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ZPacks Sleeping Bag - a Side Sleeper's Dream Bag!
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Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
ZPacks Sleeping Bag - a Side Sleeper's Dream Bag! on 07/25/2012 21:45:56 MDT Print View

I haven't seen Joe's sleeping bags (or are they quilts?) discussed much, so I thought I'd copy parts of my review here. These bags deserve the air time! (Mods, if that is illegal, please delete this.) The primary thing I want to get across is that Joe's bags make up into a near ideal side sleepers system!

For years, decades even, I've been mildly frustrated with sleeping bags that insist on putting the zipper on the side of the bag. While that's just dandy for back sleepers, we side sleepers end up with the zipper either under us (uncomfortable) of on top of us (leaking warm air). Joe lists the zipper as being on the back, under a back sleeper, but I consider it to be on the front, running from my chin through my navel. I asked Joe to put two draft tubes on mine, which do a great job of sealing the zipper from either side. I thought I might have more trouble with the zipper catching the draft tube material, but in reality, it was no worse than any other bag. Success!

The bag does not have a draft collar; instead it just cinches down with a thin bungie. The toggle for this is at the back of the neck, as I use it. This was a minor problem to tighten or loosen it, but I usually just leave it at the same level of snugness, so there wasn't any real problem. With the separate down hood (see below) there was no perceptible warm air leakage.

I've observed that while sleeping on my side, I'm usually in a semi-fetal position. This seems to eat both bag length and width, so while I am 5' 10", I choose a wide&long model, which was ideal.

The bag does not have a hood. Instead Joe offers a down hood in the same fabrics and fill as the bags. I really like this arrangement! In every hooded bag, I seem to end up with my face in the hood, breathing through the nylon and down - not good! Now the hood always turns with me, even when I rotate inside the bag (doesn't happen very often, but it's irritating when it does). Even with my large head (7 1/2), the hood slips on and off easily, though never accidentally. It has a cord to tighten it around the face, and the hood continues down to cover the neck. It made for a very cozy combination with the bag, and never rotated over my face!

Finally, while this is technically a bag (the zipper thing), it's easily unzipped to function as a quilt. Yes, the hood still works!

I have a 40* bag, and a slightly overfilled 20* bag - I think of it as a 15* bag. I've had the 40* bag out in 40* nights and slept toasty warm. It's perfect for summer hikes in the Sierra - a down sweater would take it down another 10* easily, if needed. I haven't tested the 15* bag to its limits, but I have no worries about it.

I am very happy with these bags, and expect to be using them for years to come.

Dale Whitton
(dwhitton) - M

Locale: Sydney
Solution for Side Sleepers on 07/26/2012 05:08:06 MDT Print View

Stephen - thanks for taking the time to post your experiences on the Zpacks bags. I've got my eye on the 40deg version and have been trawling the net for user feedback, so your review is helpful. I'm also a side sleeper and have been wondering about whether to go with the wide version, but it looks like that's a good choice.

I was looking to pair it with a Black Rock Hat but I'll also check out Joe's creation.

Anat Lev Hacohen
(ninelives99) - F

Locale: -
Great review on 07/26/2012 06:32:38 MDT Print View

(My first post here at BPL... wish me luck :D ...)

Stephen, that's a great review... Just made my purchase for a 20F ZPacks sleeping bag a few days ago so it's nice to hear some promising reviews :)
As a side sleeper I really hope this will be a good fit!

I guess I still have one doubt regarding my purchase and that's the temp rating issue.
I'm a young woman, decided to go for a 20F ZPacks sleeping bag although I was actually looking for a 30F bag. Now (after talking to a knowladgeable friend) I'm troubled by the slight chance I've made a mistake and as a woman should have gone with the 10F bag...
Would love to hear it if you think I've made the right choice...

Note: Joe is not making an in between temp ratings anymore...

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: ZPacks sleeping bag on 07/26/2012 08:26:49 MDT Print View

@Anat: Not having any experience being a woman in a sleeping bag (ahem!), I can't make any personal experience comments! But my daughter (30ish) consistently prefers a bag with about 20*F lower rating than I do. And I note that the Euro standards trend that way too.

If you've just recently ordered the bag, send Joe an email, and he'll switch it to whatever rating you prefer. How do I know that? Cuz when I ordered the 40* bag, I first ordered a 30*, then thought better of it - herein SoCal (for me) a 40* bag just makes more sense, and I've got the warmer bag already for the shoulder seasons.

