Sleeping outside is one of the most thrilling aspects to enjoying the great outdoors, and most avid backpackers attempt a night out under the stars without the shelter of a tent. Once you do, there is a chance you won’t want to camp another way ever again. Tents can be awfully expensive, heavy, and tedious to tote around, which can be a death sentence for ultralight hikers or thru-hikers that should cut weight where it counts the most.
If you plan to spend a night outside without the protection of a tent, the most important investment you can make is a high-quality sleeping bag that will keep you warm and protected from the elements. Whether you are headed out on a major kayaking trip or preparing for an exciting bike tour, the Western Mountaineering VersaLite sleeping bag is an outdoor companion worth having and adding to your gear collection.
- Full down collar seals in your body heat to keep you warm all night
- 5 1/4″ spacing of continuous baffles that go from zipper to zipper
- 850+ fill power provides a high warmth to weight ration and excellent compressibility
- Shell is made of Extreme Lite™ proprietary fabric with a very high thread count
- Full-length #5 YKK zipper
- 20 oz down fill and 6″ of loft
When it comes to choosing the right sleeping bag, creating a wish list can be very helpful. One of the biggest mistakes a new outdoor enthusiast can make is to buy a sleeping bag that’s unrealistic for the trips he or she regularly takes.
If you traditionally explore northern regions or venture out in early spring or autumn, you will likely need a sleeping bag with a low temperature rating. The insulation of your sleeping bag can also make a significant difference in your comfort throughout the night. Synthetic fill is very popular for being more affordable, but down fill is preferred for saving weight on quick or long trips.
In an effort to help you make the best decision for your safety and comfort, we will review specifications, unique features, and related products that compete with the VersaLite in cost, value, and performance. With our help and better idea of the features that should matter to you most, choosing the right sleeping bag may not seem as challenging.
VersaLite Sleeping Bag Review and Specifications
Regardless of how well you may know the manufacturer or the different types of sleeping bags on the market, deciding whether a product is right for you involves careful research and planning ahead. We have confidently narrowed down some of the most notable features to consider before making your final decision about the VersaLite sleeping bag.
Packaging and Packability
Weight is paramount when it comes to staying light on your feet so you can conserve energy and move quickly to gain as much ground as possible. The VersaLite weighs approximately two pounds and two ounces, which is not as light as some of the other Western Mountaineering sleeping bags or competing bags on the market.
When a sleeping bag is designed to withstand three of the four seasons and their respective elements, the materials used to add extra protection or insulation may also add a little heft. Whether the extra weight is worth it or not is entirely up to you, but a sleeping bag will still save much more weight than toting a tent or more advanced sleep system around.
At just over two pounds, the VersaLite is not the lightest option available to you, so you may need to sacrifice other essential gear, accessories, or consumables. Light sleeping bags are typically more expensive, but a mummy shape is effective at reducing volume and packing smaller to save space.
Each VersaLite sleeping bag includes a stuff sack that weighs just under half a pound when packed.
Design and Durability
Western Mountaineering is trusted by mountaineers and ultimate backpackers. Although many of their bags can stand up to chilly nights and unforgiving elements, the VersaLite is unique in the amount of down loft and insulation it provides as well as temperature rating and unique features.
Avoid stress-related injuries or exhaustion from disproportionate strength-to-weight ratio by taking your base weight into consideration. This sleeping bag is rather lightweight and should perform well in a wide range of conditions or elevations.
The shell is made from Extreme Lite™ proprietary fabric with a very high thread count. The only drawback to this construction is that it sacrifices some breathability to prevent down leakage.
As with any of their mummy sleeping bags, the inner shell fabric is cut narrower than the outer shell to create a differential, eliminating extra interior fabric could lead to cold spots and promoting proper lofting to protect against down compression. The inner lining is made from nylon taffeta, which is typically used in the lining for jackets or quilting.
The VersaLite is available in small, medium and large sizes. Inside girth from the shoulder, hip, and foot ranges from 62″/53”/39″ (5’6″) to 63”/54”/39” (6’6”). One of the major drawbacks of the fixed girth is that it makes it tough for all but thin hikers to add warm clothing for chilly nights.
The VersaLite is one of the warmest down sleeping bags in Western Mountaineering’s collection. Made in San Jose, California, the VersaLite offers down sourced ethically from free-range geese on an Eastern European farm where they are raised for breeding as opposed to poultry.
