It’s Fall, and that means it’s time to dig out your best sleeping bag for cool, wet weather. In the northwest, a synthetic bag is essential for those inevitable wet weather trips. The Big Agnes Picket SL 30 is a high-tech, high-performing sleeping bag whose generous cut makes it especially comfortable to sleep in.
Big Agnes Picket SL 30 Features:
- Primaloft® Gold Insulation Active in the stretch side panels
- Low profile cordlock lets you un-cinch the hood with one hand
- Anti-snag draft tube is soft and prevents heat loss along the zipper
- Zipper garage
- Interior fabric loops for sleeping bag liners
- Exterior loops for hang drying or storage
- Mesh storage sack & nylon stuff sack
- Nylon rip-stop shell fabric with a water repellent finish
- Polyester Spandex stretch fabric shell and lining with a water repellent finish
- Polyester Taffeta lining
- Weight: 2lb 1oz
- MSRP: $259
High-tech materials meet clever features
Big Agnes is known for their comfortable sleeping solutions. They have one of the best names in the business for sleeping bags, and they’ve introduced some seriously important design innovations. They’ve pushed pad integration, vertical baffles and thoughtful contours for different bodies and preferences. I’ve been using the Picket SL throughout a very fun summer ranging from sunny days of car camping to backcountry treks ending in ten inches of high alpine snow.
The foundation of this bag is 32oz of top-quality Primaloft Gold insulation. This is Primaloft’s top-line insulation which balances warmth-to-weight, water repellent properties and great feel It’s true that some synthetic insulations can feel matted and heavy, especially older or contemporary cheaper fills. Primaloft Gold, however, mimics the lightness that one feels with a down bag. It’s also somewhat breathable so it’s often used in synthetic garments, which is not particularly important in a sleeping bag but might have a side-effect of reducing some of that sleeping bag clamminess. Another factor is the polyester taffeta lining, which is perfectly soft to the touch.
A key feature of the Picket SL30 is that its cut is especially generous. If you think about sleeping bags as being on a spectrum from technical to non-technical, this bag is in the middle. What I mean by that is the most ‘technical’ bags are cut very trim to maximize heat-retaining efficiency and minimize bulk. This means that they can feel claustrophobic to sleep in. On the very far end of the spectrum are those rectangular sleeping bags that you used when you were 12 and went car camping with your family.
This means that the Picket SL 30 balances warmth/weight with comfort in a really good way. The high-quality materials and thoughtful construction minimize bulk, but the cut of the bag gives a bit more room. The advantage of the room is that the bag doesn’t feel constricting, and with the stretch panels you can actually move around quite a bit inside of it. The downside, of course, is that the bag is a little slower to heat up and keep warm.
Generally I find the bag very comfortable to sleep in. I found the bag true to its comfort rating, which for me means that I started to get chilly around 35′. On colder nights I added a fleece liner. It really is very subjective, everyone sleeps a bit differently. For my fellow cold sleepers, I generally think a 20′ bag is better for playing in the mountains. But, on the flip side, I sleep out under the stars a lot without a tent. A very similar warmer bag that I’d recommend is the Bolten SL 20.
One thing that really adds to the bag’s comfort are the stretch panels at the side. They’re lined with Primaloft Active insulation which has inherent stretch. The benefit to this is that the bag won’t constrict you if you stretch out or want to lie down like anything other than a hot dog. There is also zoned insulation, with less insulation on the bottom of the bag.
Another interesting feature is the position of the zipper track. The zipper goes right along the top left side of the bag. Most zippers contour around the side, and I thought it was unusual that they routed it along the top. The downside that I see here is that more heat could theoretically escape through the top-mounted zipper track. No draft tube stays in place all the time, so it seems inevitable that there will be extra heat loss. Otherwise, the anti-snag properties of the zipper track are solid. the seal around the head and neck is great with a very functional shock cord pull toggle and a release button that’s sewed into the neckline.
- I like the stretch panels and generous cut – it’s a comfy bag
- Great technologies overall with PrimaLoft Gold insulation
- Bag seals well around the head and neck, thoughtful design here
- Anti-snag zipper track works well
- I’m not a fan of the zipper track on the top of the bag
The Bottom Line: Big Agnes Picket SL
This is a great bag for a wide variety of people. It’s comfortable, functional, not too expensive nor too heavy. For those looking for a versatile bag that’s just as happy car camping as it is backpacking, the Picket SL 30 is a great choice.
Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com