Valandre Lafayette $569.95
Temperature Rating: 5 F
Testers’ Temperature Rating: 5 F
Weight: 2 pounds 4 ounces
The Valandre LaFayette was the lightest cold-weather bag we tested. It has a front 1/3-length zipper, a “Marie Antoinette” down collar and a down drawcord for your waist. A reinforced knee section maintains the bag’s differential cut no matter how much you twist and turn. The down collar completely encircles your neck and eliminates the bellows effect that occurs with collars that don’t seal as well. The waist collar also traps heat and allows you to stay warm while sitting up with the bag draped over your shoulders to fire up the stove for morning coffee.
The cut is wide enough to accommodate clothing. I could fit a down suit inside. Indeed, elite French alpinists use this lightweight bag along with their down suits for speed climbing in the Himalaya. I used the LaFayette extensively throughout the High Sierra in winter, climbing in the Brooks Range of Alaska in late fall, and dogsledding on the frozen Yukon River.
The LaFayette is an excellent choice for fast-and-light alpinists.
Pros: Best warmth/weight ratio. Most effective down collar. Room for down clothing to extend the temperature range.
Cons: Not for the casual camper. Due to the short zipper, the bag is too warm for use above freezing.