Gear Review: Big Agnes Mirror Lake Sleeping Bag

by Joslin Fritz
( October 24th, 2014 )

I camp. A lot. Granted that most of the camping I do happens during the warmer summer months, I still like to get out during the autumn, just before it gets too cold to put away my tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. (Yes, that’s right, I might try ice-climbing, but I do not do winter camping.)

Big Agnes Mirror Lake Sleeping BagThis fall weather has been perfect for testing out the Big Agnes Mirror Lake 22 Sleeping Bag. It can get into the 40’s (even 30s sometimes) at night here in New England, and I’ve stayed comfy and cozy in the Mirror Lake bag. Here’s a few of the key specs on the women’s specific bag:

 

Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz

Fill: 600 Fill Goose Down

Height: Regular: 5’10’’ (Petite: 5’6’‘)

Compressed Bag Size: 9’’ x 10’’

Temperature Range: 22 degrees Farenheit and up

Big Agnes Mirror Lake 22 Sleeping Bag womensThanks to the DownTek water repellent down technology, I didn’t worry about my down sleeping bag getting wet from the morning dew. It quickly dried and continued to keep me warm as I lay in my bag, listening to the leaves rustling in the wind. I had some extra length to get really snug into the bag, since I’m 5’7’’ and the bags’ height is 5’10’‘. This has been an issue for me with other women’s specific bags, the fact that they can be too short and small for me. I found the bag provided me with plenty of room to rustle and move about, yet still gave me the warmth that comes from a traditional mummy bag. The interior loops for a sleeping bag liner are a nice touch, those I prefer to not use the liners myself.

It can be easy to break the bank on a good quality down insulated sleeping bag, but the Mirror Lake gives excellent bag for its’ buck. At less than $200, the Mirror Lake bag is good for those thrifty consumers out there looking to make a smart purchase. Not to mention that if you have two Big Agnes sleeping bags with zippers on opposite sides (one with a left zipper and one with a right zipper), you can zip them together and create one big sleeping bag for two. Now that’s what I call camping. :)

What I loved:

  • Plenty of room to move around, yet still warm, traditional mummy shaped bag

  • Extra inches for height

  • Loved the colors

  • Drawstring cord and collar seals prevent cold air from sneaking in

  • Economical ($199.95) for a down filled sleeping bag

Not so much:

  • Can’t think of anything….

You can purchase the Women’s Mirror Lake 22 Sleeping Bag on the Big Agnes website here.

Adventure On,

Joslin

 

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Tragedy on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

by Joslin Fritz
( October 20th, 2014 )

Nepal has been on my mind. I’ve been reading the news reports about the 40 bodies now recovered from the deadly snowstorm that struck this country earlier this week. Nepal is in its’ prime trekking season on the Annapurna circuit, which receives over 100,000 hikers a year. It is one of the most popular treks in the country, and for that matter, the world. The hike, located in the northwest region of Nepal, takes up to three weeks to complete and crosses over a the famous 17,769 ft Thorung La Pass. This area surrounding the pass was the hardest hit of the snowstorm, receiving up to six feet of snow and creating white-out conditions.

Back in 2008 I hiked the Annapurna circuit. I hiked it alone, and met a number of friends along the way. It was one of the most spectacular hikes of my life. I was blown away by the beauty of the Annapurna range, and the experience paved the way for other multi-day hiking trips I’ve done around the world. Looking back on this hike that took me fifteen days, I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t train. I didn’t worry about altitude sickness. Quite honestly, I decided on a whim to do the hike. I patched together gear and clothes for the trip, buying what I could in Kathmandu, and deciding quickly that I didn’t need what I couldn’t find.

I imagine many of those hiking there recently probably packed better than I did, but nothing could have prepared them for what happened. Even now, I have more wilderness and emergency experience than I did back then, but that’s because I’ve chosen a career as a expedition river guide and tour leader. On trips, it is me and my fellow guides that take care of people-we are the ones that are responsible. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly, case in point because no one can predict when an accident will occur or when a river will hit flood stage. I struggle to think of what I would do in the shoes of those caught in the storm.

My pain this week is two-fold. For one, my heart goes out to those hikers that died. I remember that tea house before Throng La Pass, how small it was inside and how basic of a structure it really was. I remember the altitude, and huddling around the heater, waiting for it to be late enough so I could go to bed and get the heck out of there in the morning. I can only imagine crammed into that tea house, watching the snow pile up, and terrified at what the options lay before me. My thoughts are with their families and loved ones.

Secondly, I’m deeply troubled by how this natural, unpredictable weather occurrence will affect tourism in Nepal, the largest source of foreign revenue in the country.
There’s been substantial criticism of the Nepalese government and hiking agencies for their lack of warning as to how dangerous the Annapurna circuit is. Nepal suffered another disaster earlier this year where 20 people died as a result of an avalanche on Mount Everest.

I disagree with this criticism. No one can predict massive weather changes, or the smallest chance that the stars will align and terrifying x, y or z will happen. We as adventure travelers make decisions when we sign up for a trek, or a whitewater trip, or a biking tour. Just as we never know when we may get into a traffic accident or get hit by a bus, we may experience a freak storm, a rock fall, or another completely unpredictable occurrence. We choose to put ourselves in the situations. We need to take responsibility that though there is an extremely unlikely chance that something terrible will happen, we have taken that risk.

Granted, there are times where guides are ill-equipped and lack the knowledge of how to properly deal with a situation. This sounds like it happened near Thorung La Pass, where a guide made the incorrect choice to try for the pass, when he should’ve chosen to wait. Or perhaps he was pushed into going by the promise of cash by his clients. Who knows. We certainly aren’t in the place to judge right or wrong when not one of us was there to see for ourselves.

As with many accidents worldwide, I foresee the government taking strong action in building new certification standards for their hiking guides, and emergency weather protocol in teahouses. Well, I hope at least this will happen as a result of this incident.

Adventure On, 

Joslin

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Pretty Faces Film, The Story of a Skier Girl

by Joslin Fritz
( October 7th, 2014 )

Two years ago I wrote a post on She Jumps, an organization whose aim is to increase the participation of females in outdoor activities. There were just starting a program called Get the Girls Out aimed at getting young adult females more involved in outdoor recreation.  I was inspired by these ladies, and wanted to get the word out about their mission and their programs.

Now, the ladies of She Jumps are at it again.

This time, co-founder Lyndsey Dyer paired up with Unicorn Picnic film productions (and a ton of sponsors) to put together a skiing movie for girls. The tagline aptly is, “The Story of a Skier Girl”.

When asked about why she made the movie, Lyndsey says, ““I wanted to give young girls something positive to look up to…I wanted to give them their Blizzard of Ahhs, Ski Movie or High Life, but done in a way that also shows the elegance, grace, community and style that is unique to women in the mountains.”

Click on here to see if the tour is coming your way. Or, better yet, you best get YOURSELF to it.

 

Adventure On, 

Joslin

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