Thursday, October 2, 2008

Proforce Softie Elite 1 Sleeping Bag

Proforce Equipment is the military branch of Snugpak, which is a civilian provider of high quality camping clothing and gear. A company originating in the UK, Proforce uses high quality materials in their gear which is state of the art in not only quality but performance. I have been very impressed by their gear.

One product that I have been using is the Softie Elite 1 sleeping bag. This sleeping bag is designed for warmer climates and use. It has a comfort rating of 44°F/7°C and a low rating of 35°F/2°C (these ratings are assuming the use of a sleeping mat and being inside a tent or under some other kind of shelter). I've used this bag into the high 40s low 50s so far and can say that it definitely works.

Not only are the Softie Elite bags warm, but they're very packable. This bag packs down into it's stuff sack and fits in the palm of my hand. It easily fits in a side pocket of a good pack and takes up only a fraction of the room of a normal sleeping bag.

Snugpak uses several different materials in this bag to gain such good insulation with such little weight and space. One of these insulating materials is Softie Premier insulation. Softie premier is a polyester filling that is kind of like down filling, only with a fraction of the weight and space. Some of the fibers in this filling are crimped, some curled, and some left as they are to give a random effect similar to down insulation. This fill also maintains it's insulating properties even when wet.

Another material in this bag is what's called reflectatherm. Reflectatherm is a highly breathable, metallisized fabric designed to reflect heat and retain warmth. It adds an additional 15% of heat to the bag.

The inner and outer material on the bag is called Paratex light. This is a windproof, lightweight, water repellent nylon fabric which is breathable and moisture wicking. This is a very soft material that is also a ripstop type material.

The way sleeping bags keep you warm is by using your body heat to heat up the air inside the sleeping bag. This bag has several good features to regulate the heat inside your bag.
Here are some of the other features of the Softie Elite 1:
  1. Stuffs down into it's included stuff sack, takes up little room and light weight.
  2. Mummy shape helps to retain heat.
  3. Has a baffle system which expands to help regulate heat inside the bag. When it's warmer out you expand the baffle so that there is more room in the bag. By doing this you stay a little cooler because your body is heating up a larger space, therefor keeping your body cooler. This also expands the bag to give you more room if needed. When not expanded the baffle helps keep drafts from coming through the zipper.
  4. The bottom of the bag can be folded up for shorter individuals (like me) to maintain better warmth. By folding the bottom of the bag up and attaching it using the 2 attachment points it makes the inner space of the bag smaller, therefor allowing your body to be able to heat up the inside of the bag better. If you have unused space in the bag (ie: extra area in the bottom of the bag) it's harder to keep the air inside the bag warm via body heat. On the opposite side, in warmer climates you can leave the bottom unfolded to keep the air inside the bag cooler.
  5. An adjustable "hood" is included on this bag to maintain your body heat by covering your head. A good majority of heat escapes from your head, so by snugging this don on your head it'll help to retain body heat.
  6. Available for left handers or right handers, putting the zipper on the proper side. Something you don't see a lot of.
A couple of things to note about storage of your snugpak bag is that you don't want to store it in it's compression sack. Unpack it and store it unpacked, preferably hanging. This allows the fibers to expand between uses. Also, one thing I've always made the mistake of doing is rolling my bag to get it into the stuff sack. Again...a no no. By rolling the bag you can tear and separate the fibers of the insulation doing damage to the bag and possibly reducing it's effectiveness. A good thing to know!

I'm sure I skipped a feature or two, but this line of bags is absolutely awesome. Not only for the average hiker/camper, but for military this bag provides protection from the elements without taking up a lot of space in your pack where you can keep other essentials for combat. And the low weight is a definite plus when you're carrying your gear on your back.

I think snugpak is really on to something with their gear and I highly recommend their stuff. At a reasonable price you can't go wrong with quality like this.

Colors Available: OD green, desert tan, black, mustard yellow

Length: 86in.
Carry weight: 36 oz.

Available at U.S. Cavalry for $112.99 (at time of posting)
Brigade Quartermasters for $109.99

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for a good review, i just bought one of these bags. If you hadn't mentioned that they shouldn't be rolled I'd never have thought of it.