Thermarest understands that a good night’s sleep is key to an enjoyable backpacking experience. This is all the more challenging when the earth below is a frozen lump of soil and stone. The Centari is a winter grade synthetic sleeping bag that’s designed to provide year round protection in a wide range of conditions, including that of the frigid nature. Having a silicone treated nylon shell paired with eraLoft insulation, the Centari is designed to function even when it’s wet, for the most challenging of winter conditions. I’ve put it through the paces, and this is my review.
The sleeping bag is designed as a mummy bag, with a bit more room in the shoulders and the chest. Designed to be paired with a sleeping pad, it minimizes weight by reducing the fill below the bag, emphasizing the insulation of the sleeping pad itself. There are two SynergyLink Connectors sewn into the bottom of the bag, which allows the sleeping bag to attached to the sleeping pad easily. This lets the user roll in place inside the sleeping bag, without the bag itself moving and getting tangled up or revealing cold spots. A large cinchable hood is wide enough for a medium sized pillow to fit inside, and a full size zipper allows for easy entry and exit. It also includes a draft collar that follows the zipper, and a second zipper at the foot acts as a vent to let out some excess heat. The shell of the bag is a lightweight 20d polyester, treated with DWR to shed water. The bag is filled with a generous amount of eraLoft insulation, which is a synthetic, packable insulation. The bag weighs in at 3 lbs 15 oz for the regular length, packs down to about 9″ x 18″, and retails for $209.95
What I liked
Truly warm, the Centari provided ample insulation. Camping high above a local lake in a breezy three season shelter, the sleeping bag kept me almost too toasty well into the 20’s. I often found myself partially unzipping the top zip to allow some hot air to escape. Watching plumes of steam escape from my mouth into the top of the tent, I was blissfully immune to the harshness of the froze earth around me. The sleeping bag closed up tight around my face, using the included draft collar and cinch, keeping drafts out from around my neck when the temperatures continued to fall. Rolling over never revealed cold spots, and my feet were quite content, especially when I realized I have extra room to shove my down jacket inside the foot box.
The bag also proved to be quite comfortable, with plenty of room to toss and turn inside without feeling strapped down. Having it strapped to the sleeping pad, it stayed in place as I rotated into every position humanly possible. I could lay on my side without feeling pressure against my shoulders, and I had extra room to stuff my jackets, extra socks, fuel canister and a bottle of water inside as well. The materials are soft, and provide a nice silky touch to the sleeping bag, while helping to fight of the claminess sensation when too much heat builds up and sweat starts to creep up. The hood is wide enough that I could stuff a Thermarest Compressible Pillow inside, preventing it’s typical 2 am route of escape about the tent, and I still managed to cinch it around my head, pillow inside. My favorite part, the hood didn’t get in the way of my breathing when I slept on my side where typically a sleeping bag will shove a zipper or drawstring down my esophagus.
The overall build is very good. The materials are all of high quality, the stitching is nearly flawless. I’m yet to have any pulled threads, hangs or issues with wear and tear. The zippers slide easily, without slipping or coming undone while tossing about inside, and the long draft tube that follows it reliably kept out any malicious cold air that might otherwise try to work it’s way inside.
For a synthetic, true 4 season sleeping bag, packability wasn’t too bad. I managed to stuff it into the included stuff sack, and throw a couple of tensioners around it to pull it down to a size that fit into the bottom of my pack, albeit a large 80 liter pack that I use for winter backpacking. I managed a, roughly, 9″ x 18″ stuff size. I imagine it could compress just a bit more with a dedicated sack, but my quilt sized sacks didn’t quite fit around it to test that theory.
At just over 200 dollars, it’s one of the more affordable and best built sleeping bags that provide true winter ready protection. It also includes a dedicated mesh storage sack and stuff sack.
After being packed away for days at a time in a, very, stuffed sack, it lofted back up with no problems at all. In instantly regained it’s shape with no signs of flattening out. Combine this with it’s inherent immunity to water (it will work when completely saturated with water if it must) and it forms into an image of reliability that provides a worry free night of sleep.
What I didn’t like
Being a synthetic winter bag, the Centari packs some weight. It comes in at just about 4 lbs, and actually weighs as much as the tent that I paired it with. This is fine for shorter trips or kayak camping, but hauling over a 14 mile winter trip, paired with lots of other winter gear, the ol’ legs eventually started to feel it. Thankfully, the weight isn’t wasted and it all goes straight to the insulation, which is why it’s so warm. In comparison to many other synthetics in it’s same weight class, it was, however, much warmer and compactable than most.
While it does pack down smaller than most, it will still take up a substantial amount of pack space. Small backpacks beware.
The Centari is my new favorite pick for winter backpacking, when a synthetic sleeping bag is preferred. Not having to worry about the sleeping bag wetting out or flattening when it gets damp, it’s a truly reliable blanket of protection. It’s incredibly warm, valiantly and vigilantly battling away even the harshest of frosts providing true to the rating warmth into the low 20’s. If you don’t mind the weight, you have the space, and you hate to be cold, this is a very solid option at a great rate.
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For more information on Therm-a-Rest and their excellent line of gear, check out www.thermarest.com
I wanted to send a special thanks out to Therm-a-Rest for their support and for providing this excellent piece of equipment to review. We couldn’t do this without their help. Thank you so much! Our full disclosure can be found on the about me/contact page.