Mountain Equipment Glacier 1000 Sleeping Bag – Review

Post by blogger | October 12, 2012      

Plumage keeping me warm in the Refugio Militar on Volcan Lanin.

I haven’t owned a down sleeping bag for a few years now, being willing to carry the extra weight of a synthetic bag in order to reap the benefits. For backcountry shelter I usually use a lightweight Megamid tent, or a bivy sack, both of which don’t protect my sleeping bag from 100% of the elements. Therefore it’s nice to have water-resistant insulation.

I’ve had my latest synthetic bag for about six years. Consequently it is worn out. What once was a zero degree bag is now probably closer to a 15, although with a few extra layers I’m able to make it work. Yes, synthetic fill deteriorates — especially when forced through hundreds of tight compression cycles.

For my recent trip to South America, I didn’t know what to expect as far as sleeping arrangements, or what the temperatures were going to be. To be prepared for the worst I wanted a warm sleeping bag, but I also knew I’d need all the help I could get to stay under those 50 pound baggage limits. I decided to acquire a new down bag.

The Mountain Equipment Glacier 1000

I settled on the Mountain Equipment Glacier 1000, a -15° celcius (5° farenheit) bag. Mountain Equipment has been selling sleeping bags in the States for a little over a year, although they’ve been making nice sacks for quite a while on the other side of the Atlantic. Fun to check out a new brand.

The Glacier 1000 has 1000 grams of 675+ down (click here for more than you ever wanted to know about that). The total weight comes in at 1650 grams (3.63 lbs), on the hefty side for down bags, but still light, and I wanted a heavier-duty, durable bag for traveling. It also has water-resistant shell fabric, something I definitely wanted in a down bag. Other features include a full-length zipper, draft collar, and an anatomical footbox.

I got the new bag a day before I flew out and quickly packed it up. It wads down fairly small, especially compared to my old synthetic bag. I chose to use a lightweight dry-sack instead of the included compression sack. Unfortunately by the time the airport got done with it, the dry-sack had a big rip in the side. Oh well, so much for that plan.

A few days after arriving in South America we camped at a low elevation. It wasn’t very cold, but dew covered us every morning. The shell fabric got damp, but it kept out most of the moisture. The down would get a bit wet if I stuffed the sleeping bag before drying out the wet exterior. Although the temps at that camp were too high for a 5 degree bag, the full side zip kept me comfortable. Down bags definitely have a comfy, fluffy feeling, and the Glacier 1000 also features an extra-soft lining that enhances that.

Throughout the trip I spent thirty nights in the Glacier 1000. I slept in a variety of situations: beds, floors, warm huts, cold huts, camping in the open, and everything in between. Although we didn’t encounter super cold temps, it was nice to have the warm bag just in case. A few nights got chilly, and we also encountered some fairly windy conditions (it was southern South America after all). The water resistant shell also does an admirable job of keeping out the wind, something that can make any sleeping bag chilly. I wasn’t cold once, at least after being in the bag for a few moments to warm up. (Mountain Equipment bags are made to the EN 13537 standard which ensures they are as warm as they say.)

Another reason for down bags is durability. A synthetic bag, while cheaper, will invariably wear out after a few years. Down, however, will keep it’s loft for decades if it’s cared for correctly. The Glacier 1000 has a fairly durable fabric exterior, while the interior is a softer, more fragile fabric, although still adequately durable. The build quality of the bag is superb which is a huge factor with longevity.

There were of course a few cons with the bag as well. The major one for me was the draft collar. I don’t find myself using draft collars a whole lot, but when you are right at the temperature limit of the bag they can be useful. The draft collar in the Glacier 1000 has a weak elastic drawstring. Although this makes it more comfortable and less restricting, it also decreases the usefulness of the collar. I found I couldn’t tighten it enough to effectively block airflow, somewhat negating the purpose. Also, the Glacier 1000 is an all-around bag, a good value that you can use for lots of styles of trips. Yet consequently it is a little heavier than some down bags of equal warmth. If you’re looking for an ultralight bag, this one isn’t it but Mountain Equipment makes several series of bags, some lighter and some with more weather proof options.

