Gadling gear review: Kelty Cosmic Down 20º sleeping bag

Over the past 60 years, Kelty has built itself a reputation for designing high quality outdoor gear that won’t empty your wallet. Their line of equipment includes backpacks, tents, camp lights, and more, all of which has helped inspire several generations of Americans to go outside and enjoy their time in nature. One of Kelty’s signature lines of equipment has always been their sleeping bags, which is a piece of gear that is integral to enjoying any camping trip. After all, if we don’t get a good nights sleep, chances are we’ll never want to go camping again.

The Kelty legacy for providing affordable and high quality gear remains well intact with their Cosmic Down selection of bags. Available in ratings of both 0º and 20º Fahrenheit, the company has brought affordable down-filled sleeping bags to the masses. These days, our sleeping bags are generally filled with natural goose down or a mix of synthetic materials, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages. Down tends to be warmer and lighter than synthetic, but it can also be much more expensive and doesn’t always perform well in wet conditions. Those are all important options to consider when purchasing a bag for your next adventure.

I recently had the opportunity to test the Cosmic Down 20º bag and was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed. Not only is it a comfortable option for three-season camping (spring, summer, fall), it compresses down to a small footprint, allowing it to fit nicely inside your backpack. It is also well built, with high quality materials and zippers, and features a host of nice touches, such as a warm hood, security loops for attaching to a sleeping pad, and a stuff sack for carrying the bag while on the go. In short, Kelty has put a lot of work into delivering a product that will fill the needs of most travelers who need a sleeping bag, and it shows through quite quickly.
When put to use in real-world conditions, the Cosmic Down 20º lived up to its rating, keeping me warm on cooler nights. That said, I wouldn’t want to push this bag any further than that rating, and if you’re going to be using it in colder temperatures, you may want to consider the 0º option or adding a liner for additional warmth. The Cosmic Down also comes in three different sizes (small, medium, and large) and for the best performance and comfort, you’ll want to be sure to choose the bag that is right size for you. Additionally, this is a “mummy” style bag, which wraps around the head for added warmth, and while I prefer these types of sleeping bags, there are some who feel a bit claustrophobic with this type of design. If you haven’t used a mummy bag before, you may want to try one out before buying.

Make no mistake, there are warmer, lighter, and more durable sleeping bags on the market. Those bags are also a lot more expensive than Kelty’s offering. The Cosmic Down starts at just $99 (add $10 for medium and $20 for large sizes), which is an unbelievable price for a down-filled sleeping bag. That makes the CD a very attractive option for casual campers or those looking to invest their money in upgrading their other camping gear, such as their tent or backpack.

It is difficult to overstate just how much bang for your buck the Cosmic Down delivers. If you’re in the market for a new sleeping bag or if you need one for an upcoming trip, this is an option that will not only meet the needs of the vast majority of travelers, it’ll do so without breaking the bank. As the holidays approach, the Cosmic Down also makes a great gift for the outdoor enthusiast on your list as well. For casual use, in weather that is less than extreme, it is hard to beat this bag.

Kelty Gunnison 2.1 tent giveaway

Last week we reviewed the Kelty Gunnison 2.1 tent. This versatile back woods shelter works equally well at a full-service campground as it does on a lightweight backpacking excursion. We’re hooking-up one lucky Gadling reader with a Gunnison 2.1 of their own. That’s right, it’s time for a tent upgrade.

The Gunnison 2.1 is a two-person shelter that sets up quickly, and keeps occupants dry in heavy downpours. With camping season in full swing, there’s no better time to win some new outdoor digs.


  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us your favorite camping spot.
  • The comment must be left before Friday September 3, 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 Kelty Gunnison 2.1 tent.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The tent is valued at $189.95
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.

Kelty Gunnison 2.1 tent

Finding a tent versatile enough to bridge the gap between all your outdoor pursuits is a daunting task. Those of us who use our tent for car camping, as well as for more rugged expeditions, don’t want to invest in two shelters. The Kelty Gunnison 2.1 has the roominess of a campground tent, yet is lightweight enough for a weekend backpacking trip.

Nobody wants to spend ten minutes trying to figure out which pole goes where, or untangle a web of cords, just to find out they have the tent set up backwards. For the tent-pole-challenged among us, Kelty utilizes a pole system that has two permanently connected poles that are the same length. This means that the tent will go up no matter which direction you install the poles. In addition to the simple design of the poles, color-coordinated tabs allow the rain fly to be snapped on quickly, even on the first try. In our testing, the Gunnison 2.1 was up in two minutes. Adding the rain fly took an additional three minutes, for a total set-up time of five minutes.Dryness factor
We put the Gunnison up in dry conditions, but the weather soon went south. A thunderstorm rolled in and produced heavy rains and lightning, the perfect testing environment. Everything stayed dry inside the tent during the storm, including items we stored outside under the fly (in the vestibule areas). This was mostly due to the rain fly’s seams, which are taped, creating impenetrable corners and edges on the fabric. In serious wind and rain it’s best to use the guy lines provided to stake out any loose sections of the rain fly.

DAC featherlite poles are some of the lightest and easiest to install in the tent universe. The weight of these poles, along with the polyester walls, make for a tent light enough to carry on a backpacking excursion, where ounces count. The Gunnison weighs just under six pounds when packed, and can easily be split up among two trekkers, dividing the load.

