OR - NEMO Siren quilt - Ray Estrella
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NEMO Equipment Siren 30 Quilt
By Raymond Estrella
November 06, 2012
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.
Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment, Inc
Web site: www.nemosleepingbags.com
Product: Siren 30
MSRP: US $349.95
Size: one size
Year manufactured/received: 2012
Temperature rating: 30 F (-1 C)
Weight listed: 18 oz (510 g)
Actual weight: 18.8 oz (534 g)
Fill weight listed: 850 goose down
Amount of down fill: 10 oz (285 g)
Baffle height/loft listed: N/A
Baffle height estimated: 1.3 in (3.3 cm)
Loft observed (highest points): up to 2.5 in (6.3 cm) between baffles
Averaged loft: 2.1 in (5.3 cm) between baffles
Packed size listed: 10 x 10 in (25 x 25 cm)
Actual packed size in my own stuff sack: 5.25 diameter x 11.5 in (13.3 x 29.2 cm)
Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty
The NEMO Equipment Siren 30 is the company's first try at a production backpacking quilt and a real winner as far as I am concerned. Using top-notch materials and excellent workmanship the Siren is a pretty sweet quilt. A couple minor tweaks could make it even better for this quilt-crazy camper. Please read on for the details.
The New England Mountain Equipment (NEMO) Siren 30 (hereafter referred to as the Siren or quilt) is the company's first foray into the backpacking quilt market segment. In fact it is the specialty piece of their new sleeping bag line, a segment new for them this year.
To describe the Siren (indeed all of my backpacking quilts) think of a traditional sleeping bag with no hood. Now coming at an angle from a little above the footbox remove the bottom of the bag. (The part that lies against the sleeping pad.) That is a backpacking quilt. The idea is that the pad provides the needed bottom insulation. More about this later.
The Siren has a silver-ish outer shell made of some pretty interesting nylon made from high tenacity Japanese fibers. It is 0.77 oz/yd2 (26 g/m2) 10-denier nylon with an incredible 469 threads per inch. By comparison normal nylon taffeta has 290-340 threads per inch. The nylon is woven in a barely discernible mini-ripstop pattern and has a DWR (durable water repellant) applied to it. The NEMO shield logo is silk-screened on the center of the shell and the same logo plus name and temperature rating is sewn on at the foot.
The lining is the same 10d nylon in a yellow color they call Lightning, and lacking the DWR treatment. The material is very soft and has no crinkly feel or sound to it.
The quilt is made with box-baffled construction to eliminate cold spots. The chambers, which are filled with 850 fill Eastern European goose down, are roughly 7.5 in (19 cm) squares. The baffles feel like they are made of polyester mesh netting. (I later verified this.)
At the bottom of the quilt is an enclosed footbox. It is wider than any of my other quilts as it is made to go over a sleeping pad if so desired. With an end-panel that is an oval roughly 10 x 14 in (25 x 36 cm) it is also made with some gathers and elastic to make it more comfortable and less confining-feeling. The footbox is 12 in (30 cm) deep at its shallowest spot. (It kind of curves down from the sides.) On the foot end of the Siren are two loops made for hanging the quilt. Look at the footbox in the picture above. Notice the six box baffles that make up the bottom surface of the footbox (when it is flipped over in the normal position that is, right now it is upside down for clarification). Those are not filled with down but are rather filled with two layers of 100 g Primaloft Synergy synthetic insulation. NEMO did this to keep that section of the foot from wetting-out and possibly clumping from ground moisture for those of the UL bent that use torso-length sleeping pads.
From the footbox the Siren flares out to its maximum width at the top of the quilt. Two sets of snaps on the edges, one at the very top and another 5 in (13 cm) down, can be used to secure the quilt around the user. A crisscrossing cord running through loops on the edges may also be used to secure the quilt around the user or a pad. The cord may be removed to let the Siren just be draped over the user like a traditional quilt. (I have already removed it.) There are two black snaps at the top of the pad that are used to hold the Siren in place also. According to my tape measure the Siren is 70.5 in (179 cm) long and is 56 in (142 cm) wide at the top.
As I have one of the first batches of Sirens made (more are available now) the stuff sack they sent was for a sleeping pad as the right ones were not there yet. I have a better one so am using it instead. NEMO also sends a large cotton storage sack to keep it in between trips.
As soon as I got the Siren I took it on a long California trip that saw a 2-day backpacking trip in the southern Sierra Nevada, a 5-day backpacking trip in the northern Sierra Nevada, and a day-hike and 2-day trip in the Angeles National Forest. There was a total of 136.5 miles (220 km) with 23,575 ft (7186 m) of gain, in temps that ran from 31 F to a ridiculously warm for that time of year 90 F (-1 to 32 C). Almost all of it was on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This up-and-down trail saw constant elevation flux with the high points most days being at 9000+/- ft (2750 m). As far as the Siren goes the coldest temperature during use was 34 F (1 C) and the warmest night only got down to 50 F (10 C). Here is a picture off the PCT near Cow Creek (Sequoia National Forest).
Once back home, I went to the canoeist primitive campsite on the Red River outside Hendrum, Minnesota as it had been raining for the previous 2-1/2 days and I wanted to put a tent through some weather torture. Well besides being a muddy mess it did not rain at all until the morning when I had to pack up. Thank you Mother Nature. The low that night was 40 F (4 C) and needless to say it was humid so there was some condensation.
