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Western Mountaineering Highlite

in Sleeping Bags - Mummy & Other

Average Rating
4.64 / 5 (11 reviews)

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Matthew LaPatka
( gungadin - M )

Pittsburgh, PA
Western Mountaineering Highlite on 01/29/2007 20:36:53 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Two years ago I was looking for a bag that could take me down to about freezing for as little weight as possible. There were fewer options back then, but I don't think I would change my choice now. I decided to go with the WM Highlite. It had been around for awhile and was one of the first really light sleeping bags. Based on the superb WM name and what I had heard about the bag, I decided to jump at it. I have not looked back.

The Highlite is a great bag for me on most of my trips. Like all WM bags, the temperature rating is somewhat conservative. While rated at 35 degrees, I have be fine at 30 degrees with minimal clothing and a thin pad. The 850+ down does the job nicely and is top quality. The 16 oz. advertised weight is also accurate. The sewing of the bag is impeccable. The sewn-through construction creates cold spots but for the specified temperatures these are not a problem. The bag also compressed down to a very compact size although I never smash it down as far as I could.

The bag is not large on the inside, but I fit fine in the regular size (I am 5'10" 155 pounds). There is enough room to be comfortable without more than necessary. The Extremelite shell can shirk off some light moisture, but it is built for low weight not extreme water resistance. The breatheability of the shell is also good and lets moisture readily pass. While the shell is quite gossamer, with care it should last a long time. It can leak the occasional feather but nothing unusual for any down product.

While the Highlite only has a half zipper, I don't find this to be a problem. It may limit the versatility somewhat, but I don't get too uncomfortable while sleeping so it isn't much of a problem for me. The zipper works smoothly and although it is meant to separate at the bottom, I am happy with it. There are no snags to worry about because of the nice design and no zipper tube behind it.

The hood works well and hugs my head nicely. It is a good size for me.

All in all, I couldn't be happier with my Highlite. While there are some newer bags in the weight class, none of them really improved on the design. It is still top of the line.


-16oz. and good down to low 30's.
-great build quality
-top-notch materials
-great size and fit of hood
-smooth zipper and great shell fabric


-zipper meant to separate when fully unzipped (somewhat annoying)
-Extremelite fabric not very water-resistant (not advertised to be)
-some may prefer a full zip

David Neumann
( idahomtman - M )

Northern Idaho
Close to ideal on 01/30/2007 10:02:08 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I agree with most of Matthew's review of the WM Highlite. The construction is classic Western Mountaineering - impeccable. The bag does everything it is advertised to do. I do find the separating zipper to be somewhat annoying and, perhaps, the weakest part of the bag.

I am also 5'10" and fit well. I have found the temperature rating to be correct and there is sufficient room to supplement by adding long underwear and other clothing items. I slept comfortably last summer below Forester Pass at 11,500+ in the Highlite.

This is an excellent sleeper for a mummy bag. Well made, honest, light and compressible. As with other light mummy bags it is somewhat restrictive for those who move around a lot while sleeping.

I especially appreciate the black interior and dark purple exterior which dry quickly in the morning sunshine. I would definitely purchase this bag again.

paul johnson
( pj )

LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
WM HighLite - short on 01/30/2007 10:02:20 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

A 15oz shorter version of the Highlite - good for those 5' 6" or shorter.

Essentially concur with the comments of the Review Thread initiator.

When I purchased mine, the bag was conservatively rated at 40F. It now lists as a 35F bag & that's about right for me (a cold sleeper). Adding hi-loft garment layer (top or top&bottom - depending upon the indvidual) would take it down to 30F with no problem. However, the bag is cut so tight that this might NOT be an option for other than a very slim build individual.

Light (15oz) & packs small, though at 15oz, it's one of the lighter pieces of gear in my pack, so i pack it high & let it loft and expand any remaining pack volume (subject to the waterproof trash bag or pack liner that i store it in).

It is a key component for me for a <5lb SUL kit for spring & fall (replaced by a 12.5oz MB ThermalSheet for summer SUL kit).

Cut is a too tight for me in the shoulders and chest, and i would guess anyone else who is short with an athletic build or who lifts weights, but would work for someone with a slimmer or non-athletic build or perhaps for a most women. I should add that i'm a back sleeper who sleeps like a "dead man", i.e. i rarely move at all while sleeping)

It should be mentioned that its short half-length zipper limits ventilation options should the nighttime temp prove warmer than expected. Obviously, it also make ingress & egress from the bag not as easy as a bag with a full-length zip, but actually is not too difficult to get in or out of in actual practice, IMHO.

Perhaps only in the area of the hood design/shape and hood fit, does my opinion differ GREATLY from the Review Thread initiator. Compared to Montbell, Mtn. H/W, Marmot, and TNF hoods, this hood design/shape and fit is poor to fair, at best. If the rest of the bag was on the same level as the hood, the bag would get a 2 rating from me. Don't get me wrong, the hood is still quite functional, but comparatively speaking is poor-to-fair. If i was unfamiliar with hoods on other bags, i would have no complaint about the hood.

