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Carinthia Defence 4 Sleeping Bag

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Background

I am a hammock camper by choice and I struggle with side zip sleeping bags when I’m hanging.  I was in the market for a centre zip bag and I spotted the Carinthia while trawling through online.  I’d heard good things so, when one appeared on eBay, I snapped it up!

The only centre zip alternatives I found were the good old Army Bouncing Bomb, or the Woodlore ones available through Ray Mear’s website.  The Bouncing Bomb is, of course, huge, which I didn’t want.  The Woodlore bags were very similarly spec to the Carinthia’s, but were quite a bit more expensive.  I had also heard good things about the Defence 4 on the drums but nothing about the Woodlore bags…

Description

The Defence 4 is a mummy style sleeping bag.  That is to say it tapers down between the shoulders and the footbox to minimise dead space.  A lot of mummy bags can feel quite restrictive.  However, I found that this bag had the right balance of space to taper ratio.  I am a side sleeper and I often feel like I am tangled up in a mummy bag, especially if I am using it with a bivvy bag.  This wasn’t the case with the Carinthia.  The two key features that helped here were the generous shoulder space and the trapezoidal footbox.  The foot box is designed so that you can use the bag with your boots on. This gives you good freedom of movement when you are sleeping boots off.

The bag has a generously wide, full length, zip baffle which totally eliminates the zip as a cold spot.  The outside of the zip is also covered by an equally generous baffle which is held in place with hook and loop. The zip itself is a nice chunky YKK #10, which is two way so you can vent the footbox if you get too hot.  It is also anti-snag and opens by pulling on the sides of the bag rather than the zip pull, if you need to make a quick exit.

The bag has two layers of Carinthia’s own G-Loft insulation (more about this in a minute).  One layer is quilted to the inner bag and the other is free floating over the inner layer to eliminate cold spots caused by the stitch lines on the quilting.  There is also a layer of Thermoflect fabric, which further enhances the bag’s performance by reflecting heat back to the sleeper. The Thermoflect gives the bag a bit of a crisp packet sound, but nothing that is horrendous and would be too noisy in a tactical environment.  Finally it has a free floating outer layer which creates another air space for even more insulation.

G-Loft is a proprietary product of Carinthia.  It is a synthetic insulation with some very interesting properties which set it apart from its competitors.  Firstly, it has a “memory” effect.  This means that even after prolonged compression the individual fibres return to their original shape.  It’s quite cool to watch.  When you pull your bag out of its compression sack it comes out all crushed up and skinny.  While you watch, the fibres expand back out and the bag puffs back to its original size.

Other beneficial features of G-Loft are its breathability and its ease of maintenance.  Unlike many other types of synthetic insulation G-Loft doesn’t have a silicone coating to prevent moisture.  It is highly moisture resistant, due to its design, but also highly breathable.  This means that you don’t get too hot and sweaty in the bag like you do with other synthetics.  It also means that you can air it out more rapidly in the morning before you put it away.  G-Loft is also machine washable with ordinary washing detergent without losing performance.

The final construction feature which is very good is the water resistant outer layer.  I wouldn’t use it in the rain but, it will prevent your bag getting wet from condensation in your tent and if you press up against the side of the tent when moving in your sleep.

Finally, the bag comes in its own compression sack which compresses in 3 places around its circumference as well as compressing its length.  The stuff sack has a drawstring closure and is not water resistant.

Temperature wise it is much higher spec than most of its competitors.  It is sold as a 3 season bag but, has a comfort rating of -15C with an extreme rating of -35C.  This is way outside the normal range for a 3 season bag and will happily let you camp into the winter!

The bag only comes in one colour, olive green, as it is intended as a military bag.

It has two sizes, medium and long.

Carinthia gives its compressed size as 23cm x 38cm for the medium using their own stuff sack.  I got it smaller than that using a Large Sea to Summit eVent compressible canoe sack. Weight is 1.8kg, not light but not too heavy either considering it’s a synthetic bag.

Construction is spot on with high quality fabrication and materials throughout. All of Carinthia’s products are manufactured in their own factories in Austria and Slovakia.

Opinion

I love it! It is very well made, very comfortable, the zip is very user friendly, it compresses well for carriage and has excellent temperature ratings.  The only drawback is that for summer camping it is too hot!  However, I intend to add a Carinthia Defence 1 to my collection for this purpose.  The Defence 1 is also intended to be paired with the Defence 4 to give a crazy warm 4 season bag.

The only improvement I would make to the bag is a couple of internal pockets, like the Bouncing Bomb, so you can keep small items like your phone to hand and things like batteries warm in the cold weather.

I have already added another of these bags to my collection for my son as he starts DofE this year.

Summary

Crazy high spec, great quality, user friendly.  Very happy with my purchase!

NB.  If you go looking for these 2nd hand on eBay, the British Army ones do not have the G-Loft insulation.  Apparently the MOD didn’t want to pay for it.  As a result they are just a sexed up bouncing bomb…

Ratings

  • Cost – £££: £159 plus P&P direct from Carinthia. (UKMCPRO, who are a UK Carinthia dealer, is selling them for £135.40, delivered, at time of writing)
  • Value for money 1-5: 5. You get what you pay for.  Really high spec compared to competitors at the same price point.
  • Ease of use 1-5: 5, Well designed and well shaped.
  •  Construction 1-5: 5, Well made with clear attention to detail in the construction.
  • Allyness 1-5: 3,  Because they are olive green. A doss bag isn’t really ally…

This Kit Pest Article was written by Ben O’Toole. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts or comments related to this article then leave a comment!