Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fly Product...TLTFF Review of Slumberjack's Borderland 20 Sleeping Bag

For those of you who have followed the blog for a bit know I use some of Slumberjack's (SJK) gear, including their (now retired) Camp 6 Tent. Up until I purchased their Camp 6 Tent, I had been using a two-person Coleman tent I think I've had since I was in boy scouts. It was leaky, cold, and generally small for someone of my college and current stature of 6'1", 215lbs.  They have made innovative moves and released new products annually to set the bar higher within their industry.

I picked up the SJK Borderland 20 Sleeping Bag, a new product from Slumberjack for 2015, at the beginning of the Spring. I wanted t test it out on some Spring/Summer/Fall camping prior to heavy cold and to test its "20" range/rating. Heres a little about the Borderland 20 from Slumberjack themselves...

The all new Borderland sleeping bag offers the freedom and flexibility that you've been dreaming about, with the guaranteed warmth that you need. The Borderland allows 'arms out' dexterity without leaving your sleeping bag. Grab a cold beverage, read at night, or organize gear without unzipping the bag! Full length zipper design improves ventilation and comfort, and extends around the footbox for increased airflow and versatility. Includes compression stuff sack.  

The Borderland is available in three temperature ratings (20, 0, -20). I tested out the 20 due the season's I wanted to test the bag out in. The bag's rating is at 20° F (hence the name). The total weight of the bag according to Slumberjack is 4lbs, 8oz...not the lightest, but also not the heaviest, but still ideal for packing in for hike-in trips. The dimensions of the bag are 84" x 34" and its packed size is 11" x 21", making it ideal for people up to 6'4".
What separates this from all of the other bags are in the details, some of which were touched on in the SJK description. Bilateral zippers, with the right zipper running the full length of the bag, allow you to seal yourself up tight ambidextrously and inversely, open up or vent out. But what makes these dual zippers even better? Bilateral velcro tabs that secure the zippers in place or give you the opportunity to use Slumberjack's "arms out" functionality. The "arms out" function is awesome, it allows you to zip the zippers down while keeping the velcro latched. The zippers were used as often up as they were down due to the full spectrum of temps I was able to test it out in from the Spring until just a few weeks ago when the temps dipped here on the East Coast. The zippers have draft tubes behind them that keep cold air out and prevent any body heat from escaping and also play a part in the zippers anti-snag protection (the worst moment is when your ready to bundle up, lights are out, and you cannot get the zipper up due to a snag). The thorough and heavy duty build of the bag from zippers (rated #8) and beyond helped keep me warm during those colder days/nights.
Another example of the thorough build was in the layering of the fabric. Its offset design prevents cold spots and keeps the temperature evenly disbursed throughout the bag (I've had a bag in the past that kept my feet sweaty while my core was ice cold). Comfort was not a question as the inner fleece liner was nice and soft and also helped with the heat production and climate of the bag. During warmer days and nights, the zippers were opened, ventilating out the bag, while also maintaining the comfort of the bag overall. 

The built-in mummy design (hood) of the bag was deal for maintaining warmth during the colder nights but also helped keep the bag up over my body, preventing it from sloughing down. One of my favorite features, and one I found myself using often due to early morning alarms needing to be close enough to get me up, was the internal chest pocket (used for my cell phone most often). As a final bonus, the bag comes with a compression sack, making it easier to pack in with its straps.

On to when I put this bad bag to use. In the Spring, some of you may recall that I attended Project Healing Waters' 2-Fly Tournament weekend for the second year in a row. I knew I was going to be camping out by the lower pond again and wanted to make sure I was going to be comfortable as a few snow flurries where in the forecast the first day...and they did fall. 

I was perfectly cozy in my Borderland 20 in the nights 40-50° F temps with my cell phone in my chest pocked (to prevent a repeat of last year's phone-battery-dying-and-alarm-not-going-off snafu). I was equally as cozy back in August when we took our family trip to Jane's Island State Park when the temps were in the 80's, giving me the opportunity to sleep in the bag, zippers open. Two nights in the tent, in the bag, and with two kids under 3 (usually a recipe for disaster). 

The final trip was last month for CCA Maryland's Red Trout Tournament where Mike D and I camped out in Jane's Island State Park's sleeper cabin...notorious for their stiff beds and dysfunctional AC units/heaters. Prior to my late arrival, Mike cranked the AC down to the lowest setting anticipating it getting the cabin down to a semi-comfortable did everything short of snow in that cabin, we got one of the better AC units. Due to my late arrival, I had to setup my bag in the dark and did so without trouble thanks to the no-snag zipper design. With it being ice-cold in that cabin, I was beyond comfortable in the Borderland, thanks to Slumberjack's "Slumberlock" insulation (which is in all Borderland bags) and the elastic cinch points on either side of the mummy hood.

After each of these trips, I didnt have to do the usual wrestling match with my bag to get it back into the compression sack, it rolled up quickly, slid right in, and compressed down to a packable size for the trip home.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with Slumberjack's Borderland 20 sleeping bag. I have 3 different bags rated from -20 up to 20 and, sub-zero temps aside, I see myself making this my number one choice in the future. From comfort to functionality, this bag is the ideal fit for any camping, hunting, fishing trips I see myself taking. Priced at $99.95, its ideally priced for what you get, which rounds it out to 5 out of 5 stars, the highest rating our review scale can give.

Roll on over to and check out their series of great sleeping bags (including the Borderland 20) as well as other lines of camp furniture, tents, and accessories. One product you may want to check out, if your a hunter and camp out often (or even a waterfowl guy that uses/needs a new layout blind), is the Slumberjack Contour Bivy$99.95. It fits right around your sleeping bag keeping you comfortable, functional (with "arm ports" as well), and isolated.

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