Backpacker - - Editors’ Choice Awards -

The Nitro’s specs tell the whole story: a 0°F down bag that weighs 2.5 pounds and costs less than $400. There has to be a catch, right?

Nope. The wal­let-friendly price is a func­tion of the size of Sierra De­signs’s par­ent com­pany, Exxel Out­doors, which can buy ma­te­ri­als in ex­treme bulk to save on costs. So while the Nitro is priced just right, its 800-fill, PFC-free, hy­dropho­bic down isn’t a com­pro­mise at all.

This bag proved light and com­press­ible enough for use dur­ing ski moun­taineer­ing mis­sions in Wash­ing­ton’s Cas­cades. Its 62-inch shoul­der and 56-inch hip cir­cum­fer­ences are aboveav­er­age mummy di­men­sions, and the cut doesn’t nar­row too much around the legs like that of many mum­mies.

Some thought­ful fea­tures sweeten the deal: The main 40-inch zip­per curves in to­ward the head at the top of the bag, which makes the Nitro eas­ier to zip closed once you’re in­side. A zip­per­less vent at the bot­tom let us stick our feet out on warmer nights. A baf­fle pre­vents cold air from com­ing in when it’s closed, but one tester said the vent didn’t al­ways work as ad­ver­tised. “It let in a slight draft when I turned on my side and pulled the bag with me,” he says. We say put on an ex­tra pair of socks and en­joy the sav­ings. –Eli Bern­stein $380; 2 lbs. 8 oz. (reg­u­lar); reg­u­lar, long; sier­rade­

De­scents are fun, but go­ing up­hill lets you sa­vor the views.

Set­ting up a shel­ter, or grade-school gym class ac­tiv­ity?

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