Cascadia Gear: New Packs, Sleeping Bags & Dishware

Sierra Designs Zissou 15 Sleeping Bag
It’s been a subject of debate among backpackers in the Pacific Northwet for decades: Down vs. synthetic sleeping bags. Down offers unsurpassed warmth and packability for its weight but frankly, ain’t worth a damn if it gets wet. And sometimes, let’s face it, it rains in these parts.
Sierra Designs’ answer to this age-old conundrum is DriDownTM, a process by which the down feathers are treated with a molecular-level polymer. The result is down that stays dry longer, lofts better and dries faster when damp. DriDownTM is brand new. It was introduced just this summer, so it’s impossible to say how it will hold up over time, but in theory, it promises to offer the best of both worlds – the superior performance of down without the Uh-oh’s caused by a damp bag.
Now understand: This doesn’t mean ‘waterproof’. But according to Sierra Designs, it will stay dry seven times as long as untreated down in the presence of moisture. And unlike down bags that utilize a membrane for water repellency, Dri DownTM promises to ‘breathe’ better, allowing internal moisture to escape.
One of the bags incorporating this new technology is the Zissou 15. Stuffed with 600-fill DriDownTM, the Zissou 15 offers three-season comfort, relatively light weight (2 lbs 11 oz) and reasonably small pack size (8” by 16”). Here’s another thing it offers: room to roll over. Unlike many of the lightweight mummy bags on the market, the Zissou is positively spacious inside to accommodate tossers and turners (you know who you are).
Sierra Designs is also an early U.S. adopter of the European EN-13537 standards. These standards, which at long last promise consistency in the temperature ratings of various manufacturers, list four temperature ratings: Upper Limit, Comfort, Lower Limit and Extreme (read: freezing!) and take into account the fact that generally speaking, men sleep warmer than women. In theory, the ‘Upper Limit’ describes the temperature that the average male can sleep without “excessive perspiration”. The ‘Comfort’ designation indicates the temperature that the average woman can sleep comfortably (without being cold). The ‘Lower Limit’ represents the temperature at which the average male can sleep comfortably and the ‘Extreme’ rating is the temperature at which the average woman can sleep (?) without risk of hypothermia. Testing is done with a thermal mannequin.
Starting this year, Sierra Designs assigns both a ’Comfort’ and ‘Lower’ limit to its bags. Thus the Zissou 15, while marketed as a 15 degree bag, has a comfort rating of 23 degrees and a lower limit pegged at 11 degrees. For more info:

Sierra Designs Jubilee
65 Woman’s Backpack

The Sierra Designs Jubilee 65 is engineered to meet the needs of female hikers in a number of ways. First, it features the company’s Fulcrum SuspensionTM – a system of composite frame sheets that mimic the shoulder blades and pelvis. This suspension system offers superior weight distribution and comfort but where the Jubilee 65 really excels is in providing access to the contents of the pack and organizational excellence. Numerous side pockets allow for on-the-trail access to your essentials, ice axe, trekking poles, water bottle, etc. And the main compartment affords access to the gear buried deep inside. No more emptying the pack to get at the piece of gear that you need (always at the bottom!). The pack is acceptably light (3 lbs 9 oz) and will hold 55 pounds of gear, although in reality, that much weight might be pushing it with a pack this size. The “integrated” bottle opener is a bit silly, but on the whole, the Jubilee 65 is a great choice for female backpackers.
For more info:

Kupilika Backcountry Dishware
And now for something completely different…Kupilika backpack & camping cups and cutlery from Finland are like no camping eating utensils that you’ve ever seen. Made of a composite of 50% wood and 50% plastic, they hearken back to the distant past in design, while offering an environmentally innovative construction. The cups, plates, bowls and cutlery are all recyclable, packaged in recycled materials and utilize reindeer leather as straps. Looking like something left over from the last ice age, these products offer excellent heat endurance, low maintenance and don’t absorb smells. Kupilika products are manufactured in Ylamylly, Finland and have just begun to find their way into the U.S.
For more info:

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