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Valandre Lafayette Field Report - Woodlandsprite

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  • Stephanie Martin
    HTML availible here: http://snipurl.com/m6fc Field Report: 2006 Valandré LaFayette Sleeping Bag Personal Biographical Info: Name: Stephanie Martin Age: 31
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2006
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      HTML availible here: http://snipurl.com/m6fc

      Field Report: 2006 Valandré LaFayette Sleeping Bag

      Personal Biographical Info:
      Name: Stephanie Martin
      Age: 31
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5'5" (1.65 meters)
      Weight: 145 lbs. (65 kg)
      Email Address: syoong "at" alum "dot" mit "dot" edu
      Location: Phoenix, AZ USA
      Date: January 27, 2005

      Background:
      I've always enjoyed spending time outdoors since I was a kid. Since moving
      to the southwest, I've taken to day hiking most weekends, anywhere from
      low desert to mountain territory (7000+ ft (2100+ meters)). In addition to
      day hikes, my husband and I generally take a couple week long trips to the
      Grand Canyon annually, in addition to short weekend backpacking trips. Our
      backpacking philosophy has been rapidly moving towards ultra-light gear,
      with target base pack weight of 10 lbs (4.5 kg). We have also been
      participating in canyoneering since 1997. In general, we average 12 to 15
      miles (20 to 24 km) per day. See http://www.ToddsHikingGuide.com for trip
      reports and a better sense of our hiking style.

      Similar Sleeping Bags used: None with a sternum zipper or DWR shell.
      Other down sleeping bags used include a Feathered Friends Ptarmigan, and a
      semi-custom Feathered Friends Hummingbird.

      Product Information: The La Fayette is a light weight mummy style down
      sleeping bag with an extreme temperature rating of -15°C (5°F).

      Manufacturer: Valandré [http://www.valandre.com]
      Year of Manufacture: 2005
      MSRP: Not Listed
      Size: Medium
      Listed Weight: 1000 g (2 lbs, 3.3 oz)
      Listed Dimensions: Interior Length: 185 cm (6 ft 0.8 in)
      Interior Circumference:
      Shoulder: 170 cm (66.9 in)
      Hip: 152 cm (59.8 in)
      Foot: 86 cm (33.9 in)
      Weight as Delivered:
      Sleeping Bag: 1026.3 g (2 lbs, 4.2 oz)
      Compression Sack: 73.7 g (2.6 oz)
      Mesh Storage Bag: 45.4 g (1.6 oz)
      Measured Dimensions*:
      *best estimate using a tape measure and the bag turned inside out
      Interior Length: 182.9 cm (6 ft 0 in)
      Interior Circumference:
      Shoulder: 147 cm (58 in)
      Hip: 130 cm (51 in)
      Foot: 81 cm (32 in)
      Loft (measured as total thickness): ~ 12.1 cm (4.75 in)
      Packed (d x h): 19.1 x 35.6 cm (7.5 x 14 in), uncompressed
      Shell:
      Exterior: Polyamide with DWR coating
      Interior: Polyester with Anti-static coating
      Fill: 95/5 Goosedown, 800+ fill power
      550 g (19.4 oz) down load
      Warranty: Limited Lifetime.
      Color: Orange exterior, Black Interior

      Contents
      - Product use and performance
      - Continued Test strategy
      - Summary

      Field and Test Information:
      Location(s) of test: A week's worth of testing was done in the slickrock
      canyon expanses of southern Utah.
      Terrain: The regions I've conducted my testing have been the sandy, sunny
      and slickrock covered open desert that I favor for my adventuring.
      Weather Conditions: Mostly sunny with a few overcast days. Outside
      daytime temperatures during the test period have ranged from nighttime
      lows below freezing down to the low 20's F (-5 Celsius) to daytime highs
      in the mid 50's F (low teens Celsius).

      Details in this Field Report are intended to be read in addition to the
      more detailed product information as listed in my Initial Report.

      Product Use and Performance
      I was happy to receive the Valandré La Fayette just in time for some much
      needed extended time outdoors. Throughout the test of the La Fayette, I
      was well fed, properly hydrated and went to sleep with bare feet while
      wearing lightweight base layers and a fleece hat. Testing was conducted
      inside a dual walled tent and my sleeping pad during this portion of the
      test period was a full length self inflating mattress. It should probably
      be noted that I typically sleep very cold, and tend to toss and turn from
      side to side.
      Overall, I have been impressed and pleased with the versatility and
      performance of this sleeping bag. Thanks in part to the very nicely
      designed draft collar, I have not yet had to resort to the addition of
      different layers inside the bag to stay warm. Temperature regulation has
      taken some getting accustomed to, but the sternum zip has proven to be
      fairly effective. As I mentioned in my test plan, I was interested in
      testing and evaluating various aspects of the La Fayette during the course
      of the test period:

      Versatility - The La Fayette did indeed take a bit of getting used to, as
      I have never used a sleeping bag with a 1/3 length zipper - nor have I
      used a sleeping bag with the zipper placement over the sternum. At first
      I wasn't so certain of what I thought of this arrangement, but thru the
      nights I spent in the La Fayette, I have noted some advantages to having
      the zipper placed in this manner. For one thing, having the zipper over
      my chest allows me to quickly vent off heat. In addition to facilitating
      quick temperature adjustments, the zip over the chest meant that I was
      able to easily vent heat, no matter what position I found myself sleeping
      in - this was not so easily done in my more traditional side zip bags -
      usually because I was either sleeping on the zipper (being predominantly a
      side sleeper) or opening the zipper would result in the bag gaping open
      bleeding off too much heat. The best thing, I discovered about having the
      zip centered over my chest though, was the fact that it facilitated my
      being able to sit up and read while my shoulders and head were swathed in
      down. I would get in my sleeping bag, draw up the hood, and fasten the
      collar - I would then stick my arms out the zipper, put on a jacket or
      other insulating layer (right on top of the bag), and could happily sit up
      and read while staying plenty warm. Gone were the nights of having to
      simply laying in my sleeping bag just to stay warm, even if I wasn't ready
      to go to sleep. The downside to the design of the La Fayette is that was
      unsuccessful in using it as a quilt. I attempted to do so, but found that
      with my legs in the bag, and the zipper to my back, the zipper was too
      short, resulting in uncomfortably laying on top of the zipper pull. In
      addition, the velcro that is used in place of a baffle was sticking to my
      clothes and was also rather uncomfortable to lay on.

