The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review

The specifications look great, but the devil is in the details.

Overall Rating: Above Average

The Beeline is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's filled with 850+ down, giving it 2.4 inches of single layer loft, which easily justifies its 30 F rating. It has several weight saving features like 15 denier shell fabric and a 1/3 length zipper. But these positives are diminished by a zipper that operates only from the outside and snags easily and a non-sculptured hood that doesn't operate very well or close completely around the face. The net result is an Above Average rating to give credit for its loft and shell.

About This Rating

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by Will Rietveld |

The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review - 1
The 30 F rated North Face Beeline sleeping bag is filled with 850+ fill power down, has a 15 denier shell, and weighs 22 ounces (size Regular).

Description

For summertime mountain backpacking or spring/fall backpacking in warmer climates, I prefer a mummy style ultralight down sleeping bag rated at around 30 F. Cold nights near or below the bag's rating are not uncommon, and a mummy style bag has certain advantages: there are no drafts, I can easily wear clothes inside to extend the bag's warmth, and I can "mummy up" to seal the warmth inside.

The North Face's Flight Series gear "utilizes the latest technologies and most innovative materials to shave weight and enable the outdoor athlete to go fast and light, while still staying protected by the elements. It's a collection featuring the latest in ultralight, packable, adaptive, and multi-purpose gear." The Flight Series Beeline sleeping bag is their lightest 30 F sleeping bag.

The Beeline is filled with 850+ fill power down, has a 15 denier ripstop shell, and is rated at 30 F. The feature set is spartan, which is typical of an ultralight sleeping bag: down insulated hood with elastic one-handed drawcord, 1/3 length zipper, down-filled draft tube, vaulted footbox with zipped vent, and heat-transfer logos. The only thing unusual is the zippered vent on the footbox, which some hikers will find useful and others won't.

From the description, the Beeline sounds like a top notch ultralight down mummy-style sleeping bag. However, the devil is in the details. Read on...

Performance

I measured the bag's average double layer loft to be 4.75 inches (single layer 2.4 inches). This is significantly greater than many similar bags with the same temperature rating, which have a measured single layer loft of around 2 inches. From our table of estimated temperature ratings based on measured loft (read our Backpacking Light Position Statement on Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings), this translates to about a 20 F rating. Please take the time to read the referenced article and note that sleeping bag warmth depends on a number of factors.

In spite of its higher loft, I felt chilly in the Beeline when the nighttime temperature dropped into the low 30s F, which is typical (for me) for a 30 F rated sleeping bag. To stay warm on a cold, frosty spring 25 F night - the lowest temperature I experienced in the Beeline - I had to wear a lightweight down jacket (North Face Thunder Jacket) and insulated pants (Backpacking Light Cocoon 60 Pant). On that same frosty night, I found that the Beeline's shell readily repelled heavy condensation inside my single-wall shelter.

The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review - 2
I tested the North Face Beeline on six mountain backpacking trips from May through August. On each trip, I was in either a single-wall solo tent, like the Gossamer Gear One (left), or the North Face Meso 22 two-person double-wall tent (right). Nighttime temperatures ranged from 25 to 40 F.

Thus far, the Beeline's positives are its high lofting 850+ fill power down, high measured loft, and its lightweight highly water repellent shell. However, as I mentioned, the devil is in the details, and overall the Beeline is a "mixed bag," as the following photos show.

The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review - 3
The Beeline has a 1/3 length side zipper - which I consider a positive because it reduces weight - but the zipper can only be operated from the outside (left). Other sleeping bags have a revolving zipper pull that enables zipper operation from the outside or inside. The only extra feature on the Beeline is a zippered footbox opening (right) to allow ventilation on warm nights. This is a feature that some hikers will like and others can do without.

The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review - 4
The Beeline's hood is a disaster. The left photo shows the hood's maximum closure, which is not enough face coverage on a really cold night. I also don't like the bag's exceptionally long elastic drawcord (shown), but I suppose it's necessary so you can expand the hood opening to reach out and operate the zipper. There is a Velcro closure at the top of the zipper, but it has a nasty habit of sticking to and damaging the grosgrain zipper stiffener that is next to it. The grosgrain stiffener is lightweight, but it doesn't do much to prevent zipper snagging.

The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review - 5
Here's a look at the Beeline's hood fully open (left), laid next to the hood on the Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag. The North Face calls it an "open hood," meaning it lays flat and is not sculptured like the Marmot hood. I found the Marmot hood much more to my liking in both its operation and face coverage.

Comparisons and Assessment

The following table compares the North Face Beeline with some popular 30-32 F rated ultralight mummy style down sleeping bags. All of the bags have baffled construction. Data are for a size Regular bag.

