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Price when purchased (October 2012): £79.99
Price now (April 2014): £69.99 - £99.99
The Snugpak Softie Elite 3 is a 3/4 season synthetic mummy sleeping bag. Temperature wise Snugpak rate the bag to -5°C comfort and -10°C extreme. At 220cm length (can be shortened to 175cm using clips) this is one of the longer models on the market. Snugpak's Expander Panel System ensures the bag's thermal range is as wide as possible while also allowing multiple bags of the range to be combined (e.g. Elite 1 inside the Elite 3). At 1600g the bag packs down to 19cm x 21cm. The foot end of the bag features a special inner lining designed to reflect heat more effectively and keep feet dry.
This bag has experienced the highs and lows of a standard British year. In the winter the jumbo zip baffle ensures warmth does not escape from the zip while in the summer the same baffle can expand the bag by 25cm all around. This extra space allows air to circulate more freely and cools down the bag significantly. Therefore the bag unlike many others can be used in a whole range of temperatures. In use the bag feels a little warm above +10°C although it can always be opened out and with adequate ground insulation can easily cope with -5°C. Below -5°C the footend of the bag does get cold very quickly. Having spent one night in this bag at -11°C recorded outside of the tent the Extreme rating is fairly accurate as midnight sit-ups were required to reheat the bag after a few hours of sleep. Combined with the Snugpak Softie Elite 1 this bag can easily cope with -15°C or more.
The moisture wicking properties of this bag are truly astonishing. After a comfortably warm and dry night inside the outside of the bag can feature water droplets due to the transported moisture. Only when opening up the bag during use and allowing cold air into the inside does the inside feel damp after use. As with every sleeping bag, keeping insulated is key and even the foot end liner is useless without it. Moisture on the outside can be driven back into the bag if the user rolls onto the damp side during the night. This quickly lowers the temperature within the bag and has on occasion resulted in colder than expected nights.
Quality wise the materials live up to their expectations, except for the zips. It appears Snugpak saved on the quality of these as they frequently snag. Changing between the jumbo baffle and the expanded bag can therefore be a bit of a headache if it has to happen quickly in the middle of the night.
All things considered this bag (and the associated system) has served me well and I recommend it as a synthetic all-rounder any time. Should weight and packsize be a defining factor, then a synthetic bag will simply not be able to compete with a down one. The advantage of being able to combine this bag with others in the range makes it a very versatile choice and provides flexibility that is hard to achieve otherwise. I wish Snugpak would take a closer look at the zips used on the bag as they do let it down. With this in mind, a solid 4/5.