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The Entirely Bearable Compactness of the Spark Sleeping Bag

You may know the saying ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ – here’s a practical example.

I’d been planning a backpacking trip this Fall with one of the side aims being to test the new Spark sleeping bag. However, a few things intervened – a bathroom renovation project, flooding which closed the roads and trails in the high country – and suddenly it was mid-October. Time to get out. A day’s leave was booked to create a long weekend and plans were made to head for the hills, only for the weather forecast to suddenly revise itself from overcast to… snow.

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If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And if life sends you snow – make tracks.

The concept switched to skiing up to a hut in the local wilderness area, with the focus of the overnight trip being to use the Spark sleeping bag to pack as compactly as possible. A 40-liter pack was selected along with appropriate equipment – including the Spark. Here’s what the entire set (including the pack, skis, poles, boots, and gaiters) looked like:

barry_gear

In case you’re wondering, the Spark is in the 5 Liter eVac Dry Sack along with a Reactor liner – squeezed down the two occupied less than 3 liters of space. And – just to emphasize the point that this was not an experiment in masochistic minimalism, you will note that the gear includes an 8”/20cm skillet and some sizable Ziploc bags of food. Why go hungry in the backcountry?

It all fit into the 40-liter pack with room to spare.

But of course, the question remains – did the sleeping bag work? The answer, resoundingly, is yes. The temperature in the hut dropped down to 38°F / 4°C as the firewood in the stove burned out, but – augmented with a Thermolite Reactor Liner and dressed in appropriate base layers I stayed comfortable.

True, I was at the temperature threshold – had the air temperature been any colder, I would have needed more insulation.

But – the 850+ fill Ultra-Dry Down wrapped in minimalist fabrics (15D Nylon liner, 10D UL Nylon shell) with a 1/3 zipper make for an almost impossibly light sleeping bag which takes up negligible space in a backpack.

This is a sleeping bag which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in warmer weather backpacking, traveling and bike touring. And (I’m particularly happy to report) in early/late–season ski hut trips.

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