Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW

Beautifully constructed, lightweight, and highly-efficient mummy for three-season conditions. But does it have the versatility you need?

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by Doug Johnson | 2006-10-17 03:00:00-06

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW

Introduction

At less than 1.5 pounds for a 6 foot bag with 2.6 inches of loft on top, the Valandré Mirage delivers a lot of insulation for the weight. With its high-contour cut, shaped footbox and short 13-inch side zip, the Mirage is an extremely efficient mummy bag. It is beautifully constructed of high quality materials. However, its versatility is limited by a lack of certain options.

What’s Good

  • High loft for the weight
  • Lightweight, highly-breathable, downproof, water-resistant, and soft Asahi Kasei shell
  • Shaped cut leaves room for a parka inside, gives extra space in the foot area, and maintains a trim fit from the hips to the ankles
  • Short zipper allows for optimum distribution of down
  • High-loft 850+ down

What’s Not So Good

  • Short 13-inch side zipper offers very minimal ventilation
  • Tapered cut is not for large or claustrophobic hikers
  • Not cheap at $349

Specifications

  Year/Model

2006 Valandré Mirage

  Style

Hooded, side zip mummy bag

  Fill

12.3 oz (350 g) 850+ fill goose down

  Measured Loft

2.6 in (6.6 cm) single-layer; total loft 5.2 in (13.2 cm)

  Manufacturer Claimed Temperature Rating

23 °F (- 5 °C) “extreme rating”

  Weight

Measured weight 23.6 oz (669 g); manufacturer’s specification 22.0 oz (624 g)

  Sizes

Medium length (6 ft 0.5 in / 185 cm) tested; also available in short (5 ft 7 in / 170 cm) and long (6 ft 6 in / 200 cm)

  Fabrics

Shell and lining are Asahi Kasei Impact 66 Ripstop 1.1 oz/yd2 (37 g/m2)

  Features

13 in (33 cm) left zip (no draft tube), 5 in (13 cm) baffles at the upper body tapering to 7 in (18 cm) baffles at the foot area, shaped footbox, hood drawcord, 2 hang loops, stuff sack, storage bag

   MSRP

$322 - small, $337 - medium, $354 - large

Performance

The Valandré Mirage is a mummy bag that weighs a light 23.6 ounces in a size medium. 12.3 ounces of this weight is 850+ fill goose down, which provides 2.6 inches of loft on top of the hiker. It has differential cut baffles for improved lofting. The baffles are open on the sides, allowing some shifting of down from front to back if necessary.

Both the outer shell and lining of the bag are Asahi Kasei Impact 66 which is lightweight, highly breathable, downproof, soft, and surprisingly strong. Even on nights when I got into the bag wearing slightly damp clothing, I found that the bag was dry in the morning with no loft degradation due to the ability of the Asahi Kasei fabric to transport moisture. The fabric is treated with a DWR that gives it some water repellency and it sheds water quickly. However, it will soak through; it is important to keep the bag away from wet floors or tent walls with heavy condensation.

The bag comes with a nylon stuff sack and mesh storage bag. The stuff sack weighs only 0.8 ounces but is a very tight fit for the bag. I am not a fan of small stuff sacks or compression sacks with high loft insulation because of their effect on insulation longevity, so I used a larger stuff sack when field testing the Mirage.

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW - 1
The Valandré Mirage has a 13-inch zip on the left side.

The Mirage has a short 13-inch side zipper that allows for easy entrance and exit as well as limited ventilation. There are no other ventilation options on the bag. The zipper has no draft tube or flap which makes it more susceptible to losing warmth. However, the short length makes this not much of an issue in the field and cinching the hood drawcord creates some bunching and overlap of fabric in that area, blocking most of the zipper. As a result, I never noticed a cold spot in the field, even when sleeping under the stars.

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW - 2
The zipper has no flap or draft tube, as shown from this image taken inside the bag.

There is no neck collar on the Mirage but the hood closure provides an excellent seal from drafts. Tightening the hood drawcords results in a triangular opening that is perfect for the nose and mouth. The hood is nicely shaped for full insulation around the head and shoulders without excess space when the hood is cinched.

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW - 3
The shaped hood forms a perfect triangle-shaped breathing hole.

The cordlocks lock together for a good seal without the need for snaps or a Velcro flap. A hard press against the release button is required but it opens easily once you get the hang of it. Once open, exiting the bag is quick and easy.

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW - 4
Cordlocks that click together allow for a secure neck closure without external snaps or Velcro.

The Valandré bag has a very dramatic cut, with circumferences going from 62 to 53 to 38 inches (158 to 135 to 97 centimeters) at the shoulder, hip and foot. The taper provides adequate space in the upper body to wear a high loft jacket while providing a snug and highly efficient cut from the hips down. The foot area is shaped, providing enough room for down booties, a warm water bottle or just extra wiggle room. The fit is a good compromise of efficiency while still allowing extra insulation to push the bag into colder temperatures.

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW - 5
While the hip to lower leg area is very snug, the shaped footbox (seams shown with arrows) gives extra room for the feet.

At $349, the Valandré Mirage is not a value-priced down bag. However, it is beautifully constructed with high-quality fabric and high-loft down. When compared to similar bags from companies such as Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends, the price is right in the ballpark and the Valandré offers similar excellent quality with a unique set of features. Despite extensive field testing in a variety of conditions, I never experienced any durability issues and didn’t lose more than a couple of feathers through seams. The Mirage is an excellent value.

