Is there any better place to test gear than Alaska? This Nemo sleeping bag review was born from a hunt that I recently was able to go on….a hunt of a lifetime. I was the lucky winner of an Alaskan brown bear hunt through a raffle, and to make it even better, the hunt was then selected to be captured by the Leupold film team for their Project Hunt series. So when I say hunt of a lifetime, I truly mean it in this case.
Given that I was heading to one of the most damp, windy, and cold environments I have hunted to date, I knew that my sleep system was going to need to be able to withstand those challenging conditions and the harsh Alaskan environment. My sleeping bag would need to be able to shrug off any cold that I encountered as building a fire simply was not possible in the wide open tundra we were hunting.
Picking Your Sleep System – To Mummy or Not to Mummy
In preparing for a hunt like this, there are a lot of factors that go into sleep system choices. One of the first things I needed to determine was the shape of the sleeping bag I wanted to use. To be completely honest, I am not historically a fan of mummy bags.
That is until trying this Nemo Stalker sleeping bag. I am short at only 5’10″ but am very broad in the shoulders and admittedly a little thicker in the mid-section than I would like. Because of that, I typically find mummy bags to be quite constricting and uncomfortable. I also find myself needing to order the longer or wider sleeping bags to accommodate my dimensions despite not being overly tall.
All that being said, I was willing to give this over-sized mummy bag from Nemo a try as it seemed to offer more room than other mummy bags and they tout it as being friendly to side sleepers like me. For some people anything resembling mummy bag is a non-starter, while others prefer to maximize their thermal efficiency and have their sleeping bag be as snug as possible. I am definitely not the latter and prefer the extra room to move around, which fortunately the Nemo Stalker sleeping bag provided.
Specs and Sizes – Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag
The Nemo Stalker 0 Degree sleeping bag comes in two sizes: Regular and Long. The regular weighs in at 3 lbs 4 oz while the long comes in slightly heavier at 3 lbs 9 oz. The packed length of the long is also about half an inch longer than the regular. This, of course, is also a factor for many hunters when selecting their sleep system as pack space can be at a premium, particularly on colder weather hunts when more gear is needed to keep warm, and cold weather gear is bulkier and simply takes up more pack space.
Due to the logistics of getting to this Alaskan Brown Bear hunt base camp, I was only allowed to bring my gun case and one large duffel that included my pack system. My sleeping bag needed to be warm and packable, although I would not necessarily be carrying this in my pack while hunting during the day. I had to stay under 50 lbs between my gun case and duffel, and of course there were size restrictions with what I was allowed to take. As a result, my sleep system needed to take up minimal weight and space.
My preferred quilt was not an option on this hunt as there was no way I was willing to risk being cold and was unsure what the ground conditions were going to be like where we were sleeping. I knew that if I was in a floorless tent, I did not want to deal with cool, wet ground close to the exposed underside of a quilt. Consequently, to optimize protection, packability, and weight savings, I chose to go with a down mummy bag that could adapt to the circumstances.
Here are the specs that the Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag Offers:
|Nemo Stalker 0° Specs
|800 FP Hydrophobic Down
|800 FP Hydrophobic Down
|1 lb 12 oz
|1 lb 13.2 oz
|3 lb 4 oz
|3 lb 9 oz
|Limit Temp Rating
|Comfort Temp Rating
|13.5 in (length) x 9.5 in (diameter)
|14.0 in (length) x 9.5 in (diameter)
|100% Recycled 20D Ripstop Nylon, Bluesign Certified
|100% Recycled 20D Ripstop Nylon, Bluesign Certified
|100% Recycled 30D Nylon Taffeaa, Bluesign Certified
|100% Recycled 30D Nylon Taffeaa, Bluesign Certified
Temperature Rating – Nemo Sleeping Bag Review
Another factor that hunters and outdoor enthusiasts need to consider is the temperature rating of the bag they are using. Sleeping bag temperature ratings are advertised in various ways but what you as the end user need to be aware of is the COMFORT rating rather than the “Limit” or “Extreme” rating. Do not make the mistake of thinking the sleeping bag is much warmer than it actually is based on an advertised value. That advertised temperature is likely the “Limit” rating which is geared toward survival and will effectively keep you from getting hypothermia but is not a representation of comfort.
We won’t go into standardized test details here but it is encouraging that the sleeping bag industry is moving toward a more uniform and reliable temperature rating system. The important takeaway is to pay attention to what rating you are looking at.
This Nemo Stalker Sleeping bag has an EN/ISO “Limit” rating of 0° F and a “Comfort” rating of 14° F. I generally run very hot when I sleep so I knew this temperature rating would keep me well within a comfortable range based on conditions expected during the hunt.
Baffles/Thermo Gill Design – Nemo Sleeping Bag
I have seen other bags with a similar baffle design but the Nemo Stalker baffles are somewhat unique. The upper portion of the bag (above the waist) has baffles sewn lengthwise to aid in keeping the down from migrating to the sides when you toss and turn, while the lower portion (below the waist) has them sewn across the body to limit lengthwise migration. The baffles on the upper portion of the bag are where their unique Thermo Gill Vents are placed. I really liked this feature from not only a cooling aspect, but for a bigger guy like myself it allowed more room in the bag when they are unzipped.
The Nemo Stalker sleeping bag gives you down-filled collars strategically placed along the zippers and around the neck to limit drafts from entering the bag. These collars also helped keep my pillow in place inside the hood of the bag. As a side sleeper, mummy bags have traditionally been a bit of an issue but the Nemo Stalker sleeping bag is the best I have used in this regard. I was able to stay comfortable, my pillow stayed in place, and I did not feel like I was chasing it around all night.
