Having had the fortune – or misfortune?- of just returning from a Dall sheep hunt in Alaska, I felt compelled to complete this article before my next outing sends me down the road again. The hunt was an eight-night backpack hunt in the Chugach Mountains, only two of which we didn’t have rain or snow. We scouted and hunted in all conditions, leaving us returning to camp with slightly- to moderately- wet clothes most days. Despite good raingear, sweat built up in base layers and wind drove rain through seams and openings in our outerwear. Hunting in an alpine environment, we weren’t capable of drying any gear out unless the sun shone or we wore it to bed and hoped our sleeping bags breathed well.
With situations like these in mind, Sitka released their Kelvin Aerolite 30 Sleeping Bag early this summer. From the Sitka website:
The Kelvin Aerolite 30 Sleeping Bag is a multifunctional layer for active time in camp, cold glassing sessions or dreaded midnight nature calls. Synthetic PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation with Cross Core™ technology replicates the aesthetics and performance of down insulation, but with warm-when-wet performance. Featuring a 30-degree comfort rating, it’s designed to be an extension of your SITKA clothing systems for full-season performance, even in the wettest conditions. Jacket-like features include zippered, functional armholes; contoured shoulders and hood, and a center-front two-way zipper.
I had packed the Aerolite for this hunt knowing the propensity for moisture where I’d be hunting. I was eager to see how it lived up to the claims of a durable, lightweight mountain hunting bag that retained its insulation value when wet. Most of our nights in camp were in the mid-to upper-thirties Fahrenheit- not terribly frigid but add some damp base layers and it was plenty cold and left us hoping for sunshine the following day. The bit of sun we did have was the first and last days of the hunt, leaving us an approximate week in the middle to use our sleeping bags for our only source of heat.
Sheep hunting by nature is a minimalist activity so having a dry, fresh change of clothes on hand every day was not in the cards. I wore my base layer made of merino wool under my insulation layer to bed and zipped the bag up to my nose leaving my pants in the bottom of my sleeping bag to dry by my feet. By morning I’d unzip, the water having worked to the outer layer of the bag, then I’d shake it off outside and lay it out in the tent while we hunted. I caught just enough convection heat in the tent to dry the bag surface by the time we got back in for the night to start the process over.
While the PrimaLoft insulation lived up to its billing, there were several other aspects of the bag I enjoyed. Weighing in at thirty-eight ounces, the Aerolite is packed with features most often found on a heavier bag. The footbox was roomy, granted I’m five-eight but I stored extra stove fuel and dried out my pants every night without feeling cramped. The two chest zippers were nice as well, I’d lay out breakfast and coffee the night before and had it ready to eat in the morning without leaving the warmth of my sleeping bag. A small interior zippered pocket was perfect to keep a phone warm in and kept it handy for an alarm. Although I never used it, there’s a buckle and loop system to attach the bottom of the bag to the center. This lets the user walk around and keep the bottom of the bag off of the ground while wearing it.
Sitka’s new Kelvin Aerolite 30 is available from a variety of dealers and has an MSRP of $399.00. Buyers can purchase with confidence as the Kelvin Aerolite 30 is covered by Sitka’s guarantee:
We stand behind every product we make. If you are unhappy with any of our products at the time you receive them, please send them back. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable cost.
If you’re in the market for a lightweight, moisture-shedding sleeping bag, check out the Kelvin Aerolite 30 at Sitkagear.com