Gadling gear review: Brooks-Range Alpini 30 sleeping bag

A review of the Brooks-Range Alpini 30 sleeping bagSummer camping is one of the best ways to enjoy the warmer weather that comes along with that season. The days are long, allowing for plenty of time to take in your favorite outdoor activities, and the nights are cool, but comfortable, making it the perfect time to sleep outside. As usual with any camping trip however, the gear you use plays an important role in how much you enjoy the experience, with your tent and sleeping bag playing vital roles.

With this in mind, outdoor gear company Brooks-Range has recently introduced a new line of sleeping bags for warm weather camping. Their Alpini 30 is rated down to freezing (32ºF/0ºC), which is perfect for summer nights, offering versatility and comfort across a variety of climates and altitudes.

That versatility is important on warm weather trips, when you have the potential to experience a wide range of temperatures. The Alpini was designed with this thought in mind, as Brooks-Range has wisely included high-quality, bi-directional zippers that go a long way toward ensuring comfort on nights spent in the tent. Campers who need cooler air around their legs and feet will appreciate the ability to open the lower area of their sleeping bag, independent of the top, letting in fresh air as needed. On cooler nights however, they’ll still have the option of zipping this mummy-style bag snugly around themselves, keeping them as warm as possible.The Alpini 30 uses 850+ fill goose down wrapped inside a patented Pertex Quantum fabric, which gives it a durable exterior and a soft, comfortable interior. That means that the bag is tough and comfortable at the same time. Additionally, those same fabrics allow the bag to compress down quite nicely as well, which indicates that it doesn’t take up much room in your backpack if you’re looking to carry it with you into the backcountry. The fact that the Alpini weighs in at less than a pound and a half only adds to its appeal as a lightweight travel companion for those in need of a good sleeping bag while on the go.

Brooks-Range has included a few other nice touches with the Alpini as well. For instance, they’ve built in an internal storage pocket that comes in handy for keeping small gear items, such as a headlamp or iPod, close at hand. The Alpini also comes with a high quality stuff sack for when you’re traveling, as well as a large cotton storage sack for use back home. These may seem like simple things, but they are much appreciated over the life of the bag, which should last most people for years.

As you can probably tell from this review, I’m quite impressed with the Alpini 30 both in build quality and versatility, however this sleeping bag definitely isn’t for everyone. I say that, because it only comes in one size and if you’re over six feet in height, you’ll find that it is too small to be completely comfortable. Taller backpackers and campers will need to look elsewhere for their sleeping options.

If you’re using this bag, you’ll also want to pay close attention to the temperature rating. The Alpini is a great option for three-season camping, spring through fall. But if you get caught out in colder than expected weather, you’ll definitely have some uncomfortable nights. It is an excellent piece of gear when used for the temperatures it is designed for, but if you need something a bit warmer, you’ll want to try out the Alpini 15, which is rated down to 15ºF/-9ºC.

If you’re in the market for a good, high quality, well designed and built, sleeping bag for warm weather adventures, the Brooks-Range Alpini 30 should definitely be on your radar. It is perfect for camping trips from spring to fall and should serve well in that capacity for years to come.

National Geographic reveals spring/summer gear of the year

National Geographic Adventure presents their Gear of the Year 2011In what has become an annual rite of spring, National Geographic Adventure has released their list of picks for their Gear of the Year for the 2011 spring/summer seasons. The list arrives just ahead of the warmer months, when outdoor enthusiasts are looking for durable, dependable, yet lightweight, gear to accompany them on their summertime adventures.

The Gear of the Year list is a diverse one, offering up all kinds of suggestions on how to spend your hard-earned cash. Whether you’re in the market for a new backpack, tent or sleeping bag, you’ll find excellent options here. You’ll also find cameras, watches, and other high tech travel gear as well, not to mention footwear for just about any outdoor activity you can think of.

Some of the gear that earned a spot on the list include the Hornet 46 backpack from Osprey, which is lightweight, comfortable, and versatile. Basically everything you could want in weekend pack. If you’re in the market for a tent, Nat Geo recommends the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3, which is the perfect summer shelter for two people plus their gear. Want to hit the trail on a mountain bike? The Yeti 575 Enduro gets the nod, while the Giant Defy Advanced 3 takes home the honors for those who prefer to stay on the road.

This is just a sample of some of the gear that made Nat Geo’s list, but there are plenty more suggestions where these came from. If you’re in the market for some new gear for your outdoor adventures this summer, then you’ll definitely want to give this article a look. You may even find an item or two you didn’t even know you needed!

National Geographic names Gear of the Year for 2010

If you’re looking for advice on the best outdoor and travel gear available today, you might as well get it from National Geographic Adventure.To that end, the organization has posted its selection for their annual Gear of the Year awards, pointing a spotlight on a host of new and innovative products that are sure to make your next trip a more enjoyable one.

The list contains 32 great items ranging from gloves to jackets to sleeping bags and just about everything in between. There are suggestions for hot new cameras, a couple of pairs of boots, skis, and even an electric motorcycle that is both fun to ride and environmentally friendly.

While the list of products may be very diverse, they all share a few things in common, namely great design and good use of modern technology. Some of the products that earn the “Gear of the Year” honors include the DeLorme Earthmate, a device that combines a hand held GPS system with a specially designed SPOT Satellite Messenger, that allows you to send text and Twitter messages, not to mention update your Facebook status, while traveling through some of the most remote places on Earth. Gerber earns a nod for their Ultimate Knife, endorsed by Bear Grylls himself, while Patagonia offers up an incredibly warm down-filled sweater that weighs just 10 ounces. How’s that for traveling light?

Travelers looking to upgrade their cameras will want to check out the Canon Powershot S95, which now seems to be the point and shoot camera to beat and the new Nikon D3100 which is getting rave reviews in the budget DSLR arena. And if you’re looking for a new way to carry all of your gear, you might want to check out the Exchange 26 duffel bag courtesy of Briggs & Riley. Nat Geo gives it high marks for being lightweight but still able to carry more than other luggage, while still maintaining a high level of quality and good looks.

As a self confessed gear hound, I can’t help but love these kinds of lists. They not only help me to select the gear I’ll be traveling with in the near future, but they keep me abreast of trends in the industry as well. The problem is, I sometimes get severe gear lust, prompting me to want everything on display.

So, what has National Geographic just added to your wish list?

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.