Last week, Mountain Hardwear sent me one of their new synthetic sleeping bags to test out, the Lamina Z Spark. In the past, I’ve always thought that bulky and heavy went hand in hand with synthetic sleeping bags, but this was not the case with the Lamina Z. At 2.1 lbs it fell well within the weight limit for backpacking and compressed down as small as 7 X 9 inches.
My only concern was that I received the Lamina Z “Spark”, which is a 34 degree sleeping bag, and I love to camp in the mountains, as high up as I can. My plans for the weekend were to hike up Gothic Peak (6,213 ft) in WA and camp just below the summit at 6,130 feet on a narrow exposed ridge. The forecast looked favorable for the weekend so I decided that I’d just have to put the sleeping bag to the test. I also decided to pair it with a sleeping bag liner to add about 10 degrees of warmth allowing me to sleep comfortably in temperatures down to 25 degrees.
Satisfied with our plan, my wife and I packed up our things and headed out. To reach our campsite on Gothic Peak we had to hike roughly 5.5 miles and gain just over 4,000 vertical feet. The first half of the trail was snow free hiking through lush green forest but around 3,500 feet we began to encounter snow and soon enough we were hiking in full on winter conditions. The trail was buried under snow with about 6 inches of fresh powder on top. After 4.5 miles we reached Gothic Basin (5230 ft) where we found a sunny dry rock to rest on and had lunch.
Looking out across the frozen Foggy Lake we looked up at Gothic Peak another 1,000 feet above our heads. A friend had told us that he camped on a small ridge about 80 feet below the summit, but as we looked up at the Gothic Peak, we began to wonder if there would be a spot big enough for our tent. As we started hiking up there around 2 in the afternoon, we began encountering people coming down from the summit and asked them if they had seen a spot to camp below the summit. Everyone said that there wasn’t a good campsite, and that the small ridge was too rocky and narrow for a tent.
Their responses only increased our concerns, but I also knew that my friend had indeed put a tent up there, so we decided to continue on to take a look for ourselves. When we reached the ridge, just before the final scramble to the summit of Gothic Peak, I looked around and there it was, a very small, old snow tent platform just big enough for our tent. I let out a sigh of relief and smiled. I got to work immediately and in no time at all we had our tent set up with a breathtaking view out of its doors.
Satisfied, I crawled inside the Lamina Z and kicked back enjoying the evening views from inside the tent. Looking east I could see a seemingly endless expanse of mountain peaks including Sloan Peak, Glacier Peak, Mount Stuart, and the mighty Mount Rainier. As the mountains began to change colors in the last light of day and the temperatures plummeted, I fired up the stove and began to cook dinner all without having to get out of the Lamina Z.
For being a 35 degree bag I was already very impressed with how warm and comfortable it was. I felt like the luckiest man in the world while seating there eating dinner, but the real test was to come as the sun extinguished behind the horizon and the temperatures continued to plummet.
At this point I pulled out my thermometer and placed it inside of the tent to accurately test how well the bag preformed. The temperature read 34 degrees so I pulled out the sleeping bag liner, crawling into it while in my sleeping bag, zipped up the tent doors and went to sleep. At around 4 am I woke up feeling warm and toasty. I thought that it must have been at least 30 degrees inside the tent but when I took a look at the thermometer it read 25 degrees. I was impressed. With the sleeping bag and liner combined, the comfortable sleep rating for me went as low as 25 degrees. Every part of my body from head to toe felt just about perfect. I smiled with great satisfaction and fell back asleep until sunrise.
At 7am the alarm went off, and I simply opened up the door, pulled back the fly and laid comfortably in my Lamina Z and watched the sunrise while taking a few pictures. It was one of the best mornings I’ve had to date. All of the gear that I had brought with me on the trip worked as planned. I literally wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you Mountain Hardwear for the chance to test this kick ass sleeping bag, and the Trango 2 tent that made this trip possible!
Author: MHW winter 14/15 ambassador, Jacob Moon. Jacob is a radical photographer, check out his work: http://oak.ctx.ly/r/2ombe