THERM-A-REST PO­LAR RANGER -20¡F

Backpacker - - Editors’ Choice Awards -

When you’re camp­ing in temps be­low zero, there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween get­ting by and get­ting com­fort­able. This bag en­sures you ex­pe­ri­ence the lat­ter, thanks to a slew of fea­tures de­signed to take the sting out of win­ter. And the whole pack­age weighs just a few feath­ers over 3 pounds.

Any bag in this cat­e­gory starts with warmth, and 800-fill hy­dropho­bic down and an ef­fi­cient cut de­liver plenty of that. One Alaska tester said he wore only a light base­layer in the Po­lar Ranger on a -5°F night. “I nor­mally sleep in down booties,” he says, “But I didn’t need them thanks to the over­stuffed foot­box.”

The 62-inch shoul­der girth is plenty roomy, but the un­com­mon liv­abil­ity comes from two un­com­mon fea­tures. Zip­pered vents at the shoul­ders serve as arm holes, which makes read­ing, drink­ing cof­fee, and sim­ply func­tion­ing in ex­treme cold all the eas­ier. “I loved be­ing able to do small chores with­out hav­ing to leave my bag at all,” one tester says. Plus, a chim­ney-style hood cre­ates a warm zone over your face with­out hav­ing to cinch it down to a blow­hole. It also af­fords a view, as one tester dis­cov­ered when cow­boy camp­ing in the snow in the Pi­o­neers. “I could see the Big Dip­per,” he says. “It felt like I was like look­ing through a tele­scope.” –D.L. $700; 3 lbs. 3 oz. (reg­u­lar); reg­u­lar, long; ther­marest.com

Af­ter a full day of tour­ing, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than a teepee full of friends.

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