Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag giveaway

We recently reviewed the Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag. The superior warmth of this bag makes it a perfect choice for locales where temps can dip below freezing. We’re giving one Sierra Designs Vapor 15 away to a lucky Gadling reader!

The Sierra Designs Vapor 15’s construction is focused on weight savings, to keep the bag small and easily stowable. Smart features like a half zipper, jacket-style hood, and ultralight filling make it possible to stuff it down to the size of a football. The Vapor 15 can keep the average sleeper comfortable to temps as cold as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

HOW TO WIN:

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us where you would use this sleeping bag first.
  • The comment must be left before Thursday October 7, 2010 at 5pm Eastern time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive one free Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The bag is valued at $419.95.
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.

Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag

There’s nothing worse than ending a great night of camping by freezing your butt off in your sleep. Sleeping bags have come a long way since the days of those twenty-pound flannel bags with squared-off ends. Now there’s no need to pack an uncomfortable and clunky bag into the wilderness, on that road trip, or across Europe. The modern sleeping bag can keep you warm on cold nights, won’t weigh you down, and packs down incredibly small for efficient traveling.

Sleeping bag designers know that when people overheat in their sleep, they sweat, and when cotton gets wet, it gets cold. The Sierra Designs Vapor 15 utilizes goose down, which doesn’t retain moisture, preventing late night freeze-fests. The Vapor 15 is rated to keep an average sleeper comfortable when the mercury drops to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Warmth isn’t the only thing to look for in a good sleeping bag; intrepid travelers don’t have tons of room to spare in their packs, so space and weight savings are key. The Vapor 15 uses lightweight 850-fill goose down for its filling. The zipper only runs about one third of the way down the bag, which provides just enough room to get in and out but saves the weight of a full length zipper. The regular-sized bag stuffs down as small as a football and weighs-in well under two pounds (1 lb 11 oz). The hood of this mummy-style bag is more akin to a down jacket hood than what is found on a more traditional sleeping bag. The hood feature saves even more weight, and traps heat in, keeping your head toasty all night.In field-testing, the Vapor 15 kept me comfortable, even as temps dipped into the 20s. Condensation built up inside our tent during the night, and moisture gathered on the outside of the sleeping bag’s footbox. That moisture froze into a crystal casing on the exterior of the bag. Despite my popsicle-like state, the inside of the bag stayed incredibly warm. I even had to unzip and slink out of the bag a few times when I got a bit hot.

The price tag on the Sierra Designs Vapor 15 may cause a double-take for those not accustomed to forking over this much for camping gear. Superior construction and design play into this bag’s price, for sure. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my years of sleeping outdoors, it’s that a sound night’s sleep is well worth the price of a good bag.

Retail Price – $419.95

Specs can be found at Sierra Designs.

Suit up: The best whitewater rafting in the U.S.


When it comes to whitewater, bigger is not always better. In fact, some of the best whitewater paddling experiences can be had on rivers that barely break the Class III rating. Those who love to run these rivers know the importance of the rush, but also appreciate the scenery, local culture, and accessibility of a river. Here are some of the best US whitewater destinations based on the overall experience they provide.

Nantahala River, North Carolina – Class II-III
The Nantahala is a great way to take on a whitewater challenge suitable for paddlers of all experience levels. After running this lushly forested river in a raft of inflatable ducky boaters can take out at the Nantahala Outdoor Center and celebrate with a brew and a burger at the River’s End restaurant.

Upper Gauley River, West Virginia – Class III-V
Consistently named one of the top whitewater rivers in the US and the world, the Gauley is a thrilling ride. Not for the faint of heart, the Gauley drops 650 feet in 24 miles and features over 100 rapids. The Upper Gauley should only be run by experts or with a guide service. River Expeditions provides guided trips throughout the summer months and during September and October when the dam is released and the river really goes wild.

Arkansas River, Colorado – Class IV
The Arkansas is a popular river, and for good reason. It touts heart pumping whitewater close to a major city, Denver. The Browns Canyon run is the best way to get away from the highway and sometimes the crowds. As the river drops into a gorge it runs fast and narrow and supplies plenty of hair-raising rapids.Dechutes River, Oregon – Class III
Paddling through the white caps of this Class III river will keep one focused on the task at hand. Between running rapids, take a look around and notice the ancient lava flows that carve the landscape. Playful river otters also provide entertainment along this beautiful stretch of river.

Colorado River, Arizona – Class IV+
Twisting its way through the Grand Canyon, the Colorado river is an icon of the American West. Running the river with a commercial service will ensure not only safety but passage on the river. The coveted non-commercial permits are first-come first-served and must be requested at least one year in advance.

