The Traveller Sleeping Bag/Quilt/Blanket - what is it, and why is it so amazingly versatile?
If you wanted to explain a Swiss Army Knife to someone who had only ever seen conventional hunting blade, you might struggle for the right descriptor. “That’s not a knife”, he or she might say, assuming an Australian accent. “This is a knife”.
And he or she might then be nonplussed as you used your Swiss-made multitool to tighten screws, or to cut moleskin for blisters, or remove the cork from a bottle.
The same – if we are talking about sleeping bags - might be true of the Traveller. If you’ve only ever seen a conventional mummy sleeping bag, you might not recognize a Traveller at first glance. Is it a quilt? Is it a travel blanket? Is it a summer sleeping bag? Yes, yes and yes. It is all of these things and more.
If your next adventure involves camping out in icy weather, skip the rest of this post – the following advice is not for you (at least, not on this occasion).
But – if your plans include staying in a hostel, or a cozy Colorado ski cabin, or couch surfing on a world trip, or a sleeping in a hut on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, or catching some rest on the airplane, you need a Traveller sleeping bag.
The Large size Traveller weighs only 16.8oz/475g (the Regular is even lighter). It will pack down to less than 2 liters (about one and a half times the external dimensions of your Nalgene bottle) – so you won’t be forced to lug a 60-liter pack around the Haute Route in summer in order to find room for that sub-freezing rated backpacking sleeping bag. This part is key – imagine how much easier, and how much more fun a tour of this kind will be with a lightweight 30 – 40 Liter pack on your back. The same is true for treks like the Camino de Santiago, by the way – the Traveller and an Adaptor Liner have become the ‘go-to’ sleep system for modern-day weight-conscious pilgrims on this walk.
The advantages of a Traveller are not restricted to those occasions like hut trips or bike tours where you expected to need a sleeping bag. Because a Traveller is so light, packs so small, and is so versatile (we’ll cover this in a moment), you can take it with you on trips where you don’t plan to need a sleeping bag, but later find out that you could have really used one. Impromptu couch-surfing? You’re prepared. An unplanned night in an airport? You’re ready. Cabin reservation snafu on an overnight ferry? Grab your Traveller and a deck lounger and you have a cozy sleep space (and if you zip two of them together, make that a cozy sleep space for two).
Versatility comes in the form of a drawcord in the base which means you can cinch the foot section up tightly on chilly evenings, or open it up on balmy nights. It comes in the form of a full-length zipper: open it partially for ventilation, or completely to turn the bag into a quilt. Or zip two Travellers together to form a double sleeping bag (ideal for snug nights in the camper you rented to tour the Great Ocean Road).
Sure, since the Traveller was first launched, other insulated blankets have hit the market. None of them have the technical details that the Traveller has: the UltraDry Down™, the 15 Denier DWR-treated shell fabric, the zipper /drawcord combination. And none of them are as small or as light.
If you’re looking for a sleeping bag to keep you toasty warm on frosty nights in the backcountry, the Traveller is not that bag (Sea to Summit has plenty of other bags for this kind of use)
What a Traveller can do is provide an unmatched level of flexibility for any number of milder-temperature uses, especially on all of those occasions when you didn’t think you would need a sleeping bag (or didn’t think you could afford the space to take one).
Expect the unexpected. And carry the gear you need for when it happens.