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Better Bags (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Better Bags (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) on 09/02/2008 20:47:08 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Better Bags (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
Where's Valandre'? on 09/03/2008 06:31:55 MDT Print View

I am really surprised that you did not include the new Bloody Mary by Valandre' in your review of "better bags". Why not??? They have developed an innovative set of interchangeable collars for this bag, and I thought that you would include them as well in this review.

Edited by vigilguy on 09/03/2008 06:34:44 MDT.

Edward Broyles
(edward.broyles) - F
Bag sizes on 09/03/2008 07:27:49 MDT Print View

Can you add any info on the bag sizes? I know that I've gotten excited a few times about a new bag only to realize that they have shrunk down the shoulder girth to 58 or even 57 inches, which my frame cannot accommodate.

BTW, I'm not fat, I'm big boned. :-)

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Where's Valandre'? on 09/03/2008 10:34:18 MDT Print View

Hi Charles-

I met with Valandre' during the show and saw their bag with the interchangeable draft collars. It was a very interesting concept where you could zip in a 3-season or 4 season collar, or leave it out altogether depending on expected conditions.

As usual with Valandre's products, the quality was first rate.

I didn't include it in this article as it was not targeted to lightweight hikers. I don't recall the exact weight, but it was designed more for traditional hikers seeking versatility rather than weight savings.


Edited by MikeMartin on 09/03/2008 23:28:50 MDT.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Bag sizes on 09/03/2008 10:36:53 MDT Print View

Thanks, for the feedback, Edward.

We'll try to include that info in the future. When BPL reviews a bag, we list specs in that level of detail, but at Outdoor Retailer, that information is frequently not available.

Was there a particular bag you were interested in? I can check my notes or contact a manufacturer if you like.


Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
Specs for the Bloody Mary on 09/03/2008 10:49:36 MDT Print View

I appreciate your genuine and sincere response, Mr. Martin, but I fail to see how the Bloody Mary is not in line with the tested bags. The weight for the Bloody Mary is 35.8 oz for a 5 degree bag, according to Valandre's handout at the OR Show.

I still think that it is a valid contender for backpackers heading to alpine destinations in the spring and fall, and it obviously has a higher efficiency rating than some of the bags you mentioned in your article.

I do agree that the Bloody Mary is geared for more traditional hikers. But it is a heck of a lot lighter than MH's 53 oz. bag, or Montbell's 41 oz. zero degree bag!

Edited by vigilguy on 09/03/2008 10:58:04 MDT.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Specs for the Bloody Mary on 09/03/2008 11:07:11 MDT Print View


You make excellent points. Hopefully Valandre's mention in this discussion will serve to inform readers about their bags. As I mentioned in my last post, Valandre' makes excellent products -- several of which we have reviewed in-depth here at BPL.

Choosing what to cover at Outdoor Retailer is always a bit of a dilemma -- you can't please everyone all the time...

One question for you, Charles: Are you affiliated with Valandre'? (We welcome manufacturer's participation in the forums, but a disclosure is appropriate if so.)



Edited by MikeMartin on 09/03/2008 23:28:23 MDT.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
Valandre' on 09/03/2008 11:47:44 MDT Print View

Mike, I am confident that you have a somewhat daunting task to make reviews at the OR Show. I for one have appreciated and learned from your contributions here on the BPL site in the past.

I am affiliated with Valandre' on the retail side of things, I have been fortunate enough to retail and personally test their bags and jackets for the last five years or so, along with other big-name brands.

I personally own and use 3 of their bags, and cannot wait to buy my 4th, the Bloody Mary, when it becomes available, hopefully in November.

They earned my respect when I tested their Mirage down to 12 degrees without a shelter and wearing only a base layer, and I was still warm. I also tested their Shocking Blue down to -20F last March in a freakishly cold winter night and stayed warm as well.

I have felt that their presence in the U.S. has been off to a slow start, compared to other European companies, but their bags are certainly worthy of consideration for those consumers looking at the "Big League bags" and wanting a bag with a high warmth to weight ratio.

Edited by vigilguy on 09/03/2008 11:53:26 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Where's Valandre'? on 09/03/2008 11:58:05 MDT Print View

FWIW Feathered Friends offered (and may still for all I know) removable draft collars. I have a Swift so-equipped. It perhaps adds 5 degrees of range at about an ounce or two.

Valandre distribution in the States seems spotty, although REI offers certain models occasionally. I hope they can establish a steady presence and hold their price points, despite the flagging dollar.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
valandre and quality on 09/03/2008 14:15:23 MDT Print View

thanks for the article, its a good read. I have seen and felt some of the Valandre models and even though Ive not slept in one, I can say without hyperbole that they are the Western Mountaineering of Europe. (france, I believe)
The US market would be a great place for these bags, I cannot imagine why they are overlooked. IMO, Quality is just as good as FF or WM.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 09/03/2008 14:15:58 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Valandre' on 09/03/2008 17:08:29 MDT Print View

Hi Charles - and others

In future we would appreciate it if you (anyone) could always disclose your commercial interest in a matter when posting on that subject. We don't mind your posting - that's OK, but disclosure is desirable (each time).

