After more than two years and 21 countries over 50,000 miles on the road, it takes just a lick of sense to stay selective about what we carry. And without question, it has to fulfil: less is more and size does matter. Namely space and weight will always be at a premium when living out of two motorcycle panniers and a roll bag.
Having used and abused many sleeping bags during my ventures around the globe, it takes a great deal for a sleeping bag and mattress to get it right across every aspect for the conditions you’re in. The two pieces of gear I consider crucial. In a mind set that you can face anything after a good night’s kip, although for years I’ve found the biggest drawback was the compromise of bulkier, synthetic models versus the lighter down fill bags vulnerable to moisture—in achieving the same warmth ratio. This spring, I couldn’t wait to try and test the NeoAir XTherm mattress and Adara HD sleeping bag in Death Valley where night time temperatures can drop to unprecedented levels of rude.
Features of the Adara HD
Packing down to a very reasonable and pannier-friendly 8 by 16 inches (20 by 41cm) and weighing just 2lb 6oz (1.07kg), there’s more to the Adara than just its gossamer weight. It opens up into a Women’s Efficient Comfort Fit. Essentially, there is added hip room with tapered shoulders to better match the female form, maintaining the warmth. Larger users might find it a little snug, but I tend to think it’s cut perfectly for most physiques. The slender shape does make it ideal for a warm night’s sleep.
Impressive as that is, Therm-a-Rest also elected to fill the bag with industry leading 750+ Hydrophobic Down. The down is Nikwax-treated on top, which is akin to a science eluding mystery as it refuses to get wet, but if it does, dries with mind boggling, fabric defying speed. Namely, it facilitates it staying dry longer, retaining loft six-times longer than untreated down, as well as absorbing 40 per cent less water than untreated down, restoring performance faster. The resultant outcome: keeping the user bone-dry and toasty.
At a comfort rating of 22F (-6C) with an extreme limit at -26F (-32C), there is zoned insulation, which is focused particularly on top to trap the heat. When the cinchable hood and draught collar are pulled in snugly, keeps me well insulated throughout the night. Protected inside the warm cocoon, the hood stays snug around my head, while the neck tube staves off any draught. Simply, the bag is capable of keeping the bone-eating cold at bay and the desert bugs from biting. A noticeable godsend when camping on the ground. The breathable outer shell prevents you from sweating and any damp from seeping in too.
The larger adjustable hood also gives me the option to keep my pillow inside, which stops it sliding away when I’m asleep on the desert floor. As a side-sleeper and prone to turning over while I push up zZs, the bag affords a good range of movement, certainly compared to other bags I’ve used. Namely without squashing the down or leaving my body rudely susceptible to cold spots.
For me, the devil is always in the details. The sleeping bag comes with snag-free zippers and a handy external zipper pocket to keep my small essentials safe and close at hand. I appreciate the Toe-asis Foot Warmer—an insulated pocket in the foot space, so my nesh feet (receptive to the cold) are not swimming in oodles of space to get them warm. Further mindful details that give rise to gratitude include the Reflective ThermaCapture Lining, which undoubtedly traps radiant heat, increasing warmth without adding any unnecessary weight or bulk.
Perhaps most unique of all, are the patent-pending SynergyLink Connectors. It’s easy to share Therm-a-Rest’s view that when you join your sleeping bag with your mattress, you’re far likely to become at one with the two. The security afforded by the system ensures a warmer, more comfortable night in your tent, under the stars, wherever, no matter how you sleep. The way it works hones in on two large loops, which connect the sleeping bag to the sleeping mattress to create an integrated sleeping system. Designed to afford maximum freedom of movement, there is no chance that you can slip off your mat switching from your back, to the side or the front, even if you’re an active sleeper. Not when the sleeping bag is affixed to the mattress beneath. It’s quite genius.
Comfort Light Insulated Mat
Yes, it’s pretty easy to achieve a comfortable night’s sleep in the backcountry nowadays, certainly upon a 5-inch thick, 6-pound mattress that takes an electric pump to inflate. But can it be done at half the depth, a mere 15-ounces (430g) at a toasty R-value of 5.7? To my body’s overwhelming joy, yes it can with the NeoAir XTherm Insulated Mat.
Featuring proprietary reflective lining technology, which captures your body’s heat, amplifies warmth without adding further weight or bulk of conventional insulated mats. Simply, it enhances optimal warmth and comfort. Which when all said and done, for someone like me with minimal body fat is the magic ingredient as it prevents convective heat loss between my body and the ground. The best just got better in revolutionizing camping.
NeoAir Pump Sack
An absolute prized possession in all of my camping ensemble. Why? Because I’m too lazy to blow my mattress up day in, day out when I could be undertaking something far more constructive like getting the tea on. On a more serious note, puffing breaths into my pad and my partner’s larger one can sometimes leave me dizzy and lightheaded, especially at altitude or at the end of hot days.
Based on Bernoulli’s Principle of fluid dynamics goes a long way towards explaining why the sleeping mattress inflates in no time at all. Mind-blowingly quicker than sole use of your breath alone. Allow me to expound on the physics: plugging the dry sack at the bottom around the valve on the mattress, and blowing into the top of the dry sack about six inches away from the opening, I seal the bag as I would any regular dry bag. Gently squeezing the bag down, a rush of low-pressure, fast-moving air charges into the mattress, causing the static high-pressure air outside the pad to rush in and equalize the pressure. It’s incredibly fast, much cleaner and requires hardly an ounce of effort than with traditional valves. There’s nothing not to love about this brilliant item.
The end-game with the NeoAir XTherm and Adara HD combination is to provide optimal warmth with minimal weight. Having tested the NeoAir XTherm integrated with the four season Adara HD away with me to Death Valley, the integrated system was anything but a gimmick. It assembled without fuss and permitted me to stay warm, slumber soundly and comfortably keep dreaming of my happy place. Made from the best materials the industry has to offer, and designed by the savvy experts at Therm-a-Rest, I was hoping it was going to be a great addition to my travel ensemble––and it is. It’s another great product combination from Therm-a-Rest, one I’m sure will serve me well for many seasons to come.