And thanks for mentioning that Joe no longer does the in-betweeners - my apologies for getting anyone's hopes up. On the other hand, I'[m not sure it's really needed anymore, as Joe is offering a wider range of temp ratings now.

@Dale: From what I've heard, the Black Rock hat is great. The advantage of Joe's hood is that it comes down below the neck, and seals nicely with the bag. BTW, I think it's actually made by Goose Feet.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
ZPacks sleeping bag on 07/26/2012 11:19:19 MDT Print View

Stephen, hows the clamminess if any? Cuben material I believe. Thank you for the review.

Mike Feldman

Locale: SE USA
Another happy zpacks quilt bag user on 07/26/2012 15:00:05 MDT Print View

I have the 20 degree version w/2 ounces of overfill, in long and wide, at 22.7 ounces..Using it for 9 day trip on JMT and other trails in Sept.. About to order the down bac..and while am at it a small zero pack,why not!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zpacks Sleeping Bags on 07/26/2012 15:21:48 MDT Print View


Zpacks just uses cuben (0.33oz) for the baffles, not for the shell and liner fabrics. Clamminess/moisture accumulation is a non-issue.

The 10D fabric used for the inside has a really nice feel, while being only moderately downproof. You'll definitely find the occasional feather poking thru. I can't speak to the outer fabric as my Zpacks quilt has the lighter 10D for both.

I've got a 30F quilt from Zpacks. It's basically the same as their 'bags' except there's no main zipper and I asked Joe to make the footbox openable, so there's a small zip at the foot end so I can open it right up like a blanket in hot weather. 15.4oz with 10D fabric inside and out. I'm very happy with's nice and wide so it's easy to use as a quilt even for side sleepers.

Edited by dandydan on 07/26/2012 15:23:54 MDT.

Peter Fokkinga

Locale: the Netherlands
sizing on 07/26/2012 16:22:46 MDT Print View

Good to see not all of you having a Revelation :-) Given that the ZPacks is lighter for a given temperature rating, I wonder why it is not more popular? Because of its higher price? Or is it Tim's mesmerizing presence on the forum? (which, incidentally, is a factor for me; I like vendors who participate on public forums).

These two bags are my shortlist for replacing my WM Pod-15 as I no longer need a bag that warm, and would like more width so I can sleep with one leg roughly at a right angle to my body (sleeping on my side of course).

With a girth of 41" at the shoulders and hips, would 56" width (or 52") be adequate? And is the listed width the actual width when the bag is fully lofted?

How do you like the relatively narrow (30" vs 40" for the Revelation) footbox? And when you zip up the ZPacks, doesn't that feel cramped? I mean, 56" width divided by 2, minus the height; still comfortable? I think that on "regular" quilts the width is less of an issue because you have the straps and the sides don't meet like they do when zipped, am I right?

Dan, that quilt sounds really nice; I've been thinking along those lines as well. Since the weight is more than the normal bag in regular/medium I assume your quilt is larger?

I'm sure that in the end I would be happy with either bag, but it's fun to fret awhile over what would be the _best_ bag ;-)

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Zpacks Sleeping Bags on 07/26/2012 17:41:52 MDT Print View

Thanks Dan. If I ever move to replace my WM Caribou, I want to save a little weight and volume. Tough choice, price or weight?

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
@ Peter on 07/26/2012 18:59:10 MDT Print View

Methinks thou frettest too much! Plus I've never taken a tape measure to bed with me!

What can I say? I pull the bag up, roll on to my side, my knees come up, and I fall asleep! Hours later, I half wake up, roll onto my other side, and fall asleep again, until my bladder insists that I go for a walk. Then I do it all over again. Feet, knees, legs, arms, back, etc - all happy and snoring (for all I know, though they never wake me up!).

Oh, and no clamminess!

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
so its just a hoodless bag w a center zip?? on 07/26/2012 19:04:28 MDT Print View


so if i get what you are saying u use it as a hoodless bag with a center zip - essentially like that line of Stoic bags or Marmot plasma or Nauntak alpinist but you have cut off the does that help?

Why cant you roll with the hood on the center zipped bags?

@anat - nice seeing you here :)

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: ZPack Sleeping bag on 07/26/2012 21:01:27 MDT Print View

"Why cant you roll with the hood on the center zipped bags?"

