I am going to try my hand at a gear review for the first time. I have not yet had a chance to get my new sleeping bag out on the tracks, so this review will come in multiple parts, the first of which is my initial hands on. Seeing as I am I work with a slow twelve hour day ahead of me, I am going to be as thorough as I can... If you don't like reading, then you should probably stop here
After extensive research, I made the decisions to purchase a One Planet Bungle -10 sleeping bag in mid-April this year. This was after checking out all of the competition that seemed relevant to my needs, including Western Mountaineering, Sea to Summit, Mont, One Planet, and Nemo.
I quickly figured out that Western Mountaineering was a touch above the budget I had set, and the Mont bags seemed to be much of a muchness with One Planet and Sea to Summit, considering the comparatively high Mont price-point. Nemo seemed to me to be using a gimmicky shape for their bags, and this quickly reduced my confidence in their bags, so for my own peace of mind I steered clear of Nemo (I am aware that they may be considered a good bag, but I am quite picky, shame on me). This brought my options down to three bags: One Planet Bushlite -11, One Planet Bungle -10, and Sea to Summit LtII -9.
After asking a few Bushwalk Australia members for advice, as well as applying my own experience and the knowledge and advice of One Planet staff and Paddy Pallin staff, I decided on the One Planet Bungle -10... the fact that they offer to boost the bag fill down the track if I need to use it in colder conditions, was a fairly major convincing factor for me, and my partner and I decided that she would get the Sea to Summit LtIII -17 (she sleeps a lot colder, and they make the bag in a short version which suits her height), and I would get the One Planet Bungle -10. We figured that worst case scenario, we end up having experience of both brands for the next time we need to purchase. It is worth noting that the staff at One Planet were by far the most helpful in terms of advice they could offer surrounding my purchase decisions. They seemed to be more focused on the end user experience, rather than making the most money. I say this because when I asked about the more expensive Bushlite bag, they actually steered me towards the cheaper Bungle. This is in contrast to the staff at Mont, who seemed to want me to buy the most expensive bags they had, even if they may not necessarily be the most suitable for my needs. I always feel unsure as to the credibility of sales advice, when the salesperson seems to want me to spend the most money, rather than have the best product experience. Ben's email explanations surrounding advice he was offering, were perhaps the best I have ever encountered... Well done Ben! Amazingly helpful! Ben always seemed to reply by the end of the day as well, which is helpful for a guy like me who wants information ASAP.
The Bungle was the only bag that did not advertise any kind of water repellency on the shell, however Ben at One Planet assured me that the shell DOES have a DWR treatment in it, and this can be renewed when washing, whereas the more durable Pertex on the Bushlite apparently CANNOT be renewed. I feel that OP should consider advertising the DWR characteristics of the shell (perhaps they are worried this would steer more people away from the Bushlite with its Pertex shell? Who knows...). Moving on... the ability to maintain the repellency characteristics of the bag was a big plus. The added breathability of the Bungle seemed to make it the appropriate choice for me, seeing as I am moving from ACT the Qld later this year, and will rarely need the full capabilities of the bag when in Qld conditions (I am likely to not use a bag at all on warmer nights anyway).
Before ordering, I took a day trip down to my nearest OP stockiest in Cooma NSW. I had a look at the Bungle they had on display, which turned out to be an old, heavier model. I was satisfied that all the materials used seemed to be of high quality, and the bag seemed very solid. Other than these pluses, I did notice some inconsistencies with stitching of the baffles, zips, etc. These were nothing more that poorly tied off threads, crooked stitching in areas that normally should have a straight and even stitch, and various loose threads. Whilst such issues shouldn't in any way affect the durability or performance of the bag, they are issues that can be easily avoided, and issues that I never noticed on the alternative brands such as S2S or Mont (I returned to Mont and Paddy Pallin to check whether S2S or Mont were plagued by any such issues, and found none). When I contacted Ben at One Planet about this, he replied:
"It sounds like a rare case, and may have been an older model bag, which may have been sitting in store for some time. I’ll make contact with staff at Blue Sky Outdoors and confirm the case. Then request the bag be recalled back to us to be serviced and reviewed. This kind of thing is rare within our company and I’m actually quite surprised to hear it. Each bag is checked thoroughly on its way out after its been hand filled and stitched, this is a keen part of our process, especially as one of the last companies to do any sleeping bag manufacturing within Australia."
I was satisfied with this response, as it sounded as if it were being taken seriously. I went ahead and ordered my bag. Ordered on the 18th April, I had the bag on the 24th April before ANZAC Day! I thought this was an incredibly quick turnaround, considering the bags are made to order. It arrived well packaged, and they even took the effort of adding a piece of cardboard in the box to avoid any box opening damage to the bag. Kudos to OP for all of this. The bag came with a large storage sack to prevent damage to the down during storage, a highly durable feeling compression bag (the best out of all the bags I looked at), and even a decent quality luggage tag (nice touch, guys). The compression bag feels somewhat ‘heavy duty’, and I’m sure could be replaced with a lighter weight aftermarket compression bag if you are a true gram counter, but I will be using the original one, as it feels like it will provide much better protection than any other I have looked at… another kudos to OP!
As for the sleeping bag itself, I could tell immediately that the materials used were of high quality. The 15 Denier 'Vapour Vent' fabric they use felt strong in hand, despite being so thin and light. The fabric seems to have the SLIGHTEST of stretch to it, which makes me feel that I am much less likely to place any undue strain on stitching points when moving around in the bag. As advertised, the ‘Vapour Vent’ weave is very tight, which I feel will ensure that no down can escape, which is exactly what OP claim. The fit of the bag for me is fantastic... There is enough room inside that no part of me feels overly restricted, but there is not so much room that I might be sacrificing vital body heat. As with many bags, it has two draw-cords (one for your shoulders, and one for your face). The one for your shoulders is elastic, seemingly to allow movement while you sleep. The one for your face is solid feeling string/rope. The Bungle has an internal 'safe-keeping' pocket, the keep whatever you like safe while you sleep (batteries to keep them from discharging in the cold, passport if you are worried somebody might rummage through your rucksack while you sleep etc). On this pocket, they have clearly printed concise care instructions for the bag... another nice touch. The zip for the pocket folds down flat with a confidence inducing 'click and lock' feel, and tucks away neatly under some fabric, so that it won't scratch you while you sleep.. Very nice! The foot box has its own zip, which is great for those of us who get clammy feet, but like to keep our torso warm (such as myself). The foot box is also an actual ‘box’, rather than the old fashioned style which allowed too much down to be compressed by the feet, allowing feet to get cold. The main (full length) zip features a glow-in-the-dark pull tab, which will hopefully reduce the frequency with which my partner is rudely woken to me cursing when I can't find the zip during those late night emergencies! The bag packs up so tiny and light in its compression bag, and is VERY easy to pack. I actually weighed the bag, and (provided my ye olde kitchen scales are correct), it measured at exactly the weight they claimed it would, down to the very gram. Very impressive! In saying this, the down they used for my bag was apparently 785 loft, meaning the bag SHOULD be a bit lighter than quoted spec, but as with all natural materials, margin for error is quite liberal, and I have no issues at all with such a small and unavoidable discrepancy.
Now to the unfortunate negatives that I must add:
Despite Bens assurance that the stitching problems were rare and surprising, I found that this bag actually had even more such issues than the older model demo bag I saw. On my new Bungle, I was disappointed to find that the person who assembled the shell seemed to have had difficulty in maintaining a straight stitch (where the zip is attached to the bag), as the stitch line varies in positioning by a factor of around 400% in some areas – that is, the stitch goes from the very edge of the fabric, to four or five times further away in some areas... I would consider it fairly standard to have a little bit of room for error, (and even so, I am not overly concerned... the issue seems relatively minor in the scheme of things) however varying the spacing of the stitch by this much does not seem normal. This is the second bag (out of two) that I have seen with this issue, I am losing faith in Bens. I also found large variations in how stitches were tied off at the ends, some ending with a neat standard 'back and forth style' tie off, and others being tied of in a messy 'bur' type ball, the kind of which I recall accidentally doing on a seventh grade high school sewing project (and losing marks because of it). In other areas, I found many long loose thread ends (this is fine... I am happy to just snip them as they normally would during manufacturing).... Although some of these loose threads were actually firmly attached at BOTH ends of the thread, with no way of knowing whether cutting it might causing the stitching to unravel, or cause other nasty surprises like internal baffles separating etc.... the worst of these double ended thread loops was on the inside of the bag, right at hand height... I could not lie in the bag with catching my fingers on the multiple loops. This particular issue seemed highly unusual for a $479 product, after being told that these issues are very rare and “surprising”. I would have ignored the discrepancies altogether, except that OP made it clear that they did not consider this standard, by contrast he had told me it was very rare and surprising… this suggests to me that I may be the only customer who has received a bag with such issues, and that such issues should not by any means be considered ‘standard’.
I began thinking perhaps I have just been unlucky, and managed to find the only two bags with these issues... So seeing as they seemed to take the first quality control issue quite seriously, I decided I would I make contact with OP regarding the issue - I sent them an email to see how they feel about the issues being reported in a second bag, and to find out how they suggest I deal with the thread loops. Their response came four days later (including the weekend), so not too bad, but it only came after I sent a second email "Just wondering whether there has been any progress regarding my question" etc. This was very different to their usual response speed. Perhaps I was no longer a priority, as they had already sold me something? Who knows.
The response to this was from Ian, not Ben. Ian simply told me that I can snip the thread loops... easy. Ian did offer the option of having the bag returned to them for the loose threads to be cut, however I thought this would be unnecessary (as I'm sure many will agree). He also mentioned that if any problems occur from snipping the threads, I can return it to One Planet. He said that the photos I sent of the stitching issues would be passed through to Andrew for 'discussion'. I presume he is referring to Andrew King, the company director. Andrew is another man who was extremely helpful the first time I contacted One Planet, and he was the one who initially steered me away from the more expensive bag, and on to the Bungle. I have been told by One Planet that I should not expect any response from Andrew regarding these issues. Seeing as One Planet themselves had led me to believe that such issues are not considered normal, I feel that simply dropping the issue like this is not appropriate.
I understand that the above sorts of quality control issues can and do occur when shifting manufacturing overseas (the sleeping bag shells are manufactured in China, according to Ian)... I strongly believe in giving companies the chance to respond to and fix any issues that occur, rather than expecting the issues to never occur in the first place. As is pointed out in the forum rules here “sometimes good gear has a lemon”, and I believe that rather than judging a company for a one off “lemon”, a company should be judged for the way it handles the issue. In this instance, I feel the handling of this matter was inadequate considering what I had been led to believe about the product prior to purchase.
I was very keen to buy from an Australian company, and really hope that Australian companies like this continue to thrive, but this can only happen if we as consumers can maintain a reasonable level of faith in companies and the information they provide about their products.
I'm really looking forward to getting this bag out on (and off) the tracks, and as mentioned earlier, I will add to this when I get to that.
EDIT: I will take more photos of the bag itself tonight and post them up for you guys. I haven't got any yet, I had only taken photos of the issues for the purpose of sending to One Planet. Rest assured, it is a very good looking bag!