|Rating:||8.9 / 10|
|Weight||1.9 / 2|
|Value for Money||1.7 / 2|
|Durability||1.7 / 2|
|Warmth||1.9 / 2|
|Versatility||1.7 / 2|
I have been thinking about a new sleeping bag for a while now. My Mont Brindabella Hyrdonaute XT sleeping bag is great but it’s bulky, heavy and no longer available. Tim wasn’t in any enamoured with my Mont and complained heavily every time I took it out of the compression sack because it instantly filled every space corner of our tiny tent!
I am a complicated cold sleeper. When I head to bed I am freezing and shiver until I warm up. Then I get too warm and need to cool a little so being able to ‘escape’ from my sleeping bag is important. I thought my search was done when I tested the Sea to Summit Flame FMIII Women’s Sleeping Bag but continued to procrastinate and then the Flame FMIV appears on the market and I am hooked!
Sea to Summit is one of a growing number of companies that use ‘ethical down’ which is a polite way of saying they don’t pluck down off living birds. This does increase the cost but is clearly a more a humane way of collecting the down. The down is also hydrophobic which means it repels water so if it gets wet, it will still keep you warm. The Flame FMIV Women’s bag is filled with 850+ loft goose down and will keep you warm down to an amazing -10° Celcius. I’ve tested this bag in cold weather, not near -10 (yet!) and I was at a comfortable temperature almost immediately.
The regular-sized bag suits me well. I’m average height and found there was plenty of room. If you are taller than 170 cm then the long version is best for you. The shape is ‘mummy’ style and contoured to the female body which means that it tappers in the leg area and down to the feet. This reduces the amount of air in the bag that you need to heat. I’m not usually a fan of the mummy-style sleeping bags given I tend to feel a little too constricted but I don’t feel that with the Flame IV.
The Flame FMIV is the twin to the Spark series which is classed as unisex but tends to be sold to males. The main difference between the two is a difference in length and width with the Flame series being slightly wider in the hip area, narrower at the chest and having an extra degree of warmth aimed for women who from a physiological perspective, tend to feel the cold more than men. However, I’d ignore the gender descriptions on these bags and choose the model that best fits your personal dimensions and cold tolerance. If you are a male, then this bag will take you down to and impressive -17° Celcius.
The Flame FMIV is dark grey in colour with a deep orange inner. Sea to Summit has cleverly coloured its bags – the darker the outer layer, the warmer the bag. Such great thinking and very easy to navigate the range when you’re tying to work out the best one for you. Some of Sea Summit’s lighter weight bags have a very pale inner lining which could get dirty easily. I use a Sea to Summit bag liner to keep my sleeping bag cleaner for longer.
As an ultralight bag, the outer and inner shell use very lightweight materials (7 Denier Nylon shell and lining fabric) so if you are really rough with your gear then there is potential for you to tear the bag. This is not a bag to loan to a novice hiker friend or use as a hire bag!
The Flame FMIV is a high-end bag. It has draft tubes at the front and back of the neck as well as along the zip to minimise airflow. It has a 3/4 length 2-way zip. This means the toe box can’t be flattened out to form a quilt like other heavier grade bags. The other thing missing is an internal security pocket for a wallet or phone – this doesn’t worry me too much.
Sea to Summit includes a design feature on all its higher-end bags – horizontal down baffles on the upper body and vertical down baffles on the lower body. This means the correct amount of down is kept in the right area of the bag to keep you warm. The hood on the Flame FMIV fits close – a result of the weight savings during the design process. I’m used to a more generous hood but the smaller size on the Flame didn’t concern me as much as I thought it may.
The Flame FMIII packs down to a very tiny size and weighs 890 grams for the regular size – a little heavy but lighter than most bags with this warmth range. Given sleeping bags are often one of the heaviest and bulky items you will carry in your pack, this bag is a real weight and space saver given it packs down to about 2/3 he size of my previous bag.
I really like this sleeping bag but there is one negative, for many the biggest, and that is the cost. With a RRP of AUD$949 for the regular size, this is an expensive bag. You can find it on sale for around AUD$790 but that’s still a decent investment.
This is a great bag if you are looking for a super warm, lightweight sleeping bag. Gill loved this bag so much that this is what she ended up purchasing.
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AUD$949 RRP. Keep an eye out for the sales and you may get a great deal on this excellent bag
Sea to Summit Flame series includes other comfort options:
Sea to Summit Flame FMIV Women’s Sleeping Bag Regular
Flame IV in storage sack
Flame IV in stuff sack next to a 1 litre water bottle
Sea to Summit Flame FMIV Women’s Sleeping Bag Regular temperature ratings. This bag will suit the ‘average female’ down to -10° and the ‘average male’ down to -17° Celcius
Sea to Summit Flame IV size comparisons
Inside view of the Flame IV. The inner shell isn’t as see-through as the Sea to Summit Spark Range
Hood and neck baffles
Gill inside the Sea to Summit Flame FMIV Women’s Sleeping Bag Regular
Clip at the top of the zip
Flame IV hood closed up
Flame IV two way zip
Bag test Certificate
This review was done with product purchased by Australian Hiker