Issue 5, 2017


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ANY TALK about down sleeping bags
Canada inevitably turns to MEC®, Western Mountaineering®, and Taiga®.

With sales of nearly $500 million per year,
the folks at MEC® (a chain of outdoor mega-stores) must sell
a LOT of bags… including their own China imports, plus the
high-priced, U.S.-made Western Mountaineering® brand.

So, how do Taiga® sleeping bags stack up?
Quite nicely, in fact!

Take the Western Mountaineering® Apache GWS for instance, and compare it to its near-equivalent: the
Taiga® ‘Morning Star’ M20

The M20 has a highly advanced design, relatively more downfill, a higher loft, and a lower weight. It’s made in Canada, and our Manufacturer-Direct pricing is a pleasant relief from MEC®'s distressingly high prices.

To facilitate comparison with the Apache GWS, (Reg.- 6 ft.), we calculated the data for a theoretical Taiga® “ML” (fits to 6 ft). This size is shown in brackets.

As you can see, the price difference between the two brands is truly astounding. The Apache GWS costs a jaw-dropping $373 more than
a similar size (6 ft.) Taiga® M20. That's almost double the price of the M20.
Is there anything that makes the Apache more valuable than the Taiga® bag? Check the following points, and the answer will be obvious…

Comparison Points

Water-resistant Shell:
Apache GWS and Taiga® M20 have waterproof/breathable outer fabrics: Gore® Windstopper® on the Apache, DryShell® on the M20.
In our tests, DryShell® was slightly more breathable than the Gore® Windstopper® we previously used.

Downfill & Quality:
Both groups of sleeping bags are made with 850+ fillpower goosedown. However, the Taiga® M20 bags contain more down, which helps (together
with a lighter, more pliable shell) to bring their loft to 16 cm (6-6.5 inches)… 
higher than the

Temperature Rating:
With its thermo-efficient design and extra downfill, we judge the Taiga® M20
to be warmer than the Apache GWS. However, we rate our bag to -5°C, while the Apache GWS is rated to -9°C.

There’s no reliable way of rating the warmth of a sleeping bag since there are just too many variables – most importantly, the vast differences in individual body warmth & metabolism, and possible down shift (see "Sideblock Baffle" below).

Sure, we could claim -10°C instead of -5°C. But we prefer to be conservative in this. We’d rather understate, than try to impress with highly optimistic estimates.

Sideblock Baffle:
We consider this feature to be absolutely essential in a high-performance mummy design. So-called “continuous baffle” construction (no sideblock baffle) is sometimes touted as advantageous for shifting the downfill on purpose.
However, manually redistributing the down in a mummy bag is tedious – due to the boxed foot section. It’s also counterproductive, since the sleeper in a mummy bag typically does not turn inside, but with the bag. Therefore, down manually moved to the top can result in cold spots at the bottom – noticeable as soon as the sleeper turns to the side.

Sideblock baffles are very labour-intensive & expensive.
That’s the reason some manufacturers avoid them like the plague.
Taiga® uses sideblock baffles in most mummy-style sleeping bags. “Continuous baffle” construction (without sideblock) is used in our simpler & less expensive ‘Barrel’ styles.

Draft Collar:
Most collars, like that on the Apache GWS, fasten around your neck.
A separate drawstring closes the head opening & hood, with the string usually ending up across your face.

On the Taiga® M20, an integral, downfilled draft tube with drawstring seals the head opening. The single tube-&-string system is easy to operate, and its down cushioning makes it ultra-comfortable.

Instant Release:
Many sleeping bags have locking zippers – which is fine, as long as you don’t have to get out in a hurry. But in a panic situation, when you want to grab a flashlight, or just get out and run, there’s no time to search for the zipper and fumble with the slider.

In a Taiga® sleeping bag you simply spread your arms, and the bag will split open in an instant… Yet in normal conditions you have a secure closure with no unwanted opening. When the zipper is shut, a hook/loop fastener automatically keeps it in position.

A Sensible Suggestion

Mountain Equipment Co-op® (MEC®) is supposed to serve its roughly
5 million members to the best of its ability, and not just focus on how to constantly increase sales… and drive smaller competitors out of business,
as a consequence.

So, we suggest that this note be posted on the
MEC® website:

“We, the folks at MEC® have been very successful in mass-merchandising, multi-million-dollar marketing and (unintentionally, of course) monopolizing the outdoor industry, but appear to be somewhat challenged when it comes to providing top-quality down bags at reasonably low prices.
Therefore, we suggest that you check out what the good people at have to offer.”

So, you think MEC® could simply carry our bags in their stores?
Seems easy – but after adding the high MEC® mark-up (never mind their income tax-exempt "non-profit" status), prices may not differ much from those of Western Mountaineering® bags…
So, what’s the point?

See all TAIGA® Sleeping Bags here.
See TAIGA® Home Page for all products.

Until next time,
The Taiga Team

  • For product information & advice, or assistance with colours & fitting:
    call 1-866-777-8111 (toll-free in Canada & USA).
    Local: 604-875-6644, or 604-875-6647
  • For general feedback and comments, or technical questions regarding
    ®  products: contact
    Allow a few days for a response.



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