Some months ago I was in the market for a new winter sleeping bag. The only other winter sleeping bag that I actually had experience with was the army issue Carinthia Defence 4, so my expectations on a potential replacement were aimed pretty high.
After our great experiences with Snugpaks line of products, especially the jungle bag, I took a closer look at Snugpaks winter lineup and saw what Snugpak called the SF Sleeping System. This system is made up of a bivvy bag we already reviewed, a summer sleeping bag (the SF1) and finally the SF2 winter sleeping bag. Of course you can freely combine the two sleeping bags and the bivvy to get even more insulation. Snugpak also supplies an adapter that let’s you zip the bags together, but that’s a story for another article.
The problem with this review is that, we had a very mild winter here in Germany with temperatures that mostly scratched the zero degrees border. Iam also someone who is very comfortable with sleeping in the cold, using mostly an puffy jacket and a bivvy, even at temperatures like – 5 degrees celsius.
Some day we finally decided to do a weekender in a rural area with lots of intensive rucking. The nights however just tipped the zero degrees but I was eager to test the SF2 as a GP sleeping bag.I felt very comfortable during the whole night and never felt sweaty. I think that this is up to Snugpaks Paratex Fabric that wicks moisture and breaths while being very water resistant without using a laminate. This allowed me to stay entirely dry, despite the relatively mild temperatures and heavy rain and humidity. There was simply no need for a bivvy bag, even if I still advise to always carry one.
All in all I really forgot that I slept into a winter sleeping bag. Now let’s talk about the construction. Snugpak decided to shape the bag somewhere between a mummy shape and a Hooded shape. I personally think that this is a good decision as I like hooded constructions more for their freedom of movement but the mummy constructions do a better job insulating.
Compared to the Defence 4 that lacks a insulating collar, the SF2 sports one. For me personally a insulating collar is vital to a good winter sleeping bag as it is a key part to the whole concept of insulation. You can adjust the collar with simple shock cord and cord locks.
The opening zipper is a beefy YKK model that opens in both directions and goes right to the footbed. I like that the inside of Snugpaks SF2 is protected by a rugged piece of webbing that prevents the zipper from chowing into the bag itself. The collar can be secured with a velcro flap, Snugpak integrated a cover here to keep the hook velcro from tearing up your skin or the fabric if you don’t use tis additional closure.
Another highlight is the padded and reinforced foodbed. You find a thick protective material on the lower inside of the SF2, this allows you to sleep with boots on. While I prefer changing to neoprene socks for recreational tours I mostly tend to wear boots while sleeping during tactical applications.
I can’t find any mention on the Snugpak website, but it really feels like the SF2 spots more insulation in the area around the feet. This would be ingenius, as the body tends to undersupply the lower extremities when you sleep. The footbef also sports two hanging tabs for drying and airing the SF2. I would have loved to have an interface to those tie down points in the SF Bivvy as bivvy bags and sleeping bags tend to create an irritating shift.
Insulation is achieved bei Snugpaks proprietary Softie insulation, which not only keeps you warm, even when wet but is also washable and is hard to beat. Snugpak tends to underrate its fibers when it comes to comfort and extreme temperatures. Looking at my experiences with the jungle bag the insulation keeps you comfortable at almost 15% lower temperatures than what is written in their specs. Oh, I forgot the specs. Those are rated at – 7C for comfort and – 12C for extreme.
When it comes to miltary sleeping bags one of the most important features is size and compression. The SF2 comes in two sizes, one being standard (220cm in length) and the other being extra long (250cm in length), both being 80cm wide. This is enough for an average person to stow some additional gear inside the sleeping bag. The included stuffsack compresses the bag to stunning 22x23cm (own measurements) at maximum compression. Compared to its performance the SF2 is a featherweight at only 1800g.
The Snugpak SF2 is definitely an often overlooked piece of kit. It beats Carinthias Defence 4 in almost every aspect. Especially weight and breathability it is almost a force multiplier as you can take it even with you at late autumn and early spring without sweating.
I have to say that the outer shell, as always with Snugpak, looks a bit fragile compared to other products. But I experienced no rips, holes or tears while using it. Another point I would like to see is an internal document or light pouch, this would prevent you from seeking your headlight, socks or phone at night.
You can get the SF2 directly at Snugpak.
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