SNUGPAK | Softie 3 Merlin

by Pascal Rohé

The story of the British company 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 the increasing demand, the company started making sleeping bags. Today, Snugpak enriches the outdoor market with their line of clothing, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents and much more.


You won’t find a single goose feather in any of the products from Snugpak. The company has taken it upon themselves to make their clothing and sleeping bags only with synthetic materials, from the outer membrane to the insulation. So it’s not just the people with allergies that benefit, but also outdoor enthusiasts who value equipment that is light to carry. Though when most people think of light, warm clothing or sleeping bags, they immediately think of goose down, Snugpak achieves the same result with synthetic materials. Even though down is still the best at storing warmth, in many other aspects it is inferior to synthetic fibres. Our review of the Softie 3 Merlin Sleeping Bag shows you why.



The Snugpak Softie 3 Merlin Sleeping Bag


I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I held the Merlin in my hands. With a pack size of only 16cm x 16cm, it is exactly the same size as the summer sleeping bag I bought once on my backpacking trip through New Zealand. The difference being that the summer sleeping bag has a comfort temperature rating of +15°C compared to the Merlin’s +5°C. Same size, but far superior performance. How can that be? A look at the materials clears up the mystery.


The outer fabric: Paratex Steelplate
The fabric is windproof, water-repellent, highly-breathable and with an extra tough weave. And on top of that, it feels very soft and comfortable.


The inner fabric: Paratex Light
Paratex Light has the same properties as its big brother Steelplate and is very light. It’s also able to wick moisture away from the source.


The filling: Softie® Premier & Reflectatherm
The 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. And it is durable, washable and has a natural soft touch. Reflectatherm, as the name suggests, is a metallised fabric designed to reflect heat and retain warmth. It’s also highly breathable and light, adding very little weight or mass to the pack size.
The combination of these 3 materials makes the Merlin a sleeping bag every NASA astronaut would be jealous of. The Softie® Insulation in Snugpak sleeping bags is also highly valued by the military, which says something about how well it performs.


I was able to test the Merlin together with the one-man bivvi shelter Stratosphere from Snugpak. Though the temperature didn’t drop below 6-7°C, I could, in my cotton underwear, clearly feel the quality of the insulation. It was soft and comfortable and because of the thinness of the material, it doesn’t feel constricting. My feelings were very positive and my night was very comfortable and relaxing. Another advantage is the lightness. 900g is really not much, and with its small pack size, the Merlin fits into the backpack with no problems.


For my height of 189cm, the 220cm version was easily sufficient. It was even possible to fit the hood about my head using the adjustable cord, without feeling cramped.


Snugpak also offers an extra-long 265cm version and a Snugpak Expanda Panel to expand the width of the sleeping bag. The Merlin has a typical mummy-style shape and measures 75cm wide at chest level, 60cm at knee level and 40 at the feet. The area near the feet is even strengthened on the inside so you can leave your shoes or boots on without damaging the material. Also at the end are two loops which can be used, for example, for hanging the Merlin up to air. Another useful idea is the anti-snag zip with a full-length baffle to prevent the zipper from catching on the inner fabric.


Conclusion: The Softie 3 Merlin from Snugpak is the ideal sleeping bag for spring through fall. It compresses down extra small, and for a synthetic sleeping bag is very warm and light. The high-performance materials used function well together and the workmanship is of a high standard. So if you’re looking for a sleeping bag for temperatures of 5°C and over, Merlin is without doubt a good choice.


– Weight: 900g
– Lenght: 220cm
– Pack size: 16 x 16cm
– Temperature: +5°c (comfort)
– Colors: Black, Olive, Desert Tan, Red
– Manufactured in UK