Unique Foot Box Design – Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag
Another one of the unique design element of the Nemo Stalker sleeping bag is their “Toester” waterproof/breathable foot box which is made of a more durable 40D Ripstop Nylon and adds an additional layer of synthetic insulation to reduce cold spots. This extra synthetic insulation is a great addition as the foot box of your sleeping bag is typically the most susceptible to getting wet from the wall of your tent.
Materials – Nemo Sleeping Bag
Nemo utilizes recycled nylon and polyester shell and liner materials that are 100% Bluesign Certified, as well as down that is 100% Responsible Down Standard (RDS)-certified. It is nice to know that Nemo is taking steps to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.
This Nemo Stalker sleeping bag is built with a 20D Ripstop Nylon shell, 30D Nylon Taffeta liner, and the above-mentioned 40D Ripstop Nylon shell protecting the footbox. The thought behind this design is obvious as Nemo went to great lengths to consider the elements hunters might be facing in the backcountry.
Down or Synthetic?
I know there is a lot of debate between down and synthetic when it comes to your sleep system. Most reading this would probably say that I made the wrong choice going with down for a wet environment like the Alaskan Tundra. Fortunately, the 800 fill power (FP) down bag stayed dry the entire time. I even had a pair of socks get wet while on the hunt that I wore inside my bag to let my body heat aid in the drying of those socks.
The biggest negative of down is that it clumps when wet and loses its insulating properties. While this is certainly a valid concern the 800 FP hydrophobic down is designed to mitigate clumping by repelling water. This characteristic helps the down keep its loft in damp environments, although the hydrophobic properties can be overcome if it gets too wet. While hydrophobic down is not a fail safe, it certainly helps and provides peace of mind knowing you have some additional protection against the elements.
Personally I did not have any issues whatsoever with this Nemo Stalker sleeping bag succumbing to the wet environment on this trip. The air inside my tent was very damp and the sidewalls were nearly wet to the touch. To be safe, I did take care to keep my sleeping bag away from the tent walls as much as possible.
In the Field Testing – Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag Review
I slept a total of seven nights in the Alaskan elements and was never uncomfortable due to being cold. The bag was all I could have asked for and then some. I was actually hoping to test it out in much colder temperatures but it never really got below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (° F) during my trip. That being said, I have no doubt that the ISO comfort rating of 14° F would be accurate for me personally. I was very impressed that I could wear my damp socks to bed and wake up with them mostly dry and not really seem to negatively affect the performance of this Nemo sleeping bag.
My first night testing the Nemo Stalker Sleeping bag I slept in a pair of merino shorts, a long sleeve athletic shirt, and a pair of heavy Darn Tough socks. The socks were a big mistake as I was blown away by how warm my sleeping bag was. Even though I fell asleep very quickly, I awoke quickly because I was far too hot and needed to shed the socks. I also needed to allow some of the cool Alaskan air into my bag. The outside air temperature was roughly 35° F that night.
This brought to the forefront one of the really unique features that this Nemo sleeping bag offers: built in heat regulation using zippers sewn into the bag. Nemo calls these Thermo Gill vents, which are two zippers that go roughly from the waist to the neck and can be unzipped to allow more cool air into the bag. A noted benefit of these Thermo Gill vents was that it actually expanded the space in the bag or at least felt less restrictive when I opened these.
Nemo Warranty – Nemo Sleeping Bags
Another positive to using a product from Nemo is their lifetime warranty. I feel that Nemo makes excellent products and it is easy for them to stand behind their work. As a result, they do guarantee their workmanship for life to the original owner with proof of purchase. This is definitely worth saving the receipt for in case you need to make a warranty claim. Given that this Nemo sleeping bag comes with a steep price tag, it is reassuring to know that they stand behind their product if you make this substantial investment.
What I Liked – Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag Review
Even though I was very apprehensive about going back to a mummy bag, I ended up walking away with far more things that I liked than didn’t like about this Nemo Stalker sleeping bag. Most importantly, it kept me warm and dry during my week in Alaska, but it also provided more comfort than I expected. The highlights for me were:
- Thermo Gill Vents
- Fairly compact for the size of bag
- Waterproof/breathable footbox
- Allowed for comfortable movements and side sleeping
- Lifetime warranty
What I Didn’t Like – Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag Review
In our experience, almost no gear is “perfect” and this is true of the Nemo Stalker sleeping bag. While I liked most things about this sleeping bag there is a compromise that is made to achieve the comfort that you get. This is certainly understandable, and a compromise I was willing to make, but these are the downsides:
- A bit heavy/bulky compared to the competition
- It is still a mummy bag
Even though this mummy bag features a much more generous cut than some, overall I still prefer a quilt when weather permits. That being said, when temperatures dip, it is tough to beat a good mummy bag. They just are not as comfortable for me personally.
Conclusion – Nemo Stalker Sleeping Bag Review
Overall, I was very impressed with the Nemo Stalker 0° Sleeping bag. For me personally, its temperature rating was very accurate as the upper 20s to mid-30s temperatures we experienced were almost too warm for me as a hot sleeper. However, this was exactly what I wanted to test on this trip.
As a side sleeper, it was very comfortable, much more so than other mummy bags that I have tried. I was very impressed with my socks drying inside the bag without hampering the performance or worrying that the bag would stay wet throughout the day.
The Thermo Gill vents are also a HUGE bonus for me. If a person does not want to open the offset side zipper, they can easily regulate the temperature with these, and I also like that the Thermo Gills expanded the upper side of the bag, providing more room for my shoulders.
I highly recommend this bag to anyone looking for a sleeping bag that is still very lightweight but offers more comfort and a generous cut compared to many other mummy style sleeping bags. The few extra ounces is worth the carry for the extra comfort in my opinion.
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