The three essential differences between down and synthetic sleeping bags are weight, performance and care.
A down bag with the same temperature rating as a synthetic bag will generally be hundreds of grams lighter and pack smaller – pretty happy advantages.
It follows that down’s performance, on a weight-for-warmth basis, is superior. Unless – and here’s the rub – your feathers get wet. A damp down bag is pretty much useless, whereas a damp synthetic bag does give you a little protection – very handy if you’re tent-hiking in a remote wet area.
Of course, the damp-performance factor isn’t going to be a biggie for you if you hire a sleeping bag from us to walk the Three Capes Track. Your bag will be protected while you’re on the track – either in a waterproof stuff sack or (if you also hire one of our rucksacks) a waterproof pack liner. And at night you’ll be in a lovely, dry, comfortable hut. So our advice would be to make your sleeping-bag choice on weight and price.
Speaking of which, the last essential difference – care – is the main reason our down bags are more expensive to hire. Down’s trickier and much more time-consuming to care for (plus you have to consider that our down bags’ recommended retail price is more than double that of our synthetic bags).
To give our walkers more comfort and to protect and extend the life of our sleeping bags, we send every bag out with a liner. Please use it!
Our standard liner is a soft, stretchy cotton blend that’s perfect for most people in most conditions. We also carry a Thermolite Reactor Extreme liner that you should consider if you tend to be a cold sleeper – its fine-weave fabric and tapered shape adds anything from a few to several degrees extra warmth. We sent out one of each with two doughty rangers spending a few days on Frenchmans Cap. They each slept in the standard liner one night and the ‘reactor extreme’ on another. Their verdict: the ‘reactor extreme’ was definitely, noticeably warmer.
Last, if you’re hungry for the full luxe experience, we offer dreamy silk/cotton liners, which are tiny and super lightweight.
+5° Trek I down from Sea to Summit; Recommended Retail Price $369
0° Palm Visa synthetic from Roman; Recommended Retail Price $119
–1° Trek II down from Sea to Summit; Recommended Retail Price $429
–8° Long women’s Trek II from Sea to Summit; Recommended Retail Price $469
Premium stretch knit expander liner from Sea to Summit; Recommended Retail Price: $34.95
Thermolite Reactor Extreme from Sea to Summit; Recommended Retail Price: $89.95
Premium blend silk/cotton liner from Sea to Summit; Recommended Retail Price: $64.95