Manufacturer Model Temperature Rating (F) Single Layer Loft (in) Weight of Down (oz) Fill Power Total Weight (oz) Cost US$
The North Face Beeline 30 2.4 10 850+ 22 $279
Western Mountaineering SummerLite 32 2.0 10 850+ 19 $315
Marmot Hydrogen 30 2.5 11 850+ 25 $319
Montbell Spiral Down Hugger #3 30 1.9 11 800 20 $229
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 32 2.0 10 800 22 $290

As you can see from the table data, the Beeline compares favorably to similar sleeping bags in loft, weight, and cost. The Western Mountaineering SummerLite bag is a couple ounces lighter because of its very lightweight shell fabric, but it costs a bit more, too. The Montbell Spiral Down Hugger #3 appears to be the best value.

Overall, the North Face Beeline is a "mixed bag." Accolades for its high loft down, lightweight water resistant shell fabric, and generous loft are offset by a zipper that operates only from the outside, an inadequate zipper stiffener, a Velcro patch that sticks to the zipper stiffener, and a terrible hood design. Unfortunately, the Beeline falls short of TNF's claim of "utilizing the latest technologies."

Specifications and Features

  Manufacturer

The North Face

  Year/Model

2009 Beeline Sleeping Bag

  Style

Hooded mummy with 1/3 zipper

  What’s Included

Sleeping bag, stuff sack, storage bag

  Fill

850+ fill-power down, 10 oz (283g) size Regular, 11 oz (312g) size Long

  Construction

Trapezoidal baffle

  Measured Loft

4.75 in (12 cm) average double layer loft

  Claimed Temperature Rating

30 F (-1 C)

  Stuffed Size

11 in x 6 in (35.5 cm x 20 cm)

  Weight

Size Long tested, measured weight 1 lb 6.7 oz (644 g); manufacturer specification 1 lb 7 oz (652 g)

  Sizes

Regular fits to 6 ft (1.83 m), Long fits to 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)

  Fabrics

Shell 15d HelioLite Ripstop with DWR, 20d lining

  Features

Down insulated open hood with elastic one-handed drawcord, 1/3 length zipper, down-filled draft tube, vaulted footbox with zipped vent, heat-transfer logos

  MSRP

Regular US$279, Long US$299

Citation

"The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/tnf_beeline_sleeping_bag_review.html, 2009-09-29 00:00:00-06.

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The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review on 09/29/2009 15:27:03 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review on 09/29/2009 16:11:20 MDT Print View

Great review. That comparison photo with the Marmot Hydrogen is pretty damning. I have the Hydrogen and appreciate the sculpted hood - If I was going with a bag at 30 degrees, I would want a good hood. (quilts are another issue.)

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review on 09/30/2009 00:58:55 MDT Print View

I just finished a weeks trip in California's Emigrant Wilderness using my new North Face Beeline. Night time temperatures started out fairly warm but dropped quite a bit before dawn. I was sleeping on a NeoAir Short and had to use my LuxuryLight pack cylinders under my lower legs and feet in the early morning hours. I am bald and always wear a Mountain Hardware windproof fleece beanie. On two nights I had to add my Montbell Thermawrap jacket and at least partially close the Beeline's hood.

This is my second Beeline, the first being the original, zipless, version. I found the zipper on the new model to be more of a bother than not and I could well do without the footbox zipper too. You are correct about the Velcro patches being a nuisance. In order to keep them from scratching my cheek I had to make sure to align them perfectly; a difficult task without a light and my bifocals.

The bag would be greatly improved with even a moderately fitted hood. Though, in the five years I've been carrying Beelines, it has suited me well enough.

To give the new bag a fair trial I'll be using it a while longer, but, based on this latest experience, I may go back to my older Beeline. It does the job and isn't so fussy.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review on 09/30/2009 16:21:14 MDT Print View

Just curious, but what's with the recent increase in North Face reviews? The down jacket last week, the bag this week...

Aside from my North Face DIAD jacket, I've never owned a piece of NF gear that I was happy with.

Also, Will, what is that piece of gear dangling in the photo taken outside the Meso 22?

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review on 10/01/2009 14:29:36 MDT Print View

"what is that piece of gear dangling in the photo taken outside the Meso 22?"

Looks like an atmospheric data center.

Tracy Novak
(tracyn) - F
Zipper Blues on 10/02/2009 14:51:57 MDT Print View

How can you give an above average rating to a bag with a zipper that only operates from outside? No way!

Jeff Issenberg
(ijeff)

Locale: SF Bay Area/Sierras
Re: The North Face Beeline Sleeping Bag Review on 12/08/2010 08:25:28 MST Print View

Will,
Thanks for this review. The numbers on this looked really great in the spreadsheet with your "Ultralight Three-Season Down Mummy-Style Sleeping Bags: State of the Market Report 2010". And looked even better when I just found it on sale for $213, making the value jump to the top of the chart. The devil is in the details! Glad I read this review first.

Edited by ijeff on 12/08/2010 21:37:03 MST.