What makes the Questar the best down sleeping bag in its class? Frankly put, its combination of technical performance and remarkable comfort means you will be pulling it out of the gear stash nearly every time you head out. More often than not, this unisex quiver-killer is the right bag for the job.
Technical performance means the Questar is lightweight and compact for backcountry pursuits. It means it is thermally efficient in varying conditions. Comfort, on the other hand, means the Questar is spacious enough for easy side sleeping. It means the user experience is well thought out across a utility focused feature set.
Importantly, the Questar achieves all this with premium materials and craftmanship for a great price. In today’s sleeping bag market, the Questar stands out with incredible value. Allowing you to save your money for your next big trip and not worry about how you will sleep when you get there.
The Questar Sleeping Bag Models
While each Questar lives up to its objective of comfort + performance, there are slight variations needed to make the bags with specific temperature ranges. As you may have guessed, it mostly boils down to the amount of down insulation in the bag. More down = a warmer and heavier bag.
The weight breakdown of the three models is as follows (reg size):
- Questar 32F/0C: 1 lbs 14 oz (0.85 kg)
- Questar 20F/-6C: 2 lbs 3 oz (0.99 kg)
- Questar 0F/-18C: 2 lbs 11 oz (1.21 kg)
While the amount of down accounts for the most noticeable difference between the models, there are other subtle details that vary from bag to bag. For example, the height of the mesh walls in the box baffled construction must increase with added down so that it can loft properly.
Down to the level of the tiniest detail, the Questar is built with the same quality materials and craftsmanship that Therm-a-Rest is known for. This bag packs a level of quality that you typically do not get at its price point.
The MSRP price breakdown of the three models is as follows (reg size, USD):
- Questar 32F/0C: $239.95
- Questar 20F/-6C: $279.95
- Questar 0F/-18C: $349.95
A sleeping bag is typically one of the most expensive pieces in a trail-going backpack. Invest in the right bag, care for it properly and it should serve you for a long time. Still, backpacking—like many other outdoor activities—can carry a daunting overhead cost of participation.
We believe camp is for everyone, and that campers of all skill levels and disciplines should be able to access high performance and quality gear without breaking the bank. The Questar is a premium bag without the premium price tag.
The features and workmanship that you get for the price goes a long way in making the Questar one of the best down sleeping bags available. Let’s take a look at those features and unravel the sheer value packed into the Questar.
Questar Design & Features
Very often sleeping bags (and really gear in general) sacrifice comfort to be lightweight, or vice versa. Specialized gear for specific applications can be a necessary gear strategy, but that’s not always the case.
If you are anything like me, your trip calendar is planned out both ahead of time and on the fly. I need the wiggle room to accommodate the backcountry canoe trip that’s been on the books for months and an impromptu backpack overnighter to escape the city.
And wiggle room is exactly what the Questar is all about.
Side sleepers get in here! Full body dreamers and pose-striking snoozers line up! W.A.R.M. Fit is our way of letting you sleep in whatever position your subconscious comes up with.
With Additional Room for Multiple Positions is a roomier cut mummy bag. A regular size Questar is 63 in (160 cm) through the shoulder, 61 in (155 cm) in the hip and 46 in (117 cm) in the foot box. If that really doesn’t mean much to you, let’s put it this way: you can comfortably change your underwear in the Questar.
At this point you may be muttering something about “cold spots” to yourself. Perfectly valid observation. More space in the bag means more energy required to heat all that space. Which is why roomier bags tend to be less thermally efficient and can develop cold spots. W.A.R.M. Fit is all about providing extra room where it is needed while minimizing unused space that your body has to keep warm. A result of our fit and testing expertise, W.A.R.M. bags are roomy without cold spots. When compared to other roomy-fit bags on the market, the Questar is more backcountry capable.
Backcountry sleeping bags need to heat up and retain heat while weighing less. That is to say they need to be thermally efficient. Strategies for accomplishing this include more constricted fit profiles and using higher fill power down. But we wanted to put a bag out that was both comfortable and economical, so we utilized Zoned Insulation.
Zoned Insulation is the technique of accurately mapping where the bag most needs insulation and where it doesn’t. Most significantly, it allowed us to decrease the amount of down in the bottom of the Questar. The ratio of down distribution in the Questar is about 65/35—65% of the down on top, 35% on bottom. Reducing the down in the bottom cuts the overall weight of the bag while allowing for more insulation on top to eliminate cold spots.
The bottom of a sleeping bag compresses under your body weight and gives up a great deal of heat trapping performance. Just like using a quilt, that loss of warmth is made up for by your sleeping pad in your sleep system. The SynergyLink™ connectors attached to the bottom the Questar secure the bag to your pad. Meaning when you roll from your left side to your right, you will roll inside the bag rather than exposing the compressed bottom of your bag and losing heat.
The Questar is a system bag. With Zoned Insulation and SynergyLink connectors it integrates with a sleeping pad, rather than just laying on top of it. In the spirit of the Questar, the NeoAir® Topo™ sleeping pad provides big comfort in a compact, backcountry ready package. Combining the two creates a super comfy, ready-for-anything sleep system that maximizes the performance of its components.