The two vestibules are not particularly large, but sizable enough to accommodate a backpack and boots on each side. The interior of the tent will sleep two six-footers snugly, but doesn’t leave much room for storing gear inside. This is where the gear hammock (seen at right) comes in handy. Headlamps, eyeglasses, and maps can be safely tucked away by hanging them in this lightweight attic.

Price point
The Kelty Gunnison 2.1 comes in at $190 and can be found at Kelty, REI, Altrec, and most major outdoor retailers. The main competition for the Gunnison is the REI Half Dome 2. The Half Dome 2 has a similar features listing, but at $199, costs slightly more.

The Gunnison makes for a great go-to tent for multi-sport outdoor enthusiasts. Performing equally well in the campground as it does in the back country, this tent can easily make the gear list of virtually any adventure trip.

For the true tent geek, we’ve listed the specs below.

Seasons: 3
Number of doors: 2
Number of vestibules: 2
Capacity: 2
Minimum weight: 4 lb. 14 oz. / 2.21 kg
Packaged weight: 5 lb. 9 oz. / 2.52 kg
Floor area: 37 ft2 / 3 m2
Vestibule area: 10.2 ft2 + 10.2 ft2 / 0.9 m2 + 0.9 m2
Length: 92″ / 234 cm
Width: 58″ / 147 cm
Height: 40″ / 102 cm
Packed diameter: 7″ / 18 cm
Packed Length: 25″ / 64 cm

Five stylish items that save time in a security check

We’ve all been there. A security check procedure goes something like this – untie and remove shoes, unbuckle and remove belt, take out wallet, drop keys in the bowl, dig into your bag for your laptop, then step through the metal detector only to discover you had change in your pocket.

It’s an annoying process but one set in place to keep us all safe. So we deal with it. Seasoned travelers know there are shortcuts for the security hubbub and travel goods manufacturers are constantly innovating new products that help us get to our gates a little quicker. Here are five products that fit the bill.

Jimi Wallet
The beauty of the Jimi lies in it’s simplicity. The basic clamshell design and minimalist approach are ideal for those who know how to pare down to the essentials when traveling. With room for a few credit/debit cards, an ID, an insurance card, and a few bills the Jimi forces the user to keep it simple. Its translucent water resistant casing is versatile enough for a trip to the beach or a hike in the hills. The included money clip is also made of plastic and won’t set off the sirens as you breeze through security. All this coolness comes in under $15. The Jimi shows us that plastic wallets aren’t just for kids.

Kavu Burly Belt
Belts are often forgotten as a flier strolls into the metal detector. Then it’s back through the scanner or into the dreaded plastic booth for a pleasant wanding. Kavu has taken a similar approach to our friend the Jimi Wallet. The Kavu Burly Belt uses a plastic fastener for a buckle and doesn’t incorporate metal anywhere in the design. The trippy designs on the webbing that makes up the strap will make your more outdoorsy friends jealous.

Chaco Flip Pro
“pictured above”
This uber-cool flop, available in men’s and women’s models, sports a webbing upper and a rubber lower. The sole is Vibram and is designed to grip all types of terrain. Unlike many flip flops the Flip Pro also keeps feet comfy for the long haul by including an arch. The advantage to flops in the security line are obvious; simply slip out and slide through.Kelty Platform
This day pack is a workhorse in disguise. The rugged exterior gives the Platform a casual appearance but hides some handy features. The ventilated back panel deters a sweaty back when traveling in hot or humid conditions. The strap-to-sling carry configuration allows two ways to carry the bag. But the feature that will help you get past security with lightning speed is the laptop side zipper. This long zipper runs down the side of the pack and accesses only the laptop compartment to allow for a quick grab as you enter the line.

Tech4o Traileader Pro
Who says a plastic watch can’t look professional? The Traileader Pro boasts not only the ability to slip through security without removal but is also packed with features that could prove useful if your destination includes outdoor activities. The Traileader Pro has a built-in compass, barometer, altimeter, and weather forecast for the more adventurous trips.

By upgrading a few items in your travel kit to non-metal accessories and items designed for quick action you will be through security quicker and on to the coffee shop on the other side to check your email. With that said, there are never any guarantees that the guy in front of you won’t have a pocket full of quarters.

Design your own sleeping bag

It’s getting close to camping time here in the Midwest. I love camping. I love loading up the car with my tent, sleeping bags, coolers filled with various meats and beers, and heading into the wilderness. Had I not been recently gifted a pair of new, cold-weather sleeping bags, I’d consider building my own from the UK’s PHD Mountain Software.

The company’s website has a slick Flash interface for constructing your own sleeping bag, and offers two “trails” to getting it done: the “free route” — if you know what you’re doing — or the “guided route” for the novice. Since I don’t know the first thing about building a sleeping bag, I chose the guided route.

From there you’re given various features to choose for your future sleeping bag: minimum temperature, outer fabric, inner fabric, stuff patterns, width, length, colors, and many, many others. Make your selections, submit your order, and you’re done.

The prices, unsurprisingly, are not cheap. The bag I built was 270.00 GBP (about $530 USD), and I’m sure it could have been much higher had I selected more add-ons. But this might be the perfect thing for the hardcore camping or mountaineering enthusiast with some extra cash to burn. For now, I’ll stick to my Keltys.