Down sleeping bags are generally expensive, especially lightweight ones, but are still by far the best for backpacking due both the weight for warmth ratio and the low packed bulk.
For many people though the cost makes them out of reach. It’s good then to see Terra Nova’s new Elite 250 bag as this is both reasonably priced and quite light. To keep the cost down the fill is duck down rather than the goose down found in the most costly bags and the fill power is lower than more expensive down. The Elite 250 does have all the features of other bags though.
Construction is box wall so there are no cold spots at the seams and there is an adjustable hood and a boxed foot. To help keep the weight down the zip is only half-length. There’s a thick baffle behind it plus zip guards to prevent snagging. The zip is two-way so can be part opened for ventilation without opening the top of the bag. The shell has a water resistant treatment on the outer. The Elite 250 is available in one length only, which I measured at 213cms. A compression stuffsack weighing 64 grams and a mesh storage sack are provided. The stuffsack isn’t waterproof. I’d replace it with one that is.
The Elite 250 is quite a roomy bag. I could easily wear insulated clothing inside for extra warmth. At the same time the very soft and comfortable inner shell fabric snugs closely round the body and I haven’t noticed any cold spots. The hood fits well and is easily adjusted with a single drawcord. There isn’t a shoulder baffle, which I don’t mind in a lightweight bag. The zip is long enough to allow the bag to be draped over you in really hot weather when it’s opened. The baffle is a bit narrow though and the zip can be uncovered when you turn over. I’d rather it was a bit wider. The zip pullers are easy to use from inside the bag so there’s no feeling of being trapped when you can’t undo the zip.
Terra Nova says the Elite 250 is a summer bag. Warm sleepers, like me, should be able to stretch that into three season. I think I’d need to wear plenty of clothing in it to be warm at the extreme rating of -9°C though. Conversely at 12°C I slept with the hood and zip undone.
The Elite 250 packs down into a small bundle so it doesn’t take up much room in your pack. I think it’s an excellent bag for backpacking, especially at this price.
If the Elite 250 doesn’t sound warm enough there are two other bags in the same series. The £160 Elite 350 has a lower comfort rating of 0°C and weighs 848 grams while the £220 Elite 550 has a lower comfort rating of -3°C and weighs 1057 grams.