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Hands-on Gear Review
Western Mountaineering Versalite 10 Review
Cons: Shallow hood, not as warm as the heavier contenders
Bottom line: A solid choice for those looking to go fast and light.
The Western Mountaineering Versalite is an awesome bag with an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio. It is the lightest bag in our review by a whopping 9oz, and while rated to 10 degrees, it held its own against some of the bags rated to 0. Our testers were blown away by the towering loft of this bag. Like its warmer cousin the Western Mountaineering Antelope MF, the Versalite features an amazing full-length snag-proof zipper, a plush draft collar, and a huge draft tube. Additionally, the 62" shoulder with gave testers plenty of room to wear a down jacket when it got really cold. If your main concern is weight and you tend to be a warm sleeper, this is the bag you're looking for.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Down Sleeping Bags of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Versalite has a fill weight of 20oz and a materials weight of 13.7oz, making it an extremely efficient vessel for containing the 850 fill high-quality goose down. Our testers felt that this bag was warmer than the Nemo Sonic and the Big Agnes Storm King 0, and just as warm as the Kelty Cosmic Down 0 and the Rab Ascent 900. These bags are rated to 0 by their manufacturers, and they are all significantly heavier - the Cosmic Down outweighs the Versalite by 2 lbs. The Western Mountaineering Antelope MF has 6oz more down and is noticeably warmer. The extra down is most apparent in the hood and draft collar, which feel thicker on the Antelope. Testers also noticed that the Antelope felt warmer in the foot box than the Versalite.
This contender is easily the lightest bag in our review at just over 2lbs. This is apparent as soon as you yank it from its huge storage and send the bag floating across the room towards your backpack. The Versalite the heaviest bag in Western Mountaineering's ExtemeLite series, and its ExtemeLite shell fabric makes it feel like an ultralight bag, especially when compared to the bivy sack-like heavy shell of the Marmot Col.
The shell fabric feels less durable than the MicroLite XP used on the Western Mountaineering Antelope, prompting our testers to take extra care when hunkering down amongst the rocks and sticks, but we experienced no tears or escaping feathers during the testing process.
The Versalite strikes a nice balance between thermal efficiency and room to move around or layer up. While not as luxuriously sized as the Nemo Sonic, it has three more inches in the shoulders than the slimmed down but super warm Feathered Friends Snowbunting. These extra inches help keep the Versalite versatile, making room for comfort when temps hover around freezing and making room for a puffy jacket when they drop into the low teens.
Like the Antelope, the Versalite has a big draft collar with its own dedicated cinch cord for dialing in comfort and keeping out the cold air. Our testers felt that the hood was shallow compared to the better fitting hood on the Mountain Hardwear Torch 3, but if you primarily sleep on your back, the drawstring does a fine job keeping the hood over your forehead.
The Versalite packs down smaller than any other bag in this review, making it an excellent choice for multi-day climbing and ski touring endeavors when your pack is crammed to the brim with gear. It stuffs down to 8"x15" in its included stuff sack and much smaller in a compression sack. Due to the thin, lightweight shell fabric, we recommend taking extra care when stuffing this bag directly into the bottom of a pack, watching out for sharp, pointy object or getting the bag caught in the backpack zipper.
Our testers' favorite thing about both Western Mountaineering bags in this review is the awesome snag-free zipper. It's vastly superior to the zippers on all of the other bags, due to the stiff tape that is sewn in on both sides of the zipper. The Kelty Cosmic Down 0, the Feathered Friends Snowbunting, and the Brooks Range Drift -10 employ as a similar stiff tape design around the zippers, but they don't even come close to the easy gliding of the Western Mountaineering zipper.
The full-length draft tube completely eliminates cold air and moisture from entering through the zipper, but never gets snagged when you need to make a quick exit. The velcro closure system for the hood and draft collar is minimal but effective at keeping cold air out, unless you thrash around in your sleep all night, and require bigger velcro tabs like the ones found on the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3 or the Nemo Sonic. The Versalite comes with a giant sized storage sack to help the 20oz of down retain its lofting ability.
The 12 denier ExtemeLite shell fabric is incredibly weather resistance for the weight. In our light rain test, the shell fabric easily repelled water, and no moisture penetrated the zipper or the stitching around the baffles. In our submersion tests, the Versalite absorbed marginally more water than the Antelope, but stayed dryer than the heavier Nemo Sonic, Big Agnes Storm King 0, and the Kelty Cosmic Down 0.
The Versalite is not as weather resistant as the Western Mountaineering Antelope or the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3. If you're in search of a very weather resistant, warmer bag that is still fairly lightweight, check out the Feathered Friends Snowbunting.
The Versalite is a great bag for those in search of a just-warm-enough bag for fast and light missions in late fall and early spring, and is light enough for summertime alpine fun as well. In our testing ground here in the Eastern Sierra, this bag could be perfect for sleeping out year round. The continuous baffle construction allows you to shift the down from the top of the bag to the bottom, making it less warm for summertime use. If you're looking to go light but you're a cold sleeper, check out its big brother, the Western Mountaineering Antelope for a similar style bag that has 6oz more down.
$575 gets you a high-quality, versatile down bag, that you could potentially use throughout the year. While this is a big investment compared to the Best Buy Award winning Rab Ascent 900, you will save space in your pack, keep weight off your back, and have an easier time slogging around in the mountains. Light is right! The included stuff sack allows for fully lofted storage, extending the life of the bag. Western Mountaineering bags are made in sunny San Jose, California.
The Western Mountaineering Versalite is a top of the line bag. While expensive, you definitely get what you pay for, which is an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio, great features like the comfy draft collar, and a light and weather resistant shell. Did we mention the zipper to rule all zippers? If you tend to sleep warm and want to go fast and light, this bag is a smart choice.
— Matt Bento
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