Valandre Swing 700 Sleeping Bag
The Valandre Swing 700 sleeping bag is a great bag in that it makes sleeping outside feel majorly comfortable! The inside of the Valandre Swing 700 sleeping bag is its largest drawing point for me. Valandre uses top notch materials, but materials that are going to make you fall off to sleep right when your head hits the pillow. Sleep is of huge importance when out backpacking as it allows you to recharge, heal and get your body prepared for the next day. Now some sleeping bags on the market are simply a company slapping some ripstop, junk insulation inside, and a cheap zipper and calling it revolutionary. But this Valandre Swing 700 sleeping bag certainly is not like that. Valandre is a company that caters mainly to mountaineers, expedition type explorers. With that in mind I figured getting this bag would certainly meet my expectations for using it for backpacking for three seasons out of four. It certainly has held up to my expectations, so lets get into the specifics.
The Valandre Swing 700 sleeping bag is made of 700+ Duck Down. Valandre wanted to get a economy line so they went with a very high quality of duck down over goose down which is much more expensive. The amount of fill is 24.5 oz (700 g) of Pyrenean duck down to be specific. My experience with the warmth of this bag is that it does not heat up super fast when you get in it, but it is a methodical heat producer. This bag in my scientific testing has proven to get very warm and it sustains that warmth, and I can second that for my real world testing on my backpacking trips. I do hammock backpacking and use this where others might use a top quilt, so basically I unzip most of it and then lay it on top of me like a blanket and tuck it into the sides of me. With having a eco DWR finish it holds up well to the normal moisture you come into contact with like the morning dew. This is not water resistant duck down, like my Seirra Designs Mobile Mummy/Backcountry Bed, so in wet environments it is going to not keep you as warm because once untreated down gets wet, all bets are off in relation to it keeping you warm. But that is a known with untreated down.
Moving on to the construction of the Valandre Swing 700 sleeping bag. Stitch quality and workmanship is top notch. Stitches are straight, bar tacks are perfect and I cannot see the workmanship being any better. They are sleeping bag artists. The zippers used are YKK, so you are getting the best zippers money can buy. The velcro is aggressive and holds extremely well. It does not bunch up and get caught on the air baffle when you try and zip up the bag, which is huge. I have seen more than a few bags get destroyed due to the zipper continually hanging up and making deep gashes in the air baffle. The one part of the construction is the foot area. It is built in a way to mimic a humans feet tilting forward. Most other bags are a simple 90 degree angle at the foot box, but Valandre set out to cut it to exactly how feet relax when sleeping on your back. So this greatly increases the warmth in the foot box area. Valandre uses a 66 denier Acrylic Polyamide Rip-Stop material which is a great choice. The only thing I would say is not to beat this sleeping bag around too much as the internal materials chosen, while very comfortable, are not made to endure abuse. So taking the time to be mindful of keeping the sleeping bag out of harms way is recommended.
The weight on this bag is 2.5 pounds, which is excellent. Being a backpacker you try and minimize weight and a 2.5 pound bag is acceptable. You will get Spring, Fall and Winter out of this bag as it has ratings for extreme use of -7 degrees Fahrenheit and 28 degrees Fahrenheit for comfortable. Using proper clothing in conjunction with the bag will get you down into the 10 degree range with no issue. I have had this bag down to 6 degrees and can vouche that it is a contender and has accurate ratings. Will you get by at 6 degrees in this bag, yes. Will it be like next to a fire, no. So pack accordingly if using it, like all sleeping bags, to it's limits.
As far as price goes, at around $315 this is on the high side compared to some others on the market by Eddie Bauer and Sierra Designs. The one downside is it does not use treated down, so it's competition in this price range is using treated down which is a major downside. I would like to see Valandre switch to a treated down so it could compete better. They certainly have a great product with unparalleled construction, but some other companies are ahead of them with the insulating technology. Overall it is a great bag that kept me warm last winter when I used it on trips.
SPECIFICATIONS: Fabric: Asahi KASEI Impact 66 Acrylic Polyamide Rip-Stop WR / Impact Razilus Polyester DWR eco Down Quality: Duck 700+ Down Load: 24.5 oz. (700 g) Comfort Rating: 28° F (-2° C) Extreme Rating: -7° F (-18° C) Compressed Volume: 8.5 liters Average Total Weight: 40.7 oz. (1157 g) Inside Length: Small: 66.9" / 170 cm Inside Length: Medium: 72.8" / 185 cm Inside Length: Large: 78.7" / 200 cm Circumference: 66.1" / 57" / 40.5" (168 / 145 / 103 cm) (Shoulder/Hip/Foot)