Stoic Groundwork Sleeping Bag: 20 Degree Synthetic, $84.95, backcountry.com
This is Kind of Obsessed, a column about all the stuff our team is really, really into right now.
I tend to sleep very poorly – can't fall asleep, can't stay asleep – and, frankly, it's been even harder since the world devolved into chaos six months ago. So when I headed up north of Brooklyn last month for a camping weekend with my Corona-Pod friends, I was not exactly thrilled at the prospect of trying to catch some shuteye in a tent — even with some new gear from the first camping collection by Stoic, Backcountry's accessible outdoor gear brand, in tow.
I figured my body would be kept warm enough to survive and, hopefully, un-punctured by rocks and roots. So imagine my surprise when I clocked two respectable sleeps in a row.
Stoic sent along a couple items: the Groundwork Sleeping Bag and Ascend Lightweight Air Pad, which happen to come in some beautifully calm hues. The bag stuffs into a roughly 16x10-inch bag and weighs a tad over three pounds, and the pad rolls up into a 12-inch-long sleeve. Probably not gear I'd want to haul in a pack for a very long hike, but absolutely just right for tossing into the back of my Jeep.
Stoic's gear is meant to be accessible and affordable; on those fronts and in terms of performance, these two items deliver mightily. There are plenty of other items in the collection: tents, furniture and blankets that all coordinate aesthetically and functionally to provide a 360-degree camping experience.
Inside the sleeping bag, I kept on a light merino base layer and socks (ok, and a beanie because... no hair) and was toasty as can be in 50-degree temps. Stoic suggests the DWR-finished nylon material would be fine against bare skin, which I have no reason to doubt.
At six feet tall I had plenty of room, even though Stoic suggests that as a max height, and though I'm personally quite thin I'm confident someone with fifty pounds on me would be comfy too. It's as easy to burrow into as it is to wriggle out of if you have to, you know, get rid of some good fall beers in the wee hours.
But as impressive as the Groundwork was, I think the pad might have come out ahead for me. It blows up in just about a minute and rolls into its thin sleeve just as fast. I think what struck me most about the Ascend was that at least part of the nights I laid on my side and still felt cushioned and comfy.
To be fair, there were many variables that contributed to my slumber – the contrast to my normal surroundings was stark, of course. At our distinctly non-city campsite, I'd been breathing crisp, clean air; I was away from countless stressors; my normal nocturnal soundtrack of twilight trash collection and rolling bodega gates was swapped for crickets and coyote howls. But even without my cozy apartment and very nice memory foam mattress, I got truly great rest.
I have more fall camping trips scheduled, and no concern about getting a good night's sleep. All I have to worry about now is how much shopping I'm going to do – there are a lot other items in the new collection to try out.