Hello Christopher N and all. Here is my LTR for this very fine sleeping bag. All you hammockers owe it to yourselves to try one.
Here is my review in the test folder.
or here http://tinyurl.com/27tnkby
and the text only. Thanks for any edits and or comments. Enjoy!
Long Term Report: November 20, 2010
Locations and Field Conditions
I used now used the Exped DreamWalker Syn 133 a total of 6 nights since getting it. This part of my review will focus on the last four nights use and then summarize all my uses. During this last phase of testing I used the DreamWalker three consecutive nights while car camping in Lower Mississippi and one more night here in the woods near home in northeast Alabama on a 9 mile (14 km) overnight backpacking trip. The three Mississippi nights saw lows of around 50 F (10 C) each night. It did not rain at all but the winds were fairly brisk each night. My last nights use here close to home saw a low of 38 F (3 C). It did not rain during the night but did rain and sleet some while I was hiking the following day. The elevation at the camp ground in Mississippi was around 150 ft (46 m) and the elevation for the campsite near home was approximate 1000 ft. (300 m).
Long Term Testing Results
First of all, the weather has finally been a lot more suited for testing the Exped DreamWalker Syn 133. In fact, I'd say the three nights in Mississippi with lows of around 50 F (10 C) each night were just about perfect for this bag. First of all, I spent a considerable amount of time wearing the bag as a jacket around our camp fire (actually a lantern since we were under a no burn order) each night before turning in for bed. It cooled of fast after sundown each night and everybody would dig out their jackets. In fact I started the night with just my jacket but I had on shorts and my legs started getting cold so I went to my hammock and retrieved the DreamWalker. I had not mentioned it to any of my fellow campers so they were a little surprised when I came strolling back to the circle wearing what looked to them like a very puffy dress. However, after explaining it to them they were impressed. I also explained how it made getting in my hammock a lot easier. In fact, two of the guys were sleeping in hammocks and were jealous, because they knew first hand the difficulties of getting in a sleeping bag in a hammock. Anyways, it worked great sitting in my camp chair for a few hours each night. Here is a photo of the Dreamwalker as I sat in my camp chair.
And now for another important aspect of using the DreamWalker as a jacket. I know this might be a little TMI for some so feel free to skip this paragraph... but when I needed to go pee, it was a simple mater to get up and head into the woods with the DreamWalker still on. To answer natures call I simply raised the whole affair so there was no chance of wetting my sleeping bag. It was a lot longer walk to the bathrooms in the campground so if I needed to go-go, I took it off before heading to the facilities, mainly because I would need to find somewhere to hang it while visiting the throne... I say all this to say that the DreamWalker proved to be a very good camp jacket and it is easy to walk around with it on. But I will say that if I ever need to squat down when in the woods I'll probably remove the DreamWalker. I can't imagine anything much worse than accidentally getting some poo on my sleeping bag and then having to sleep in it.
And now back to the camp-site. Since I was already wearing the DreamWalker, when it came time to turn in for the night I simply walked back to my hammock and sat down on the edge of my hammock long enough to pull my shoes off. I had already showered each night and had on clean socks, gym shorts and my bug shirt. I started each night with my arms out of the bag and the center zipper opened from my neck down to about my waist. Then sometime during the night I would pull my arms in and zip the bag up. As already mentioned, I did have on a a long sleeve shirt (a bug shirt), mainly to keep bugs from biting my arms when I had them out of my bag. My hammock does have bug netting but I like to leave it open for a better breeze at night. I did have to get up several times each night to pee but would go right back to sleep upon returning to my hammock. Since it was not real cold I would just get out of my bag and go take care of business, but when I would get back in my hammock I would repeat the same procedure that I did when getting in when first going to bed. In other word, I pulled the DreamWalker out of the hammock and put it on like a jacket. And thus once I laid back down I did not have to struggle with getting into the bag. Depending on how cool it was I would adjust the bag to meet the conditions and go right back to sleep. Bottom line, I slept very good each night and woke up each morning feeling well rested.
I was hoping to use the bag in near 40 F (4 C) weather since it is rated to 40 F (4 C) and it finally got cold enough to do just that here recently. I hiked about 2 miles (3 km) before setting up my camp on a chilly and rather breezy evening. I packed in some pizza and had that for supper and turned in around 8 PM. This was was early for me but I was tired from lack of sleep the day before. I wore a pair of sweat pants and my long sleeve bug shirt over a light performance top (basically a synthetic long sleeve t-shirt) and some thick wool socks to bed. It was 44 F (7 C) when I turned in and the low for the night was 38 F (3 C) when I checked it at around 5 AM. As usual, I had to get up to pee a couple of times and I kept the bag on instead of taking it off like I had been doing on previous nights. And other then these nature calls I slept very good most of the night. When I finally woke up for good at around 5 AM I did feel a little chilled but not chilled as in, man I need to dig out some more clothes, just enough to say I was not all toasty like a bug in a rug. I got up shortly thereafter but I feel the temperature rating is pretty accurate for me. However, it could be totally off for someone else and in either direction. That's one reason I try to test my gear close to home until I prove it works as advertised and recommend others do the same.
Before closing, I want to mention a couple of other things I have discovered while using the DreamWalker. Getting my arms through the arm holes is very easy when putting the bag on but once I am laid down in my hammock I found it a little difficult to pull them in or poke them back out at times. This was also not every time or the same for each arm. It just seemed random. I'm sure it all depends on how I am laying in my hammock in relation to the bag under me but I fell it is worth noting. And if the zipper were an inch (about 3 cm) or so longer it might not be an issue. The other thing I discovered it that by having the long version, I really did not ever have to tighten the bottom drawstring. I could easily flip enough of the end of the bag back under my feet to effectively seal off the end. Of course a real tall person might not be able to duplicate this. On the other hand a real short person could probably do the same with the regular length version. And for the record, I'm right at 6 feet (1.8 m) tall.
I have reviewed several sleeping bags over the years and bought a few on my own, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Exped DreamWalker Syn 133 is the best bag I have ever used for hammock camping. I know a lot of folks use a tent and I would not hesitate to recommend it for tent campers. However, they will most likely not appreciate the way this bag makes getting in and out of a hammock so much easier than regular sleeping bags allow. Plus, the use as a camp jacket is a big benefit all types of campers can enjoy. The bag is not perfect by any means. I have already pointed out that the hood is too big for me and that it is slightly heavier than similarly rated traditional mummy bags. My arms did get a little chilly when wearing it in jacket mode. The way the bag is made to function as a jacket also make it one of the easiest bags to regulate my temperature. In fact this bag will cover about 90% of the temperatures I normally camp in. When it gets real hot I try to stay home under the AC. I often camp in much colder temperature and the 20 F (- 7 C) version in down would be sweet, but since this bag is slightly over sized, I should be able to easily add enough clothes to make this bag work quite a ways below the 40 F (4 C) it is rated for. The only reason I can't definitely say so is because I have not tried it yet. Regardless, the roominess is just one more reason I like this bag so well.
This concludes my testing. I would like to thank Exped and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the DreamWalker Syn 133. It is a winner in my book!