that feels wonderful against the skin.

A draft collar is noticeably absent on this cold weather hoodless sleeping bag.
A draft collar is noticeably absent on this hoodless sleeping bag.

The Zip-Around is not available with a draft collar, which is a tube of down insulation that’s usually sewn along the head end of a hoodless sleeping bag or quilt. A draft collar wraps around your neck and upper shoulders, sealing warm air inside the sleeping bag, so it doesn’t escape at night when you move around inside, sometimes called the bellows effect.

This is a deliberate omission designed to reduce the weight of the Zip Around sleeping bag as much as possible. While a draft collar is a nice luxury, there are plenty of other ultralight hoodless sleeping bags that have made the same weight-saving omission including the zipperless Feathered Friends Tanager 20, which is an 18.6 oz hoodless sleeping bag I’ve used a lot in recent years, or the 10F – 30.38 oz Enlightened Equipment Convert sleeping quilt which does have a full-length zipper.

While a draft collar is convenient, you can replace it functionally with other clothing like a hooded down jacket, an insulated hood that covers your neck and the top of your shoulders like the Katabatic Gear Windom Hood, or by simply wrapping a fleece sweater around your neck and wearing a fleece beanie. Chances are you’re carrying one of these anyway.

While functional, the sewing and cutting could be much cleaner
While functional, the sewing and cutting could be much cleaner.

Quality

Zpacks manufactures its own gear in Florida in the United States. While their quality is pretty good, we’ve reviewed several of their garments in the past two years where the sewing could be improved. While it’s functional, the finishing isn’t nearly as good as you’ll find with other vendors’ products. If you’re going to pay close to $500 for a down sleeping bag, I think you deserve one where the quality of the ingredients is on par with the quality of the fabrication.

Comparable Hoodless Sleeping Bags

Make / ModelTemp RatingZipper
Enlightened Equipment Convert Sleeping BagMultipleFull
Feathered Friends Flicker UL Quilt Sleeping BagMultipleFull
Feathered Friends Flicker YF Quilt Sleeping BagMultipleFull
Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL Sleeping Bag20FNone
Therm-a-Rest Ohm 2020FFull
Therm-a-Rest Ohm 3232FFull
Zpacks Classic Sleeping BagMultipleFull
Western Mountaineering EverLite45Full
Western Mountaineering MityLite40Full
UGQ Outlaw Hybrid QuiltMultipleFull

Recommendation

The Zpacks Zip-Around Sleeping Bag is a very warm and comfortable hoodless sleeping bag that’s very lightweight (27 oz in a 10F) and loaded with premium features including 900 fill-power water-resistant down, a luxurious 7D ripstop nylon shell, a two-way wraparound zipper w/draft tube, and spacious footbox. It’s available in a wide range of temperatures and sizes with a very short wait time, on the order of just a few days, from Zpack’s high-volume Florida-based manufacturing facility. While there’s nothing terribly revolutionary about the Zip-Around, it’s definitely a premium sleeping bag that’s simpler to use than a quilt and by its very nature less drafty to use in colder weather. We only wish the appearance of the sewing was neater and reflected the premium quality of the bag’s component parts.

Disclosure: Zpacks donated a sleeping bag for this review.

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9 comments

  1. How come you’re the only gear reviewer that states the good and bad things about the gear you review and someone like AdventureAlan doesn’t? It’s always the bestest, mostest with him. That’s why I prefer your reviews over anyone else’s! Your honest!!

    • I don’t look at other websites and I encourage the very few people I trust to review gear for SectionHiker (greg, beth, wanda, ben) to avoid it too, so I can’t speak to the process or content found on other websites. I spent most of of my life developing new products in small companies so I can appreciate the tradeoffs that go into making new ones, but when it comes to my readers, brutal honesty is always the best policy. You can’t maintain reader loyalty unless you put their interests highest. That’s especially true in this day and age when everyone if for sale. It makes me sick sometimes to even think about it. I just put my head down and do what I do. Honesty matters. You will reap the rewards if you live a life of integrity.

      • “Honesty matters. You will reap the rewards if you live a life of integrity.” Very well said. If only more people followed this in life and business…

  2. Is this sewing quality limited to just some of their lines of products or it is also present in the tent and packs they make?

    I only own one piece of Zpacks gear (a dry bag) and the stitching on that is flawed. While the bag was not that expensive and does function properly, I would be real hesitant to buy any big ticket items from them based on what seems to be a consistent issue.

  3. Do you notice any great performance differences between a zipper on the side like this bag vs a zipper on the backside or top side like the full zip quilts from Feather Friends or what Zpacks used to offer before this iteration or the other ones you compare in your article?

    • No the draft tubes on all these bags, at least the one with zippers, are pretty puffy and prevent leaks. The only real difference between them is what your preference is for zipper placement (for example if you get up at night and want something easy to find) and how easy it is to pull closed the top drawstring. Zpacks still makes all the other quilts/sleeping bags they used to make. This is just an addition…for the vast majority of people who don’t want a quilt but want a hoodless sleeping bag instead.

  4. If it comes the way it does, how can the down amount in the feet area be “30% overstuffed”? I am truly curious about this; I know there are companies which offer overstuffing as an option, but that’s not the case here.

    Even where it is, what is the purpose of overstuffing, vs just getting a lower temp rated bag?

    • Zpacks has internal metrics for how many inches of a certain down fill power is required to keep you warm at a certain temperature in this bag and then they add 30% more to make sure it keeps you warm despite individual body differences. Overstuffing also helps prevent downshift so the down stays where it is rather than developing thin spots in the baffles. Zpacks doesn’t send their bags out to be temperature tested, and they were regularly dinged for having cold bags in the past so this makes sense. Also, ISO temperature ratings are highly variable based on body type and gender and overstuffing is good insurance to make sure people have a good experience with the product.

      It’s also not the footbox that is overstuffed but the entire bag.

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