Probably because my rolling program is missing a few lines, and I never seem to roll exactly evenly, thereby planting my snout in the down stuffed attached hood of my Marmot Plasma, resulting in a soggy hood. Thus the beauty (for a rolling-handicapped old man like me) of a separate hood, which always aligns with my face.

I tried to get a handicapped parking hang-tag for my truck based on my rolling handicap, but they wouldn't buy it....

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zpacks Bags on 07/26/2012 23:01:50 MDT Print View

Dan...Since the weight is more than the normal bag in regular/medium I assume your quilt is larger?
Yes. It's the 'long' variant of their 30F bag. Regular width. At 5'11, I'm already slightly long for their 'medium' length bag, and Joe said that you lose a couple inches opting for a cinch closure on the foot end instead of the regular footbox. The 'long' bag is a good length for me - it's not long enough to pull it over my head, but long enough to get snugged around my chin.

A regular Zpacks 30F long bag is claimed at 15.5oz. I thought I would save a bit of weight by opting for a 10D outer shell and ditching the main zipper, but I guess adding the footbox zipper, small draft tube and cinchcord to open/close the footbox added that weight back so mine is just 0.1oz lighter at 15.4oz. The cuben dry sacks they include with the sleeping bags are awesome.

I wouldn't suggest opting for the 10D outer shell. It's a nice fabric that feels great on the skin, but it's only moderately downproof and its far from being windproof and water-repellant, so it's a good choice for the inner fabric but not the best shell material. Zpacks regular Pertex fabrics is the better choice.

With a girth of 41" at the shoulders and hips, would 56" width (or 52") be adequate? And is the listed width the actual width when the bag is fully lofted?
The width of the regular (56") Zpacks bags is very good. The 56" is a generous fit around my 170 lbs (42" chest, 32" waist) frame and the best part is that it stays wide through the hips - which is where some bags that taper run into trouble. Watch out for bags that taper a lot and are narrower at the waist. I see no reason to go with the wide (62") bag unless you're a big dude (ie. + 200lbs) because the regular width is quite generous already. I haven't actually measured it.

How do you like the relatively narrow (30" vs 40" for the Revelation) footbox?
My previous quilt had a 40" footbox, so I can speak to this fairly well. For regular use as a quilt I prefer the 30" footbox over the 40" one. It's a cozy fit without being tight and there's no extra air to heat up. Then again, I have small (sz 9) feet. Having a wider footbox isn't really a problem, but the 30" footbox works great IMO, so it's a good spot to save weight.

However, if you're getting a quilt like mine that can unzip to open up the footbox and turn the quilt into a blanket, then the wider footbox is nice. A quilt with a 40" wide foot end is fairly easy to keep positioned over your feet, while it's not difficult for a foot to escape out from under a 30" wide end. Thankfully I only prefer to use my quilts like this when it's quite warm (ie. +50F nights) so I don't mind get a little foot ventilation.

I'm quite happy with a 56"/56"/30" (shoulders/hips/feet) shape for a three season quilt. I was using a 52/52/40 prior to this, and that was better in the summer as a blanket, but a bit more challenging to stay wrapped up in during the shoulder seasons. I think 56/56/30 is great for an averaged sized dude using quilt mode. If I was getting the 40F rated quilt with the intention of mostly using it in the summer, then a bit more width in the footbox would be nice so I could better unzip the footbox and form a nice blanket around 40-45" wide at the foot end. Conversely, for deep winter use I'd take a toasty 10F sleeping bag. Ideally I'd have all 3, but I can push my quilt to 20F with my down parka and down pants inside.

Edited by dandydan on 07/26/2012 23:12:34 MDT.

Peter Fokkinga

Locale: the Netherlands
that settles it then... on 07/27/2012 01:04:33 MDT Print View

Thank you Dan for the thorough reply! Seems I'll be sleeping under a ZPacks (medium/regular/30*) on my next trip :-)

Anat Lev Hacohen
(ninelives99) - F

Locale: -
ZPacks sleeping bag on 07/27/2012 01:20:22 MDT Print View


Lots of information. Thanks!
Did you take any pictures of your bag? I would really love to see what joe did with the footbox area... (when I ordered my bag I actually wanted to ask for the same thing but gave up on it cuz I thought it maybe too much to ask for).


Thought I'll see you here sooner or later. Nice seeing you!

jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Open foot box idea etc. etc. on 07/27/2012 03:49:51 MDT Print View

This thread is quite a good way.

