Kit review: Vango Latitude 400 sleeping bag
I had planned to take Fern the Van on a recent outdoor brands road trip to the Lake District but the very few campsites that were open had camping spots only. (I guess I could have booked into a B&B or hotel but why waste money on such things when you can camp? And, after all, I am Fiona Outdoors!)
So after a quick glance at the weather forecast (somewhere around zero degrees overnight and snow) I decided to camp – and also test a few of camping products, including the Vango Latitude 400 sleeping bag.
The sleeping bag is called a four season, which means it should cope well in winter conditions. I would suggest it might be better to be called a four season UK bag because there are places in the world where this would not be suitable to use in winter. Better still, I think this is more of a three to four season bag, depending on how chilly you personally become when sleeping.
Packed up, the sleeping bag size is around 40cm by 27cm (similar to a big shoebox) and weighs 2100g. This is not the lightest or smallest bag that I have come across but in winter you are looking for good warmth rather than the lightest bag.
The bag is mummy-style and opens up to a roomy 210cm x 80cm (at its widest) and 50cm (at the foot area).
The filling is synthetic; 7-hole siliconised hollow fibre to be exact.
There are two sides to the down versus synthetic argument. Down is undoubtedly naturally warm but when it becomes damp (as all sleeping bags do through air moisture and sweat) it looses its ability to keep you warm.
Synthetic fibres will keep you warm even when they are damp but they rarely offer as much natural warmth as down. Synthetic fill can also be bulkier than down.
These days technology has advanced and there are hydrophobic downs (down that keeps you warm even when wet) and ultra warm synthetic fills. There’s a lot to look for when choosing a sleeping bag.
This is not something I fancied testing and I think it’s unlikely that such a lightweight, synthetic bag will be much use for me at such low temperatures. I have no idea why it even suggests this because I would only trust a pricier down sleeping bag to such low temperatures.
If you like the techie details, the fabric of the sleeping bag is Polair diamond ripstop on the outside and Polair silky micro on the inside. What this means is that it’s a durable outer fabric and a lovely soft inner fabric.
Apparently, the sleeping bag has an “aluminised reflective lining”, which reflects heat back towards the user to make the sleeping bag warmer. It also features a “thermal embrace system”, utilising elasticated threads in the lining, which hug your body to increase warmth and insulation.
What I like about the Vango Latitude 400 sleeping bag
As soon as the sleeping bag is out of its stuff bag it plumps up nicely and looks invitingly warm. It has an easy access side zip and offers a lot of room for someone my size. I am slim and tall-ish and there was plenty of room to move around. I like to be able to move around while I sleep and I hate narrow sleeping bags.
I would imagine that the size of the bag would be roomy for most people unless you are particularly large.
Once inside the bag it’s possible to pull the hood up and draw it nicely around the head with the help of an elastic adjustor. I like to have my head inside a hood when it’s zero degrees.
I put a pillowcase filled with my down jacket inside the hood and used that to rest my head on. This worked well for some of the night until the pillow pushed its way out of the hood.
Since I am a person who gets very cold, especially when lying still in a tent on my own on a winter’s night, I decided to take a hot water bottle to bed with me and to wear my PJs, walking socks and an insulted mid-layer jacket.
All this meant that I stayed super warm all night expect for my feet. My feet always suffer in the cold and by 5am they were a little chilly. I was impressed by how warm I was in general, however.
The hot water bottle lost its heat after a few hours but I still felt pretty cosy inside my bag.
I also benefitted from the insulation properties of a Therma-a-Rest mattress underneath the bag.
I have no idea if the “aluminised reflective lining”and “thermal embrace system” worked or not but I do know that the sleeping bag did a pretty good job.
If the temperature had gone much lower I would have needed a warmer sleeping bag (I had packed another one just in case) and I think the hot water bottle helped to generate a good level of heat in the first place.
I am also a generally shivery kind of person so most people will find this sleeping bag to be a great buy for winter use because it would certainly keep the average person nice and cosy. It might actually feel a bit warm in the summer but you could easily unzip the side and stick your head above the hood.
If you are planning to camp out in temeraptures lower than about -3C I would recommend taking another thinner sleeping bag to use on the inside, or wear more insulating clothes. But for a winter’s night hovering around freezing, this is a great bag.
If I was to criticise this product I would say I prefer a bag that packs down a bit smaller. I realise that synthetic bags need a bit of bulk to offer good warmth though so if you want to stay warm and you don’t want to break the bank you need to sacrifice the space in your rucksack.
I might prefer to spend more on something less bulky but this decision would depend on how often you plan to use the bag and at what time of the year. For a decent sleeping bag of good quality for winter use at less than £75 this is a good option.
The Vango Latitude 400 sleeping bag is priced at £74.99.
Also see kit review of Therm-a-Rest Neo XLite.