Review: Nemo Riff 30 Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag
Nemo Riff 30
$370, 2 lbs. 1 oz. (men’s regular)
Sizes: men’s and women’s regular and long
moosejaw.com

Let’s face it: Sleeping in a lightweight or ultralight mummy bag isn’t so deliciously comfy that you’d do it on your bed at home—we generally reserve that elusive pleasure for the more obvious rewards of backpacking through wilderness. But the space and features of Nemo’s Riff, available in models rated to 30 and 15 degrees, just might brighten your opinion of the comfort of bags designed for the backcountry.

I slept in the men’s Riff 30 (inside a tent) for two rainy, raw, and windy August nights around 40° F backpacking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, staying perfectly warm without ever having to completely mummy myself inside the bag; and in the same temps backpacking five days through Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness in September.


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Nemo Riff 30 Thermo Gills.
Nemo Riff 30 Thermo Gills.

The Riff’s unique, spoon-shaped cut translates to thermal and weight efficiency while creating extra space at the elbows and knees—particularly nice for side sleepers (like me). The girth in the men’s regular length measures a generous 62 inches at the shoulders, tapers to 54 inches at the hips, and expands to 59 inches at the feet, creating a comfortably roomy sleeping environment compared to other ultralight bags. The women’s regular also sports spacious dimensions of 60, 53, and 57 inches at the shoulders, hips, and feet.

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Nemo Riff 30 sleeping bag.
Nemo Riff 30 sleeping bag.

Besides its spacious fit, the Riff sports other features designed to enhance comfort, beginning with the brand’s signature Thermo Gills, parallel zippers over your torso that open to uninsulated fabric, allow venting without letting cold air inside. The insulated Blanket Fold flap at the chin provides extra cover when you open the top of the bag and a fat piece of extra insulation when you zip it up tight, augmenting the full-length draft tube inside the zipper. An integrated pillow pocket can be stuffed with clothing or a Nemo Fillo pillow.

Weighing just a tick over two pounds (men’s regular) and stuffed with 10 ounces of PFC-free, RDS-certified, 800-fill down, the Riff has very good warmth for its weight and a packed size of 11.5×7.5 inches in its stuff sack, comparable to other 800-fill bags. The bag’s hydrophobic down also repels moisture, meaning it still traps heat efficiently when wet—the traditional weakness of standard down—and dries faster. The adjustable hood closes comfortably around my head, boosting warmth on colder nights.

The 40-denier nylon ripstop shell fabric throughout the bag adds a little weight but significantly more durability than the 15- or 20-denier fabric used in many backpacking bags, and the footbox has a DWR (durable, water-repellent treatment) to prevent condensation on the tent wall from dampening that end of the bag. The beefy no. 5 YKK zipper moves smoothly and won’t stick or fail as easily as lighter zippers. The left zipper in men’s bags and right zipper in women’s bags allow zipping two bags together.

The Nemo Riff 15 ($400, 2 lbs. 6 oz. regular), in men’s and women’s models, provides added warmth for shoulder seasons or people who tend to sleep cold.

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Nemo Riff 30 foot box.
Nemo Riff 30 foot box.

Nemo Riff 30

Warmth for its Weight
Warmth When Wet
Space
Packability
Features

The Verdict

Granted, you may not start sleeping in the Riff on your bed at home. But for backcountry nights, the Nemo Riff 30 and Riff 15 both provide a level of comfort that rises above many competitors in its weight class, while remaining lightweight and packable.

4.4

BUY IT NOW

You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a men’s or women’s Nemo Riff 30 or Riff 15 at moosejaw.com or backcountry.com.

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See all of my reviews of sleeping bags that I like and all of my reviews of backpacking gear, and my articles “Pro Tips for Buying Sleeping Bags” and “10 Pro Tips: Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”

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 my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

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