First off you probably are thinking to yourself that I must have made a mistake and wrote sleeping bag instead of sleeping pad. But it is no mistake Therm-a-Rest has entered the sleeping bag market and has taken it by storm. Therm-a-Rest has been around now for a few years in the sleep category but decided this year to venture to a more complete sleep system and not just pads. So enters the Antares.
There are many things to consider when purchasing a backpacking sleeping bag, but for me one of the most important things is warmth to weight ratio. Every ounce counts when you have to carry it on your back. Just weighing under 2 pounds and having a 20 degree rating, the Antares fits the bill perfectly. Now you do not need to sacrifice warmth to save a little weight. One way Therm-a-Rest achieves a great warmth to weight ratio is by using 750 goose down. This also means that the bag compresses well. This bag packs down to 7” by 12” or just a little bigger than a 2 liter bottle.
Another reason that this bag is both light and so compressible is the design and construction of the Antares. By strategically adding insulation to areas where you need it and eliminating it in other areas, you can save both material and insulation weight. Now you are probably thinking eliminating insulation in a sleeping bag, this could never be a good idea. Therm-a-Rest has removed the insulation from the back or bottom of the bag where you would be laying down on a sleeping pad. Many people are hesitant when seeing this in a bag, but the insulation at the back isn't really doing that much for you anyways when sleeping. Insulation works best when not being compressed. This is really why with whatever sleeping bag you use, it is always recommended to use a pad underneath to stay warm.
This bag has many smart features that make sleeping in the wood a great night sleep. As I just mention this bag work best or should be used in parallel with a sleeping pad. Because of this, the Antares has what Therm-a-Rest is calling SynergyLink Connectors. These are basically two straps that keep the bag and pad linked together. I was surprised at how well this worked, especially for how simple it was to use. I move around quite a bit when I sleep but this truly kept the pad under me all night long.
This summer I never had a chance to test the extreme temperature limits of this bag. But I did sleep in it multiple times with temps in the low 40s and it was very pleasant. On one backpacking trip, I had to unzip the bag because it was a little too warm. As the temperatures start to drop I am anxious to take this bag out. I plan on the same great results.
Probably the only downside of this bag for me is the price. At $349.95 this bag can be a bit for the average consumer. But I don’t think that this bag was designed for the once a year backpacker or camper. This is for those weekend warriors or those looking to cut ounces or even pounds off their current sleeping system. I guess for some people the lack of insulation on the bottom and the need to use a pad could also be a downside. I don’t know about you, but I always use a pad. For most of the testing that I did this summer with the bag, I used the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite. This made a great combination and for me a near perfect sleep solution.
The verdict: If you are looking for a bag that delivers what it says it will, you don't have to look much further than the Antares. The warmth to weight ratio is perfect for backpacking trips all summer long yet with a 20 degree rating this is a solid 3 season bag. I can honestly say that the combination of the Antares bag and the NeoAir XLite pad creates a sleep system that works great for me.
Product provided for free by the manufacturer for review purposes.