Sleeping Bags for Drakensburg

I ended up taking the Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 sleeping bag seems to be a true -7*C comfort rating and weighs 1.6kgs for a synthetic sleeping bag.

I tried it out the other night and i was boiling hot. Good Purchase.

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First Ascent are very generous with the temperature ratings of their sleeping bags - most likely a result of taking the factory feedback as gospel. You’ll most likely find that the North Face bags undergo more rigorous testing to determine “real world” temp range. That being said, the First Ascent Amplify Down 900 is a great bag suitable for even the worst winter cold in SA.

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Another vouch for the Amplify Down 900
All things considered I would recommend erring on the side of more warmth. If your sleeping bag is not up to the task the consequences are very different on say the Otter trail vs the Drakensberg in winter - when the temps go sub-zero you must have 100% confidence in your gear.


Comparing the FA ice breaker and the Amplify Down 900 they seem very similar in temp rating. Any thoughts on the ice breaker?

The Ice Breaker is a good sleeping bag - perfectly suitable for almost all South African conditions year-round. However, if you’re planning on doing a lot of winter hikes in the Drakensberg, there will definitely be situations where the Ice Breaker will be insufficient.

Once again, not sure who does the temp ratings for them, but with the Ice Breaker and Amplify Down 900, look at the “Transition” temp rating: -8°C vs -15°C. The Amplify Down 900 is a mummy shape bag, which also makes for less temperature loss.

For R300 more, you’re getting a much better sleeping bag.

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@IzakGreyling North face,Mountain Hardwear ect sleeping bags are all tested in accordance to the relevant EN/ISO standards, with a heated manikin full of sensors in a baselayer. Sleeping bags rated outside these standards, temperature ratings are up to the discretion of the brand (in-house testing). There are numerous brands in the international market that also does not have ISO standard bags and I could not find a local bag under these standards (correct me if I’m wrong). In my opinion this has alot to do with cost, as in-house testing is far less costly than sending a bag to a ISO approved testing facility.

That being said, First Ascent bags are suitable for the local market. A handful of people do mid winter hikes in the Drakensberg, and even fewer does so in mid winter snow storms. The majority also does not mind lugging a 1.5kg+ bag along.

As mentioned by Arno, both the Ice Breaker and Amplify down is perfect for our local conditions. Although they are a tad bit on the heavy side and bulky side.

Hi Arno, Where are you getting your ratings? I’m seeing a 7C to 2C with an extreme rating of -7*C degree rating for the Amplify 900?

I’m not sure if looking at the extreme rating is recommended though. Seems more like a survival situation

Other popular brands just have an upper comfort level and a lower comfort level which are normally about 5 degrees apart. This normally represents a warm sleeper and a cold sleepers comfortable nights rest.

I would love to see some international brands make their way to the local market.
Katabatic Gear Flex 15 and the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 10 would be a dream come true.

hi there
on the FA website the rating is shown as -3 (comfort) to -15 (and -20 for survival) perhaps you looked in the wrong place?

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agreeing with Arno - Amplify Down 900 a superior bag in very cold conditions. A major drawback for the icebreaker imho is that it does not have a foot box - less usable length and colder feet. the icebreaker is more versatile so if that’s your main concern then a good buy. if staying warm and snug on big mountain excursions is the goal I’d definitely go with the Amplify Down 900.

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I was defenitely looking at the incorrect amplify 900😂
Thanks for Clarifying.


“Katabatic Gear Flex 15 and the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 10 would be a dream come true”
@Pixelite is there a specific reason that you are so fond of quilts ? A cowl is a must for a winter sleeping bag IMO.

The main reason international brands are not readily available locally are due to the demand therefore IMO. How many serious sub zero bags are they truly going to sell. The local market is a strange one for mountain equipment, you have a handful of people that truly visit the Drakensberg escarpment in mid-winter which you might sell a bag to.

They don’t have to establish a store in South Africa. They could sell to the existing market.

If Outdoor warehouse or Cape union mart stocks as few as 2 sleeping bags a month. I’m sure they would sell eventually and it would create some good competition in the local market. It might even put pressure on local manufacturers to update their lineup.

How many Kway Kilimanjaro or First Accent Amplify Down 900 bags sell in a month? I’m sure its not a lot.

I know Hikers Paradise sell Nature hike products and I think City Rock was stocking mountain hardware at one point.

@Pixelite I have a UGQ Bandit 10, very similar to EE and Katabatic but cheaper. -12C rating at 760g. Got it for R3400, so less than a FA Ice Breaker even. Given, I was lucky enough to know someone traveling to the USA so didn’t have to cover shipping/import apart from a few beers.

FYI: The FA Ice Breaker is currently on sale at Outdoor Warehouse, R500 off (normal: R3999, sale: R3499).

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And Futurama, they based in Somerset West and they also have an online store.

OK so I am a K-Way fan boy and I will leave it at that disclaimer…

Have a good look at K-Way’s Aspen1250 which is at least for -3.

There are 2 other extreme K-Way options but they are rather pricey…

Please take note that there is also an XL version for us full-size people and that is probably not on sale…

Then there is the big boy: