The Thermarest Questar HD 20 attempts to bridge performance and affordablity. It’s a three season, mummy style sleeping bag featuring hydrophobic down, sleeping pad connectors, zoned insulation and a high quality water resistant shell. This is my full review.
The Questar HD 20 is fairly traditional in shape, with a sleek and efficient mummy style build to minimize weight while maximizing warmth by reducing the amount of air needing to be warmed. It’s constructed from DWR treated 20D ripstop polyester, with a soft 20D polyester taffeta liner for a softer feel inside. The fill is high quality 650 power down, treated with Nikiwax for waterproofing. The bag includes two loops along the bottom which allow the bag to be attached to a sleeping pad, and a full length zipper runs down the left side. This is paired with a generous draft collar running the entire length to prevent air from leaking around the closure. The horizontal baffles are sized according to zone for more warmth where it’s needed, and utilize Thermarest’s own ThermaCapture seams to block drafts around the stitching. Dimensions for the regular size tested here come in at 79″ long, 63″ wide at the shoulders, 23″ wide at the foot, and it packs down to roughly 9″ x 14″ in it’s included stuff sack. The sleeping bag is packed with a generous 1 lbs 3 oz of down, weighs 2 lbs 5 oz, and includes the stuff sack and mesh storage sack for $239.95
What I liked
When it comes to sleeping, a sleeping bag needs to be enjoyable to be inside. Thankfully, this is a very comfy mummy bag. Where many mummy bags are sized to fit tight and are a bit restrictive with motion , that’s not an issue here. The sleeping bag has ample room around the head and shoulders, and a wider than average foot box too. This means there is room inside to move, roll over, scrunch up the legs, and more. Instead of feeling trapped or tied down inside, I always felt like I was simply snuggling up inside, w ith extra fabric and spaces to shift and squirm as need. It helps that it’s constructed from some of the softest fabrics I’ve tested too. Instead of using a more traditional and stiff ripstop inside, it’s a taffeta weave, which has a much softer, more microfiber like feel to it. The material is silky and smooth, and provides a nice high quality, luxurious feel that my bed at home envies. It also includes a fluffy draft collar that lines the neck and hood. This provides a soft, super fluffy padding that protects from zippers, the cinch cords in the hood and the seams themselves. Overall, it’s one of the most comfortable and ergonomic bags I’ve tested.
There are two removable sleeves found on the bottom of the sleeping bag coined SynergyLinks that allow the bag to connect to a sleeping pad. This keeps the bag in place while the sleeper moves inside, preventing it from becoming twisted and wrapped up whiling tossing and turning. It sounds like a minor feature, but It adds a huge amount of freedom in relation to sleep position. Where a normal mummy bag has to roll with the sleeper or become knotted up, it allows the bag to stay in one place all night, preventing slipping off the sleeping pad or just ending up rotated the wrong way inside. It feels more like a blanket this way than a garment, which is a huge plus. When paired with the roomy interior, it makes the bag feel larger than it actually is too, as movement isn’t restricted by the fabric of the bag. Instead, I found that I could move about naturally and without effort, as long as I wasn’t trying to stomach sleep while zipped up completely. Keeping the sleeping bag tied to the pad also eliminates cold spots that normally occur with traditional designs, as the sleeping bag stays aligned with the insulation of the sleeping pad. So, when rolling over, you don’t take the bag with you, then end up laying on a cold spot of fabric that was previously exposed to the cold air around it.
Instead of relying on cramped spaces for warmth (more air requires more body heat to warm it), the Questar 20 utilizes plenty of down fill that’s been strategically placed and baffled to provide more insulation where it’s needed the most. The foot box is especially well stuffed, which helps to keep the toes warm on cold, breezy nights. The hood and neck, I’ve found, are also thicker and fluffier than most, meaning it’s easy to snuggle up to the draft collar, blocking out any cold drafts, and it provides a nice sense of at home comfort, despite being far away from a real bed. I stayed toasty warm down to 30 degrees F, just as advertised, without any cold spots seeping in. Pushing the sleeping bag to 20 degrees would be doable if you like to sleep a bit colder or don’t mind wearing a light jacket, but this temperature will be slightly beyond the edge of comfort for most. The well designed baffles and full length draft collar prevents any warm air from leaking out, and the length of the zipper makes for excellent full body ventilation, when the need arises. It can also be partially unzipped from the bottom, if your feet tend to get sweaty at night but you don’t want to dump your core temperature.
Durability is great with the Questar, thanks to the high quality fabrics and stitching used throughout. I couldn’t find any frays, miss-stitches, or damage of any sort throughout testing, and it managed to stay clean and dry too. The use of tougher materials on the outside of the bag helps to prevent damage from crawling around on top of it, or even tossing it out onto the grass for a little star gazing. Even the DWR has held up great, after being exposed to moisture, and even rain, several times, it continues to shed water. If moisture does somehow manage to work its way through the shell(it hasn’t yet), the Nikiwax coated down inside has proven itself to stay viable even when completely soaked in other products I’ve tried with the same fill, so I’m confident it will hold up well for the long run. Overall, the build quality is stellar, with smooth sliding zippers that rarely get hung up, durable doubled-up stitches as reinforcement in high strain areas, and top notch fabrics used all around.
The Questar 20 is one of the better values on the market. Considering the use of high quality 650 power fill DWR treated down, the full DWR coating, and numerous features and attention to detail that is normally missing in this range. Considering this and it’s light weight, it’s a solid choice at only $239.95, especially with the 30 degree comfort rating, which makes for a good year round bag for most conditions. If you must choose one sleeping bag, this isn’t a bad way to go.
Visually, the sleeping bag looks great too. You can’t quite tell from my images, but the green fabrics are vibrant, without being blinding or obtrusive, and there is an obvious quality aesthetic to the fabrics and construction as a whole. The off center stripe down the top adds a bit of sportiness to it while avoiding looking flamboyant or desperate for attention. Visually, I really like how it looks, and it certainly adds some energy to the inside of a tent on an early sunny morning, or a dreary rainy evening.
Getting in and out of the sleeping bag is very easy, especially when paired with a sleeping pad. it stays in place, and the long zipper allows for an easy entry and exit. The zipper is also easy to slide, and the large zipper pulls make using them with gloves quite easy.
Smaller features like connection points for quilts, liners and other Thermarest products allow the sleeping bag to be accessorized, and the SynergyLink sleeves can be removed easily to shed a bit of weight.
A pack weight of 2 lbs 5 oz is pretty good for the price point and temperature rating, and it packs down small enough to fit in practically any backpack.
What I didn’t like
Stomach sleeping with any mummy bag can be a challenge, and I’m primarily a stomach sleeper. I can either avoid using the pad straps, and roll over with the sleeping bag, arms awkwardly at my side or underneath me, or I can unzip the bag and hang my arms out of the top in a more comfortable manner, but deal with cold hands, arms, and a bit of a draft. Neither way is ideal. Instead, I usually just un-tether the sleeping bag from the pad, unzip the bag entirely, and cover up with it like a quilt. This works surprisingly well, but it’s slightly less warm and isn’t viable when the temps fall below freezing.
Pack size is pretty average at about 9″ x 14 “. Neither good nor bad, just sitting happily in the middle. It easily fits inside the included stuff sack, and packs easily into the bottom of all of my backpacks, with extra room for jackets and other soft goods around in (a Thermarest pillow in my situation). A cinch sack brings it down a good bit smaller, but you’ll need to provide your own if you really want to pack it down. The included storage sack, a wide meshy bag, works great for long term storage without compressing the fabrics or down fill.
The Thermarest Questar HD 20 is a wonderful sleeping bag. It’s simple and mostly sticks to the basics with a tried and true design philosophy, but with that simplicity comes confidence and reliability. It’s comfortable, warm, easy to use, and performs in a wide range of conditions thanks to it’s thorough use of DWR, high quality materials, and thoughtfulness in design. The SynergyLink connectors do a great job of preventing tangling and cold spots while turning over, and completely eliminates slipping off the sleeping pad. Other smaller features like connection points for quilts, liners and layering only add value to an already impressive package. It’s simply a solid choice for anyone who is looking for a good performing sleeping bag at a low weight and reasonable cost, without sacrificing quality, features, or long term durability. It makes it an easy choice.
For more information on Thermarest and and their wide range of gear, check out their website, https://www.thermarest.com/
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I want to extend a huge thanks to Thermarest/Cascade Designs for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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