After getting hypothermia in a 15 year old Snugpak Harrier sleeping bag that had always been stored in the stuff-sac, I let it go and have finally bought a replacement after 4 years. I needed something for the colder half of the UK year as the Snugpak Jungle Bag can only be pushed so far, and my PHD Hispar is too hot unless the temperature is firmly in the minus Celcius zone.
I chose synthetic material as it has to cover the ‘cold damp’ zone we get all too often and may prove lifesaving if I end up in some mad mountain bivy situations with a bag full of spindrift. I went straight to Snugpak after previous good experience, and had a look at Ajungilak too, but their offerings didn’t seem to have moved on and the weight was substantial. A browse in work revealed the Mountain Hardware Lamina series, and some online scouting showed favourable reviews: accurate rating, compressible, durable, and roomy – good for drying gear or extending the range with down clothing or a slim race bag.
The Lamina 35 was tempting but only going to freezing point isn’t that useful. I went for the Lamina 20 instead: -7 Celcius, 1400g. That is the same weight as my PHD Hispar 700, and it nearly packs as small (although the PHD is good to -19). This isn’t a tragedy; at least my cold sleep system will always take up consistent space in the backpack. The weight was accurate, and the bag came with a compression stuffsack and a large ventilated storage sack (with a neat, useful handle).
With our temperatures plummeting in the UK at the moment, the timing was perfect to give the Lamina a full test: A back garden bivy was calling! Using a Thermarest Prolite 4 directly on the snow, I carefully slid in to the sleeping bag and started playing with the zips and toggles. The Lamina has a shaped collar that joins at the zip with wide velcro (neatly folding on itself when open to prevent snagging on clothes). Both the hood and collar use one flat and one elastic cord, probably for comfort, although I found it useful for finding and adjusting each half independently. The zip itself has a double fabric micro-baffle, as well as the bag’s insulated baffle. I still managed to get the zip caught a few times so need to refine my technique. Trivia: Being right-handed and lying on my right-side, bizarrely to many, I favour a right-side zip.
The material is silky and warm to the touch, and the bag is indeed roomy: I had clothes, camera, phone, and ipod all in there and was hardly aware of them. The bag heated up in about 30 seconds (although it had just come out of the house so the material had some heat in it). The first night I was very warm in just a base layer top, with the temperature about -2 C. It snowed on me for about an hour and a half. Apart from a very cold eye, the snow just lay on the bag. Some melted between the bag and the mat, but there was no apparent ingress. The second night fell to -8 C: a real test! I was perfectly warm in a short sleeve 150 icebreaker and my Helly leggings. Even where my skin touched the bag it felt warm (unlike the jungle bag). I was out for hours, but came in at 3:30am due to the blinding full moon on the snow keeping me awake!
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this bag and think we shall have many an adventure. I’ll concede that bag is brand new, with few compressions, and I am very cold adapted, fit, young, and in these tests; well fed and not exhausted. Still, it bodes well for when conditions are not perfect, and has plenty of room to be pushed even further with insulated clothing I would be carrying anyway. Perhaps I should have opted for the 35? The PHD is going to get very little use!