For a while now I've been on the look out for a new lightweight sleeping bag for summer use. I really liked the look of the Rab top bag but these seem to be quite hard to come by and still command a premium second hand, the other bag I had my eye on was the PHD Minimus which I'd pretty much decided to buy, but on trip to Manchester and a visit to the Mountain Equipment (ME) store I came across the ME Xero MM bag and decided it could be the bag for me.
I didn't buy the bag there and then but was definitely intrigued by it and the possibilities for it, I returned home and scoured the net to read all I could about it. There doesn't seem to be too much info available online re these bags, but I liked what I'd seen so went ahead and ordered one which arrived yesterday.
This is my second down bag from ME and I have to say I'm just as impressed with the quality of this one as I was my winter bag. The feel of the bag is superb as is the workmanship and I think it's worth mentioning that ME appear to be amongst the best in terms of where/how they source their down etc which is something to bear in mind for the animal friendly amongst us. Anyway, back to the bag... The Xero is made from ME own Helium fabric which is very lightweight (29g/sqm) and very nice to the touch, the bag also features their 'EXL technology' which basically means the lining is elasticated so it hugs you whilst you're in it. Everyone loves a good hug but this lining is also supposed to boost the thermal efficiency of bag by around 2 degrees, which is nice. The MM in the name stands for Mountain Marathon and the bag is described as being 'a specialist lightweight sleeping bag designed specifically for elite mountain marathon runners and adventure racers'. Now i'm neither of these things and don't envisage being so any time soon but the bag still appealed to me. Similar to the Rab top bag, to keep the weight down the Xero MM doesn't have any insulation on the underside of the body, instead what it does have is a series of sleeves in to which you insert balloons.
There're 7 sleeves in total in to which 8 balloons are inserted, the balloons then provide the insulation and also act as the sleeping mat saving even more weight by not having to cary a separate mat. The Xero MM comes with a pump and enough balloons for 3 nights use and I'm guessing the idea for this bag came from the Balloonbed as included with the bag was a link to their site where further balloons and pumps etc can be purchased. I was pretty sceptical about the balloons and still aren't convinced but after inserting all the balloons and getting in it I have to admit that it is pretty comfortable. It takes around 45 pumps to inflate the balloons fully and once inflated they seem pretty robust but there's always going to be the risk of them popping through the night.
One of the things that attracted me to this bag was the possibility of unpicking the sleeves to make one big sleeve in to which a regular sleeping mat could be inserted. I think I'll give the balloons a try just to see how it fairs but I think unpicking it will be the plan for the future, the pic below shows that the sleeve is pretty much the perfect size for a short length Themarest:
All in all i'm very happy with the bag, judging by the weather at the moment it's going to be a while before I can actually use it but I'll update here once I have.
Thanks for reading :-)
Inc: Sleeping bag, stuff sac (wp), storage bag, pump, balloons (3 nights worth)
Insulation: 93/7 Goose Down, min 750 fill power, Fill weight 175g
Sleepzone: +20 to +5 degrees centigrade
Material: Mountain Equipment He 30.rs Helium fabric (29g/sqm)
Narrow box wall construction
5 baffle bullseye footpiece with offset Sharks Toe foot
Pack size: 14x20cm
Weight inc bag, stuff sac, pump, 3 nights balloons: 551g
A few more pics: