Report by Coy Starnes
November 25, 2009
The Kaycee is a mummy shaped sleeping bag designed for serious cold weather. It features an insulation called Retq. The image on the left is the manufactures rendition of this insulation and what it accomplishes. I only know that it does loft very well after being compressed inside the stuff sack. It remains to be seen how it lofts after a few years. My hope is that it fairs better then some of my other synthetic bags which seem to loose lofting ability after a few years of use.
The Kaycee is pretty much the standard size for mummy sleeping bags with dimensions of 82″ x 32″ x 21″. The 82″ length includes the hood. The 32 inches is how wide it is at the chest and the 21 ” is how wide it is at the foot. This size bag will fit the average 6′ tall individual. There is also a long version available. Not only is the long for taller folks, they are usually cut a few inches wider and the Kaycee follows this pattern. I am only 6 feet tall myself but I might have been better off with the long just to get the extra width. That said, I can zip this bag up all the way but I don’t have much wiggle room for my arms. However, when I am in my hammock I tend to use my sleeping bag more as a quilt. In fact, I like a bag rated a little warmer for my hammock because I loose a little of the bags insulating potential by not keeping it zipped so snug around me. Then when it gets really cold I zip the bag all the way around me and live with the lost mobility. And keep in mind that a tight fitting bag is usually warmer because there is lass space to keep warm but only as long as the bag is not so tight that the insulation is compressed.
I weighed the Kaycee at my local post office and it is fairly close to the manufactures stated weight. The bag alone weighed in at 4 lbs 10 oz and the stuff sack weighed 4.7 oz for a total weight of 4 lbs 14.7 oz. The manufacture says the carry weight is 4 lbs 9 oz or about 6 oz less than what I got. For a bag this heavy the percentage is not off by a lot. Speaking of heavy, yes the Kaycee is a pretty heavy bag, but then again, it is rated for 0 F and there is not much way around getting any lighter in a synthetic bag. A down bag can be quite a bit lighter but will usually cost at least twice as much and often more. A quick internet search revealed several 0 F down bags weighing from 3 to 4 lbs and costing around $300 and up.
The Kaycee comes with a very robust compression stuff sack. In other words after cramming it in the stuff sack, there are four straps that go down the sides and around the ends of the stuff sack which can be cinched down to compress the size as much as possible and hold it. I like this because it makes getting the bag inside the stuff sack initially a little easier than if it were as small as possible to start with. The stuffed size is not exactly minuscule but it is pretty small for a 0 F synthetic sleeping bag. I measured the stuffed size at around 16″ x 10″ The picture below along side a basketball gives a good indication of the stuffed size.
The Kaycee has a few additional features worth mentioning. There is a “stash pocket: on the top side up near the opening that is big enough for a few electronics. It measures approximately 7″ x 7” and my cell phone and small P&S camera fit inside with no problem. I like it because it helps keeps them from sliding down under me. There is another pocket on the outside under the hood for placing a pillow. Since I usually use a hammock I really don’t need a pillow but don’t mind having the option available. Another nice touch is the 2 way zipper which also features a zipper stiffener integrated into the draft tube to prevent snagging. The zipper goes from the hood down the right side to within about one ft of the foot. The long left will mate with this bag as well.
I really like the way my feet have room in this bag. The way the foot section of the bag is shaped matches how my feet want to orient when I am laying on my back. I tried it out in my living room floor and my feet were not pushing against the sides of the bag very much which can cause the feet to get cold. Of course when I use the bag in my hammock this same pocket may be turned a little to one side but I will see how it works. Eureka has this to say. “Creates a comfortable space designed specifically for the natural forward and outward
“tilting” of your feet.” Here is a photo from the manufacture which shows how this is obtained.
On thing I wish were included is a storage sack. In other words, a much bigger sack than the stuff sack, for storing the bag at home in between trips. I don’t like to leave my bags compressed any more than necessary but I don’t consider it a deal breaker as I solve this by just using a large pillow case.
Usage so far
I wanted to have at least one nights use before commenting on the bag and I was lucky enough to see a fairly cool night right after receiving the Kaycee. For one, with a 0 F rating, using it on a really warm night would not be of much use for evaluating its warmth. But considering I like too leave my bag unzipped but draped over me in my hammock, I like a bag with a warmer rating then the overnight temperatures I anticipate. So far I have used the bag on two nights but only down to 35 F. I do hope to use it at much lower temperatures later on this winter.
Any sleeping bags performance is going to depend on a good sleeping pad. I have discovered that when sleeping in a hammock the insulation under me is even more critical. My new hammock features a double bottom so sliding a pad in under me is no problem. For now I am using a bubble pad which is an available option with my Hennessy Deep Jungle and made to use in between the layers in this hammock.
I first used the bag on 11/18/09. I did not get camp set up until late (10 PM) but was still in the Kaycee for at least 8 hours. It was 47 F when I first set up camp but slowly cooled off to 35 F by the time I got up at 7 AM. I stayed toasty warm all night. In fact, I went ahead and zipped it up all the way for just a bit and was too hot. I left the fly off my hammock hoping to see some meteors that were forecast but it stayed cloudy all night. I guess I was lucky it did not rain. I was curious to see if the stash pocket would keep my phone and camera warm and in place. I half way expected they would work out of the pocket as I tossed and turned but the little hook and loop patch in the center proved enough closure to keep them in place. I was also concerned that they would bug me since the pocket is located on the top side of the bag but the way I used the bag as a quilt they ended up off to the side a little, hanging just past my right shoulder. I also noticed my feet did not fit in the foot area quite as nicely as when in the living room floor due to having the bag turned sideways but they stayed warm.
I used the bag again on 11/24/09. It only dropped down to 44 F this time so I will be looking to test it in colder conditions as soon as the weather cooperates. I was fine with the bag draped over me but considering I had already used it in the same manner on a colder night this was no revelation. But the main reason I went ahead and used the bag again was to get some pictures of the bag in use. I took some photos on the first night but inadvertently erased them before getting them from the camera. Here is the bag spread out in my hammock.
Stay tuned for updates in the next few months and see how the Kaycee performs as winter makes its presence felt.
Eureka Kaycee Update
January 20, 2010
I was hoping to get some cold weather testing conditions and sure enough, we had some of the coldest winter weather on record just recently. I managed to go on a short overnighter on January 2, 2010. The skies were clear and it was 28 F at 3 pm when hit a nearby trail. I hiked about 3 miles before stopping to set up camp. By this time at around 5 PM it was already down to 22 F and was down to 17 F at around 9 PM when I went to sleep. Since I turned in early I woke up for good at around 4:30 AM and got up at 5 AM to pack up. It was now down to 14 F an my water bottle were frozen solid, actually they had been since around midnight. I was ready to get home and get a drink.
So how did the Kaycee do? Well, I would have to say it did just fine, in fact, I slept very well and stayed warmer than I ever remember in these conditions. On a similar trip a few years ago, I got so cold at 11 F that I packed up early and walked 6 miles (half the night it seemed) to get back to my truck. To be fair, I am also testing a ColdAvenger face mask, and it lets me breath fairly warm air all night, even with my face out of the bag. But I also stayed warm all over.
I did use the bag in much the same way as I did on the previous warmer nights and I was a little worried that leaving the bag partially open might cause me to get cold. I did keep a light fleece jacket and my sweat pants on all night which proved to be handy as I kept waking up needing to pee. I think real cold weather makes me have to pee more than normal for some reason. I also wore a medium weight base layer (top and bottom), two pairs of socks, some good gloves and a very warm bogin. It was nice to be able to get up and go pee without having to get dressed but I cooled off very quickly and certainly did not linger to gaze at the stars.
I should also mention that I used two sleeping pads. One is the bubble pad I had already used down to 35 F. I knew this pad would not quite cut it alone so I added a 1.5 inch thick self inflating pad. This pad is 25 inches wide so it works well in my hammock to keep my shoulders from getting cold.
Anyways, like I said earlier, I managed to stay warm all night. I should mention that my head did get a little cool since I was not using the sleeping bag hood, but in addition to the bogin and ColdAvenger face mask, I was wearing a rain jacket over my fleece jacket for the hike in. Once I had camp set up and was ready for bed I kept the fleece jacket on and used the rain jacket as a pillow of sorts, and ended up using it to sort of wrap around my head.
Even though I have been using the bag as a blanket in my hammock, I wish it were cut a little bigger. Even without extra clothes on it was very hard to zip up all the way, and I think that if zipped up completely, I could use the bag in even colder conditions. For one, it would make using the hood easier and for two, the draft collar would work better, and both would be helpful on really cold nights. And even though I was just fine at 14 F, another 14 degrees colder (down to 0 F) is a big jump. Plus, if I ever use the bag on the ground, say in a tent or in shelter on the Appalachian Trail, being able to zip it all the way up would help me stay warmer. I say this because of the way my hammock folds around me and thus my pads sort of wrap up under me, where as on the ground, the pads stay pretty much flat.
One other thing of note, earlier this year my daughter went to a camp for two nights. I was not at home when she packed and she snuck out with my favorite down sleeping bag. It is the 30 F bag I use in the summer when doing long trips. I have a 15 F synthetic bag and would have felt a lot better if she had taken it. I was worried the whole time she was gone that she would spill something on the bag or somehow get it dirty, and I don’t like to wash my down bags. I say this to bring home the point that while the Kaycee is a fiarly heavy bag, I don’t feel like I have to baby it. I have not needed to wash it yet but I wont mind doing so when needed.
I still have a few months of cold weather left so stay tuned to see how the Kaycee fairs the rest of the winter.
A Cool wrap-up for the Kaycee
February 23, 2010
Since the 14 F night I have used the Eureka Kaycee 0 F bag two more nights. Both nights were on hikes on some local trails I frequently enjoy. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it…) neither night was as cold as the previous 14 F night so I still have not tested the bag down to its lowest rating. However, it was cold enough that a good quality sleeping bag was a must for a good nights sleep. The low on the late January night was 26 F and just recently on February 16th it got down to 23 F . On the late January hike, I did try using just my bubble pad in my Hennesy Deep Jungle hammock but that didn’t last long. I had packed the same self-inflating pad I used on the 14 F night just in case and was glad to have it. On the mid February hike it was predicted to get colder so I just went ahead and used the extra pad to start with.
Other than that, I don’t have a lot to add since I really didn’t break any new ground (establish a new low testing temperature). I will say that this sleeping bag has worked very well as a quilt, but I do wish it were cut a little bigger so that zipping it up all the way was easier. Speaking of which, I think there is a niche most sleeping bag makers are missing. And by that I mean, I (and perhaps other big folks like me) don’t want to have to buy a “long” mummy bag just to get a little more elbow room. I’ve noticed time after time that the sleeping bags sold as a “long” are listed with an extra inch of girth (circumference) in the chest, hip and foot areas. And it is amazing how much difference an inch makes because I’ve tried out a few in the regular and then the long version, and the long felt a lot more roomy. But enough of that, maybe I just need to loose some weight…
I realize I went a little negative when talking about how tight fitting the Kaycee “regular” is. But this is true for me with most “mummy” sleeping bags in the regular length. In fact, if you were a very small or skinny person, you might have the opposite problem. So with that out of the way, I’d like to share my final thoughts. First and foremost, the Kaycee is indeed a very warm sleeping bag. I know this because it had to be to keep me warm at 14 F without being zipped up all they way. It also packs relatively small for a 0 F synthetic bag. I have seen other 0 F synthetic bags that were a lot bigger once stuffed. I also really liked the foot box design on the Kaycee as it gave my feet plenty of room even when turned slightly sideways when using it as a quilt. And lastly, it is an economical solution for a serious winter backpacking bag. You can go lighter and smaller with a down bag but it will cost a lot more, usually around twice as much, and many are several times the cost of this bag.
I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include backpacking and dayhiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.