Last winter we asked The North Face for a lightweight, no-frills sleeping bag for our nights out in the Dolomites. Exactly a week later we received a parcel in the post: the Hightail 900, part of the fast and light Flight Series. We realised that our nights were going to be... protected. We were able to stuff into our rucksack an extraordinary conundrum of TNF's entire mountain know-how: 900 fill goose down, Pertex(r) Quantum outer shell fabric, -10C temperature rating, all in just 800g... on paper this bag seemed to have it all. But what about outdoors?
Not all that glitters is gold
What immediately struck the eye were the bag's size and volume; the Hightail appeared immense, heavy and bulky. But we soon realised that exactly the opposite is the case: the bag is ultra-lightweight, supple, compressible and all loft thanks to the top-of-the-range 900 fill goose down. This down, currently the best Mother Nature can produce, offers the highest warmth to weight ratio available compared to other down. Its superb loft also means that it is immensely compressible, easily packing down to an incredible 20cm x 43cm - the size of the stuff sack. If necessary, it can get even smaller...
The construction - core warmth
As mentioned above, the warmth retaining ability of a sleeping bag is obviously directly related to the quality of the insulating material. A fundamental role is however also played by the sleeping bag construction - for this reason The North Face has introduced an interesting new design feature: the "ripple" baffle construction. Unlike traditional baffle shapes (V, diamond, etc) the 12 wave-like ripple baffles have been specifically designed to distribute and, contemporarily, prevent the down shifting from side to side throughout the night, creating fastidious heat holes.
The Hightail 900 is lined internally with 20 denier Pertex(r) Quantum, an extremely smooth and "quiet" lining, which made sleeping at night a dream. The outside shell is 20-denier ripstop Pertex(r) Quantum, which prevents down from poking through and offers significant protection against the elements - wit is ater resistant, breathable, and windproof. Furthermore, the Pertex is ripstop, guaranteeing that a small rip won't travel, enabling precious down to escape.
As you can tell from the photo, the Hightail is tapered into a tear-drop, with a 152cm circumferance at the shoulder, 147cm at the hip, and 97cm at the foot. This design eliminates all non-essential space and allows precious weight to be saved. Talking of which - the zip finishes above half-height... we would have preferred it somewhat longer for ease of entry. It goes without saying though that the zip is protected by a draft tube, and that the snug fitting hood can be adjusted single handedly by pulling on the two draw cords.
When not in use, the sleeping bag is best maintained in its mesh storage bag, which enables the down to loft and therefore keep its warmth retaining properties.
We're sure you've gathered that we were extremely satisfied by this sleeping bag, above all because of the quality of the material and the meticulous attention to detail, both of which result in a robust, enduring bag. Last but not least, like all other The North Face products, the Hightail 900 comes complete with a renowned quality promise.