Many argue that cycle touring carrying everything you need to sleep out in the wilderness is the purest and most exhilarating form of travelling on two wheels. I’m inclined to agree. To do this however, having the right kit makes a considerable difference to your comfort. We tested out the Vango Venom 400 sleeping bag to see how it fairs on the road.
There are a few crucial criteria for a decent cycle touring sleeping bag and the Venom 400 is pretty good at them all. At 950 grams is pretty lightweight and most importantly, not at the cost of warmth. This combination is down to duck down filling. If you compare this with other synthetic filled bags with a similar minimum comfort sleeping temperature of 2 degrees, the weight easily doubles. The Highland Echo 350 and the Sprayway Challenger 350 for example.
However, this is what you pay for. These two bags are less than half the price of the Vango. As a bag for carrying on the bike though I would definitely say it’s worth spending the extra cash. Having tested the bag in the unforgiving Scottish Highlands in November, I was relieved that this 2 degrees comfort temperature wasn’t over selling itself. The suspect advertised extreme temperature limit of -20 degrees however, I won’t be testing.
Another important element for cycle touring is its pack size and again it’s pretty decent at 30 x 15cm. The aforementioned synthetic filled bags are both considerably bulkier. This can make the difference to bringing spare dry shoes or not, which is essential. One thing I think could make the pack size smaller is a better compression bag. This just has one fastening at the opening end of the bag and is compressed by rolling the fabric down, like common dry bags. However, the compression sacks that have multiple straps that run from bottom to top and can be tightened, I’m sure would enable you to compress it down further.
There are a few nice internal features, like an inner pocket and a zip “baffle” ( a piece of material to avoid skin touching the zip). For extra ultimate warmth there is also a draw strung shoulder baffle to minimise escaping body heat. The interior material is nice and soft however I’d always invest in a very light and small silk sleeping bag liner. Very soft on the skin, adds warmth and stops your bag getting dirty. A great big inner label detracts from the comfort however.
All in all this is a really good cycle touring sleeping bag. The most important features, warmth, lightweight, and small pack size, are all due to duck down filling. Although this is what makes it costlier than synthetically stuffed rivals, I believe this is worth investing in if you’re covering considerable miles. It could just do with a better compression bag.
The Vango Venom 400 can be ordered from the Sleeping Bag Outlet