After my buddy and I were decidedly a little cold during our August scouting adventure in the high mountains of Colorado we knew some of our gear needed to change. I was in a 30° bag and my buddy was in something a little higher rated — but it was August. When we started looking at long range temperatures for the elk season we knew that we’d both have to change gear over.
In 2019 FirstLite teamed with the well known outdoor camping company Nemo for a new line of gear including tents, sleeping bags, and mattress pads. For those of you who track price points, none of the gear from either company comes cheap, but it is well tested and suited for the activities they market towards. I was in need of a 0° or lower bag, so I settled in on the Stalker 0, the FirstLite x Nemo offering in the range. The bag retails for $519 and $549 for the Long.
I opt for the Long bag every time. For the extra weight and some extra cost you lose, you gain an area to keep extra socks, batteries, or water bottles warm in the night by your radiant body heat.
For your reference, the Nemo sizes are as follows:
- Short (66 in/168 cm)
- Regular (72 in/183 cm)
- Long (78 in/198 cm)
The bag features a mummy style design which takes some getting used to for traditionalists that have used the bedroll style Colemans for years. The design ensures more heat stays next to the body when fully enveloped in it’s soft down filled enclosure.
For dispersing heat there are two adjustable gills on the chest that serve as thermal regulation without being holes all the way through the sleeping bag. When fully unzipped they short circuit the high piled down insulation and just have a thin nylon cover between you and the outside world. I found them very helpful to regulate temperature as you wake up in the middle of the night.
Being a down filled sleeping bag means that on occasion you’ll get some teensy tinsy feathers just puffing out of the bag from the seams. I didn’t notice it too much on my trips this fall and winter, but every feather that pops out is another one not insulating you inside of your bag.
Packing the bag can be a chore if you’ve never packed this style of sleeping bag. I found that if I can roll the bag tightly from the foot to the head and then stuff it under my arm I can then put it into the stuff sack like a little sausage. It certainly takes some finesse, and when you’re trying to scuttle camp or break it for the next hump up over a mountain it can be super frustrating. Maybe check out a couple YouTube videos on it and memorize a technique and stick with it.
I put the Stalker 0° Sleeping Bag to the test this season taking it on several backpacking trips and it held up to everything I threw at it. It was light weight enough while being quite warm at night. Some trips I didn’t quite need the 0° comfort, but I took it anyway since you can always open the “gills” or the side of the bag if you get too hot. I was always able to fluff it up to suit my needs, and on at least one occasion I used it without a sleeping pad and it was delightful (full disclosure, I was on a bed of pine needles).
Despite the issues packing it into it’s stuff sack it does stuff quite small. The MSRP is hefty in the low to mid $500 range depending on length you choose. However, how long do you keep a sleeping bag? I’ve still got a military ECW three piece sleeping bag that is probably from the early 90’s that I still use, but would never backpack with it. That ownership over time proves out getting what you pay for.