Broadly speaking

The Lowdown

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Broadly speaking

4 Feb 2020
Bags you can stretch out in are quite a rarity. But why? And why are we making them?

Nice and snug. But to some, this level of snug is only appropriate before birth.

Anybody who’s ever worked with sleeping bags will recognise this question:

“Have you got something that’s wide around the feet?”

The answer generally involves explaining that wider designs are less efficient because it takes more heat energy to warm up the extra space, as well as the fact that they’re obviously heavier and bulkier. So if you’re using top-quality insulation and fabrics to insulate and save on weight and bulk, it’s a bit of a waste to sew them into an inefficient, oversized shape.

And anybody who’s ever given that explanation will recognise this response:

“Yeah, makes sense I suppose…but I just hate being hemmed in.”

And that’s absolutely fair enough. After all, the entire point of a sleeping bag is to allow you to sleep, but if you can’t get comfortable then that’s not going to happen. Of course the reasoning behind snug, tapered bags is sound…but sound reasoning doesn’t necessarily mean sound sleep.

So it occurred to us that actually, rather than considering it a waste to use decent materials on a less efficient design, if somebody’s unlucky enough to really need wriggle room then they really need those materials to mitigate that compromise. And even if somebody just happens to prefer the idea of a wider bag for stretching out or curling up, why should they heft around masses of extra bulk?

Sure: small, light, efficient bags are still the first choice for a lot of people, so the wider bag is currently – ironically enough – quite a narrow niche. But as luck would have it, we just so happen to have a workshop dedicated to making sleeping bags to meet individual needs…

It’s from this obvious-after-the-fact idea that our semi-rectangular bags grew.

These comfort-focused bags have been made with plenty of wriggle room, and use the same high-end goose down and fabrics as you’ll find on the bags we’d send to the Cairngorms or the Himalayas.

Spot the difference. Yes, alright clever clogs, one’s black and one’s blue…the black one is our classic Minim, the blue one is the Greenlandic.

While they do taper towards the feet, it’s a much more gentle narrowing. The point about thermal efficiency is still true, and cold feet are an easy route to a bad night’s sleep! We have to balance space and warmth, but our in-house design and manufacturing setup gives us the luxury of being able to skew that balance towards…well, towards luxury.

So where are these bags to be used? Polar explorers, ultra-runners, alpinists and high-altitude mountaineers are all still likely to opt for our more form-fitting bags, so in the semi-rectangular bags we’ve concentrated on more ‘general purpose’ camping and backpacking sort of temperatures. The shoulder-length Icelandic 200 and 300 are rated to 5°C and 0°C respectively, while the Greenlandic 400 goes down to -5°C.

That said though, the range has scope for use in some pretty serious conditions: the Greenlandic Overbag (also rated to -5°C if used solo) is shaped to go over the top of the others, where it gives a 23°C boost and creates a very versatile Sleep System. That’s a pretty wide range of temperatures as well as a pretty wide range of movement…and lest we succumb to any more laboured puns, it’s probably as well to wind this up here.

Suffice it to say: if you’re after a warm, lightweight bag, but you’re also after a roomy, spacious bag, you no longer have to choose.

If you’re after a warm, lightweight bag, but you’re also after a roomy, spacious bag, you no longer have to choose.
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Gear mentioned in this post
A lightweight, shoulder-length down sleeping bag with a roomy, comfort-focused shape....
£397.00
A lightweight, shoulder-length down sleeping bag with a roomy, comfort-focused shape....
£472.00
The Greenlandic is an impressively light, spacious down bag delivering sub-zero...
£568.00
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