However, even with the poor hood design and fit, this bag is excellent, and i can heartily recommend it.

For my part, i now prefer the Montbell SuperStretch bags due to the better hood design and fit, the full-length zipper, and more particularly the advantages offered by the SuperStretch system. I'll accept a bit more weight (~8oz more, IIRC, cp. to the WM Highlite) to get a 30F Montbell bag (which keeps me warmer at 30F than the WM Highlite).

All this said, you can't go wrong getting the WM Highlite bag. In my opinion, it's still the standard by which all 30F-35F bags should be judged.

I give it a 4.0 due to (on the plus side) the incredible warmth for weight, and build quality, and (on the minus side) restrictive cut/girth, relatively/comparativelypoor hood, and too short zipper (YET IT STILL RATES a 4.0 inspite of the minuses!!).

Instead of being arbitrary just because this is one of my favorite bags, I'm going to attempt to be fair here by trying to have some semblance of objectivity. It has been well said that "Sacred cows make the best hamburger". The WM Highlite is one of those sacred cows. I'll begin by saying that others are welcome to expand my list of categories or criteria, as well as to provide their own ratings in each one of their categories or mine.

Here are my categories upon which i base my rating for a MUMMY BAG:

warmth (dbl. weighted - we after all want to be warm at night, hence this cat. is impt.)
weight (dbl. weighted - we are after all a XUL/SUL/UL/L backpacking website)
user friendliness, including ingress/egress & ventilation
other design aspects/features

[the DE FACTO standard, IMHO; any warmer for its rating and i'd complain of it being grossly improperly rated]

[the DE FACTO standard, IMHO; any lighter and it would float away]

[i figure midrange - it's really NOT out of line with other 'Primo' bag Mfr's, but it is expensive when considering the whole gamut of bags]

FIT = 2
[5=Montbell SS; 4=fits all but those having gross exogenous obesity & also allows for adding hi-loft garments; 3=snug fit for athletic build w/o compromising loft; no hi-loft garments to extend range;2=too snug or too tight for athletic build;1=better for a more typical feminine shoulder width.]

USER FRIENDLINESS (including ingress/egress & ventilation) = 3
[1=no zip&too tight; 2=no zip; 3=half-zip; 4=3/4 zip; 5=full zip]

[1=basically a sack & nuttin' else; 2=a sack w/a hood; or a well-designed hoodless sack that makes up in some way for a lack of a hood; 3=average mummy bag; 4=some above average about it (e.g., great hood, zipper operation, expandability of some sort, pillow pocket, [zippered]eye glasses pocket, draft tubes, etc. as may be appropriate);5=exceptional in enough design areas, NOT covered by other categories, to warrant a FIVE]

QUALITY = 5 [immaculate selection of materials & construction; they don't come better made than this]

VALUE = 4 [what you get for what you paid, taking into account all the pluses and all of the minuses]

TOTAL SCORE = 40 divided by 9 = 4.444... repeating tedium ad nauseum ad infinitum

[ooooh! oh, so close!!! truth be told, this result was NOT FUDGED to get a 4 rating. the running score was NOT even mentally kept while rating so as to not influence the final outcome. really, i was very interested IF my original rating & assessment was accurately a 4 or should it have been a 5 as the lovers of the Sacred Cow, one of whom, by their own admittance, was prompted to review & rate just because of a couple of fours being given]

Rounding down, as we were taught to do in grade school = a final score of...[Maestro, drum roll please.]

4 (FOUR & another Sacred Cow finds its way onto the 'Barbie'! Perfection is hard to come by.]

Edited by pj on 02/02/2007 08:18:06 MST.

Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
My favorite sleeping bag on 01/30/2007 21:11:39 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This is my favorite bag. I use it more than any other (and I've collected quite a few).

I decided to post a review when I saw the two other 4s bringing it down a bit.

True, the girth isn't much, but if it fits you that is what you want! If it doesn't fit, buy a different bag with more girth.

I don't know what to say. This is just a terrific lightweight bag. My regular length is 444 grams, just under a pound.

Scott Peterson
( scottalanp )

Northern California
Western Mountaineering Hilite on 02/01/2007 23:05:25 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Concur with all previous positive comments.

I am the second of owner of my bag, and it holds up very well to average use.

Mine is a long and comes in at the stated 17 ounces. Rather a miracle for how warm it sleeps.

It is definitley a slimmer fit.

This is my first WM bag, and I would compare it to the new Summerlite if I were in the market today for this kind of bag. There may be features in it worth the extra ounces?

Phil Barton
( flyfast )

WM HighLite - really nice bag on 03/23/2007 13:18:03 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

All the above ratings capture well the features of the Western Mountaineering HighLite. I've owned mine now for a year.

What I really like about this bag is its warmth. I am amazed at what it can do for 1 pound. With some insulated clothing I've used this bag into the low 30s. It is very comfortable. I bought the HighLite with the idea of comfortably sleeping between 30 and 55 degrees. The HighLite delivers what I wanted for a very reasonable weight. My long HighLite weighs 17 ounces.

