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  Gear Guide
Modern Mummies

New zippers, flaps, and straps—the sleeping bag is reborn. Plus, a high-flying hammock.

•  Sierra Designs Anita Bath
•  Big Agnes Lost Ranger
•  Mountain Hardwear Universe SL

image: sleeping bags

Pity the sleeping bag. The better it does its job, the less likely you are to stay awake to appreciate it.

The innovative mummies pictured here have everything from newfangled ventilation flaps to no-slip pad systems to expandable sidewalls.

These bags keep you drier and more temperate. They keep you atop your air mattress the entire night. In short, they keep you more comfortable than ever before—so you'll be even less likely to notice them.

—Ben Hewitt

All prices in U.S. dollars.

Adjustable Warmth

Sierra Designs Anita Bath
Price: $579
Telephone: +1 510 450 9555
Web: www.sierradesigns.com

The Sierra Designs Anita Bath is one of the company's six new Thermospectrum bags, which have zip-off top panels so you can add or subtract insulation based on the temperature outside.

Filled with high-grade 775 goose down, the 4.4-pound [1.6-kilogram] Anita Bath carries a dual minus 20/0°F [minus 29 to minus 18°C] temperature rating, making it ideal for expeditions in shifting fall conditions. Removing its top panel between uses also allows accumulated moisture to escape, which is of particular importance with down bags.

Every model in the Thermospectrum line has a Pad Lock, a system of elastic bands that anchors your mattress to the bag. Half the models, including the Anita Bath, are designed specifically for women.

No-Slip Sleeping

Big Agnes Lost Ranger
Price: $199
Telephone:+1 877 554 8975
Web: www.bigagnes.com

True, the Big Agnes Lost Ranger has less insulation than your average 15° F [minus 9°C] bag. But that's because designers have eliminated the down filling from the bottom of the 2.8-pound [1-kilogram] Ranger and replaced it with a full-length, 20-inch-wide [51-centimeter] sleeve, which your sleeping pad slides into. This means you can thrash about without slipping from your pad onto the cold, hard ground.

If you fear that the lack of insulation will make for chillier nights, don't—once compressed by your body weight, the filling in the bottom of standard bags loses most of its insulating value anyway. The Ranger sheds a third of its volume and nearly a half pound of heft by getting rid of it, and you stay warm because your mattress is with you the entire night.

Customized Fit

Mountain Hardwear Universe SL
Price: $335
Telephone: 800 330 6800 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.mountainhardwear.com

Each of the versatile bags in Mountain Hardwear's 11-model Quantum line has an extra zipper on one side.

Keep it zipped, and a Quantum bag like the Mountain Hardwear Universe SL is your typical 0°F [minus 18°C] mummy. Open it, however, and the bag blouses out an additional 8 inches [20 centimeters], becoming airier, roomier, and more comfortable in warm weather.

The extra space is also a boon to hip shakers, foot stompers, and arm stretchers who feel confined by the straight-arrow sleeping style demanded by traditional mummy bags.

The shell fabric of the 3.8-pound [1.4-kilogram] Universe SL is Conduit SL, a windproof, water-resistant, and breathable ripstop nylon that helps protect the bag—and, ultimately, you—from the elements.

Photograph by Francesco Bittichesu

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Read more gear reviews in the September/
October 2001 issue of Adventure.
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The Airborne Tent

The Airborne Tent

Eight years and 52 prototypes ago, Tom Hennessy hunched over his mother's 1949 White sewing machine and began to stitch his first Hennessy Hammock, desperately trying to replicate a much-loved World War II canvas-and-mesh design he'd had as a kid. "It's safe to say I was obsessed," the longtime backpacker and traveler says. "That old hammock was a huge part of my childhood."

What Hennessy ended up creating was something entirely unexpected—a full-fledged airborne shelter with the comfort of a traditional hammock and the rain fly, mosquito netting, and stormproof construction of a three-season tent.

After the hammock's debut in the spring 1999 REI catalog, everyone from jungle trekkers to Eco-Challenge racers took notice. Sales, though still modest, are quadrupling annually, and the hammocks are now being shipped as far away as the Australian outback.

Hennessy's five hammock models—including the 2.5-pound [0.9-kilogram] Expedition ($119; 888 539 2930 [U.S. and Canada only]; www.hennessyhammock.com)—can be suspended in less than three minutes.

You enter the Expedition through a bottomside slit that automatically Velcros together once you're inside. And you can sleep anywhere there's a pair of trees, over almost any terrain, including the sharp rocks, steep slopes, fetid swamps, and steaming buffalo dung that typically foil tents. Unlike backyard hammocks, the Hennessy has a proprietary "integral ridgeline" design that maintains the shape of the hammock and helps you sleep level on your back and just as comfortably on your side or stomach.

The Hennessy Hammock is shy on floor space and pretty much useless above tree line, but for solo campers who trek in forested terrain, its birth may mark the end of tentbound nights.

—Ben Hewitt

Photograph by Richard Mahler



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