For my last trip of the season with the Siren I went out to my friend's property north of Halstad, Minnesota. While I normally like to stay in the woods it was just too mucky (my shoes weighed a ton!) so I ended up by the Red River on some flattened prairie grass. I went chasing weather again because the forecast was rain, turning to snow and low temps. It did hit a low of 26 F (-3 C). It was raining as I headed out but stopped before I made camp. There was intermittent rain all night, but it did not turn to snow as the precip stopped before the temps dropped. The dew point was 30 F (-1 C) (I looked it up after I got home) and at 1:30 AM I started getting condensation forming on the tent fly and the quilt around my face. The picture below was taken right before I put the fly on during this trip.
Every bit of backpacking use was in one tent (NEMO Obi Elite 2P, used solo) and on all the trips in California I had the fly just sitting ready to go, but not on the tent, as I wanted it as cool as possible. All the trips in Minnesota of course had the fly on and in use.
I also used the Siren in a pop-up tent trailer two nights with lows around 38 F (3 C).
I got my first backpacking quilt in 2008 and have become a huge fan of the sleep system. As a toss-and-turn side-sleeper I find that quilts work better than traditional sleeping bags when weight and volume are taken into consideration. For a better explanation of the concept please see this article.
I did not even know that NEMO had made a quilt until I saw one at the beginning of August. A month later I got one and used it for every bag-night I had, until deer hunting season started, forcing me off the trails. After that the temps were too low for the Siren.
I am quite impressed by the Siren, especially considering this was their first go at a backpacking quilt. Besides the Siren I have purchased 5 custom-made quilts and three retail quilts, one each for myself and my children. The Siren is more like my custom quilts than the retail quilts.
I was very surprised at the nylon used. It is very nice and light. I only have one quilt with a lighter nylon than the Siren has. The nylon feels great and better yet holds the down well. I did not see any down loss to speak of which is pretty good considering how aggressively I was compressing the quilt on most of the trips.
That is where the 850 fill down comes in. It compresses very well yet lofts up quickly. While I normally just put my quilts in the bottom of my pack and then let the weight of the rest of my gear compress it as it may, I used a stuff sack for the California trips for a couple of reasons. Two of the trips had waterless camps so we had to carry at least two day's worth. I had 6 L of water sitting inside my backpack starting out two mornings and wanted the Siren in something waterproof should things go terribly awry. I also decided to use as small (volume-wise) a pack as I could for the entire group of trips so really wanted to get the Siren to as small a package as possible. While I would do this to a big sleeping bag with a compression sack that compresses after stuffing, I did not have that small a compression sack. So I just used old fashioned muscle-power and smushed the crud out of the Siren. This amounts to bag torture but the Siren was not showing any ill effects by the end of the trip. Here is a picture Dave took as I was stuffing the Siren. The weird artifacts are dust particles picking up in the flash.
The Siren is my first quilt to use box baffles. In a way I like it because it keeps the down from migrating downward to the edges. But it also keeps me from being able to purposely shift extra down to the top if I get cold. I did have one night that I would have done that if I could. The last trip saw 26 F (-3 C) and I was getting cold spots at my thighs and my mid-torso (about where my elbows are). I ended up draping my down sweater over myself to bolster those spots. (I started off with it on my legs and switched it to my torso as it got colder. I did snap the top closed to help keep my heat from escaping. If the Siren had a top drawcord I would have used it too.
I always wear at least a lightweight base layer with all my bags and quilts to help keep warm and to keep them clean. I also wear a fleece beanie like in this picture. I look grumpy don't I?
That trip was the only time I was cold so I have to say the rating is pretty accurate. In California the temps were much higher than we expected. I was usually too warm at first each night and would just barely drape the Siren over me. As it cooled I would pull it closer to my body. I never used my tent fly to purposely allow any breeze to make it seem cooler. My brother-in-law, who was using a 30 F (-1 C) quilt also, said he was too hot but he was in one-person single-wall tent that was trapping heat. I was pretty much in the open with the Siren, and in temps close to freezing a couple nights, and was pretty good.
Personally I would not mind seeing the Siren have a little more down (or the same amount, but higher fill power.) but I always have my custom quilts made with extra in the top third of the quilt as I know I sleep a little cool.
NEMO says the Siren is good for folks to 72 in (183 cm) tall and I agree with that. I am taller but since I sleep with my legs bent most of the time it was fine for me. If I were to sleep on my back I would want it a little longer.
The DWR worked well. Condensation forming from breathing is common, and a couple times I had it heavy enough to start wiping the quilt with my PackTowl when I would wake. No moisture ever soaked into the down. As I have been on trips that saw my quilts get enough moisture to need drying I would like to suggest making the lining black to facilitate drying a damp quilt faster.
NEMO recommends using the Siren with a pad that is between 20 and 25 inches wide (51-64 cm). While a 20 will fit inside the footbox there is no way a 25 will unless it is one of the tapered 25 in (64 cm) pads offered by many companies these days. All of my trips with the Siren saw it paired with a size large NeoAir XLite which is a tapered 25. But I never use the pad-inside-the-quilt style. It lowers the rating of the quilt as it increases the dead air space that I must burn calories to heat. So I would not mind seeing the Siren have a narrower footbox.
All in all I am pretty impressed with the Siren and like it a lot. I have just one question for NEMO. When is the 20 F (-7 C) version coming? I leave with a totally staged picture of me asleep in the Siren.
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