Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roman Global Sub-Zero Sleeping Bag

After surviving years of camping trips, interstate moves, insane sharehouses and the odd bout of homelessness, not to mention being shredded by an ex, it was finally time to retire my trusty old OzTrail sleeping bag.

I think my favourite day of the work week would have to be a Tuesday. Why? Well because that's the day that I open the Sun to find a tresure trove of bargains. Yes, I'm talking about the Harris Scarfe catalogues! As much as I love wasting a whole Saturday afternoon looking through aisles of gear in an outdoors store, sometimes you just can't beat Harris Scarfe on a sale day (I always follow their products through a number of 'sales' though, as they can be a little dodgy by embelishing their 'rrp' just a touch). A couple weeks ago they had a good sale with lots of cmping gear, and yes, sleeping bags heavily discounted. Having poured over the catalogue and compared prices and reviews on a couple of my favourite sites (here and here for example) I thought I had decided which bag I wanted, however, seeing them in the flesh was another story! One bag (a '-5' Caribee I think) was HUGE! Packaged up it was easily twice the size of my current bag, and weighed in at nearly 3Kg! Now, I know that seeing as I do mostly vehicle based camping, size shouldn't really be of too much concern to me, but I do still think of myself as a backpacker on wheels, so traveling light is still a priority. The giant bag threw me in to a bit of a spin, and I set about reading the labels on all of the other bags, comparing and re-comparing specs. There were about three different -5 bags, a couple 0's, and even a selection of +5's (What?! At THIS time of year???). Eventually I found, tucked away in a dark corner (something that Harris Scarfe stores seem to have plenty of, if you look hard enough) a very small Roman sleeping bag. At first I looked straight past it because it was the same size as their +5 kids bags (which there were HEAPS of), however, on a second look, it wasn't quite the same colour, so I dragged it out.

What I found was a fairly compact -5 Roman Global synthetic bag. I've used an older one of these before and was impressed at its warmth, considering how this it seemed. What's better, it had a tiny little tag with a price tag stuck on it, far, far below the rrp that was underneath. It must have been left over from a past sale as it was the only one in the store, and wasn't mentioned on any of the sale posters hanging around (which all of the others were). The only concern in my mind before deciding to rush up to the counter before some ever-vigilent manager (who am I kidding, this is HS!) saw it and took the stickers off, was whether it would be long enough. It's only 210cm tall, including the hood, whereas the others I had been looking at were 230-250. What the hell, at this price it was a bargain no matter what, and besides, HS has always been fairly loose when it comes to returning goods.

I gave the bag its initiation last weekend camping up at Corowa, on the Murray River. I was a little dubious at first, but in the end I left my trusty old bag at home, hoping that the Roman would do the trick and I wouldn't need to double up. I'd been watching the wether all week ad had seen it get in to the minuses up there, so I was a little nervous to say the least! However, it was fantastic. Firstly, the rip-stop nylon outer is a great idea, usually one little nick will end up in a long tear, but not in ths bag. To be honest, the extra height probably wouldn't hurt, I did feel a little exposed at times (I'm about 6'1", which is, err, 185ish), and with the hood pulled tight the opening naturally wanted to fall over my chin rather than my eyes. Oh well, just snuggle a little deeper! One thing I miss from my old bag though, is the drawstring around the shoulders so you can REALLY trap the heat in, being a little narrower than the OzTrail probably makes up for it a little, but I really liked that extra drawstring. Coupled with my silk liner this bag was a great performer. I probably would want to exceed -5 with it though, I felt like I was getting pretty close to its limits on the coldest night away, without the liner I definately would have been a little less than comfortable.

So, now for the big question: What do you do with a used, slightly torn and rather soiled sleeping bag? Answer: I'm going to cut it down, and turn it into a sleeping bag for Zeke! When we've been in really cold places he's wanted to burrow down inside my bag with me (rather than just on his bed with no coverings), but this bag is a little more of a snug fit, so maybe its time the boy had his own.

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