My first trip using a down bag in six years didn’t leave me soaked and frozen. The Glacier 1000 lightened my pack and handled a variety of conditions in South America. I think it will hold up well to the harsh North Cascade winter as well. I’m looking forward to testing it out in those conditions.

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15 Responses to “Mountain Equipment Glacier 1000 Sleeping Bag – Review”

  1. See October 12th, 2012 7:40 pm

    I’ve wondered for a while if different fill power downs differ in ways other than weight to volume ratio. Specifically if higher fill power is always better (if cost is not considered), or if lower fill power down has any advantages, like maybe being less compressible and therefore better for use as a midlayer (maintains loft under pressure).

    Also, I’ve read that the European method for measuring fill power is different from the US method (as in boot stiffness, the numbers may be of limited usefulness).

    Also, also, I really enjoyed the South America trip reports. My hat is off to you guys; not just for the mountaineering, but also the writing and photography.

  2. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2012 6:33 am

    See, glad you enjoyed our SA content!

    As for fill powers of down, there might be some small advantage to using lower fill-power down in applications that need compression resistance, but I doubt the advantage is significant. Thing is, you start using the lower fill-power stuff and you get a lot closer to equivalence with things like Primaloft.

    Regarding the different fill power rating systems (European and “US”), the “US” standard is the one most gear makers around the world use and is the standard promulgated by the IDFL, who does most of the independent testing both in North America and in Europe.


  3. john nobil October 13th, 2012 7:46 pm

    would like to see a long term report on this new “dridown” synthetically coated water-resistant down. just ordered one myself:

  4. shem October 15th, 2012 9:06 am

    Great blog. I use a ‘Mammut’ down bag, and have slept in it, down to -10 approx, but not in the wet, always under some form of cover. Im really pleased with it, and find it pretty light as well.

  5. Bryce October 15th, 2012 1:55 pm

    As a lifelong Northwest outdoorsman, my enthusiasm for the lovely, expertly crafted range of high-end down products available to the modern mountaineer tends to be “dampened” by the memory of that stream that developed in the middle of the night through the middle of my tent in the Hoh Rainforest one night, turning my dad’s Korean war-era bag of chicken feathers into a mild case of hypothermia… I’ve subsequently learned that a wet synthetic bag is very nearly as unpleasant on a few occasions in the Army, but still better, and can be dried out easily the next day. Last summer while I was in the market for a new bag, as tempting as those lovely bags from my local Feathered Friends outlet store were, I had to go with synthetic. The problem is, most of the best materials are reserved for use in the high-end down bags. I ended up using my Seattle Mountaineer’s 40% discount on the EB Karakoram Igniter 15° for my uses and have been quite happy with it.–GEAR&gpCategoryId=1&gpCategoryName=EB&catPath=~~categoryId=28783~~categoryName=SLEEPING-BAGS~~pCategoryId=5~~pCategoryName=BAGS–GEAR~~gpCategoryId=1~~gpCategoryName=EB&viewAll=n&pg=1

  6. Stevie D October 15th, 2012 3:47 pm

    Louie looks like he just got out of a concentration camp in that pic!! 🙂

  7. Jim October 15th, 2012 10:09 pm

    What do think pro/con on bag vs quilts. I’m shopping now, I like how light quilts are, but when it gets near 0F, any breeze in the bag is a serious situation. Not sure how well a quilt would work in real cold.

    I got an old EB-40 bag, its 40 years old, works great to below 0F, but weighs 7 lbs, uggh.

  8. Ian Meggitt March 4th, 2014 7:28 pm

    Was looking at Wildsnow for info on the merits/suitability of quilts versus sleeping bags for use in the backcountry?

    I can see the merits of the quilt, especially in terms of thier lower weight, but wanted to know how they go in temps down to 0’F – or -20’C? What’s the chat round the camp fire say?

    I would imagine that you would need to use them in conjunction with a sleeping pad, but would you only use a quilt inside a tent and not a snow cave?

