Three-Season Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Picket SL 30
$260, 2 lbs. 4 oz. (men’s regular)
Sizes: regular and long
I know I’m not the easiest person to share a tent with: I flop from side to side during the night. A side sleeper, I curl up with knees bent and extend my arms almost fully. I’ve always preferred mummy-style sleeping bags for their efficiency at trapping heat—but some feel a bit too much like a coffin. On numerous nights of backpacking and camping from the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop in May to Idaho’s City of Rocks in June and Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows area in July, I found that the stretch panels of the Big Agnes Picket SL 30 gave me an experience closer to sleeping in my bed at home.
The key feature is the stretch side panels filled with PrimaLoft Gold Active insulation, allowing much more mobility than a traditional mummy bag. The stretch insulation moves with the fabric, so you don’t open up gaps in the insulation that would let cold air inside. The panels stretch enough for me to easily bring my knees to my chest, extend my arms nearly completely while lying on one side and keep them inside the bag, even get dressed inside without it becoming a rigorous core workout.
PrimaLoft Silver insulation throughout most of the bag makes it warm enough for me to use on nights in the 30s Fahrenheit (but I don’t get cold very easily; cold sleepers often prefer a bag rated 20 degrees lower than the lowest temps they expect to encounter). In short, the Picket’s 21 ounces of insulation, offset quilted construction, and vaulted foot box deliver warmth that’s about average for bags in this category—neither exceptional nor inferior. Plus the synthetic insulation retains its ability to trap heat even when wet.
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The hood’s shape and draft collar provide an opening that’s fairly close-fitting but not claustrophobic with the zipper up but the hood not tightened at all, negating the need to cinch it tighter except on really chilly nights, while the one-hand hood drawcord operates very easily. The 65-inch zipper moves smoothly and extends nearly the full length of the bag—allowing for venting at the foot end or opening the bag up completely to use like a blanket (with just your feet tucked into the foot box), as I did on warm nights—and an anti-snag draft tube generally prevents fabric getting caught in the zipper and acted as an efficient wall against cold air.
The nylon ripstop shell has a water-repellent finish. The bag stuffs easily into its lightweight sack, measuring 8×17.5 inches (20x45cm) packed, although I could stuff it into a sack a bit more than half that size, rendering it as compact as just about any bag I’ve seen in this temperature rating.
While down-filled bags still hold a slight edge for packability and usually warmth-per-ounce, the Big Agnes Picket SL 30 offers a very comfortable, synthetic alternative to down at a competitive price. The Big Agnes Bolten SL 20 ($290 to $300) is a 20°F version of the Picket.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a Big Agnes Picket SL 30 sleeping bag at moosejaw.com or campsaver.com, or the Big Agnes Bolten SL 20 at moosejaw.com or campsaver.com.
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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 categorized menus of all my gear reviews at The Big Outside.