Three-Season Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Boot Jack 25
$190, 2 lbs. 6 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($200)
Backpackers and campers shopping for a sleeping bag often focus on just a few specs: temperature rating, length, insulation type, and of course, price. They might not give consideration to construction, design, or how the bag fits—as in how much space you have to move around. They might not even bother to crawl inside to try it on. Sleeping in the Boot Jack 25 from Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and City of Rocks National Reserve to the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park, I found it nearly true to its 25-degree temp rating, very competitively priced for its quality—and, just as importantly, it has fairly spacious dimensions, so I slept like a baby.
A traditional mummy bag—with insulation on all sides and lacking the pad sleeve on the bottom that’s common in many Big Agnes bags—the Boot Jack 25 is stuffed with 18 ounces (in the regular length) of 600-fill, water-resistant DownTek feathers, which are better able to trap heat when wet and dry out faster than standard down feathers. The nylon ripstop shell fabric also has the level of water repellency seen in many bags—basically meaning that small amounts of moisture, as you’d get from a bit of dripping condensation in a tent, will bead up and slide off the fabric, but sustained exposure to moisture will soak through the shell into the insulation.
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Zip it up tight and snug the hood and you’ll notice a different space aesthetic than found in lightweight or ultralight bags. With a girth of 60 inches at the shoulders, 54 inches at the hips, and 36 inches at the feet (all for the regular bag), the Boot Jack allowed me to lie on my side and partly extend my arms, get dressed and undressed inside the bag, and spread my feet apart somewhat—a freedom of movement you don’t find in all mummy bags.
The Boot Jack 25 also sports design features found in pricier bags. Continuous horizontal baffles encircle the bag, preventing cold spots and keeping feathers from migrating in a vertical direction (between the head and foot ends). The hood is generously insulated and adjusts easily using a single drawcord, and I really like how its cordlock keeps the cord outside the bag, instead of hanging in my face when I’m lying on the opposite side. The fat draft tube inside the full-length, two-way side zipper ensures against contact with a cold zipper, and a wide strip of slightly heavier nylon kept the zipper from ever snagging. Similarly, the shaped draft collar provides substantial coverage to keep warm air in and cold air out, making the bag feel warmer. As a side sleeper, I sometimes left the hood open completely, but let the neck tube sit on one ear.
On a June night in the 30s Fahrenheit at the City of Rocks, I kept perfectly warm even without the hood over my head (but I don’t get cold easily). On nights with lows in the 40s, from May in Death Valley National Park to August in the Sawtooths, I slept with the top of the bag open, even without the rainfly on my tent (a rainfly traps more heat in a tent). My 13-year-old daughter, who gets cold easily, slept in it warmly on nights in the upper 40s on a July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument.
At 8×17.5 inches when stuffed, it’s not as compact as an ultralight bag, but not excessively bulky. Although its roomier dimensions and lower down fill rating make it heavier than the lightest down bags at this temp rating, for under $200, the Boot Jack 25 delivers a good value that should last for years of use.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase a Big Agnes Boot Jack 25 at moosejaw.com.
See all of my reviews of sleeping bags that I like and all of my reviews of backpacking gear, and my articles “Pro Tips: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “10 Pro Tips: Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews organized by categories at my Gear Reviews page.