VIREO $220 (Pertex Quantum version) WEIGHT: 17 ounces
The Vireo is built for climbers. Notably, this down bag has no zipper, is cut narrower and has more insulation about the legs than the chest. The wider cut gives you room enough inside to wear a bulky down jacket, extending the bag’s range. The Vario is listed as a 45-degree bag, but I used it 10 nights at freezing and only wore mid-weight Capilene. Another tester took the bag to the Wind Rivers and the Tetons in October, while a third tester used it in a snow cave in Valdez in December. We all slept comfortably. During below-freezing nights, I wore an 11-ounce down parka inside the Vireo, which is available in a variety of shell fabrics to further let you fine-tune it. For tent camping, I recommend the highly breathable but not so weather-resistant .85 nylon ripstop. For bivies and snow caves, where damp conditions persist, go with the Pertex Quantum, Epic or Event.
PROS Great warmth-to-weight ratio, good for temps from 35 to 50 degrees. Feathered Friends, a custom company, offers the Vireo in different shell materials, lengths, fill options and colors.
CONS Lack of a zipper limits the bag’s versatility. No hood. (Feathered Friends does offer an add-on down-jacket hood.)
RECOMMENDED USE Three-season alpine bivies and snow caves; summer camping.