Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mountain Equipment Sleeping bags - new purchase....

So the current focus of my time is finding a new winter down sleeping bag. I have wanted a decent one for a while, and I am determined not to spent another winter season shivering through with 3 season sleeping bags. Sometime ago I settled on a Mountain Equipment down bag, purely because I love Mountain Equipment kit and I am yet to be let down by a piece of gear I have bought from them. So based on this I have been looking into various options and currently have a choice of 4, below is a summary of my research into the bags:

ME Titan 850: Comfort limit: -12°C, Extreme: -31°C, £220 RRP, 1495g
ME Zero 750: Comfort limit: -13°C, Extreme: -32°C, £330 RRP, 1190g
ME Snowline: Comfort limit: -17°C, Extreme: -37°C, £370 RRP, 1510g
ME Dreamcatcher 850: Comfort limit: -10°C, Extreme: -29°C, £240, 1685g

So quite a selection and all around about the same (ish) ratings. Looking more closely, the fill weight of the Titan and Dreamcatcher are 850, whilst the Snowline and Zero are 750. The pack sizes are pretty much the same within a couple of cm, so not enough to make a difference. So why are the Zero 750 and the Snowline so much more. Well it comes down to features, the Zero is designed to be lightweight, and has a 300-400g weight saving on the other bags. For someone looking for maximum performance and minimum weight this would be ideal, but I have to ask myself is the 400g (max) weight saving worth the extra money, in my opinion not at this stage of my career, weight is always an issue but I can't justify £90 more than the Titan for a bag that is so similar in other specs. So in this case, the Zero 750 is out. Next looking closely at the Snowline, at £150 more than the Titan and the most expensive option of the group, it has  some additional features that justify that price. The Snowline features a drilite outer to help protect from moisture and snow. It also has higher temp ratings (slightly) than the others. At this stage I am not discounting the Snowline, as it does justify the extra money. The dreamcatcher however will be joining the Zero, as whilst it is the 2nd cheapest, its heaviest, with the lowest temp ratings, therefore Dreamcatcher is out. Then I come onto the Titan. At £220 it's the cheapest, with good ratings, and decent weight. Definately a contender.

So with 2 options that have got through the "interview phase", we come onto the next stage; best price. After lengthy research the best online prices are:

Snowline: £295,

Titan 850: £178,

Curiously both sleeping bags are cheapest on the same site: Hill and Dale Outdoors Ltd. Good discounts however. The question is; is the discount on the Snowline enough to justify buying it over the Titan? The price difference is £120, and the Snowline price is discounted by £75, and the Titan by £40. The weights are the same, the difference in comfort temp is 5°C, and extreme temp is 6°C, with the Snowline being the warmer bag. The Snowline does have the advantage of the Drilite outer protecting from the moisture of Snowholes, and damp bivi's. The fill power is less on the Snowline however, it uses goose down which provides 20-25% more insulation than duck down. The Snowline also has a higher ratio of down to feathers (Snowline: 93% down/ 7% feathers, Titan: 85% down/ 15% feathers), so is a much higher quality bag.

There is no doubt that the Snowline is the better bag, and for the extra £120 you get a lot. But it is an extra £120....the Titan is a good bag at a great price. I think I have a dilemma now!

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