I hate cold! I love alpine climbing!
Quite hard to reconcile the two and quite a lot of misery to have been through to do what I love. That until recently…
Everything about going to climb in Alaska sounded exciting and fascinating. Everything in pictures looked cool and inviting. Everything but the dreadful ‘it’ll be cold as hell’ (well, if hell would be in reverse, but you get the point….).
The Odin began its business as soon as ten days after being born, and it was a busy month. For thirty straight days it lay, literally, in between the cold and me.
The bag weighs 1836g and packs incredibly small. Changing the original compression bag with one with stronger straps meant the Odin fit perfectly at the bottom of my 32L lightweight backpack with plenty of room for shelter, gear, clothing and food for a lone climb of Denali’s Cassin Ridge.
But while the numbers are abstract things, direct, in the field use provided me with continuous amazement.
Of course the bag was warm – as I expected. The quality of the down (more important than abstract fill numbers) did exactly what I hoped and slightly more. I slept all the time in light thermals with a lightweight upper mid-layer and with the down booties on. It felt like in a wellness center. In the 5200m camps of both West Buttress and Cassin Ridge with storm kicking outside I added a lightweight fleece and that was enough.
Thirty days of continuous use and abuse of the bag, including spilt tea, sweat and rock and roll on top of it would be quite rough. However, what I noticed was that the bag was never damp inside – even after a full night of being covered in frost. Moisture moved away from the body and outside keeping the bag’s loft and a dry inside. Twenty minutes in the sun, on the top of the tent dried out a mug-full of tea spilt on it. Thirty continuous days of heavy use and the bag was never damp. That’s a major accomplishment in my experience.
Speaking about the loft: well, it is there and it is huge. Makes the bag cushy whether you’re sitting on top of it or in it, warm and cuddly. The physiological effect of having something soft, warm and light embracing your body at the end of a hard climbing day is tremendous.
Another feature that I noticed within the first couple of days was, besides the total lack of draft in the zip area, the fact that the zip never pinched the fabric. I could open and close the bag swiftly without once having the zip stuck on the fabric.
The draw-cords seal the bag perfectly around the face and even overhead (sometimes I slept fully immersed) and due to the special design of the cord-locks that come undone with a light pull and can be easily clipped back together.
No need to talk about baffles. The Valandre site has it all explained in detail. For my part, whatever they do my experience is this: never any cold spots!
All in all this was the best sleeping bag I have ever used. On a diet of freeze-dried food I expected to be even colder that I usually am but the bag performed amazing in all areas where I expected it to and still managed to surprise me.