The North Face Campforter Review

December 12, 2018
The North Face Campforter
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The North Face Campforter TNF_Campforter-06 TNF_Campforter-01 TNF_Campforter-02 TNF_Campforter-03 TNF_Campforter-05 TNF_Campforter-07 TNF_Campforter-08 TNF_Campforter-09 TNF_Campforter-10
GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
80
Weight
5
Compressibility
5
Ventilation
8
Warmth
6
Features
8
Durability
8

The Good

  • Versatile and fun
  • Easy to ventilate
  • Comfortable
  • Includes compression sack

The Bad

  • Heavy
  • Poor compressibility
THE VERDICT
The Campforter is our favorite bag for car camping. It is a uniquely designed sleeping bag with a full circumference zipper that allows the entire top piece to be removed and used as a separate quilt. It can be slept in as a roomy mummy-style sleeping bag or in warm weather the quilt can be used on its own blanket-style. This quilt also makes an excellent cozy layer to use around camp. This feature makes the Campforter a pleasure for summer car camping, but due to its heavy weight and low compressibility, this is not our favorite bag for multi-day backpacking trips.
FULL REVIEW

The North Face Campforter features a traditional design with non-traditional features. It has a roomy and comfortable cut with a large hood and a full circumference zipper. This zipper allows the entire top of the bag to be zipped off as a separate piece that can then be used as a comforter for sleeping or a blanket around camp. Our testers loved this feature on cool nights when sleeping bags beckoned, but we didn’t feel finished with socializing yet. We brought out the blanket and were able to stay cozy while hanging out with friends into the night.

Weight

As part of the unique design of this bag, the two halves are insulated differently. The top half, which zips off to be a cozy quilt, is insulated with water-resistant 650-fill ProDown. The bottom half, which ends up compressed underneath the sleeper, is composed of Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation. This combination of down and the synthetic insulation, which adds durability and function to the bag, is heavier than most of the other bags in our test. The total fill weight for the campforter is 1 lb, 1.2 ounces, while the total weight (which includes zippers, fabrics, velcro tabs, etc) is 2 lbs, 6 oz. This is the heaviest of all the summer bags we tested. That being said, we think this weight is completely acceptable. The Campforter is not designed to be a fast and light sleeping bag for multi-day trips like the Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy, the Sierra Designs Cloud, or the Feathered Friends Flicker. Instead, the target use for the Campforter is for summer car camping trips or short distance, single overnight trips. For that use, the weight is much less of a factor than comfort and versatility, both areas where we think the Campforter excels.

Compressibility

Due to the roominess of the cut, the half synthetic insulation, and the slightly lower quality down fill of 650, the Campforter does not compress super small. However, it does come with a well-made compression sack that helps to stow it as small as possible. When we compare the packed size to the other bags in our summer test inside their included sacks, we found it packs to about the same size as the fully synthetic Marmot Ultra Elite in a compression sack and the Big Agnes Wiley, which does not come with a compression sack. Other bags like the Sierra Designs Cloud and the Feathered Friends Flicker are very compressible but do not come with compression sacks. In a different sack, they would get far smaller than the Campforter, which ends up being more on par with three-season sleeping bags in terms of packed volume. But for car camping, this is not really a concern. For single night backpacking trips, the Campforter works just fine and maybe more comfortable and more useful than another more compressible bag. For extended trips, something lighter and smaller is preferable.

Ventilation

For a summer sleeping bag that will be used in warm weather, an important feature is the bag’s ability to ventilate. Being trapped in a restrictive mummy bag with no ability to increase airflow can make sleeping uncomfortable and difficult. The Campforter’s unique design helps in this regard because a sleeper has a lot of options. The top of the bag can be zipped off completely and used as an independent blanket, which allows for a lot of airflow and freedom of movement, or it can be left in sleeping bag mode and zippers down both sides can be opened as vents. This versatility makes the Campforter one of the most ventilated bags in our summer sleeping bag test.

Warmth

The Campforter is rated for use in 35-degree weather, which is on the warmer (less insulated) side of the summer sleeping bag spectrum. Most other bags in our test are rated to 30 degrees, meaning they can be used in slightly colder conditions. At this temperature range, the Campforter is plenty warm and comfortable. If the nights are cooler, zip the two halves together and pull the hood over the head for a fully enclosed and warm night. In warmer weather, just using the quilt on its own is more comfortable and airy. We do think that since this bag offers the ability to use the blanket as a separate piece, it can increase warmth for evenings in camp in ways that most other sleeping bags don’t. We found that we could have more campfire time when using this blanket on our laps or around our shoulders.

Features

We have already mentioned the unique ability of the top of this bag to zip off and be used as a separate quilt, which is this bag’s shining feature. It makes the bag more versatile, more comfortable, and more useful. Our testers liked having the option of sleeping in bag mode or quilt mode and often used the detached blanket on its own around camp. There are even Velcro patches to allow it to be connected around the next and worn like a shawl. The zippers are well made and well labeled so that zipping the two pieces back together is not as much of a chore as it could be. Compared to other non-traditional bags such as the Feathered Friends Flicker, which has one full-length zipper so it can be used as a tube-style sleeping bag or opened into a full quilt, the Campforter is slightly more complicated but also offers more options. The Flicker doesn’t have a hood and has a cinch to close the footbox, which can still let cold air leak in. In cooler weather, the Campforter can be a snug and cozy typical sleeping bag complete with a hood and an enclosed, draft-free footbox. Compared to the Flicker the Campforter suffers in terms of weight and compressibility, but the average car camper is likely to find the Comforter to be more comfortable. It is also more affordable, costing $219 compared to the Flicker’s $329.

Another of this bag’s best features is its roominess.  While reviewing sleeping bags we have found that many people detest mummy bags because they feel too confining. The Campforter does not have this problem. Especially for a summer bag when cold air pockets matter less, the roominess of the cut makes this bag comfortable and less restricting than most mummy bags. The hood is large and can fit a pillow, and the shape of the bag allows for plenty of leg movement and different sleep positions. And if being zipped in a bag still feels too constricting, the top of the bag can be zipped off and used as a quilt, which is the most free-form sleep arrangement there is.

Durability

In our opinion, the Campforter will last a while. The synthetic bottom half of the bag will resist tears and abrasion and is not vulnerable to insulation leaking out like a down bag is. This also makes the bottom half of the bag more water-resistant, which can be helpful in a surprise summer storm. The rest of the bag feels well-made: the zippers are thick and easy to use, a durable material is sewn next to the zippers to make zipping easier and prevent snags and fabric rips, and the fabric feels light but not fragile. We used this as a camp blanket and even an around the house throw blanket on a daily basis and never had any rips, tears, or other durability issues, even with frequent and uncareful use.

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