Big Agnes Wiley SL 30 ReviewDecember 12, 2018
- Water resistant down
- Can connect to a sleeping pad
- Good warmth
- Lacks compression sack
The Big Agnes Wiley is a typical mummy-style down sleeping bag. It has a familiar shape and familiar features. The weight and price both rate as simply average. This bag is great for someone looking for their first sleeping bag for backpacking or for someone adverse to fancy features. In general, we feel that you could get more comfort for a lower price with the Nemo Ramsey ($240 for the Ramsey vs. $260 for the Wiley) or you could get more warmth and lower weight with the Feathered Friends Flicker. However, both of those bags have non-standard features that may not appeal to everyone. The Wiley is a classic.
At 1 pound 12 ounces, the Wiley is neither particularly light nor notably heavy. It weighs less than the feature-rich bags in our test that break the 2-pound mark: the Nemo Ramsey and The North Face Campforter. But, it weighs a fair bit more than our winner, the Feathered Friends Flicker (1 pound 7 ounces) and even weighs more than a few of the three-season models we evaluated. This bag is lightweight enough to bring backpacking, but wouldn’t be the choice of an ultralight hiker or fast-packer.
When stuffed into its stuff sack, the Big Agnes Wiley looked like one of the largest bundles in our test. However, this is misleading because the Wiley lacks a true compression stuff sack. When packed into a sack with compression straps it can get even smaller. With 650-fill down, it is less compressible than the models with 800-900 fill down, but it can be compressed smaller and more easily than the synthetic models and the bags with thicker materials and more features. Since the design of the Wiley is so simple, it compresses well.
There are no specific ventilation features on the Wiley. The side zipper extends almost the full length of the bag, and that can be undone so the top of the bag can be folded over to let in fresh, cool air when needed.
With 650-fill power DownTek insulation, the Wiley provides adequate warmth. We felt that it was comparable to other 30-degree rated bags in our test: the Marmot Ultra Elite and the Nemo Ramsey. The hood cinches down to seal in warmth around the head and neck, and the draft collar helps to keep warm in there as well.
Since the down is treated to be water resistant, the bag remains useful in a wider range of weather and conditions. The down will retain its loft when exposed to a small amount of moisture, where other bags with non-treated down would suffer. The down will not retain its loft in a downpour, but it will continue to insulate in the presence of frost, dew, and condensation better than many other down models.
Overall, the Wiley is a super simple bag. We like simple designs in sleeping bags because it means that they will weigh less and be less bulky and thus be a better choice for bringing into the backcountry. What features the Wiley does have are designed to enhance comfort, but we are skeptical about the benefit they provide. There are the standard features: a cinchable hood, a draft collar, and an anti-snag zipper. We appreciate and approve of all of these features. Then there is the vaulted foot box. This provides extra room for the feet, which could be great for tall and big-footed folks. This also means that there will be extra air pockets around the feet, which will sometimes be colder. Females and those with cold feet may not like the roomy footbox because it may be less comfortable.
Finally, there is the REM Pad Sleeve. This is a system that converts the large storage sack into a pad sleeve that attaches around a camp mattress to prevent the sleeper from rolling off the pad during the night. This attachment system is cleverly designed and works well, but we have two small issues with this. First, we do not think that pad sleeves are necessary; they usually add weight and bulk to a sleeping pad, and most of our testers do not have problems with rolling off of their pads at night. If, however, you are one of those people who must have a way to attach your bag to your pad, this system is great. Unless you are backpacking. Since this pad sleeve system uses the large storage sack to convert into a pad sleeve, it only really works car camping, when the sleeper will have just pulled the bag from its large sack. If the person is backpacking, they will have packed the Wiley into its smaller stuff sack and left the storage sack at home, in which case they would not be able to use the sleeve feature. This does mean that for pad-sleeve-skeptics like our testers we can leave the weight and bulk of a pad sleeve at home when backpacking. We see this as a huge plus to this design. However, for those who want to use the pad sleeve on a backpacking trip, they will be required to bring the additional storage sack along with them.
Big Agnes does not list the denier of the fabric used in the Wiley. It is listed as a “superlight” nylon rip-stop fabric with high tear strength.” The lack of a listed denier makes it more difficult for us to compare the likely durability of the material with the other models in this test, but to us, the material feels adequately rip resistant. The material feels soft and comparably thick to models with 20-denier fabrics, like the Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy and the Marmot Ultra Elite. One durability feature that we appreciate is the snag-free zipper. This zipper is easy to use and pull, and keeps the material out of the teeth of the zipper, preventing a snag that could result in a loss of insulation. This thoughtful detail enhances the durability and potential life of the product. We did not experience any durability issues with this bag during the course of our testing and anticipate that it will withstand regular use.