@ Dan
I have just been in conversations with Joe at ZPacks, asking about a footbox that can open up as a quilt. He mentioned to me that I should opt for the longer bag also if I chose this option. I was also looking at a full length zipper too, so... with the opening foot box I get a fully opened quilt. I am yet to decide...I moved away from this idea, but I seem to be reverting back to this because I just know, that on a balmy Aussie night... after a full day's kayaking or hiking....I may just appreciate a completely open down quilt. Please Dan, tell me it's a good idea!! lol.

My only concern is the bag circumference. I too have a 42" chest, with a shoulder circumference up near 50-51". I am cautious about only considering chest circumference, which seems to become somewhat immaterial (IMHO) for my bag size decision. When thinking of sleeping circumferences, I have to look at my shoulder girth, or even more importantly, my elbow girth when lying down.

I too am a restless sleeper, and often find myself lying on my side with my arms crossed. I measured my elbow circumference with my arms crossed, and it comes to 56". So, if I add a layer of clothing to that when it gets cold, am I going to be running out of room?

Although Dan, your sizing is very similar to me (except height, I'm a short a** at 5'8"...5'9" on a sunny day :-)

Either way, I'm ordering one of these bags within the next few days, cause quite simply they appear ace.

Jase in Australia

Anat Lev Hacohen
(ninelives99) - F

Locale: -
Absolutely coincidental on 07/27/2012 04:08:26 MDT Print View


Absolutely coincidental...
I think I will also ask for the same modifications - openable footbox with an all the way zip + enlarged footbox (35" instead of 30").
Sounds like a dream bag in my opinion...

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
ZPacks Sleeping Bag - a Side Sleeper's Dream Bag! on 07/27/2012 09:05:59 MDT Print View

Stephen, thank you for getting this thread started, thank you to all the rest for their contributions. I really like the weight of ZPack gear, just need to spring for one or more items now. Good to read info finally as not much gets posted, maybe the gear is too new and not many users yet.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zpacks on 07/27/2012 19:34:16 MDT Print View

"Did you take any pictures of your bag?"
No. I don't have any handy. The footbox uses elastic shockcord to cinch at the foot end (which actually works better than non-elastic cord). Then there's about 2 feet of a #3 zipper and a draft tube inside the quilt along the zipper that actually pokes out the end of the quilt when you cinch the foot end shut, so this draft tube totally eliminates any small hole from being present at the end which is great.

"I have just been in conversations with Joe at ZPacks, asking about a footbox that can open up as a quilt......Please Dan, tell me it's a good idea!!"
As I sort of discussed previously, the 30" wide foot end of the Zpacks quilts/bags is pretty narrow when you open the footbox up to form a blanket. Since it's tough to keep your feet un-contacted by any drafts when the quilt is opened up, you can really only use this mode on hot summer nights. I don't regret adding this functionality to my quilt, but I use my quilt almost year round (with other warm layers) so there's only a small portion of the time when I actually would use it this way. In my case, I might have been better served with an ounce of weight savings rather than the option to open it into a blanket 5% of the time on +50F nights.

If the footbox was wider (ie. 40") then you could use it closer to its temp. rating in 'blanket' mode, but now you're adding even more weight to bolster this functionality. If you often camp where it's hot then this is a good feature. I think it makes a bit more sense to do this with a 40F quilt, as the circumstances in which the blanket mode is an appealing option will be a larger portion of the time. With a 20F or 30F bag/quilt, the weight added might not be worth it given you'll be carrying the weight for 3 seasons but only using it for 1.

"My only concern is the bag circumference."
I'll sum it up this way: If you wear a medium or large t-shirt size, then the regular girth is generous and you'll be able to layer puffy layers inside with likely no trouble. I would be swimming in the wide girth. If you wear an XL or larger t-shirt, then the regular girth would work if you wear minimal layers, but I'd upsize to the wide girth if you want the have the option of tossing on some really puffy layers in the night. Of all the quilts I've had (GoLite, Virga Outdoors, Zpacks) this is easily the widest. Keep in mind Zpacks uses this girth for their enclosed bags, so as a quilt it's quite wide.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: ZPacks Sleeping Bag - a question for Steve on 07/27/2012 20:21:11 MDT Print View

Do the baffles extend all the way to the zipper? Or do they terminate along the sides of the bag, a la the WM Pod?