The world of sleeping bags has exploded with the burst in backpacking camping. For people who haven’t been camping in a while, the now-prevalent “mummy bag” is one of the biggest changes. Rectangular sleeping bags are few and far between, though there’s at least one awesome entry for 2016 if you’re into two-person bags. Another big change is just how warm sleeping bags have become. Case in point: the REI Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag.
Though it sounds like Yoda named it — shouldn’t the “29” come at the end? — the mummy bag Force is definitely strong with the Trail Pod 29. And really, there are three primary reasons: warmth, size and price.
As someone who gets cold easily, staying warm at night is frankly my top priority when camping. In browsing the REI sleeping bag collection, the Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag doesn’t show up, but it’s there if you dig. And it’s worth digging for if you’re concerned about getting cold. The “29” in the REI sleeping bag’s name refers to its EN rating (temperature rating) of 29 degrees Fahrenheit. For women, the EN rating for comfort is 38 degrees, though I often identify more with the women’s side of ratings and can vouch for lower temps than 38. In fact, on one spring campout when the evening temperature didn’t get below 50, I actually overheated. That’s saying something.
I also appreciated the size of the Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag. Mummy bags by definition are more constricting than rectangular sleeping bags. Their shape simply keeps your feet and legs from moving around. The Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag lives up to those expectations, though it does provide a bit more room in the body than expected. That said, it’s still something you’re going to move “in” rather than “with” if you tend to roll around a lot at night.
One thing I found a bit confusing was REI’s statement that it’s “perfect for car camping and nights spent at the trail head.” The pack-down size of the Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag is impeccable. I actually received comments from several much-more-hardcore campers than I about how small it is. Yet REI’s statement doesn’t imply that this sleeping bag should be used for hiking- or backpacking-based campouts. I’d disagree. Yes, there are smaller bags out there, the two hoodies I packed took up more combined space in my backpack than this bag.
Those smaller bags also cost a ton more. The REI Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag costs just $80 to $100 depending on the size you get. Compare that to the “real” backpacking sleeping bags, and you’ll definitely see how this can fit not only into your bag but also into your camping budget.
I only have two words of caution about this REI sleeping bag. First, it can be challenging to zip and unzip from the inside. Adjusting the hood and neck is easy with the different-shaped draw cords, but the side zipper has a single pull tab for both the inside and outside. As a result, you have to make sure when you go to bed that you pull the zipper into the inside of the bag, or you’ll not be able to get out easily the next morning. On my first morning with the bag, in fact, I had to wiggle out the top like a worm emerging from a straw. Now that you know that (based on this reading), you shouldn’t have that issue.
Second, if you sweat at all or bring water in with you (rainy clothes?), the Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag is unforgiving of moisture. If it gets wet at all, it stays wet for hours. Moisture on the outside didn’t seem to make it to the inside of the bag, but moisture inside kept me uncomfortable all night long.
As a result, I’m not sure this is the best sleeping bag for summer. This bag is warm, which is wonderful for spring and fall, but if you’re going to sweat on a summer night, that moisture will make it hard to sleep. If your summer camping adventures include trips at altitude, maybe that temperature won’t be an issue, though. I highly recommend this sleeping bag for the shoulder seasons, but I’m probably going to find another solution for summer camping.
The REI Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag was provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
REI Trail Pod Sleeping 29 Bag
- Incredibly warm, even by my standards
- Packs down super small
- Very lightweight
- The price is definitely right, especially for the quality
- Interior is slippery when wet and doesn't dry easily
- Zipper is hard to get inside, then hard to reach when it's there