One of the keys to a good camping trip is, without a doubt, a quality sleeping bag. You can put up with inclement weather, going days without a hot shower, and endure mediocre camp food, but when it comes time to sleep, you need to be comfortable. This is true in every season, ranging from the sub-zero temperatures of winter to the scorching hot of summer.
Recently I had the opportunity to test out the new Alpini 30 Sleeping Bag from Brooks Range and as usual with gear from BR, I found it a more than worthy addition to my gear closet. From the moment you take it out of the included stuff sack, the Alpini impresses with its design and build quality, as the bag features lightweight fabrics that are both soft and rugged, making it comfortable to sleep in, but tough enough to survive the rigors of the trail.
As the name implies, the Alpini 30 is rated down to about 30ºF (0ºC) making it a perfect sleeping bag for spring and fall camping excursions or cooler summer nights at altitude. Thanks to its "mummy" style design, which includes a hood, the Alpini is extremely versatile, allowing you to bundle up as much or as little as you need to stay comfortable. The heavy duty, high quality, zippers aid in this process quite a bit, allowing you to keep the bag open on warmer nights, or zipped up snuggly when the temperatures start to drop. Those same zippers are bi-directional, allowing you to vent your legs and feet, while remaining warmly wrapped around your torso and head.
As someone who travels regularly, I always tend to favor gear that is light in weight and doesn't take up much room in my pack. The Alpini fits that description as well, as it stuffs down to a very small footprint and weighs less than a pound and a half. In fact, it is so light, you'll barely even remember you have it with you when you're hiking. Brooks Range used 850+ fill goose down to achieve the miracle of a warm and comfortable sleeping bag that also happens to have such a minimalist profile.
While the Alpini is an excellent, well made sleeping bag, there are two things to keep in mind when deciding if it is right for you. First, the temperature rating system is fairly accurate, and I can't imagine using this bag much below freezing. It is a perfect cool weather bag but you'll want something warmer for your cold weather adventures. (Like the Alpini 15 perhaps!) The other thing to consider is that Alpini runs a bit on the small side, and if you're above 6 feet in height, you may find it a bit too confining. I'm 6'3" and about 200 pounds, and at times I felt the bag didn't quite fit me properly. A larger size would be appreciated, although that doesn't seem to be an option at this point.
Those two quibbles aside, the Alpini 30 is a fantastic option for three-season camping. You'll be impressed by how comfortable and lightweight it is, not to mention how small it packs down. It is a versatile and well built sleeping bag that will serve you well in all but the most extreme conditions.
MSRP: $319 available from the Brooks-Range.com.
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