Down Sleeping bags have come a long way in the last few years and with the advancements in outer shells, and water proof breathable membranes we have available now, down sleeping bags make a great choice for the backpack hunter because…
- They are lighter weight than their synthetic cousins.
- They pack down smaller than their synthetic cousins.
- They are warmer (comparing synthetic to down)
The one major drawback for down sleeping bags is obviously the insulating properties are non-existant if the down gets wet. On my backpack sheep hunts I am very careful about keeping my gear dry, and if my sleeping bag isn’t inside it’s waterproof stuffsack buried in my pack, it’s laying out inside my tent, which is also waterproof. Sure, condensation can become a problem if left unchecked, but that’s where companies like Mountain Hardwear come into the picture. Mountain Hardwear is a well known as a producer of high quality mountain expedition gear and not too long ago they came out with their own waterproof breathable membrane called Conduit. The Conduit membrane, with it’s waterproofness and breathability make it an excellent choice for the outer shell of a sleeping bag that will be used in potentially damp situations.
Several months ago I emailed Mountain Hardwear about acquiring one of their down sleeping bags in exchange for advertising on our website. They were very quick to respond and agreed to my offer and they sent what we both thought would be the ultimate 4 season down sleeping bag for backpack hunters in BC. Meet the Mountain Hardwear Banshee SL 0.
What Makes The Banshee SL 0 Sleeping Bag Great?
- Rated To -18 celcius
- 800 Fill Down – Is very warm and lofts up really well.
- Lightweight – 3lbs 10 oz. Packs down quite small (especially for a 4 season bag)
- Conduit Outer Shell – A waterproof, breathable membrane protecting your down insulation.
- Welded Seams – Eliminate any needle holes from sewing, further protecting the down.
- Zipper Flaps – A small detail that prevents any drafts or water from entering through the zipper.
The sleeping bag came shipped in a medium sized box and included inside was it’s own waterproof stuff sack and also a much larger mesh bag for storing the sleeping bag when not in use. Quality Construction in this sleeping bag is evident. The shell feels very durable and because of the welded internal baffle construction there is minimal stitching on the outside of the shell. The stitching that is present along the zipper, hood and collar was very clean.
For my 5’10” 200lb frame and my hunting partner who is about 6’3″ 200lbs wasn’t complaining about a lack of room either so if you are in our size range the long would be a good choice.
So How Did The Bag Perform?
Like we do with all of our hunting gear we threw the sleeping bag into a pack and headed out on a journey 18+ miles off the Alaska highway, and then hiked up into a small little drainage in the rockies that my family has hunted since the early 60’s. In total we spent 9 nights using the Mountain Hardwear Banshee SL 0 this year at varrying altitudes and weather conditions, from driving wind/rain (and I mean HARD) to freezing temperatures, and in the extreme heat, as usual it was a mid August in the BC mountains, so you’ll get all 4 seasons, sometimes in just one day!
The Conduit outer shell fabric performed flawlessly and thanks to my partners poorly maintained leaking tent he was able to test the water repellency of the Banshee on several nights. There were sections of the bag dripping with water on several occassions and the only reason it’s dripping is because the water literally just beads off! The Conduit outer shell seems like a really good choice for a sleeping bag outer and definitely held up to the perils of a wet cold northern sheep hunt. When the sun came out and we often had a slight breeze, the outer shell material stood up to us throwing it out on the shale and rocky ground to dry for a while. Within about 30 minutes, there was no evidence of moisture, so the Conduit shell dries fast too. Sometimes, in the sheep mountains of BC you will have wet gear for several days and outside of dropping altitude and lighting a fire, you’ll only get short little breaks of sunshine, that really heat up the surrounding terrain, it’s during these times a sheep hunter dries his gear so it’s fairly important the gear you have, dries quick!
The coldest it got was likely around 0c /-1c as all of the dew on our tent was frozen in the morning, and a slight icy crust on my water bottle, indicated it was a much cooler August night, I was still warm and cozy in the bag.
The warmest it got, was hot and sleeping in the Banshee was still ok providing you opened up pretty much the entire size zipper to vent but that wasn’t too big of a deal and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again on an August mountain hunt.
What Are Our Final Thoughts?
Overall I am really happy with the performance of the Mountain Hardwear Banshee SL 0. For it’s price range I think it’s an excellent sleeping bag choice for 4 season mountain hunting in BC. Couple the Banshee with the ground insulation power of an Exped Downmat for example and you’d be able to use this sleeping quite comfortably on your late season backpack hunts. At 3lbs 10oz it’s not the lightest sleeping bag out there but it’s still lighter than many synthetic bags with lesser temp ratings. If you’re looking for a down sleeping bag that is versatile the Banshee definitely has something to offer you because it would be suitable for all of your 4 season BC backpack hunts. You can always makeup the weight difference with other gear upgrades or leaving behind items you don’t really need.
What Are The Pros?
- The water repellency of the Conduit outer shell fabric really impressed us.
- The sleeping bag packs down incredibly small for it’s size. (about volley ball size)
- The sleeping bag is very comfortable.
- The sleeping bag is really warm.
- Made with 800 fill Goose down.
- Internally welded baffles reduce stitching on outer.
- Versatile, a good choice for 4 season BC use.
What Are The Cons?
- It’s not cheap at approx $500 but is still less than some competitors.
- The bag is not the lightest for a 4 season bag.
The bottom line:
If you’re looking for a down sleeping bag that will keep you warm and comfortable through the 4 seasons of hunting in the BC mountains then the Mountain Hardwear Banshee SL 0 is a sleeping bag worth looking into. The Conduit outer shell is the perfect protector of your down and will shed condesation, leaky tents and likely any damp conditions short of you spilling your Nalgene inside or dropping it in a river or creek for some reason. For the price it’s an excellent value and a sleeping bag that could be used throughout BC’s 4 seasons of hunting making it a good economical choice instead of buying a summer and a winter bag.
If you own a Banshee or have questions about our experience with the Banshee please feel free to post a comment and we’ll answer you back quickly!