Getting a good night’s sleep when traveling is problematic for many people and doubly so when you find yourself in the backcountry when all of your accommodations are weighing heavily on your shoulders. Hiking back in the rough another few miles to increase your chances to get that once in a lifetime shot at a monster buck, or setting up a spike camp on a mountain ridge to be the first to see that record ram is always a balancing act between paring down weight and gaining as much comfort as possible. As I get a bit longer in the tooth, I find it harder to ignore the discomfort that I used to shrug off. I’ve gone from days when I could and did sleep on steam pipes on an aircraft carrier at sea, to a mature gentleman who tends to creak and pop annoyingly in the mornings while achieving verticality.
So, I was intrigued when I spoke with the folks at Klymit about testing some of their equipment. After discussing my normal sleeping patterns, they sent their KSB 20 Oversized Down Sleeping Bag, the Static V Luxe inflatable sleeping pad and as an extra bit of comfort, the Pillow X Large. Total weight for all three pieces is under 5 pounds and pack easily in a large backpack or smaller 2 or 3-day pack.
I took the products to a campground in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson to test the various claims for each.
As the name implies, the KSB 20 Oversized Down Sleeping Bag is a larger version of the standard mummy type bag. Rated to 20°F the bag allows for more freedom of movement while staying warm. Some of the more unique features of this bag include a snag proof zipper, a stash pocket to keep small objects such as flash lights close at hand and an adjustment system to make the bag up to 15” shorter if necessary.
In spite of the fact that May is pretty warm in Southern Arizona, we were experiencing an unseasonable cooling spell on the heels of a week of record high temps. Overnight lows on the mountain dipped to the mid 40s and while not exactly cold, it was still pretty chilly. The KSB worked as advertised and kept me very warm. Additionally, I was able to move from one side to the other during the night without taking the bag with me. Overall the bag was very comfortable and would be a good year round bag for more temperate climes such as Arizona, or an excellent three season bag in colder sections of the country. Klymit has a variation of this bag that is rated to 0°F for four season use.
The Static V Luxe sleeping pad was a revelation. A bit larger than standard sleep pads, the Static V Luxe packs a lot of comfort in a small, easy to carry package. Two features struck me when researching the product. The literature states that this pad is perfect for people (like me) who tend to sleep on their side. The chevron shaped air baffles are supposed to keep hips, knees and shoulders from touching the ground. The other feature that got my attention was the statement that the pad could be inflated with only 20 to 30 breaths.
My personal experience has been that no matter how much air I put in a sleeping pad, I inevitably end up on the ground, usually on the one rock or tree root I didn’t notice while putting up the tent. I have also observed in the past, that blowing up a sleeping pad or air mattress tends to leave me very light headed after spending many breaths and a great deal of energy. With the Static V Luxe, I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. The pad features dual inflation valves that are very easy to operate. Turn and pull to inflate/deflate, push and turn to close. It took a few more than 30 breaths to inflate the pad, but that could have been due to the operator.
The most impressive aspect of the Static Luxe V was the air retention quality of the pad. I inflated the pad in the early afternoon specifically to test the air retention capabilities and to gauge what effect cooler temps after sundown would have on the pad. The pad was just as firm the following morning as it was when I first inflated it. In fact, even after opening the valves to deflate the pad for repacking, I had to force the air out while rolling up the pad. Speaking of repacking, both the sleeping bag and the pad went back in their respective bags with no problem.
When the folks at Klymit suggested sending me the Pillow X Large, I was a bit hesitant. Sure, a nice warm sleeping bag and a hi-tech pad sounded cool, but a pillow? Everyone knows real outdoorsmen use their elbow as a pillow, or at the very most a coat rolled up to prop up your head. But then I remembered waking up with a sore shoulder, or a numb right arm, or getting poked in the eye by an errant zipper and thought testing a pillow might not be such a bad idea.
The Pillow X Large (I know, it sounds more like a military designation than a product name) is constructed of the same material as the sleep pad and features the same type of inflation valve. The pillow has the same air retention qualities as the sleep pad and stays inflated all night long. The valve is easy to use even in the dark. I know this because I had the pillow inflated to a very firm level and at one point when I shifted in my sleep I felt the pillow shoot out from under my head. I retrieved the pillow, opened the valve and let some air out and it stayed in place for the rest of the night. In addition to camping, the pillow would be a good item to throw into a carryon bag for long flights. It is small and lightweight and would be an extra level of comfort on the road or on the trail.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality and durability of the Klymit products. You can find Klymit gear on their website or better yet, take a look at the Shop SCI page on the Safari Club International website. --Randy Gibbs