By Christophe Noel
For many people, the Eddie Bauer name evokes images of khaki pants, braided leather belts, and perhaps even a fine selection of throw pillows for the well-appointed suburban home. It is true, Eddie Bauer offers those things and much more, but they can also lay claim to some of the most advanced backcountry apparel and equipment available today. Those items, branded with the First Ascent logo, mean serious business. Designed with direct feedback from world renowned mountaineers like Ed Viesturs and Peter Whittaker, First Ascent products are ready to take on any backcountry endeavor you throw at them from your local wood to the icy ramparts of Mount Everest.
The Karakoram 20 sleeping bag from First Ascent is one of the finest sleeping bags on the market. Inspired by Eddie Bauer’s mountaineering bags from the 1950’s, the Karakoram’s vertical torso baffles provide a unique structure that moves with the sleeper for maximum warmth and comfort. As is fitting of a premium bag, the materials are top notch with 20-denier Pertex® Endurance Shell fabric wrapped around 850 fill premium European goose down. A full-length draft tube protects the entire length of the zipper from the ingress of cold air, and a neck baffle prevents warm air from exiting the bag at the shoulders. The well defined foot box, and highly sculpted hood maintain their shape even amidst the most restless sleep sessions reducing troublesome cold spots. It’s a masterfully crafted sleeping bag. Weighing in at just a shade over two pounds it is also exceptionally light and packs down to a tight bundle barely larger than a football. For the space challenged traveler, the Karakoram 20 is an excellent option.
In an era of frequent cost and corner cutting, it’s clear First Ascent is uncompromising in their pursuit of excellence. No detail was overlooked in the design or construction of the Karakoram 20. During our testing sessions, the Karakoram performed flawlessly proving it belongs in the rarified air of the world’s best apparel and equipment manufacturers.