Name: Fuzzy Monkey (David)
Date of Review: November, 2012
Photo Album – The North Face Blaze 3D
I’m an experienced long-distance hiker as well as trips lasting a few weeks or a few days. I would describe my hiking style not so much ultra-light but something in-between ultra-light and being comfortable. I enjoy stopping early, setting up and enjoying my campsite. I seldom hike after daylight hours.
When I talk about my adventures people end up asking me what type of gear I took with me. This review is to answer a few of those questions and to further expand how it worked for me. This review is for my North Face Blaze 3D sleeping bag which I took with me for my West Coast Trail Thru-hike.
I have not been paid by The North Face® company, or any retailer to write this review. This review was done on my own time and based on my own experience using this equipment. Your experience and situation my differ than mine. Always do your homework and research your particular adventure prior to departure.
Manufacturer: The North Face®
Product Information: Blaze 3D 20 Degree Synthetic Sleeping bag
This is a mummy style sleeping bag, which basically means the bottom of the bag is narrower than the shoulder area much like the shape of a mummy. The bag is filled with synthetic material, as opposed to a natural Down Feather material. It is also rated to 20 degrees. There are nice loops on the sides of the bag. The head section features a locking draw cord. The side zipper is nice and large and has a pull tab. The bag comes with a mesh storage bag and a compression sack. There is also a Velcro flap towards the top of the zipper/head area. The sleeping bag shell is made from a durable nylon material. The inside being a grey color and the exterior being blue and grey. I’ve provided a photo album of personal sleeping bag for your viewing.
This bag is several years old and I’m not entirely sure of its age. Since I’m just getting around to writing this review I’m realizing just how long I’ve actually had this bag. It was probability one of the first sleeping bags I’ve acquire. I guess his fares well for the durability and longevity of this product. I have no idea what conditions I’ve used it in the past but recently I decided to carry it with me on the West Coast Trail. The primary reason for bring this sleeping bag over my other down sleeping bags was for the synthetic warming abilities of this bag. I knew that at some point hiking the West Coast Trail my gear was going to get wet. Since synthetic material keeps you warm even if it gets wet, this was one primary reason I choose to carry it for this adventure.
As I mentioned, my most recent trip was on a very wet thru-hike of the West Coast Trail. For those familiar with Vancouver, the time of year we choose to hike was considered the shoulder season and rains were almost a grantee. It rained for 4 days straight. Falling in the surf and being washed over in waves didn’t help to keep my gear dry either. Yes, I said that, as I was walking too close to the surf and wave washed up and knocked me down. 🙁
The shell of this bag is nylon so light spills from eating or cooking dry pretty quickly. On this particular trip my bag ended up pretty wet the entire trip. There were several reasons for this, and they all had to do with just being careless and tired and nothing to do with the bag itself. But that being said even though the bag got wet I still remained pretty warm at night.
It’s at this point I that I would like to clarify a few things. Staying warm in a synthetic sleeping bag does not mean its going to be comfortable. Yes, you will stay warmer than if you were in a down bag which does not hold warmth when it gets wet
When a synthetic the sleeping bag does get soaked it becomes difficult to move in. The bag physically sticks to your body and other clothing. This forces you to pull and tug at the bag in awkward ways. I also found that I get cold spots when the bag is wet. Think of it this way. If you are in the bag and moving at night, which I do then your knees stick out. Your elbows stick out. Your whatever sticks out. This cause the bag to compress in the spot that sticks out. I hope this all makes sense. Then what happens is the part of your body that sticks out or pushes against the bag tends to get cold.
Another way to describe this is to describe how sleeping bags work. Sleeping bags keep you warm by trapping your body heat between your body and the sleeping bag. So if the sleeping bag gets wet, and you compress the space “air” between you and the sleeping bag there is nothing there to keep you warm. This is one of the reasons cold spots develop.
Ever backpacker, camper or adventure enthusiast will tell you, keep your sleeping bag dry at all cost. Even if it is a synthetic sleeping bag. Keeping you sleeping gear dry and getting a good nights sleep is a must for me and I hope these tips and explanations help in some way. I welcome your comments or stories using this sleeping bag or any synthetic sleeping bag.
Pros – Synthetic material keeps you warmer in the event the bag gets soaked. This is good if you know you are headed to conditions which could bring this type of weather or wet conditions. Durability, I’ve had this sleeping bag for so many years I have no idea how old it is and I still use it.
Cons: Difficult to move in if completely soaked. This causes uncomfortable sleeping conditions and cold spots. Not the lightest option out there. Modern materials and advances in technology have brought down the weight of synthetic sleeping bags. Since this one is several years old, its not the lightest sleeping bag out there.
WHERE TO PURCHASE
This sleeping bag is several years old and I do NOT believe they make this particular model anymore. A general search reveled the North Face company has a newer version/model of the Blaze sleeping bag.
I’ve had this sleeping bag for years and still use it. Although, I don’t use it a much anymore its still a good bag and great for wet conditions. I find myself using this more for summer car camping trips. It’s unlikely I’ll carry it for long distance hiking trips.
Fuzzy Monkey Likes:
Warmth capabilities when wet
Nylon loops on the side of the bag (I used to hang for drying)
Fuzzy Monkey Dislikes:
Heavy, used mostly for car camping now
Bulky, not ideal for backpacking in smaller packs.
Fuzzy Monkey Approved: YES