These geese are never live-plucked or force-fed. The plumage is gathered from their nesting area while they feed and roam. Depending on the size you choose, each bag offers approximately 20 ounces or down fill and six inches of luxurious loft.
The fill power of goose down is a reliable gauge of two essential features, including warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility. Experienced backpacking enthusiasts know just how important it is that a sleeping bag has the right amount of fill power while still compressing down to save overall pack weight.
Where compressibility is concerned, down is preferred. The VersaLite boasts 850+ goose down that is sure to keep you comfortable and insulated the whole night through.
With a temperature rating of 10ºF, the VersaLite is a dependable three-season sleeping bag. Anyone heading into medium or high elevations in the Pacific Northwest, Glacier National Park, Acadia, the Grand Tetons, or any of the country’s striking hiking spots will benefit by superior insulation without sacrificing the lightweight feature.
Many high-quality sleeping bags with down are typically treated at a microscopic level with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish or water-resistant application. Western Mountaineering is in the process of conducting their own long term tests on goose down that has been treated, but they purely rely on the quality and craftsmanship found in each bag they produce.
Synthetic sleeping bags may be the preferred choice for hikers heading to wet climates, but most outdoorsmen find that they warm up quicker in general with down.
There are hundreds of high-performance sleeping bags on the market, but the VersaLite offers a unique combination of benefits you can’t find in any competing products. The full collar is cut from a larger piece of fabric than the exterior, creating a loose down filled fabric that hugs your head for optimum comfort and locked warmth.
With this reliable sleep system on your adventures, you will sleep warm due to the insulation, and each VersaLite features a draw cord with a free-floating cord lock that allows campers and hikers to make a quick exit in the event of an emergency.
You will also benefit from the YKK #5 double pull zipper. A lot of sleeping bags on the market offer only three-quarter zippers, which can be very limiting depending on your size or sleeping preference. With a full-length zipper, you can freely ventilate your sleeping bag all the way down to the footbox on warm summer nights or on trips you would rather use this sleep system as a base with a blanket.
Down-filled draft tubes reduce air leaks and stiffening tape along the zipper coils help prevent snags. Continuous baffles are another delightful feature that most extreme backpackers will appreciate.
The fully-baffled construction encircles the bag from zipper to zipper, allowing you to shift the down insulation from one side of the bag to the other depending on the temperature and your required warmth. The baffles are spaced approximately five and a quarter inches apart for seamless coverage.
Value for Money and Guarantee
Costing approximately $558.99 – $589.95, the VersaLite offers an excellent value. Sleeping bags can come as a steep investment for backpackers and campers who are just starting out, but purchasing the right sleep system can ensure that you stay warm on outdoor adventures for years to come.
A well-loved and used sleeping bag will naturally accrue wear and tear from all your expeditions on or off the trail, so it is essential to follow Western Mountaineering’s suggested care and repair routine.
Although this sleeping bag does not feature a water-repellant or resistant coating, the differential shell construction provides plenty of protection against most elements. In rainy or extremely wet conditions, you run the risk of your down losing loft. In these circumstances and in regions where storm seasons are prominent, it may suit a backpacker to choose a synthetic sleeping bag over down fill.
Down will take some time to dry when wet. For your security, you may decide to pack synthetic pants or a coverup to keep you dry. We would also suggest exploring sleeping bag liners to determine whether the added layer and support would be worth your comfort in late autumn, on chilly summer nights, or at high elevations.
Finding the right sleeping bag can seem daunting and costly, but it is our commitment to helping you in your research so you can find the ideal solution for a good night’s sleep. Comparable in price, seasonal rating, fill power, and design components, each of these sleeping bags is best suited to similar applications and conditions as the VersaLite.
Explore the advantages and disadvantages to these high-quality sleep system alternatives made by Western Mountaineering, Kelty, and Nemo.
The HighLite Sleeping Bag by Western Mountaineering is a close contender when it comes to value. At an approximate cost of $339.95 – $359.95, the HighLite is a much more affordable option than the VersaLite for anyone just starting out.
The HighLite was precisely designed to condense weight and promote compressibility. The HighLite features the same high-performance ExtremeLite™ shell fabric that totals to a mere 0.9 ounces in weight. No other shell fabric is this lightweight.
This economical counterpart to the VersaLite employs a one-way #4 1/2 YKK coil zipper that is cut to half length. Some backpackers may find the half-length design to be too limiting. While the horizontal seams are sewn through, the vertical seams are baffled with one and a half inches of netting to provide optimum loft so the 850+ goose down reaches its full potential.
The efficient mummy design not only minimizes bulk, but it also decreases excess internal volume so the HighLite heats quickly and retains warmth. Slightly narrower shoulder and waist girth help eliminate pockets of dead air for improved warmth retention.
Weighing just a pound, we think the HighLite presents some tough competition for the VersaLite. However, the 35ºF temperature rating is significantly limiting for mountaineers and hikers heading to basecamp or on expeditions. This affordable counterpart would be better suited for ultralight backpacking and trekking.
The Cosmic Down 0ºF Sleeping Bag by Kelty is a beloved sleep system by outdoor enthusiasts of all experiences and skill levels. This close competitor to the VersaLite boasts water resistance and superior loft, with a durable down proof polyester rip-stop shell. The thermal comfort hood will keep you extra cozy when the mercury drops.
The Cosmic down features the same taffeta nylon lining but boasts only 600 hydrophobic down fill power, which is significantly less than what the VersaLite offers and may be a deal breaker for any backpacker that naturally sleeps cold.
With a price tag of approximately $219.95 – $303.46, the Cosmic down sleeping bag is about half the price of the VersaLite, but mixed user reviews pertaining to inconsistent insulation and the possibility of zipper malfunction lead us to believe that the VersaLite still presents a better value. The more advanced the sleep system, the steeper the investment. However, the more expensive sleeping bags are often constructed from higher-grade materials, resulting in an extended product life.
Nemo’s Sonic Down Sleeping Bag comes close to the VersaLite in price, at approximately $429.90 – $559.95. Although it is only rated to 15ºF, the Sonic Down’s Thermo Gills allow you to control the warmth of the sleeping bag on milder nights by as much as 20°F without letting the cold leak in.
Unlike our reviewed sleeping bag, the Sonic Down features a hybridized synthetic and down construction that decreases cold spots by charting areas of high density and improving insulation loft. This hybrid construction may be better suited to hikers heading into wet, chilly climates. Although down will need time to dry if fully immersed, the synthetic protection provides a little leeway.
With the Sonic Down, you enjoy Nemo’s best ingredients of high-end fabrics and 850+ fill power down insulation paired with stretch construction at the knees for side sleeping. For backpackers that naturally sleep cold, you may consider packing an extra down blanket to further protect yourself and keep yourself warm in otherwise perilous conditions.
Finding the perfect sleeping bag should be fun and exciting, especially as you prepare for your outdoor adventures. Fortunately and unfortunately, there are many options out there and weighing one product against another can be daunting. Luckily, we have gathered all the essential features that make the VersaLite sleeping bag unique so that you can determine whether the combination of features suits the types of trips you take most often.
We hope that our thorough review of the Western Mountaineering VersaLite sleep system provides you with enough information to decide whether this product is right for you and your personal style of hiking or backpacking. Some of the most notable features to consider include temperature rating, warmth, shape, and weight.
The VersaLite is a dependable choice for hiking in most climates, but you’ll want to look for an even more advanced sleeping bag if you dare to venture colder than 10ºF.
- Each Western Mountaineering sleeping bag is manufactured in the USA
- Full draft collar without adding unnecessary weight
- Ethically sourced plumage from free-range geese
- 850+ down fill power and six inches of loft
- Costly initial investment
- Lack of water resistance or a DWR coating
- Mummy design may be too limiting or confining for large hikers
As we mentioned earlier, shopping to make such a costly initial investment should involve careful planning. Many backpackers successfully cut down their overall pack weight by choosing a sleeping bag that is rated to a comfort range no lower than you realistically need. Resistant and better-rated sleeping bags are typically more expensive because of the materials they use and the many features they provide.
Luckily, a mummy design is great for thermal efficiency. If you stick toward what you know and what you hike the most, you can confidently choose a sleep system that will last you for many years of great expeditions and warm nights. To make your search more comprehensive, we have provided similar sleeping bag models by competing brands and even the same manufacturer.
Although each bag we examined has its own set of unique features, the reputation and performance of the VersaLite affirms that it would make a great investment for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts.Have you used this product before? If so, we would appreciate if you shared your experience with us in the comments!