The one thing that bugs me about the HighLite is the drawcord and hood. It may just be me but I find that I really fiddle with it a lot. I roll from side to side during the night and always find that I'm having to adjust the hood. The velcro closure at the top of the zipper is also a bit tricky.

Other than the closure, I like the hood. It is warm and feels cozy next to my face.

The bag has a slim cut. I'm not skinny but do find that I have become comfortable with a snugger fit than my previous sleeping bags.

If I were to buy again today, I'd check out the SummerLite. But the HighLite will probably be a part of my 3-season kit for years to come.

Edited by flyfast on 03/23/2007 13:19:31 MDT.

Chad Ellertson
( NorthernLights )

Superior Hiking Trail
Western Mountaineering Highlite Highly Recommended on 12/08/2007 09:09:17 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

This bag has exceeded my expectations. It was my first experience with a piece of really ultralight gear and I have to say it has proved to be one of the best pieces of gear I own.

The bag itself is at its listed weight. I have the regular length, even though I am 6'2" and I have to say that the bag works for me. The rating is conservative and I am sure that paired with your clothes and a decent bivy, it would be comfortable down into lower temps. (25* range?) I was also happy to see how it performed in wet conditions. On a recent trip I had no bivy and the footbox got very wet but I was still warm, and it took a relatively short amount of time to dry out in the morning.

Overall I highly recommend this bag. The only problem I can fit is that the zipper comes apart and is a bugger to get back together when its dark at night.

Dylan Taylor
( nevadas )

California Coast
Great Bag on 12/12/2007 17:17:20 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I did a three way trade with Dave N, who posted a review of the bag earlier in this thread, and another BPL'er about 3 months ago. I traded my WM Caribou for the Highlite.

I am very happy with the Highlite.

The Caribou is basically the same in all respects as the Highlite, except that the Highlite cut is narrower and it is the half zip. these two factors drop the weight down 4 oz. from the Caribou (thats off the top of my head check WM's site if you are interested).

The reasons for the trade were twofold: I wanted a narrower cut to preserve more body heat while inside the bag, and i didnt think i needed a full zip. frankly, with regard to the second reason, if its warm enough outside to warrant having a 35 bag unzipped all the way, then i probably wouldnt even be inside my bag at all. probably just laying on top it, or between my pad and bag on top of me, like a quilt.

in terms of the first factor, the narrower cut, it is perfect for me. Someone said in the above post that it wouldnt work if you work out or have an athletic build. i dont know what either of those mean, since i do have an athletic cut, (generally defined as a narrow waist with broad shoulders) and also lift. but i am perfectly snug in the bag. i guess what the guy is referencing is that if you are 'roiding it up or lifting for massive upper body bulk, than maybe this isnt your bag. frankly, this whole site may not be for you since doing both of those runs counter to all things UL - specificcally, lifting for bulk limits flexibility. flexibility contributes to speed which then contributes to distance (so why are you an UL'er?) anyway, i digress...

if you want a bigger cut bag then get the Caribou - its the same rating, sanme everything just heavier and cut a bit bigger.

bottom line. bag is awesome. compresses down to nothing. billows out to a fluffy nest. i've slept in it, in thermals, into the single digits. dont get me wrong, i was cold, a bit nippy, but i was able to sleep.

hope this helps.

Andrew Richard
( fairweather8588 )

The Desert
WM bags are amazing on 03/11/2008 23:14:54 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

As with all other Western Mountaineering bags, this bag is a work of art. Only 1 lb and good down to 35*, this is an ultralighter's dream. The goose down has an incredible amount of loft, the material feels soft and comfortable against the skin, it packs down smaller then any other bag I've ever owned, and every seem is flawless. I got the long version because the foot box was a little snug on my size 12 feet. Great bag

Edited by fairweather8588 on 03/11/2008 23:17:36 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
( Creachen )

East Bay
Western Mountaineering Bags are Awsome on 11/08/2008 09:56:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The Highlite has been my go to bag for some 4 years now. With a 35 degree rateing it is perfect to take to the Sierras in the summer. I have a long bag and it fits my 6'3 frame just right. I took off the zipper last summer and use it more like a quilt then a mummy. By taking of the zipper I got it's weight down to 18.2oz. With proper clothes layering I could easily take temp. rating down to the 20's. but I don't want push that envelope in the summer. Overall a excellent product from Western Mountaineering. Highly recommended

Barnett Childress
( Barnett_Childress )

New England
Excellent LW Bag on 08/03/2009 12:35:43 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

This is a lot of bag for 16oz. Packs well with a SUL kit. I've got the 6' bag & there is plenty of room for me at 5' 8" and 165lbs. I used this bag in early spring & slept very comfortably. It was 26F when I woke up. I slept under my MLD Grace tarp in a MLD LiteSoul bivy with a GG 3/8" torso pad & my pack under my legs. I was wearing Smart Wool LW hiker socks, Cloudveil Switchback softshell pants, MB UL Thermawrap Jacket, BPL UL Merino top & shorts for a base & a Possum Down beenie. I remained toasty & didn't realize it dipped so cold until I reached out to light my stove.

Edited by Barnett_Childress on 08/03/2009 12:41:07 MDT.

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