Friday, September 21, 2012

Budget Gear Review: Suisse Sport Adventurer 30 Sleeping Bag

The Suisse Sport Adventurer is a 30 degree synthetic sleeping bag that the manufacturer describes as "ultra-compactable". I purchased this bag really as an impulse buy due to my obsession with gear, because frankly, I didn't need it. I had been eye-balling it on for a couple years, drawn to it's relatively light weight, supposed compactability, and low price. Somehow it wound up in my "Shopping Cart", and before I knew it, it was at my front door. I actually purchased this bag for $40.0 about a year ago, and I know that it's been as low as $30.0, though currently  (on Amazon) you can only buy it from a third party seller at $79.99. After reading this review, if you're still interested in purchasing this bag, hold out until it's sold by Amazon, as I'm sure the price will drop. Or shop around the web, I'll bet you can find it for a lower price than what it is currently listed on Amazon.

Suisse Sport Adventurer
Suisse Sport Adventurer 30

The Suisse Sport Adventurer is a plain looking bag. Nothing fancy. No bells and whistles. The first thing I noticed about this bag when I pulled it out of the stuff sack, was how flat it looked. It doesn't have much loft. After feeling the bag, it seems that there is just one long thin layer of MicroTekk insulation (which Suisse Sport describes as "down like"), sewn into the bag.  

It makes for a very light sleeping bag for the price. On my scale the bag weighed 46.2oz (2lb 8.8oz), and the compression sack weighed 3.4oz, for a grand total of 49.6oz (3lb 1.6oz). Now, that wont be considered "ultra-light" but it's not bad for 30 or 40 bucks. The best part about this sleeping bag is how compactable it is. In the provided compression sack you can get the bag down pretty small, and won't have any problem stuffing this thing into your backpack.

This is the part where I go against the grain. If you look on Amazon this bag has an overall 4 star rating out of 458 reviews. That's a a whole lot of good reviews by people that bought this bag, and I imagine most of that has to do with the price.

The first night I used this bag I ran into 2 problems, and they have been plaguing me ever since to the point that I have decided I am not going to use this sleeping bag any longer.

1) Cheap zipper - It's stiff, and it snags worse than any zipper I've ever used. In fact every time I've used this bag the zipper has snagged. "Pay attention when you zip up the bag" you might be saying. Well, I do, and it doesn't do any good. It is a source of constant frustration.

Compression stuff sack
Compressed in the stuff sack.
2) Narrow cut - I am a broad shouldered man. Not big by any means, just wide shouldered. I've never had a problem fitting in a sleeping bag, until now. The first night I could barely zip the bag up passed my shoulders. I struggled and squirmed and fought with the zipper until I finally got it zipped all the way up. Boy was it uncomfortable. My hands and arms had virtually no freedom of movement, and I had to sleep with them pinned to my body. I actually felt like a mummy. Well, this same night after I somehow managed to fall asleep despite how uncomfortable I was, I awoke in the middle of the night cold. After feeling around in the dark as best I could, I discovered why. The zipper had actually split, and from my shoulders down to my waist were actually protruding from the bag, exposed to the chilly night air. Oh, the actual slider body was still clasped in place, but the teeth had somehow came apart. I had actually burst out of the bag! Then of course I had to squirm my way out, find my headlamp, and fix it, which was a total pain in the ass. 

Since then I quit trying to zip it up all the way, afraid that I would burst out again in the middle of the night. Luckily it was summer in low country, so with a baselayer on I slept okay. Until my last backpacking trip to the White Mountains in north/east Arizona, where the temps can drop into the 30's and 40's at night in summer. The second night of that trip I awoke cold, and decided to zip the bag up all the way. After all, for a sleeping bag to perform to it's temperature rating (in this case 30 degrees) it has to be used properly. While trying to zip it passed my shoulders the zipper snagged, and it snagged so bad that I couldn't get it unstuck. Finally I lost my patience, and slept exposed from my shoulders up. Luckily my girlfriend was next to me (sound asleep in my good sleeping bag) to share some body heat, or I would have been even colder than I was.

Which brings me to the 30 degree temperature rating. I couldn't accurately test it because I couldn't get the zipper passed my shoulders. But I will say other than the Whites, where the temperature dropped into the 40's, I slept warm, even with my arms and shoulders exposed.

Lastly I want to comment on the quality of this bag, and that is to say that there's not much of it... Quality I mean. Other than the piece of junk zipper, I can see stitching coming out in various places already (especially around the zipper), and I've only used it 5 or 6 times. The compression sack it comes with is already splitting at the seams, despite my gentle treatment.

Bottom Line: If you are broad shouldered do not buy this sleeping bag. For everyone else - As long as you can get it for under $50, it may be worth buying as a back-up, or a loaner, but personally I would not trust it for your main 3 season sleeping bag, and I doubt it will stand up to prolonged use.


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