OWNER REVIEW - Cumulus Mysterious Traveler 700
- Cumulus Mysterious Traveler 700 ultralight down sleeping bag
July 8th, 2010
Personal Biographic Information
Name: Christian Veenstra
Height: 5'10" (178cm)
Weight: 165lbs (75kg)
Email address: christianDOTveenstraATyahooDOTca
City, State, Country: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Date: June 28, 2010
Backpacking Background:I started out in Ontario, backpacking, canoing and rock
climbing. Since I moved to British Columbia 5 years ago I've frequently spent
time in the Coast Mountains of BC, but have also done trips in the Cascades,
Rockies, Alps and Iceland. Trips range from overnighters to self-supported
expeditions up to a month in length, and for the most part I'll be camped above
treeline. Since I'll often be tackling technical objectives, which require
additional amounts of gear, I require all my fundamental equipment to be as
minimal and lightweight as possible. The weather in the Coast Range is
generally pretty wet (well, snowy in the alpine) during the winter and dry in
the summer. I get out year 'round, so encounter a fair variety of weather.
Whether I bring a tent or tarp depends mostly on the weather forecast.
My wife and I purchased a pair of these sleeping bags for a month long kayak
accessed ski tour of the Waddington Range in the Coast Mountains. Since our 6
person team would be carrying in all our own supplies and mountaineering
equipment for our (planned) 17 days away from the kayaks it was quite important
that our sleeping bags (one of the "big three" heavy items) be very lightweight
and have low packed volume. In May one still has to be prepared for winter
conditions in the mountains so we thought the Cumulus' 2010 Mysterious Traveler
700 (MSRP $370CAD), with its -11C (12F) rating, seemed to be a good choice as
it would still be lightweight but we could expect to survive the coldest nights
(if we wore all our clothes and down jackets inside). At the time these were
the lightest offerings by Cumulus in that temperature range, although it seems
they've recently introduced yet lighter ones, despite it being only a few
months later (I believe they are in the process of expanding their North
Since then we've used these bags on a handful of other trips as well - probably
20 nights total camping on snow or glacier in the alpine, 10 at sea level and
another 5 somewhere inbetween. The worst conditions we've slept in them was at
the top of the Ice Valley corridor in the Waddington Range (~2600m, glaciated),
where it was probably -12C (10F) and blowing hard. Under the bag I generally
use a short-cut (shoulder to knee length) Thermarest prolight 4 sleeping pad
and make a little pile of stuff for for my feet and head.
The bag comes with a large mesh storage sack as well as a smaller stuff sack
(which is made of waterproof fabric, but is not seam-sealed). Out of the bag I
immediately noticed that the build quality was very nice, exactly what one
would expect for a first rate sleeping bag, and with very few escaped
feathers. Of course you can see some of the down through the fabric, but this
is entirely expected of the thin fabric for an ultralight bag. It felt
lightweight, but of course I immediately checked its weight with my own scale
to see how it compared against the all-mighty gram. Mine weighed in at 1122g
(39.6oz) and my wife's at 1170g (41.3oz) (without the stuff sack or tags) -
slightly over the manufacturer advertised weight of 1080g (38.1oz), but still
definitely qualifying as light.
I measure the thickness to be about 16cm (6 1/4"), measured with the bag lying
flat on the floor after hanging for > 2 days to allow it to loft fully. For my
height of 178cm (5'10") the bag is almost a perfect fit, with the extra space
taken up if I do up all the draw cords tightly. I would estimate there to be
another 10cm of space with the cords looser, so I think the maximum recommended
height of 190cm (6' 3") is probably accurate.
Overall, we have been very happy with our bags. The only "problem" is that I
think that they are actually warmer than the -11C rating might imply - they
feel warmer than my -9C MEC Merlin (another ultralight down bag), as well as my
-12C MEC Hybrid (a reasonable quality bag), and even my -20C MEC synthetic
(although the fact that particular bag is rated -20C is a bit of a joke, to
me). For most of the trips I do, even in the alpine in winter, I think this
bag will be a bit too warm - I wonder if I should have bought the next lighter
bag (in the Coast Range it rarely gets really really cold, and I don't mind
having to wear my down jacket inside my sleeping bag for the odd really cold
night). I should qualify the statement a bit with the fact that I generally
sleep fairly warm, but it seems that this is one of the few sleeping bags which
actually keeps you comfortable at its rated temperature in a tent, as opposed
to barely allowing you to survive the night (which seems to be the standard).
I have not yet had to put on extra clothes to keep warm while using this bag,
despite probably exceeding it's temperature rating a little bit (of course, I
always wear a base layer to help keep my bags clean).
I think that a lot of this warmth comes from the build quality of the bag - you
can tell that the inner fabric layer is smaller than the outer, which helps to
prevent you from packing out the loft, it is very breathable, and the zipper
baffle and neck collar make a really good seal. One of the nicest touches
about this bag, actually, is that the neck collar seals with its own wide strip
of velcro - this means that, even if you've zipped the bag together with
another bag, you can still do up the neck collar. This is invaluable to me,
since I almost always camp with my wife, as it means that we can still zip our
bags together on the coldest nights without the massive heat leak from in
between our heads that we'd get with most bags.
I should mention as well that, although ultralight, it seems the fabric is
still reasonably tear resistant. On that first trip another member of our
party, who'd bought the same sleeping bag, had a bear attempt to eat the drybag
containing it! Although we scared it off before it could do too much damage it
did mange to ruin the drybag and chew up some of the items inside. The
sleeping bag itself received a couple of punctures, but the holes remained
holes and didn't rip larger. He was able to just throw a couple of stitches
over the punctures and they haven't spread since. Not to say the bags are
"bear proof", as I'm sure it could have destroyed the sleeping bag without
trouble, but it was nice to see that the holes haven't grown.
The only trouble with the bag is the lack of a zipper stiffener, which can make
opening/closing the bag when half-asleep a bit tricky if you're not used to
it. Of course, then the bag would probably have to weigh 100g or so more.
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