Backpacker April ’08 proclaims the Marmot Helium bag is ”sleep-anywhere evidence that luxury and lightweight can go hand in hand.”
High-Performance Sleeping Bag
Pros: Warm, Comfortable, Roomy, Adjustable Hood
Cons: Inaccurate weight listing
Best Uses: Car Camping, 3 Season Camping, Backpacking
Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational
What Is Your Gear Style: Comfort Driven
I just got my Helium a few hours ago. I was stoked! I ripped open the box and pulled it out quickly. I immediately noticed how soft and cushy it felt. Upon laying it on my sleeping pad I noticed how quickly it lofted up. I unzipped the bag and climbed in. It was plenty roomy and comfy. The zipper zipped up easily and even as sloppy as I zipped it up it did not snag once. The cinch cord is easy enough to use and I really like the way the hood cinches around my face. It seems to be more contoured to my head, rather than just closing up over it. I can’t wait to take it out on a trip!
The only complaint I have is the weight. I bought this bag expecting a sub 2 pound bag, but whenever I set it on my scales it weighed in at 2 pounds 3.2 ounces (35.2 ounces). Granted this was in the 0.7 ounce stuff sack. I thought this was a pretty big difference in weights since it is being sold as a 31 ounce bag. So, I checked out the hang tags that are placed on the bags with the price and EN listings more closely, and it listed the total weight as being 2 pounds 3 ounces. This verified that there was not much of a weight variation in the listed and actual weights, but it also verified that this bag is selling as a 1 pound 15 ounce bag and actually weighs 2 pounds 3 ounces. This is according to the hang tags on the bag. I did speak with an agent once I realized this, and I was assured I could return the bag for another one. I do plan on going to the store with my scales and checking it out myself before I exchange it though.
Other than this hang up, I believe it will be a great bag. As far as using it, I am curious to see how well it repels water. I chose the regular Helium over the EQ version mostly because I was trying to cut weight out, however, with the actual weight of the regular Helium, the EQ may have been a better choice especially since there is only a 2 ounce difference in the weights.
After I am able to use this bag (or find another reason to update) I will provide a more thorough report.
Update: Not a real biggy, but I had a moment and wanted to post a little more about this bag. I have slept in it both nights that I have had it so far (granted they have been indoors) and I am even in it right now. It is sheer bliss. The bag is super plush, it just feels like it conforms to my body when I lay inside it. Synthetics are nothing in comparison to this. The liner is very thin, but soft and slick. And the hood is quite different form the other hoods I have used. I was a little skeptical about the hood, but it has turned out rather nice.
Some other things that I have found about the bag that are so-so is that the stitching on the inside is raised, and is not very soft. Especially when compared to the rest of the bag. I really don’t know if there is anything that could be done about this though, but thought it was worth noting. Also, the draft tube is described as an “Oversized Draft Tube” on the site, and I honestly would not consider it oversized. It is “just-sized” in my opinion, and by this I mean it is just the size to cover it with no extra to make it “oversized.” If the bag is allowed to lay flat and I lay still, the draft tube covers the zipper, however, if I am moving around in the bag, it is practically useless. So, I will get to see how well this affects the overall results when it is actually cold outside. I will be sure to watch this and report back on it (it just may take a while for it to get cold around here!)
Last night, as well as tonight, I will be using a Jag Bag Hi Tech Mummy fine silk liner with the bag. I slept comfortably with it last night in the Helium. I was afraid that I would get tangled up inside the bag with the liner, but it did not happen. Even when I roll over on my side. (And when I roll over on my side, I roll inside the bag rather than rolling the whole bag with me.) The silk liner just slid across the liner of the sleeping bag. Also, the liner covered up the annoying stitching on the inside of the bag.
I am still impressed with my bag though. I will be sure to watch the little annoyances though throughout time and see how they progress.
Update: Ok, so today I was playing with my bag, and decided to try to see if I could really get all of the down to shift side to side in my bag. The great thing about this is that 1. On warmer nights, I could shift all the down off the top of the bag, this way the bag is not as hot, and 2. On colder nights I can shift all the down from the bottom to the top of the bag.
This makes sense because when you lay on the bottom of the sleeping bag, the down becomes compressed, resulting in a lack of insulating abilities. Down must be lofted to provide thermal efficiency. So, technically all the insulating material in the bottom of the bag is useless, and can be viewed as extra unwarranted weight.
This is why some desire quilts – which have no bottom side so they are less weight and provide the same function. Also, a company called Bug Agnes specializes in sleeping bags which feature a bottom, but without insulation. All of the insulation (down or synthetic) is in the top of the bag. The bottom features a sleeve which holds a sleeping pad in place. The sleeping pad is what provides the insulating factors to your bottom side.
So, I can take all 19 ounces of 850+ down and fluff my bag to move it all to the top of my bag. Ideally, this would improve its rating, with a proper pad below me. However, I am not sure if this is done when the temperature ratings are figured. I will contact Marmot and question this, as well as check it for myself once the temperature comes around!
So, I took some pictures to depict what I have said, and here they are:
I have uploaded a full review of the Helium at Backpackgeartest.org, so check it out here: