Snugpack Black on Rogue
Note: this bag is not listed on their site, maybe it is discontinued. The
closest bag I could find on their site was the 2+ which was also similar to the
name on the bag. Maybe it is the right bag.
I founded it
listed on this website as well.
About October of 2002, an experienced hiker and Special Ops guy Dan (name protected) asked me what I thought of the Snugpak sleeping bags. I had never ever heard of them, and told him so. So he hipped me to a couple of links and I looked at them. They looked very interesting: They are made in Great Brittan, and all are synthetic bags, and they have fibers I've never heard of.
They claim to have new fibers and a system called profiling which reduces stitch holes which allows the fibers to "Re-loft" easily and reduce weight. This is which can have the insulation of down without the bulk, and is supposed to be much cheaper. The insulation is Reflectatherm, from their website::
Reflectatherm layer - "Space Age technology in a down to earth application".
This metalised fabric is designed to reflect heat and retain warmth. A highly breathable material, which adds little to the weight or packsize of the product and provides at least 15% additional warmth whilst being undetectable by touch in the sleeping bag or garment.
Another of their insulation is Softie, which is supposed to be a product that is made to simulate down. Again, from the Snugpak site:
The Softie insulation or 'superfine high thermal' is a combination of fibres with different crimp systems and surface finishes. Some are crimped, some are curled and others are simply left straight. The random nature of the process results in a product that closely resembles the structure of natural down and the way it performs.
The yarns used are staple yarns as in natural insulations (as opposed to continuously extruded as in most synthetic fills), giving it excellent re-loft abilities when unpacked.
Softie is easy to care for, machine washable and still retains a lot of its thermal property when wet.
The fibres have now been updated with special binders and treatments for an excellent combination of softness and durability, making it the perfect fill for these lightweight expedition bags.
Recent development work undertaken with Hardi has lead to the introduction of a new resin which gives more stability to the fibre allowing us to utilise our profiling 'no stitch through construction system'.
This all sounded very cool and the prices didn't look bad at all.
So, I fired off a couple of e-mails explaining who I am and what I do, and about my site. I asked if they could send me a sample of one of their bags for testing, promising to return it after writing an evaluation. After all, us Americans haven't heard of them. Maybe this would work out well for them too. Unfortunately the never returned my e-mails.
I told Dan there wasn't any luck getting one, so he loaned me both of his bags - cool.
When the box arrived, I was amazed that there were two sleeping bags in there. A Softie Merlin 3 military version, and a Black on Rouge 2 season bag. After reading all the stuff about them, I was expecting something with a lot of loft in a cool construction system, but what I saw were tow bags that were pretty flat. So I checked into the Snugpak site again to see if I had missed something about their bags being extra warm without loft, but I couldn't find that.
Both bags smelled of fresh laundering, and the instructions for care on the Snugpak site says you can wash them normally but not to dry or iron them. Maybe they have been improperly laundered?
Both bags had compression sacks that were pretty darn good, and the adds show them getting compressed pretty small. But synthetic looses loft after a lot of compressing or being stored compressed. Maybe the bags have been compressed too many times or stored compressed for too long.
So in an attempt to see if they would loft up, I left them totally un-stored in the top of my closet for a week. No luck. I decided I might as well take a chance with them.
Unfortunately Dan had to ask me to send the Softie 3 Merlin back because he was getting deployed - it is the one I was most interested in. He let me keep the Black on Rouge 2 season to test.
I was heading out on a cold (for Louisiana) January field training exercise. I figured it would be a good test of the 2 season bag since it had a 32˚ comfort rating.
But I should probably cover this before continuing. In English sleeping bags, they have a slightly different rating system They have a comfort rating which is where you should be able to sleep in the bag dressed normally without discomfort; and they have a low rating where you can survive with your clothing on. The Black on Rouge has a low rating of 23˚.
The first night out I tried it out in 48* weather in my Hennessy hammock, clothing was BDU pants and T Shirt, and my pad was a sunscreen/closed cell foam combo. I froze my butt off that night. Not at all what I expected. I am not totally truthful here, my butt and my back were actually quite warm, but the top of my body was cold, the sleeping bag didn't provide enough insulation but my pads did. I finally warmed up when I got out and did some moving around. Since the weather was only getting colder over the week (it hit a low of 26˚ F) I decided to give it up and use my Nunatack Backcountry Blanket.
I can't recommend this bag.
I can't for certain say if the Snugpak is good or bad with total honesty, I think that the problems with this bag could be related to storage and care. But that does lead to a point that despite how this bag was stored and care for, it is flat as a pancake. If it is this flat, is it something that will eventually happen to any sleeping bag that Snugpak makes? I don't plan to spend the money to find out. It really makes me wish that Snugpak had returned my e-mails and taken me up on my offer to test their bag.
There are a lot of nice features to the bag, like a double sided two way zipper, draft collar, no snag zipper track, good compression sack, etc. But in the end it didn't keep me warm, and for over two pounds of bag that cannot do this even in the 40's, I can't give it a thumbs up at all.