      Comfort - I did find the La Fayette to be very comfortable to sleep in.
      The fabric was soft, did not make excessive noise while I tossed and
      turned and did not become clammy with perspiration. The DWR coating
      seemed to repel droplets of water, though I did notice that the fabric
      close to my face seemed to wet through from condensation that collected
      during my sleep. I did notice a fair amount of static sparks when I
      brushed the interior fabric, even with its anti static treatment. The
      sparks were not strong enough to notice the discharge to my fingers, but
      they did provide some entertainment in the darkness of the night. I did
      not note any issues with the hook and loop closures catching on my
      clothing or irritating my skin when using the bag in normal configuration
      - however, when I had the zipper open for reading, or when I tried using
      the sleeping bag as a quilt, I found myself detaching the hook portion
      from my clothing several times. The only other annoyance that comes to
      mind is the zipper pull that was noted in my initial report. True to the
      initial investigation, the zipper pull had a tendency to land squarely on
      my nose when I was bundled inside the sleeping bag getting ready to sleep.

      Ease of use - I think I am still going through a learning curve when it
      comes to making adjustments to the La Fayette. I found it difficult to
      differentiate between the various cordlocks inside the hood area by touch
      alone, which I feel is important, especially when trying to make
      adjustments in the middle of the night. In addition, while the hook and
      loop closure that is used in place of a baffle is successful in keeping
      drafts out and preventing me from catching fabric in the zipper, it makes
      using the zipper a bit difficult, and can be noisy at night. While I was
      able to successfully vent heat out of the bag without waking my tent mate,
      I did find it more difficult and frustrating that I would like. I would
      first struggle to release the toggles of the hood and collar, then I would
      have to struggle with both getting the zipper down and the hook and loop
      closure open quietly. I never knew how loud the sound of disengaging
      velcro was in the middle of the night until this test! Unfortunately
      these same issues made it challenging to get the bag closed back up again
      to my liking once I had cooled back down to a comfortable temperature.
      Packing the La Fayette is easy and struggle free. The provided stuff sack
      seems to be of good size, and even allows me to further compress the bag
      should the need arise.
      Durability and Care - So far, I have not had any issues with the
      manufacture of the La Fayette. The zips, cordlocks and hook and loop
      fastners all still work well and don't show signs wear. The fabric of the
      bag has remained clean, down-proof and dust free, though the interior
      fabric does seem prone to holding a static charge. I have noticed fine
      quite a few fine sand grains stuck to the interior of the bag (a result of
      camping in the desert, I'm sure).

      Continued Testing Strategy
      During the remainder of the four month test period, I will continue to use
      and evaluate the Valandré La Fayette on all of my over night trips. I do
      most of my backpacking and camping in the desert southwestern United
      States, and expect temperatures to dip below freezing at night, with
      temperatures down to the low 20s F (-6 C). I expect to continue to
      evaluate the La Fayette on the same lines as I highlight above, and will
      hopefully have an opportunity to test it in both warmer and cooler
      temperatures.

      Summary: Woo Hoo's and Boo Hoo's
      While I have an overall feeling of contentment with regards to being able
      to sleep warmly and comfortably in cold conditions while zipped inside the
      La Fayette, there are some features I feel could be improved upon. With
      that said, here are my "Woo Hoo's" (likes) and my "Boo Hoo's" (some room
      for improvement).
      - Woo Hoo: I am very happy with the Marie Antoinette collar - it's proven
      to be draft free, even with all of my tossing and turning from side to
      side
      - Woo Hoo: I do enjoy having the zipper placed over my sternum/chest. In
      some ways, it has proven to be more versatile than traditional side zip
      bags
      - Woo Hoo: It's warm! Even with my tossing and turning, I haven't noticed
      any cold spots or drafts while zipped up inside the La Fayette.
      - Woo Hoo: Easy to pack - the stuff sack is appropriately sized, and does
      not seem overly large or ridiculously small
      - Woo Hoo: The fabric is soft and comfortable to the touch, and seems to
      breathe nicely
      - Woo Hoo: The zipper functions smoothly, and does not seem prone to
      catching fabric
      - General Comment: There is a learning curve to being able to both settle
      and escape the bag quickly
      - General Comment: I have not found use for the hip/waist level drawcord -
      the position of the cord does not correspond to my body. For the cord to
      land at my waist, I have to scootch down in the bag, but then there is
      excess volume on the top portion of the bag - it seems the position of the
      cord is for someone with a longer torso length than mine
      - Boo Hoo: I continue to confess my dislike for the extensive use of hook
      and loop closure on this bag - it has the tendency to catch on my clothing
      or scratch at my skin when sitting inside the bag to read or while using
      it as a quilt and it can be noisy when trying to make temperature
      adjustments at night
      - Boo Hoo: I dislike the fact that the zipper pull seems to always land on
      my nose when zipped fully
      - Boo Hoo: I find it difficult to differentiate between the cordlocks for
      the hood and the collar, especially in the dark

      My thanks to Valandré and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.



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