Efficient placement of down allowed us to thoroughly stuff the full-length zipper draft tube and heat trapping draft collar. Though luxuriously stuffed, the snag free zipper ensures they never feel like they are in the way. The collar and draft tube excel at trapping heat while adding a measure of downright luxury.
On that note, it would be wrong if I didn’t mention the Toe-asis™ Foot Warmer Pocket. Perhaps no other feature is more bliss-inducing. I am a strong advocate for packing an extra pair of socks, but you could probably leave the sleeping socks at home. Your feet won’t want a sock in between them and the toasty baffled down pocket of insulation at the foot of the Questar.
One of the first thing users notice about the Questar is the soft, lofty volume of the bag when its laid out. It’s remarkable how puffy and cloud-like the Questar becomes after seeing how small it packs down. Add in features like the external storage pocket and a smartly shaped and cinchable hood, the Questar offers incredible utility for a sleeping bag this comfortable.
The Questar’s utility is predicated on its ability to perform in the backcountry and the front country. While Zoned Insulation helps it be lightweight and packable, it’s the insulation itself that makes it all possible.
Let’s Talk About Down Insulation in Sleeping Bags
Honestly, any discussion about down insulation could be its own blog. We have written about Down vs Synthetic sleeping bags and quilts to guide our customers. Still, there is much to know about down insulation in its own right.
No discussion about the Questar is complete without talking about its 650 Fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™. So, let’s keep it simple and break it down to 3 important aspects.
Defining Fill Power
People can be misled by fill power numbers. Many tend to look at a higher number and assume it’s automatically warmer. It’s not that simple. While fill power is essentially a measure of how well down does its job, having the highest fill power sleeping bag is not always necessary or economical.
Down works by trapping pockets of warm air close to your body and thereby keeping the cold air out. Better lofted down creates more pockets of warm air. Which is why the compressed down on the bottom of your sleeping bag is less useful.
The fill power number indicates the cubic inches of loft created by one ounce of down. Meaning there is more down in the 650 fill Questar 20F/-6C than the 800 Fill Parsec™ 20F/-6C to achieve the same temperature rating. This is one reason that the Questar is slightly heavier than the Parsec, but also less expensive.
Higher fill power down is deemed higher quality because it is more thermally efficient; it accomplishes more with less. The Questar was built for comfort and to be economically accessible. 650 fill down will keep you just as warm while the extra down contributes to the plush, cloud-like feeling of the bag.
What is Hydrophobic Down?
It is common knowledge that down loses its insulation ability once it gets wet. Unfortunately, I have a few damp and shivering nights in the memory bank to verify this. I get it, “hydrophobic down” grinds against hard learned knowledge and sounds too good to be true.
Well, it’s not. Being headquartered in the Pacific Northwest means that we have to get creative to stay warm and active in the rain. When Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) won the 2018 OutDoor Industry Award it was music to our wet ears.
A PFC-free Durable Water Repellent (DWR) is applied to each individual down filament. This allows NHD to absorb 90% less water and dry out three times faster than untreated down. NHD greatly extends the performance window of a sleeping bag in the event of it becoming wet. It also significantly decreases the drying time, if you do manage to saturate it.
Should you be any less careful about keeping your Questar dry on a trip? Absolutely not. Regardless of insulation, sleeping in a wet bag is no fun. But if the forecast is wet, the Questar allows you to confidently take advantage of the unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio of down insulation.
Using the Responsible Down Standard
The outdoor industry needs to continue—at all costs—to make gear as environmentally friendly as possible. We only use Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified down. Meaning our down is sourced from waterfowl that have been treated humanely.
There is no legislation requiring us—or any other company—to do this. We choose to do so to promote humane and environmentally responsible supply chains. This list on the RDS website shows which brands they work with so you can make the same choice.
Who is the Questar For?
The Questar is for any sleeper looking for backcountry ready performance and basecamp comfort. For the adventurer that values a diverse trip calendar and a comfortable night under the stars. For those that need a quiver-killing sleeping bag without killing the bank account.
It sounds cheesy to say, but the Questar is for, well, everybody. Its feature rich design packs something any outdoor minded person will appreciate. Because those of us who love and pursue the outdoors—the adventure minded—are actively curious. We seek adventure in all sorts of places and climates. We do it in cars, bikes, boats, and on our own two feet. With the Questar you can be confident in a comfortable night’s sleep no matter where you camp.
Is the Questar Right for You?
The original question was why is the Questar™ the best down sleeping bag? The truth is, the “best” gear is the gear we develop a loving relationship with. The gear that we find ourselves using trip after trip. It could be the lightest, trendiest most advanced gear you own, or not. It’s the gear that makes you excited to use it, marvel at its utility and most of all trust it. The gear that is there for you when you need it.
With its ability to pack down small and unfold into a roomy and comfort minded sleeping bag, the Questar will be your backpacking best friend. It will be your car camping compatriot and your bike tour buddy.
Short on cash but rich in stoke? This bag will give you the performance you need to keep you out there doing what you love. The Questar is there for you.