I was contacted recently by Nightgear asking if I would review a sleeping bag for them. They asked me to try out the Snugpak Chrysalis 2, a new offering in the Snugpak range. The deal is that I write a review and can then keep the sleeping bag.
A lot of the stuff I use when I go off to the woods for a few days isn’t particularly expensive, and has come from boot fairs, army surplus etc, but I do like to be comfortable at night; I’m not as young as I used to be and a good nights sleep is important to me, so I don’t compromise with my sleeping arrangements.
I’ve had good experiences with Snugpak in the past; I’ve used the Snugpak Antartica RE as my winter sleeping bag for about 8 years now and really like it. Recently I returned it to Snugpak to have a new zip fitted and they were great to deal with, replacing the zip and returning the bag promptly, so I’m happy to try out this sleeping bag.
About the sleeping bag
I’m not particularly into technical specifications, so I’m going to restrict what I say on that front; if you do like that kind of thing, you can look it up yourself!.
The Snugpak Chrysalis 2 is a synthetic bag, and has a reflective material incorporated that reportedly increases insulation by 15%. It is rated at 2°C as its comfort temperature and -3°C for extreme.
It compresses down to 18cm x 19cm and weighs 1300g. The compression bag itself is robust. I filled it up with water to see what would happen; it leaked through the stitching at the bottom but would make a great shower! The one I have is orange and could be used as a marker or waved around to get attention.
Being on the tall side at 6′ 2″, I was pleased to find that the bag is long enough to get all of me in! With that said, it has a simple feature that allows you to shorten the bag so that you’re not trying to warm parts of the bag that aren’t being used. It also has a second zip that allows you to adjust the width for the same reason. I understand that the double zips also allow you to join a left zipped and right zipped bag together to form a double, but I haven’t tried this out.
The zip on the bag I have is on the left hand side.
It comes with a small torch that fits into a pouch in the hood, so you have a light source close to hand during the night. I always have a head torch and a torch on my belt anyway but I guess it makes a useful backup and weighs grams.
What I did with the bag
I’ve spent 2 nights out using the sleeping bag at the time of writing (end of a mild November), both at our ancient woodland camp in Kent. I used the sleeping bag at its full length and full width on both occassions. My first time using it was in a small tent (cheers Lou!) and the second in a debris shelter.
In both cases I used a foam roll mat underneath a Restamor self-inflating mat. I use 2 mats because of the added insulation, because of the comfort (I ache in the mornings if I don’t!) and because when I used to use the Restamor by itself I got a puncture one night, which was a nuisance. Also on both occasions I used a cheap flannelette liner, not so much because of any concern with the bag, but just because it is easier to wash the liner than a bag.
During my night in the tent the temperature dropped to about 4°C, so close to the comfort rating of the sleeping bag. As I always do, I stripped down to bed socks, pants and a vest and had a reasonable nights sleep. I woke feeling a little cold in the small hours, put on a base layer top and was fine after that.
My second night using the sleeping bag, in a debris shelter, had a slightly lower minimum temperature of about 3°C. This time I again slept without trousers and left on socks, a vest and base layer. I slept soundly through the night and woke at about 7am feeling a slight chill. In my experience, a debris shelter is warmer than a tent so probably explains why I didn’t feel as cold.
What I thought
I used the sleeping bag at temperatures very close to the manufacturers comfort rating (with a liner) and for me it just about did what it says on the tin. This reflects a common occurrence with students on our courses whose sleeping bags aren’t as warm as they’d expected (words of advice – get a sleeping bag with a comfort rating several degrees below what you expect to use it at).
As I say, it seems commonplace for ratings not to match reality, so it isn’t unique to this bag. I do like it, but definitely think that it’s a good sleeping bag for spring and autumn. In future I’ll be taking it when I’m confident that the temperature is going to stay above 5°C. During the winter it will be an emergency bag kept in the boot in case of breakdown or bad weather.
A minor point, but I prefer a zip that runs down the middle, I find it easier to use if I’m in a hammock, but I guess that’s a matter of personal preference rather than a downside to the sleeping bag itself.
It is small and lightweight and has a few nifty features such as being able to expand the width and length to suit. I did, however, find the bag to be a snug fit (see what I did there) so would advise that you try it for size before buying.