  9. Cory Hughes March 5th, 2014 1:09 am

    Ian!! OMG quilts quilts quilts!! I make my own quilts for use in the backcountry/alpine climbing. Yes, a quilt requires a sleeping pad, but so does any sleeping bag. In the winter I have used my quilt with a bivy sack in a snow cave several times, including a solo outing. I love my quilts and they are light. I build mine from synthetic fill, so I pay that penalty. There are those out there that make/sell down quilts. Let me tell you though, nothing beats a quilt when it comes to nights out with your lady (or your man), snuggle time to the extreme!! Also, the weight savings just gets better. I also made myself an “elephant foot” size quilt that I use in the summer, oh yeah, it’s nice. Google Ray Jardine.

  10. Lou Dawson March 5th, 2014 7:50 am

    Cory, why are quilts lighter (if they are) for equivalent warmth vs sleeping bag? I don’t get it. All it does is eliminate the zipper but you end up with something that clearly doesn’t trap warm air unless you keep it perfectly tucked in and wrapped around your sleeping cuerpo. ??

  11. Terry March 5th, 2014 8:04 pm

    Lou, I don’t have any experience with quilts for the outdoors myself, but have some lightweight backpacker friends who’ve sewn their own and swear by them.

    Supposedly quilts are lighter, as they eliminate the bottom part of a sleeping bag, the latter which is compacted and thus provides little warmth. They use insulated pads under the quilt, and apparently save weight.


  12. Cory Hughes March 5th, 2014 8:27 pm

    Hey Lou!

    The gram counting game can go on pretty much forever! Ideally quilts are lighter because:
    – The insulation you lay on in a traditional bag is wasted, more so for down than synthetic, but the result is the same. You lugged all that nylon and fill into the backcountry for nothing! sucker
    – Sleeping bags must be used with a sleeping pad, and in winter two are often recommended (or at least way back in 2008!)
    – quilts do away with the excessive zippers, pockets, velcro, etc that most mainstream mfg add.

    Now to the reality. Quilts CAN save weight if you commit to using them, which means sleeping with a hat on, tucking the quilt around your body to maintain the warm air inside and avoid the cold draft that will destroy it.

    I like to sleep on my stomach and side, this is way easier to do, and almost preferable using a quilt. Sleeping anyway way but facing the sky in a mummy bag is awkward, me no like. In addition, I am using a bivy bag alot these days and the issue of maintaining the warm air in the quilt goes away, the bivy does the work.

    Also, in a quilt you can regulate temperature easier; stick a leg out, put it back in. Like I said earlier about sleeping with a really really good friend 🙂 they can be bundled and you can be one leg out. My wife and I bought mummy bags that zip together, how cute. it sucks, doesn’t work in practice.

    When researching for my quilt builds I found a paper mammut wrote about how bags are rated for temperature. A very interesting read. The way I read it, many american mfg rate their bags so that you will not go hypothermic at the rated temp, where as my quilts are (hopefully) designed to get you 4-6hrs of sleep at the rated temp. When we’re talking about pushing it in the backcountry, sleep can be a safety issue.

  13. Lou Dawson March 6th, 2014 7:27 am

    Only thing about quilts I know for sure, they don’t keep out the spiders and snakes. A real criteria in certain environments, like sleeping on the ground in the desert. I guess bivvy sack would be key for that. Mostly, I like the concept of simplicity and the DIY focus, as indeed most sleeping bags indeed have too much junk attached and are made from fabric that’s too heavy, especially the synthetic ones that don’t have to address down proofing.

  14. Jim Milstein March 6th, 2014 10:08 am

    I got an Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20ºF quilt about a year ago. Love it. I’ve slept out in it down to 8ºF with an air mat and supplementary clothing and in a homemade soft Tyvek (from a kite shop) bivvy under a pyramid tarp. It weighs 19oz, using 900 fill down and 10 denier nylon, top and bottom. The high quality down and the lightweight nylon allow it to drape softly around the sleeper.

    Two big advantages of quilts: First, they’re lighter than a corresponding mummy. Second, they accommodate a wide range of sleeping postures, all of which I use in any given sleep episode.

  15. Terry March 6th, 2014 8:17 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the Enlightened Equipment Revelation, Jim. I wasn’t aware that manufacturers were making quilts. The ones I’ve seen are homemade, but there are quite a bunch of brands available. Some good reviews at the link below. They mention quilts are more feasible now with lightweight warm insulative pads, like the Exped Downmat and NeoAir Xtherm. I sure like the weight on these quilts. Will probably end up getting one.

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