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  • Ken Ilgunas

Gear Review: Selk sleeping bag

I've gotten a few things from my published article:

1. A measly $150 check from Salon (whose editors clearly didn’t take pity on my impecuniousness) 2. A potential book deal (more on this in the future) 3. Lots of messages from interesting people (more on this in the future, too) 4. A Selk sleeping bag

I’m reluctant to advertise a product on a blog on which I habitually complain about the consequences of consumerism, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a ridiculous picture of myself.

A rep for Selk messaged me over Facebook asking if I wanted a bag for free. While it was implicit that he hoped to use my newfound popularity to his company’s advantage, I took special note that he didn’t disguise his offer in a facade of generosity or overtly request that I review, discuss, or advertise the bag. Since nothing was expected of me from the transaction, I thought, sure, why the hell not?

I should, first, discuss my sleeping bag, who, I’m sure, didn’t enjoy seeing a rival for my attention join us in bed.

I’ve had my Sierra Designs bag since May of 07. I bought it secondhand for $40 from a friend in Coldfoot right before I left on my epic Alaska-to-New York hitchhike. Supposedly it’s rated to -20 degrees Fahrenheit--a claim exaggerating the bag’s actual capacities since I need to put thermals on when it gets down into the teens. Apart from a rip that I’ve thoroughly duct-taped, it’s served me well and has kept me sufficiently warm through two North Carolinian winters.

As you can see, the Selk provides mobility and plenty of freedom. Admittedly, it has been nice to wake up and be able to eat my cereal in my sleeping bag, instead of shiveringly gulping down spoonfuls in a pair of boxers. The pants zip open for ventilation, there’s a zipper by the hands, and they’ve sewn in some sturdy material by the feet so you can walk outside in it.

Unfortunately, they’ve compromised the bag’s ability to maintain body heat. On a couple of nights in the thirties, I needed to drape myself under my other sleeping bag in addition to wearing the Selk. It’s 4.35 lbs and the listed temperature limit is 36 degrees Fahrenheit, which is good for late fall and early spring nights, but won’t do me much good in winter when it’s gotten as low as 10 degrees.

I recommend it to vandwellers seeking a little more convenience or to those camping in mild climes, but the cost, weight, and relatively high temperature limit should be enough to deter the cheap and the rugged. While I would have been fine with my old bag, I’ve made good use of the new one, and it’s worth the little space it takes up.


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