The disclosure works both ways of course. It can show that you have a good knowledge of the subject in question, which is to everyone's benefit. It might even result in people knowing who to contact for more information.

Roger Caffin
Online Community Monitor

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
Affiliation on 09/03/2008 17:36:15 MDT Print View

Hi Roger-

Sorry for failure to disclose my affiliation with Valandre'. I will certainly do so in the future, if that is what BPL requires. I did not initially because I don't want readers to think that I was posting for financial gain as opposed to product education.

My motive on this post was to share information about Valandre' bags that I had personally accumulated over time that could benefit backpackers in general. I have had the chance to analyze their bags for a long time as well as test them thoroughly in a variety of conditions.

I am not interested to disclose my company name here because I do not intend to use BPL as a platform for financial gain.

Since it was brought up, Valandre' has now stabilized their U.S. Distribution and it is much easier to acquire bags and jackets, unlike a few years ago when we had to wait 6 to 8 weeks for stuff to ship directly from France. Also, their prices are more in line now with WM, FF and ID, and not outrageous like they used to be.

If customers wish to find out where they can buy Valandre' equipment, they can email Valandre' from their site and a list of dealers can be provided from them.

Thank you for your instruction, Roger.


Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Affiliation on 09/03/2008 17:56:47 MDT Print View

"I am not interested to disclose my company name here because I do not intend to use BPL as a platform for financial gain."

If you don't wish to disclose your company name, why do you link to it in your profile?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Affiliation on 09/03/2008 18:05:22 MDT Print View

Hi Charles

No worries.

The matter had not come up officially before this. This disclosure thing is essentially a new policy, but I hope it serves the best interests of *everyone*.


Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
Better Bags on 09/03/2008 22:57:21 MDT Print View

I am in no way affiliated with any sleeping bag company, nor am I a retailer, but I have spent well over 700 nights in a bag.

When I first skimmed the sleeping bag article, I too was surprised to not see Valendre mentioned. I agree that the bags are not particularly light, though they do have a nice 40ºF bag that seems a lightweight contender. I was surprised because the title of the article is "better bags" and while at OR I was nearly dragged into the Valendre booth by the owner and shown in great detail why these bags were "better" (construction, materials, sourcing, human resources and more). After getting into one on the show floor, I can honestly say it is THE most amazing bag that I have ever been in. The 3D cut and construction create an incredible structure to the bag that holds the lofted chambers off ones body, it feels weightless when inside.

Having checked out a number of other bags at the show, I came to realize after my time at the Valendre booth that lighter doesn't always mean better.

I still need to go back and read this article in more detail, but thought I would share these insights on other ways a bag can be "better".

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Better Bags on 09/04/2008 05:43:39 MDT Print View

since we're discussing Valandré now, is there anything new on the clothing front? A couple years ago, they showed the Split-S jacket and Looping vest but since then nothing seems to have happened untill recently. Do you have any info about this? Any (updated) specifications?
Since they seem to focus every year on just one or two new products, I guess no other new things will be available.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
New Valandre' Products for '09 on 09/04/2008 07:14:08 MDT Print View

Interesting that you should mention the Split-S. I think they FINALLY got it tweaked to the point where it should be in production by November, let's cross our fingers. Rumor has it that when the prototype Split-S was introduced a couple of years ago, it was discovered that the shoulders on the jacket weren't fitting right and they had to go back to the drawing board. Long story short, they had both the men's version and the women's version at the OR Show this year and it appears that they'll be available for sale by November. Hopefully. The women's version is the nicest cut I have ever seen on a woman for a down jacket. It fits like it was tailor made. The men's version looks great too. They have more chambers in them than any of their other jackets, meaning that these are really technical jackets.

So the new products should be the Bloody Mary and the Split-S. Oh, and the Looping as well.

From what I have been hearing lately, they have new products on the horizon for 2010.

Edited by vigilguy on 09/04/2008 07:28:13 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: New Valandre' Products for '09 on 09/04/2008 08:19:02 MDT Print View

I've noticed that the first examples of Split-S jackets start to appear on a few French websites. So somewhere in the coming months seems a real possibility.
Do you know if the specifications have remained the same?

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
Valandre' Split S Jacket Specs on 09/04/2008 08:54:13 MDT Print View

Yes, I believe that the specs have remained the same, as far as weight and temp rating are concerned.

FWIW, gear testers were testing it in CO at temps around 10 degrees. Granted CO is a dry climate, but it appears that the Split-S is a very warm, lightweight but highly efficient jacket that will compress nicely for lightweight backpackers.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: New Valandre' Products for '09 on 09/04/2008 14:24:35 MDT Print View

I've been looking at the Valandre Mirage bag, and at least on paper it looks like it fits squarely into the UL category of bags. Has anyone seen one of these in person??