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Originally published Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Getting in Gear

New sleeping bags offer green dreams

Gear reviewer Dan A. Nelson writes about "green" sleeping bags — made of recycled materials.

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When you dream of reducing your use of petroleum products, where better to do it than in a sleeping bag made from recycled materials?

The outdoor industry is working hard to "go green," and two companies headquartered in Colorado are at the forefront of that effort. Big Agnes of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was first to offer the world a bag made of recycled materials. The Big Agnes Skinny Fish is a 20-degree backcountry bag utilizing Climashield HL Green insulation as its fill material.

Spun from recycled plastic bottles and postindustrial plastics, Climashield HL Green offers high loft that provides outstanding insulation even when wet. The Skinny Fish doesn't stop there with its recycled story, though. In addition to boasting recycled fill, the Big Agnes bag sports 100 percent recycled polyester shell material and a zipper made from a cornstarch-based plastic — and even the stuff sack is made from 100 percent recycled materials.

The Skinny Fish weighs in at just over 3 pounds, which is on par with other 20-degree synthetic bags priced in the midrange. It's certainly heavier than most down bags, and you can find synthetic at a lower price and a lower weight. But with virtually every component of this bag not only made from recycled or sustainable materials but also fully recyclable at the end of the bag's life, this is a green bag that leaves little in the way of a pollution footprint. The Skinny Fish sells for $179.95. More information: www.bigagnes.com.

Sierra Designs, out of Boulder, Colo., also offers green bags for men and women. The men's Verde 20 and the women's Déjà Vu 20 both sport Climashield Green insulation, and the outer shells are made from recycled material. Inside, the liner is woven from a mix of recycled polyester fibers and Cocona — a fiber made from coconut husks. Cocona acts as a powerful wicking material so you'll sleep drier, and it also is a natural antimicrobial, so you'll find your bag refreshingly clean-smelling each time you crawl in.

The Déjà Vu is cut to fit women and to conform to their sleeping habits, with a bit more room in the lower section so they can draw up their knees, and with a bit more insulation around the core to keep them warm. Both bags sell for $179. The regular-length Déjà Vu (fits women up to 5 feet, 6 inches) weighs 2 pounds, 13 ounces, while the regular Verde (men up to 6 feet tall) weighs 3 pounds, 5 ounces. More information: www.sierradesigns.com.

— Dan A. Nelson,

special to The Seattle Times

Freelancer Dan A. Nelson, of Puyallup, is a regular contributor to Backpacker magazine, and an author of outdoor guides with The Mountaineers Books. For the purpose of review, gear manufacturers lend products, which are returned after a typical use of four to six weeks. There is no payment from manufacturers, and they have no control over the content of reviews. Contact Dan with gear-related questions at gearguy@adventuresnw.net.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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