Sleeping bags may be the status quo for campers, but there's something obnoxious about waking up in a human burrito. The tubular layout makes it hard to move, harder to escape, and heaven forbid you have to take a piss in the middle of the night.
That's why the Selk'bag Patagon caught my attention. With easy double front entry and separated arms and legs, the Patagon may look like the real-life Michelin Man, but it allows mobility in any sleeping situation. Naturally, my mind wandered to Subaru overnights and one-room cabin sardine fests. Could this puffy coverall and its added flexibility be the answer to my winter car camping woes?
Snow wasn't yet a consistent commodity, so the Patagon got its first action on a surf trip to Baja. I knew the days would be wave-filled, the nights Tecate-soaked, and the chances of me finding an adequate place to sleep small. Sure enough I spent one night in a boat hull and the other in a beach shack, but the Patagon and its two-dimensional anatomical fit made passing out anywhere a viable option.
Selk'bag's newest offering is its most technical, featuring an upgraded insulation material known as Krekran and hand holes for dexterity without taking off the suit. Removable booties were great for slipping into flip-flops to check out the morning point break, and they would be just as suited to throwing on snow boots for a midwinter outhouse run.
But despite the functional goodness of the Selk'bag, it has one fatal flaw. All of the added freedom increases the exposed surface area dramatically, which means the Patagon isn't built for cold. In fact, the Patagon is the warmest of the Selk'bags and still only protects down to 35-degrees Fahrenheit—hardly a helpful temperature on long winter nights or anywhere above a few thousand feet. It's a shame because the suit employs lots of other tech to curb heat loss—an insulated hood, adjustable thermal collar around the neck, and exaggerated draft tubes to prevent heat escaping from the zippers.
That being said, the Selk'bag Patagon is a comfortable sleep alternative. The limb mobility is an invaluable plus, and while it may not fit my car camping intentions (or the high alpine), the suit is a great fit for conking out in heated ski homes or camping in warmer climes—especially if you don't dig struggling with a microfiber cocoon every morning.