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Develop - what's new from the Alpkit Design Team

Sleeping bags 2015

By Jay Oram
25, Feb, 2015

Jay asks - What sleeping bags are coming and why have we chosen them?

Sleepingbag1200

We have to start with a bit of Alpkit product history really - We're good at making sleeping bags, the last versions of the SkyeHigh and PipeDream won numerous awards, have been on so many adventures and after 12-18 months of not having them we still get questions asking after them. 

The SkyeHigh was designed as the go anywhere do anything down bag - covering -5ºC / -10ºC / -15ºC. It's weights, baffle sizes, fill and shell material were all designed to cover camping throughout the UK and abroad for 2-4 season campers, not ultra light, but at just over 1 kg they were light enough to be carried, still hard wearing and comfortable for car camping or extended adventures. 

The PipeDream on the other hand was designed for a specific purpose - lightweight material, high quality, high fill power down with quite spacious baffles and a really trim cut. This was designed as a bag to do that Alpine ascent - Summer or Winter. Take the smallest, lightest bag and a bivvy bag, carry it up to your bivvy spot, survive the night and then quickly summit before coming back down - but it was often used for scenarios where the features of the SkyeHigh were actually better designed.

We have learnt from this and our product team have been hatching a new range of sleeping bags that will better align our models to what our customers are using our sleeping bags for. So this should mean less compromises for the user and still offer a choice that covers very specific situations - from a simple rectangular down quilt for a hammock and lightweight use, to full -40ºC (Expected T-comf) expedition bags that won't cost a fortune.

I've combined the teams ideas into words - nothing is set in stone here, we could change it all, but currently these are the style of bags we want to bring in throughout 2015:

The PipeDream Specialist range (Working title!) - 

This is where we let the product designers go crazy; basically think of the most outrageous idea for a sleep system, something niche, this is where it fits in. 

First of all the down quilt, at first this will be a simple rectangle down quilt, built with top end fabric and down. Enough for someone to use straight out of the box, but with a few added tweaks could become a lot more. Once this is released we will work on upgrading it for the following year and we will be wanting as much feedback as possible. 

Secondly the Pied d'elephant or half bag; designed to be the ultimate Alpine bag. You were carrying a large down jacket for belays and the cold weather, so why not sleep in that? Then you just need something to cover your legs - hence the half bag. Not for everyone, but available for those that need it. 

The PipeDream Synthetic range - 

We've been wanting to do a set of synthetic bags, but it needed to fit in and we never thought that synthetics had caught up with down. But we have found a new man-made insulation that we think could be really good, so we're testing it with the PipeDream 350S. This new insulation acts more like natural down and needs to be enclosed within baffles, but has the benefit of being more resistant to water. The PD350S is available for Pre-Order now and we are eagerly awaiting feedback on the performance of this insulation.

Two other Synthetic PipeDreams will be for Summer/Autumn use, these will have a standard synthetic insulation which we plan to upgrade to the new solution we are testing in the 350S when we are happy with it's performance.

The PipeDream ST (Stitch thru) -

These down bags will stay true to the old design of the PipeDream for lightweight alpine trips, still containing high quality down but this construction technique allows the bag to be lighter and cheaper than it's box walled alternatives. A bag designed specifically for quick and light Alpine ascents.

The SkyeHigh range - 

We have mixed up the weights on these to improve on older versions, but we've not radically changed the bag design. Due in late May with 700 g and 900 g of down, these should be the bag everyone wants!

The ArcticDream range - 

Designed to offer a really warm bag at the best possible price. Tapered, box wall construction with a 1000 g / 1200 g / 1400 g of down mapped around the body with a concise baffle design - along with a higher insulated foot box, specially shaped shoulder baffle and hood. These should cover the coldest sleeper in UK and International winter conditions, with a -20ºC (Expected T-comf) rating and at under 2 kg the ARD1000 would be a great choice. The ARD1200 and ARD1400 are there to cover winter alpinists, or those off to the greater ranges and polar regions without dropping almost a £1000 on a bag. 

The conclusion - 

A bag for everyone, and we still have a few ideas to expand the range further over the next 12 months! We will update the sleeping bag page with the latest news, keep sending out preview pictures, let you know how testing goes and most of all keep you up to date on when you can order these bags. Sign up to the Newsletter for the latest news straight to your inbox and be the first to know, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more regular updates.

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