Missing from this review (and for all sleeping bag reviews published here, for that matter) will be an assessment of whether or not the sleeping bag performs adequately at temperatures near its manufacturer-reported temperature rating. Click here for the complete Backpacking Light Position Statement on Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings.

What’s Unique

The Mirage gives excellent loft for the weight. The contoured cut provides enough space to wear a parka inside while giving an efficient fit from the hips down.

Recommendations for Improvement

While the Valandré Mirage is a highly recommended bag, it doesn’t offer many ventilation options, limiting its versatility. While it would add some weight and complexity, an opening in the foot area would be a welcome change, allowing for extra ventilation when temperatures get warmer.


Citation

"Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/valandre_mirage_sleeping_bag_review.html, 2006-10-17 03:00:00-06.

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Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW on 10/17/2006 20:48:57 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Valandré Mirage Sleeping Bag REVIEW

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
alternative with full zip and stretch system on 10/18/2006 00:37:54 MDT Print View

This reviewed bag does not have a full zip, nor baffles, nor any stretch capability. An alternative is the 23oz Montbell UL super stretch down hugger #3 (-10C extreme, compared to the Mirage -7 extreme). It uses internal baffles to keep the inner bag surface in contact with the body, yet allow about 33% horizontal stretch for comfort. With the concept of dual use, I don't just sleep in my bag, I can sit in this bag cross-legged.. I'll never go back to a non-stretch type. Another advantage of the stretch system is that the inner surface is always pulled away from the outer surface, thus constantly maximizing loft. Montbell has the world patent for the "super stretch" system, which is why no other manufacturer such as W.M. or F.F. can copy it. Rumor is in a few months Montbell will upgrade to 800 fill from 725; their new down jackets are already 800.

Marcel Besemer
(warmbags) - F

Locale: Worldwide
Valandré Mirage on 10/18/2006 05:17:43 MDT Print View

A bag like this doesn't need baffles and any stretch will compress the down and give many people a "locked" feeling. Stretch IS used by other companies i.g. Mountain Equipment (UK).
The Mirage comes with a 3/4 zip and zipbaffle in 2007....!!!!!

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
large volume for upper body on 10/18/2006 09:29:38 MDT Print View

The large upper body volume seems typical of Valandre's bags. I tried this bag, but found it to be much less warm than, for example, Nunatak's Alpinist, which is similar in price and total weight, though I think more lofty. The difference is that the Alpinist fits more snugly in the chest region. Excess volume in a bag, though it might allow one to wear a down jacket, also pretty much demands that one wear that jacket to avoid having to heat a volume of air which changes during the night every time one rolls over, because of the bellows effect.
I also felt that the available down, spread over the larger area required by the greater chest volume, developed cold spots.
For much less money, on sale, one can buy a North Face Beeline, which, though it has no zipper at all, uses Pertex Quantum and 900 fill down, and weighs 18.6 oz.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F

Locale: Northern Utah
Mirage testing down to 12 degrees w/ comfort on 10/18/2006 12:14:34 MDT Print View

I have personally tested the Valandre Mirage in 12 degree weather, without a shelter, and stayed warm. Not toasty, but comfortably warm.

I posted this review on Charles' site, www.backpacking.net, about two years ago.

I was wearing only a base layer of Marmot driclime, along with a balaclava, and had an Exped DAM underneath me.

Photos of two thermometers are included in order to support my claims.

As a side note, I was 250 lbs at the time, and found that the Mirage had adequate and spacious room for a torso of that size. I have since lost 60 lbs, and found that the Mirage has ample amount of room for layering.

As a result of my own personal testing with Valandre products, I feel that Valandre uses the finest down available, head and shoulders above what the U.S. companies are using. I have discovered, time and again, that their equipment is incredibly warm for its weight.

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
New Mirage Bags on 10/18/2006 22:51:49 MDT Print View

Hello Marcel,

How do you know that the new Mirage will have a different zipper and a drafttube, and when will it available?

Randy

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: alternative with full zip and stretch system on 10/18/2006 23:23:54 MDT Print View

Hello all,

Just to reconfirm- Valandre announced TODAY that they will offer both this bag and a 3/4 zip model in the new year. Retail prices will be only $9 more for the longer zip model.

No word yet on how that will affect weight or what the configuration will be (ie draft tube or flap).

Doug Johnson

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: alternative with full zip and stretch system on 10/20/2006 06:14:36 MDT Print View

He Doug,
can this announcement be read anywhere? Does it include just news on the Mirage or also other stuff?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Mirage info on 10/22/2006 02:04:02 MDT Print View

Hi Tom,

Here's the body of the e-mail I received- it has price info too. Just Mirage info though- sorry!

To all US-dealers:

At OR we noticed the need for a Mirage extreme-lightweight sleepingbag with a 3/4 zipper, next to a "short-zip" model.

It will be available !!! The prices will be for 2007:

Mirage short-zip (Retail) in USD:
small: 322
medium: 337
large: 354

Mirage 3/4 zip (Retail) in USD:
small: 331
medium: 346
large: 363

Best regards,
Marcel Besemer
Sales Director
Sarl Valandré

You know what's really neat about this model change? I was the BPL person that visited Valandre at the OR show and shared my opinion that a longer zipper model of the Mirage would be a good addition. Now I'm certain I wasn't the only one but Marcel did mention our interaction in an e-mail to me. It's exciting for two reasons: 1) Valandre is very interested in product development and reponds quickly with product developments. 2) Our BackpackingLight opinions are highly respected in the outdoor community. I just thought I'd share that with you, our BackpackingLight community!

Take care,
Doug Johnson