Klamath River, California – Class IV-V
Fishing and irrigation rights have been hotly debated on the Klamath for some time. But, what is truly hot are the series of runs that carve their way through the upper section of the Klamath river near Hell’s Corner.

Cumberland River, Kentucky – Class III
The mostly serene Cumberland takes a wild turn as it enters the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. Boats must maneuver around house-sized boulders as the “below the falls” run descends toward Tennessee.

Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho – Class III
The remote location and strict permit system on the Salmon river help protect the pristine wilderness experience it provides. These isolated rapids can be run May through August.

New River, West Virginia – Class III-V
Despite being named the “New” river, this is the second oldest river on the planet. The lower New river has something for everyone, from roller coaster style rapids to the huge raft-sucking holes. Rafters can even pass beneath or take out under the massive New River Gorge Bridge, home each year to the Bridge Day festival.

Getting out of the city and into the rapids of a whitewater river is the perfect way to challenge yourself. If spectacular scenery and the thrill of a rushing river are what you crave in a paddling trip, these rivers are sure to please.

High Gear Axio Max Steel Watch giveaway

Last week we reviewed the Axio Max Steel watch. This feature-packed wristwatch is ideal for independent travelers who need a compass or altimeter on their journeys. We’re giving away an Axio Max Steel to one lucky Gadling reader! Who’s ready for a backpacking trip?

The Axio Max Steel is more than just a timepiece – it’s a navigational toolbox. The Max Steel has dual time zones, two alarms, a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and more. All these features are packed into an unassuming metal casing, so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a two hundred dollar watch – even though you are.

HOW TO WIN:

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us where you would use this watch first.
  • The comment must be left before Friday September 24, 2010 at 5pm Eastern time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive one free Axio Max Steel watch.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The watch is valued at $210.
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.

High Gear Axio Max Steel watch

When it comes to travel watches, telling time is good, but a watch that can help pinpoint your position is even better. Each trip has a unique itinerary, and those who choose the path less traveled may require a bit more from their timepiece. The Axio Max Steel rises to the challenge with its humble styling and powerful navigational instruments.

The Axio Max Steel is made by High Gear, an up-and-comer in the adventure watch market. They produce a variety of styles, but this particular model packs several features into its unassuming shell. Most altimeter watches have an over-sized face for reading information. The Axio Max Steel does this in a decidedly smaller package that doesn’t scream, “Steal me – I’m expensive!” The stainless steel body could easily be mistaken for a less pricey brand. Below that steel casing, however, lies an army of features that will help you get from point A to point B… or get back to point A, if you’ve lost your way.The main appeal of the Axio Max Steel is this arsenal of features that can help the directionally challenged out of precarious situations. No particular expertise is needed to use this watch, just a good map and a little basic orienteering knowledge.

Altimeter/Barometer
The altimeter on the Axio Max Steel claims to work between -2,303 and 30,045 feet. This means you could theoretically use the feature in the depths of Death Valley or on the icy summit of Mt. Everest. The altimeter uses barometric pressure to find the altitude. Once the altitude is set, the air pressure sensor reads the barometric pressure, and adjusts the altitude accordingly. As with most altimeter watches, the altitude and barometric pressure need to be reset each time the watch lands in a new place. For instance, when you step off the plane in Colorado, your altimeter might be a little confused until it adjusts.

Altitude is a great way to find where you are, if your map has contour lines and elevations marked. If your watch shows you are at 3,000 feet elevation, you can identify the 3,000 foot mark on the map and hone in on your possible locations. Don’t fret if your map has metric measurements – the watch can be adjusted to show meters as well.

Digital Compass
Beyond your map, a compass is the most essential navigational tool you’ll need. The digital compass on the Axio Steel works well. Our tests compared its readings to a magnetic compass, and they matched up almost identically. If you are ever unsure of your location, simply take a compass reading, find north from your position, and find north on your map. Turn the map so that north on the map lines up with actual north on your watch. Now you have oriented the map. Once this is done, you can take a look around at landmarks and natural features to get a better idea of your location.

Other slick features
Beyond the altimeter and compass, there are other features on the Axio Max Steel that make travel easier. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters, which works out nicely for a spontaneous dip in the pool or an accidental fall into the river. There are two alarms to keep you on schedule and ensure you don’t miss the next train stop. A dual time zone feature helps to keep track of the time at home while displaying the time in your current locale. The thermometer also makes for a fun feature when you’ve just got to exactly know how cold or hot it is.

The Axio Max Steel comes in at $210. This price is quite typical of watches that garner this many features. The styling works well for those who want a relatively normal-sized watch, but need the features of the larger computer-style watches.

Specs can be found at HighGear.com