Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gear Review: The North Face Aleutian 3S Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

Weight is everything when backpacking the steep trails of the Rocky Mountains. One of the heaviest pieces of gear you'll have to carry is a sleeping bag, so it makes sense to buy the lightest and best performing bag you can afford.

On average, a down bag weighs roughly one to one and half pounds less than an eqivalent synthetic bag. Down is also much more compressible than synthetics without affecting loft, which is the air space within the insulating material that holds in body heat.

Though synthetic insulating materials have made major advances over the years, they have yet to top goose down's warmth-to-weight ratio. This has long made down the preferred choice in sleeping bags for those who trek the steep slopes of the Rockies.

 The North Face Aleutian 3S Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

  • Fill: 600+ Hungarian grey goose down
  • Temperature Rating: 20° F
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Stuff Size: 8" x 6.3" x 20.7" / 20.3 x 16 x 52.6 cm
  • Soft rip-stop and water resistant polyester shell
  • Internal watch pocket
  • Roll-top stuff sack
  • Tested to EN 13537

The Aleutian is a mid-priced 3-season down bag weighing in at 2 lbs, 13 ounces with the included stuff sack. Though technically not an ultra-lite bag, it still weighs considerably less than most synthetic bags with the same temperature rating. Though slightly heavier than ultra-lite bags, it also has more room inside. This is a big plus if you're someone that tends to roll around a lot in your sleeping bag at night.

 The outer shell is made out of a water-resistant, polyester rip-stop material:

 (click to enlarge)

There is a stash pocket on the inside of the bag just over the chest area, good for storing a watch or headlamp, etc.

(click to enlarge)

The bag inside the included stuff sack:

More photos of the Aleutian:

Field Test

With the record breaking warm temperatures recently, finding a night cold enough to test this bag was somewhat of a challenge (pretty much unheard of for this time of year in the Rockies). Luckily, we had a minor snowstorm move through the area last weekend and temperatures dropped into the 20s at night, perfect for testing the bag.

To test the Aleutian, I took it to my favorite mountain testing spot the night of the storm and slept under an Equinox Egret Tarp. A Thermarest ProLite Plus pad was used underneath the Aleutian to provide insulation from the cold ground. 

My Kestrel 3500 Weather Meter recorded stand still temperatures down to 26 degrees and wind chills into the low 20s. The air was also very humid, making it feel colder than the usually dry air found in the Rockies.

 The morning after!

During the test, the Aleutian proved to be warm, roomy, and comfortable. I never felt any cold spots, which is sometimes a problem for down bags because of the down shifting around. I also liked the lighter weight of this bag because it doesn't feel as suffocating as a heavier synthetic bag.

UPDATE- For a great winter bag, check out our review of North Face's -40 Inferno Down Sleeping Bag


Northface has a long history of making quality outdoor gear, and this bag certainly lives up to that reputation. If you're in the market for a reasonably priced, quality, workhorse 3-season down bag, definitely check out Northface's Aleutian 3S Down.

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)

No comments:

Post a Comment