When he was 22, New England Mountain Equipment (NEMO) founder Cam Bresinger got stranded on Denali — his tent collapsed under 8 feet of snow. That experience helped inspire him to create NEMO, which has now designed the Canon winter sleeping bag to make time in a tent as pleasant as possible, even when it’s -40°F.
The Canon weighs 4 pounds and 7 ounces, and its 850-fill down-stuffed vertical baffles provide plenty of warmth — they’re sewn to keep the insulation distributed evenly and to prevent cold spots. And the bag’s waterproof, breathable shell keeps frost from melting and soaking you. But it also gives you some venting options to keep you comfortable as the temperature inside and outside your tent changes. A center two-way zip combined with zip-open armholes let you put your boots on while you are still in your bag. (We were even able to cook, read a book, and organize our gear without leaving our down cocoon.) But when you’re too warm inside of it, and fully unzipping the center lets in too much cold air, NEMO built “gills” into the bag. Zippers hidden between side baffles in the chest offload heat from your core without exposing you to the elements. The Canon’s hood is another great feature that fits like a parka hood and stays on even if you flop when you sleep. And when you’re fully zipped in, instead of a standard opening, the bag has a soup-can-sized, insulated down tunnel for your face, which pre-warms the air you breathe.
We didn’t get the bag in time to test it in the most extreme temps, but we did spend a winter night on New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. Even at 0°F, we were comfortable with the side zips open, and the vents and zips made it easier to get dressed to go out into the snow and high winds. The Canon is intended for mountaineers, Arctic explorers, and extreme winter campers, and most people won’t need a -40°F bag. But if you do, this one has it all. [$1,050; nemoequipment.com]