I was never a big fan of winter camping. For me, camping under those harshest of conditions was always something just for mountain climbers setting up their base camp at the foot of Mount Everest or for polar expeditions.
But I love camping, which meant winter for me was always this long emptiness until the temperatures became mild enough in spring to allow me to chase my dreams again.
So I started looking into what equipment I would need to be able to spend a comfortable night outdoors in negative temperatures, and came upon a whole other side to this outdoor activity. It starts with the right tent, then an appropriate sleeping mat, and, perhaps the most important part, the sleeping bag, the piece of equipment that most directly protects you from the icy cold.
Of course there are countless brands that make warm down sleeping bags, but very few that specialise in the synthetic insulation that promises a comfortable night’s sleep even below the freezing point. Even though down is still the best at storing warmth, in many other aspects it is inferior to synthetic fibres.
The British company Snugpak is one such company, specialising in sleeping bags that use synthetic insulation, and that’s no accident. The story of Snugpak goes all the way back to the 1970s. It all started with the production of insulation for clothing. Then, in the 1980s, in response to increasing demand, the company started making sleeping bags. Today, Snugpak enriches the outdoor market with their range of clothing, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents and much more.
The Softie 15 Discovery from Snugpak is a good example of a sleeping bag that easily matches the performance of its feathered competitors. With a comfort level of down to -15°C, the Softie covers most of the scenarios that you’re likely to come across.
The outer fabric, Paratex Steelplate, is windproof, water-repellent, highly breathable and has an extra tough weave. And on top of that, it feels very soft and comfortable.
The inner fabric, Paratex Light, shares the same properties as its big brother Steelplate, and is very light and also wicks moisture away from the source.
The filling uses Softie® Premier. This Softie® insulation, rich in tradition, is reflected in the name of the sleeping bag, and is exclusive to Snugpak. Softie® Premier has the special property that it retains heat even when wet. This is probably the most important advantage over classic down filling, besides being geese-friendly of course. Also, Softie® is durable, washable and has a natural soft touch. Randomised fine filaments create extra voids and loft to trap more warm air whilst keeping the same weight as standard insulation.
In my test, the temperature only dropped to -8/-9°C but I could, in my cotton underwear, clearly feel the quality of the insulation. (I didn’t wear the jacket in the photos at night in the sleeping bag.) The lining feels soft and comfortable on the skin, and–I would never have thought this though I’d spend countless nights of my life in sleeping bags–it was really great to lie in. With the fluffy insulation it was like I was in my own warm comfy bed at home.