Sleep right, sleep tight: cool bags for warm weather
Sleep right, sleep tight: cool bags for warm weather (Jonathan Kantor)

Hot Night Lights

Drift off under the stars in a featherweight sleeper designed for balmy summertime escapes

Sleep right, sleep tight: cool bags for warm weather

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“CLEAR SKIES, CALM WINDS, lows in the upper fifties.” As these words echo across much of the lower 48 this month, thoughts turn to the backcountry—and a spur-of-the-moment overnighter in whatever wild amphitheater happens to be available. (Sorry, Central Park doesn’t count.) Thankfully, the new ultralight warm-weather sleeping bags make snoozing happily under the stars a snap. The sacks on the following pages start at an ultra-wispy 17 ounces and max out at 32, which is still less heft than a bunch of grapes. They’re also highly packable—several squish down to the size of a Nalgene bottle—and take full advantage of sheer nylon shell fabrics. Of course, gossamer bags demand extra care: Flop a synthetic- or down-filled ultralight over a snaggy limb, for instance, and you’re asking for a fill-spewing gash. But user-friendly touches like simple collar-and-hood cinch adjustments, high-contrast zippers that are easy to find, and hang loops for drying make these bags as smart as they are light. Pop one in a daypack, toss in a ground pad, and add some water, a headlamp, a bagel for dinner, and an orange for breakfast. Seize the day, sure, but nab a comfy night at the same time.

Sleep right, sleep tight: cool bags for warm weather Sleep right, sleep tight: cool bags for warm weather


Tobago at sunset Tobago at sunset

WAY TO TOBAGO For $596 per person, travelers can stay seven nights at the Ocean Point Hotel, in southeastern Tobago—and get ten boat dives to boot. The 12-room white-stucco hotel, which has kitchenettes in each of its air-conditioned, poolside rooms, caters to divers with its reasonably priced gear-rental program (a BC and regulator cost $10 per dive; snorkeling gear is $10 per day). At Kelliston Drain, off northeastern Tobago, expect to see the largest brain-coral formation in the world. Contact: 868-639-0973,

ARRIBA! From now until October 31, the beachfront Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and Country Club, in northern Puerto Rico, is offering four-day packages starting at $555 per double, with a second room for half that price, a total savings of 55 percent off high-season rates. Half-day, two-tank dives are $115, food not included. Prices are not set for multiday dive packages, so expect some jovial haggling with the concierge. Don’t worry, it’s an island thing. Contact: 800-554-9288,
Diving for Data
Global Vision International’s new research trip to the SIAN KA’AN BIO-SPHERE RESERVE, off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, lets volunteers dive—and HELP SAVE—the world’s second-largest barrier reef. Spend two to 20 weeks gathering data on crocodile, fish, and sea turtle populations, training local fishermen, and clearing away invasive species. It might sound like work, and you’ll have to sleep in a dormlike cabana, but it costs only $1,045 for a two-week stay at a REMOTE AND TRANQUIL OCEANSIDE research station. Plus, half of your payment goes toward further studies. Contact: 011-44-1582-831300,

Named after a hairy alpine route in the Canadian Rockies, the ANDROMEDA STRAIN by INTEGRAL DESIGNS is ideal for fastpackers going high, low, or anywhere in between. The PrimaLoft Sport polyester stuffing resists water and can withstand punishment from your Maytag. Because seams create cold spots in insulation, ID topstitched the shell sparingly, and the bag’s body-hugging “floating” liner is sewn only at the edges. If nights in your area run warmer than the 40-degree rating, just yank down the full-length zipper. ($170; 403-640-1445,

Can a one-pound-five-ounce bag really keep you warm? Tests confirmed that the MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR PHANTOM pulls it off. The footbox smothers your toes in lofty 800-fill down, while long internal chambers known as continuous baffles allow you to shift the feathers topside, for nippy nights, or beneath, for a plush nest on warm ones. A three-quarter-zippered opening shaves ounces and gives the 32-degree mummy-shaped Phantom a friendly summer-to-fall comfort range. ($240; 800-953-8375,

WESTERN MOUNTAINEERING’s MEGALITE is so barely there that the company includes a disclaimer in its catalog: “Not intended for general field use.” But when treated with care, this mummy bag is a solid alpine performer. A wispy nylon shell fabric allows the 850-fill down to loft like a thunderhead. Minimalists will comfortably snooze in temperatures at least ten degrees below the 30-degree rating; continuous baffles produce a generous warmth range—just wiggle the down around to where you need it. ($295; 408-287-8944,

KELTY’s LIGHT YEAR mummy bag wraps 650-fill down in a Teflon-treated nylon shell: It breathes, and water beads up and rolls right off. These qualities, and the bag’s high compressibility, make the 45-degree-rated Light Year a sweet choice for through-hikers. Cinching up the hood and neck is a breeze, thanks to color-coded pull cords. To avoid sweaty feet, Kelty added a clever zip vent at the foot. Meanwhile, multiple loops and tabs steady your pad and keep the optional liner from shifting. ($120; 800-423-2320,

MOONSTONE helped develop Polarguard’s 3D synthetic fill, and the pearly-white 3D STRATUS goes nuts with the soft stuff, coddling those who tend to get wet from condensation with layers of fast-drying insulation over cold-sensitive zones like head, torso, and toes. On hot nights, yank down this mummy’s full zip. A durable, water-repellent coating resists stains, and tests have shown that the Stratus can be machine-washed and -dried repeatedly with only a slight loss of its 32-degree-rated thermal value. ($150; 800-390-3312,

The KOMPAKT SUMMER by MAMMUT is a good fit for stowage-challenged bike campers and alpinists. The semi-rectangular bag stuffs down to the size of a two-liter bottle—tuck it into a waist pack and fellow hikers will never suspect you’re sleeping out. Made with a wispy nylon shell and liner and filled with a fast-drying hollow-fiber polyester, this half-zip 50-degree bag is intended for people under six feet tall. On cooler nights, go-light types can tuck it inside an optional bivy sack. ($159; 800-451-5127,

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