In the dead of Norwegian winter the temperatures drop far below freezing during the day and when the sun sets they continue to drop, especially high above the arctic circle. A good nights sleep is key in these harsh and at times hostile environments in order to properly recuperate and regain strength. In order to be able to endure those freezing nights we decided to use the Helsport Kongsfjorden X-Trem sleeping bag.
UPDATE: This bag is no longer in production and has been replaced by the Spitsbergen X-Trem. For more information on this sleeping bag CLICK HERE
Comfort Limit: -35°C
Total Weight: 3,5kg
Person length/width: 190/80cm
Fill Weight Inner bag: 1100g 90/10 goose down, 650 cuin/oz
Fill Weight Outer bag: 125g Thermoguard 6000
Pack Size: 27×34 cm
Inner bag has two short 70 cm zippers with three individual sliders
Outer bag: Long 190 cm two-way joinable zipper
Compression bands that can be used to reduce the amount of internal volume to be heated
Continuous, down filled baffles along the opening of the inner- and outer bags
Down filled pocket with fleece wall for quick warming of hands
Firm anti-snag prevents the zipper from snagging and enables easier and safer operation
Attachment loop between the inner and outer bag
Fabric Inner Down bag: 30D 100% Nylon Ripstop outer fabric and Airtex 30D 100% Nylon inner fabric
Fabric Outer synthetic bag: 40D Nylon Dobby outer fabric and Airtex 50D Polyester
With 1100grams of 90/10 down filling in the down inner bag and 125 grams of Thermoguard 6000 in the synthetic outer bag this was the warmest sleeping bag made by Helsport at the time. Helsport themselves describe it as “a highly-advanced and solid sleeping bag that combines two bags into one and is suitable for demanding, cold trips and expeditions.” We experienced temperatures well below -30°C in the night and during these nights I was nice and warm with no sign of the cold seeping through anywhere. Even on the coldest night of the trip which plummeted below -40°C I had no problem getting warm inside. The only place I would have liked for a bit more warmth would be at the feet as it often took me a long time to heat up my feet after getting into the sleeping bag.
Temperature ratings are only informative and personal as some people are very warm sleepers while others are very cold sleepers. I would say that I am a warm sleeper and therefore found the ratings of the Kongsfjorden bag to be quite accurate, if not even a bit generous. On the other hand, Eef, is a cold sleeper and on the coldest of nights she would have to layer up in order to be warm enough to have a comfortable sleep, so for her the ratings were a bit on the colder side of the spectrum. Nonetheless, she was easily comfortable until -25°C. The Kongsfjorden sleeping bag is a bag for the toughest of winter conditions and it will definitely keep you warm enough.
COMFORT & FEATURES
It is easy to spend anywhere between 10-13 hours inside of your sleeping bag on a winter trip and it is therefore essential to have a bag that won’t feel too tight or restrictive. The Kongsfjorden is very spacious to move around in even with a water bottle, electronics and extra clothes inside. I truly enjoyed how snug and comfortable the bag felt around me without ever making me feel as if the bag hindered my movement and the inner Airtex 30D 100% Nylon fabric felt nice against the skin.
One of my favorite features on this bag is the specially constructed heat trap collar with an integrated hood. At first I have to admit that I struggled quite a bit with this special construction, it never really felt as if it had the right fit to it and the first few nights I am sure I lost quite some heat through the hood and chest area. However, as the nights passed and I got more time to fiddle with the collar and the tightening straps and figured out that I had to get lower into my sleeping bag in order to fully close the collar the cold air stayed out and it retained the hot air perfectly. In the newer model they have replaced the hood with an internal collar fitted with a drawcord, which is easier to work with. In addition to it retaining the heat in perfectly it also felt very comfortable around my chest. One drawback of this construction is that even though it didn’t confine me whilst I was inside of the sleeping bag it felt a bit restrictive when I had to tighten or undo the tightening of the sleeping bag.
The inner down bag has three zippers on each side which makes it possible to sit upright with your arms sticking out from the sleeping bag. I absolutely love this feature and find it so cool as it enables you to cook, eat, drink or do some repair work on your equipment while still sitting warm and comfortable in the sleeping bag.
The Kongsfjorden sleeping bag has a total of three hoods which can all be tightened individually. I usually struggle to get comfortable if I have to tighten the hood too much around my face, however, the three individual hoods made it easy to adjust to how cold or hot I felt without ever feeling claustrophobic.
Each of the two bags have nice and spacious inner pockets which I found very convenient for my cell phone, headtorch and some extra batteries. There is also a handwarmer pocket sewed in the inner bag, a really nice feature to quickly warm up your hands after just getting into the bag.
During our trip the sleeping bags have had to endure quite some challenges, from layers of ice covering around the face area and many nights where condensation froze on the inside of the tent during night but melted onto the bags in the morning. Thanks to the outer fabric on both the synthetic and the down sleeping bag the humidity as well as the thawing ice on the bags itself was kept well at bay and no damage was done to the down on the inside. The sleeping bag does not have hydrophobic down, nonetheless, it withstood all the challenges that came in its.
The double bag construction really offers an advantage when traveling through really cold climates. During really cold nights, such as the ones we experienced with temperatures below -30 and -40°C, condensation builds up inside the sleeping bag which leads to icing on the inside. If it was constructed only of down, this could damage the down over time and compromise its insulation abilities. This is not a problem for synthetic bags, who keep the insulation even if they get damp. The ice formed on the synthetic outer bag rather than the down inner one, protecting it and keeping the bag equally warm. On these cold nights a lot of condensation forms in the tent, too, and again an outer bag in synthetic fabric protects the down from the condensation that forms ice against the tent wall over night. This double bag system has remained with the new Spitsbergen model.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
As much I love this sleeping bag there are some things that I believe could’ve been better. The specially constructed collar is fantastic in many ways, but it can feel a bit cumbersome to deal with, especially at times when it is very cold outside and all you want to do is close the sleeping bag and tighten the collar. One thing that adds to that is that there are so many cords to tighten. It actually becomes a bit confusing as to which cord you are supposed to pull on. The new model has a traditional collar and perhaps less tightening cords to adjust, so perhaps in the new model these things have improved. Another aspect where they could improve is to make a female version of this sleeping bag as they have done with other models. As mentioned earlier Eef is a much colder sleeper than I am and it has been shown that women usually are colder sleepers than men. I think that it would be a good investment for Helsport to continue their tradition of making a specific model of this sleeping bag for women.
We’ve experienced a wide array of temperatures along the way, from freezing to milder temperatures and this sleeping bag has tackled every one of them without any problems. I have come to thoroughly enjoy my time spent in this sleeping bag with its warmth and comfort, in addition it is highly durable and weather resistant making it the perfect companion on any winter trip where the temperatures are expected to drop significantly.