We took the Forclaz Trek 900 (zero degree) on a wild camp to the beautiful Isle of Arran to see how it would cope with the October Scottish weather. OK, so it wasn’t the antartic but it isn’t ‘flaming June’ either and it did get cold enough to have ice inside the Robens Voyager 3EX tent. We are always in search of a sleeping bag that offers affordability, warmth and a small pack size, here is how we got on.
At the time of testing this sleeping bag we (TentLife) were still fairly new to wild camping, and like all the other camping gear that we review it had to be tested in the appropriate environment (what good is the review otherwise?). We had previously done a 2 night wild camp on Dartmoor (different sleeping bag) in the MSR Mutha Hubba tent and now we were off to the Isle of Arran for 4 nights under the stars (and there were plenty of them).
So I have a 65ltr Berghaus rucksack, not the smallest or lightest thing in the world but sometimes we do have to carry a lot of kit. Our Isle of Arran trip was to be no different and we were expecting the weather to be rather chilly (Scotland in October).
I decided to try out the Forclaz Trek 900 as on paper is seemed to fit the criteria perfectly. It is sold by Decathlon and retailed at £109. It’s filled with responsibly sourced down and have a comfort rating of zero degrees. I decided this would be a decent compromise as it if got any cooler I could use a bag liner as well.
You can read more about our Arran trip in our other article, but here I just want to talk about the sleeping bag. I do feel that I’ve found a bag that does exactly what it claims, I shall elaborate below.
I am not the smallest of people, 5’11” a little heavier than I should be and quite broad across the shoulders with a 42” chest. This bag is actually available in different sizes, M, L, and XL - I opted for the L as although I don’t like to feel mummified I understand that a loose fitting sleeping back isn’t the best for keeping you warm.
Turns out that the L sized bag was a perfect fit for my size. I tried this bag over 4 Scottish nights and there was plenty of room across my shoulders, with ample space to fold my arms. It never felt restrictive and it was easy to get to the zip when I need the toilet (sometimes in a hurry, blame the Arran Whisky).
PACK SIZE & WEIGHT
I have measured and weighed this sleeping bag and can honestly say that the information on the Decathlon website is spot on, just check out the photos. I weighed it and it came in at 945g, slightly less than the stated 985g. When compressed in it’s stuff sack after our trip, it was only 26cm long x 17cm wide (stated size 34cm x 17cm).
I was pleasantly surprised by the Forclaz Trek 900 with regards to how warm it kept me. That first night on Loch Doon the temperature plummeted to almost zero but the bag kept me comfortably warm as it promised and I didn’t need to use the bag liner I had bought along.
So here is just a little bit more info about our trip and how this sleeping bag helped us to enjoy the wonderful Isle of Arran.
It’s a very reasonably priced ferry trip over to Arran from Ardrossan and ours was booked for early Saturday morning. This gave us an excuse to stop over at Loch Doon and camp on it’s shore near to the ruins of Loch Doon Castle. We arrived later than expected due to motorway traffic that delayed us by over an hour, but we were soon pitched up and after tea I was snuggled inside the Forclaz sleeping bag.
Little did we know that the temperature was going to plummet, I have included a photo showing the air temperature in porch area of the tent was just 0.3 degrees. However, inside the Forclaz and lying on my EXPED UL7M sleeping mat I was very comfortable.
I enjoyed a good nights sleep without the need for the bag liner, ready for the early rise the next morning.
We had to be up at 6.30am to make the dash for the ferry port (Ardrossan) which was an hours drive away. Who knows how much colder it got whilst I was fast asleep but there was plenty of ice on the inside and the outside of the tent. In the early morning moonlight (clear sky) we shook as much of the white stuff, packed everything away and headed off in the car.
Arrived on the Isle of Arran, got our backpacks together and headed off to pitch up in Glen Rosa. This is the valley that runs towards Goat Fell, the highest point on the island and a good hike from where we left our car, especially with fully loaded backpacks.
We had a couple of cooking stoves to test, and as usual the space in my rucksack was limited. This is where I was really grateful for both the size and the weight of this sleeping bag as it didn’t take up very much room at all. I was using a 65ltr Berghaus backpack that weighed more than 2 of these Forclaz Trek sleeping bags. The bag sat comfortably in the bottom, next to the equally small EXPED mat, liner and inflatable pillow.
It wasn’t as cold as back on the shore of Loch Doon, but it was still only a few degrees and a good warm bag made the views of Arran and Glen Rosa even more enjoyable.
Waking up in Glen Rosa, in the shade of the mountains with the stream running next to us was wonderful. The moon was setting on one side of the valley and the sun was rising on the other. There was a small amount of frost on the tent but nothing like we experienced on Loch Doon. The shadow of the valley was certainly cooler than my sleeping bag so I took the dogs for a walk in the sunny parts and waited for it to flood the valley with it’s warmth.
We took our time packing away and hiked a slightly different way back to the carpark.
Tonight and Monday night were to be spent on a small campsite in the south of the island, right on the coast. Something we hadn’t planned but you will have to read our full story on our Arran trip to find out why (nothing spectacular).
So the Forclaz Trek 900 (zero degree), got treated to 4 nights in Scotland – some cooler than others. Maybe I should actually say that I was treated to 4 comfortable nights in Scotland by this rather good sleeping bag. Anyone who wild camps and hikes for any length of time will tell you the importance of a comfortable and warm nights sleep. When out for a few days, being able to stay warm and get well rested makes all the difference and the trips more pleasurable.
The Isle of Arran was amazing, and this sleeping bag delivered exactly what is said that it would. As far as I am concerned I do feel that it is price very reasonably for a down sleeping bag that delivers comfort at zero degrees and is small and light too. I was very comfortable inside this bag, there was plenty of room and the zip was easy to open and close. It is a 2-way zip, so if you do need to get your feet out of it (maybe you like to hop around like a bunny) then you do have this function. The hood of the bag kept my head adequately warm, and although it has a draw string to pull it tight and trap the heat in, I only used it at Loch Doon.
Overall this is a very capable bag and seriously worth considering if you don’t have a small fortune to spend to get you outdoors – and it has a 5 year manufacturers warranty too.