During my recent extended road trip across the West, I found myself spending quite a few nights in various Walmart parking lots as I drove back and forth from state to state. In order to stay warm during the frigid December and January temps across Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana, I kept the Sierra Designs DriDown Zissou 6 sleeping bag at the ready in the back of the Subaru.
Even though I had enough gear in the car to outfit the entire Jamaican ski team, a sleeping bag is always a good idea if you are driving through bad weather. You never know when you might find yourself alone, stuck on the side of the road or have to pull over until the weather passes.
Proprietary to Sierra Designs, DriDown consists of regular down treated with a molecular level polymer to create a hydrophobic finish on each individual down plume. This finish allows the DriDown to stay dry longer, loft better, and dry faster than untreated down, keeping you warmer in any environment. Like any insulation, the DriDown will eventually wet out, but it takes much longer and much more moisture to get to this point.
For obvious security reasons, I slept with all the windows rolled up. So, unlike a tent where you can create good ventilation even in winter, I ended up with quite a bit of condensation inside the car. This condensation would normally head straight for your sleeping bag. However, packed with 30 oz. of 700-fill DriDown, the Zissou 6 remained dry, retained its loft, and kept me warm, even after being stuffed in the trunk for weeks on end without a chance to ever air out.
A couple of years ago, Sierra Designs was one of the first sleeping bag manufacturers to forgo the traditional rating system in favor of more scientific EN-tested temperature ratings. Traditionally, sleeping bags are given an approximate, round-number temperature rating based on several possible criteria, including actual test results and anecdotal evidence. EN testing allows exact comfort ratings to be established for men’s and women’s mummy-style, above zero degree bags.
According to Sierra Designs, the company rates their men’s bag to the EN test ‘limit’ level, while rating the women’s bags to the EN test ‘comfort’ level – a difference of about 7 degrees. This means as a men's bag, the Zissou 6 would be rated to about 13 degrees for women. I was more than warm enough in the back of the Subaru, even when temperatures outside dipped well below zero.
When winter camping or heading into a continually damp environment, hydrophobic down or all out synthetic gear (or a combo of both) is a must for me now. You just never get the chance to fully air out and dry regular down gear each day.
The Sierra Designs DriDown Zissou 6 sleeping bag retails for $360 and is available now.