Robens Appalachian 1100 Sleeping Bag

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They Say – Ideal for demanding outdoor enthusiasts, the Appalachian 1100 sleeping bag is long lasting, made from high quality materials and has all the features necessary for top on-trail performance. The use of water resistant and antimicrobial siliconised MicroThermo filling means high levels of warmth combined with resilience, making these sleeping bags tough and effective. Features are well considered such as an anti-snag zip guard, full-length zip baffle and internal pocket.

We Say – I’ve been using this sleeping bag through the late summer into winter. I got it primarily because I needed a cold weather bag and I didn’t want to get one filled with duck or goose down. I’ll get more onto that later but I’ll start with a short low down on what I think of the bag.

To be honest it’s been too warm since August to properly test this bag. I’m in Canada as I write and it’s late December and it’s barely got below zero this year. I can say that it’s a compact bag though, fitting nicely into my rucksack with much space to spare, and that it’s super warm. Even when I’ve been camping out in relatively cold storms I can lay in it in just my underwear and feel very comfy. Here’s a shot of the tent interior taken during a heavy sea storm that whipped through whilst I was camped on an island this September.

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The windchill probably took the temperature down to 5 degrees that night but if anything the bag had me a little too warm and I had to poke my legs out to regulate temperature as my core was kept so toasty.

I haven’t needed to wash it yet and I do plan to hold off from doing that for as long as possible. I’ve had a little mud splatter the bag this autumn but a wet rag was all that was needed to wipe it off, no problem. As for the zips, which all too often are a bags downfall, they’re still feeling sturdy and haven’t given me any sign of impending breakage, or getting caught and stuck on the material.

Overall my recommendation is that this is a great bag – very warm, very comfy, very functional – and a superb alternative if you don’t want to buy duck or goose down.

The fact that it’s synthetic does mean it’s a little bulkier, and heavier, than a down filled bag but since I’m an animal lover that’s not a big issue to me. I’ll expand on that now. I’m an animal lover and whilst a few companies use ethically collected duck or goose down (the geese naturally moult up to 4 times a year) most companies use the goose down that’s a product of the Foie Gras industry. That’s the industry where the geese are stuck in cages all of their shorts lives and force fed multiple times per day until their livers are several times their natural size, after which the birds are killed and their livers extracted and made into pate for the vulgar (if you want to learn more about this, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foie_gras_controversy). Then, after the livers are cut out of the birds, the down is collected and sold to the bedding and outdoor clothing industry.

So when the labeling on your trendy down-filled hiking jacket says, ‘the down used in this jacket is a by-product of the food industry’, now you know what they actually mean by that. Not cool at all, especially when they have the option of ethically collected down, if only they’d agree to paying the suppliers a little more to cover the more labour intensive/expensive process, and therefore making less profit…

There’s no getting away from the fact that down is excellent at keeping you warm, and it’s lightweight. Which is why many outdoors people opt for it. A down sleeping bag might weigh half of a synthetic bag of the same temperature rating, and that might equal out to a kilo or more of weight. When you’re taking on a multi day climb, or hike, then every kilo counts, some say, so you need to go for the most weight efficient options to help you through the adventure.

But for me, a person who’s undertaken numerous multi day/multi week hikes, carrying everything I need on my back, that excuse has worn thin these past few years, when I’ve been trying to more closely align my beliefs with my actions.

I’m an outdoors person, I love nature, I love animals, I love to see the animals in the nature as I pass through it. Who doesn’t? Very few of us don’t get overwhelmed with joy when we’re hiking and a pretty bird, or a deer, passes us close by, or when we’re canoeing and a dolphin pops up. I’ve never seen a person not get super excited when that happens, ever. Yet, in our everyday choices we let these animals down and contribute to their going away by choosing badly, with the goods we buy, and thus we become involved in their torture and eventual murder.

Sure, my sleeping bag might be heavier than a down one, but I’ll take that extra weight on my back if it means I can give a message to the down suppliers that keeping geese in cages and force feeding them isn’t cool. Not cool at all. The people who operate these businesses just don’t understand about right and wrong, all they get is, what sells? If what they’re doing doesn’t sell, then they’ll change soon enough. And hopefully the businesses they change too will help the world and it’s inhabitants, rather than heap misery on the animals. Do I want to see geese by the side of the track as I hike? It’d be nice but in reality I’m not that bothered really, if they’re in their natural environment then great, if not, I’ll take whatever I can get, nature always provides beauty for us to look at. Do I want to support animal cruelty? No, not at all, not if I can help it.

Admittedly, it’s not always easy to tell when we’re using products that have been made using materials gathered in a most cruel and unsustainable manner. And with other products, like leather shoes, you know they’re made from animal skin yet so often there isn’t an affordable replacement that is going to be up to the job, not one that’s known to me anyway. But with down it’s relatively easy. The synthetic filling is every bit as effective as down as keeping out the cold, and it’s cruelty free, so why not use it? It weighs a little more, but I can take that. I hope you can too.

Robens don’t seem to make the Appalachian bag any more, but they have several other bags with synthetic filling choices, you can see them here http://www.robens.de/Products/Sleepingbags

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