Synthetic Solution: Lafuma Extreme Pro 950

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I’ve always been an elitist when it comes to down bags. They’re warmer, they pack smaller, and they are fluffier when unpacked than synthetic-filled models. Sure, they’re more expensive, but I was always willing to shell out the cash—when packing in 16 miles one day, climbing a peak the next, and hiking back out the third day, I’d better be getting some quality sleep. Although the LAFUMA EXTREME PRO 950 ($109.95, lafuma.com) hasn’t made me a complete convert, it’s definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities of synthetic bags. Insulated with 8D ultra-micro-fiber, this bag weighs only 2 lbs. 2 oz., and the stuff sack compresses to 6 inches by 14 inches. Most jackets don’t even pack that small. The Extreme Pro 950 is rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit but has the most comfort above 46 degrees, according to European temperature-rating standards, so it’s definitely not for high-altitude ascents. Think of it as the perfect bag for cool nights in the tent after a hot day at the crag. The shell has a DWR treatment, making it water-resistant, and synthetic bags still provide warmth when wet. So when your tentmate spills coffee on you, like mine often does, this bag will still keep you toasty. —Julie Ellison