Tested in the Cairngorms

Extensively tested in the Cairngorms and surrounding areas, often camping over 900 metres, for a summer and autumn season by Cairngorm Treks

On first impressions the Nemo Riff 30 is certainly no ordinary bag. Once removed from its cotton storage bag it opens out and lofts easily with an appearance usually found with a sleeping blanket instead of a traditional mountain bag. Nemo claim the Riff 30 allows extra space for those who prefer to shift positions throughout the night and this is evident before getting into the bag.

The general feel and appearance of the bag is one of quality. A shiny red outer shell fabric of 20D Nylon Ripstop with DWR appears solidly stitched and soft to the touch.A denser 40D Nylon Ripstop OSMO™ makes up the footbox and we were interested to see how this would perform as the more resistant material claims to protect from tent condensation, keeping feet warm and dry.

The inner of the Nemo Riff is a very soft and comfortable 30D Nylon Taffeta fabric. Each section appears well stitched and built to last. The Nemo Riff 30 comes in two colours of red and black. We received the red bag and although a slightly odd look, overall the colour certainly stands bold and retains interest.

The bag weight of 976g fitted our ‘around a kilo’ mark for a 3-season sleeping bag. With all the extra room and an insulation make up of 415g / 800 Fill Power Nikwax Hydrophobic Down,the Nemo compressed down impressively well into its own stuff sack of 43 x 25 cm. It’s great to see a company putting in the effort to design a decent stuff sac, as unfortunately many other high-end brands fail big in this department. The length of the bag we used was a regular, which worked well for those of us up to 183cm but would be quite tight for anyone taller. There is the option of a larger size with only a marginal increase in weight.

Nemo state that a massive 70 percent of people sleep on their side. Fitting into this bracket of ‘side sleepers’ ourselves, prone to regular turning duringthe night, our guiding team were intrigued to see how the Nemo Riff 30 stood up to the rigors of trekking in the Cairngorms.

After safety, comfort is key to what we demand as well as gear fitting our lightweight trekking brief. Because of its unique spoon shape and generous width design, especially for knees and elbows, the Nemo was excellent at allowing twisting and turning throughout the night and made side sleeping easy and non-constrictive. On warmer nights, which we certainly had over this summer, even at height, the extra room allowed us to better regulate the temperature throughout the bag.Another great feature, the Thermo Gills on the front of the bag, really came into their own allowing body cooling without having drafts through the main zip. On cooler nights the bag coped with internal tent temperatures down to 4C. However, due to the make-up of the design, to sleep in lower temperatures comfortably more clothes would be required for sleepers who run cold and want to take the bag to its -1C designation.

Unfortunately for us this is where the Nemo Riff 30 had its limitations for use in the Cairngorms. Whilst on our 10-day trek the fluctuations in temperatures due to the changing environments meant a more traditional mummy style bag would have been preferred. On warmer nights the Nemo performed adequately well but when the temperatures dropped the larger space inside and the Blanket Fold, which is less constrictive and suffocating than a more traditional baffle, didn’t retain body heat to the usual standards of a mummy styled bag of a similar comfort rating.

Other features of the Nemo 30 worth mentioning, and which functioned well are: The breathable and water-resistant foot box surprisingly worked extremely well with feet staying protected from damp and importantly staying warm; the insert in the hood for keeping a pillow in place or for folding clothes to make a pillow should surely be adapted into more bags!The function we didn’t test was the ability of two bags being zipped together, something that requires the Nemo Jam female bag.

Our Verdict

Overall, the Nemo Riff 30 delivers where other bags fail, especially for the more fitful sleeper. We feel it iswell worthpersevering and embracing something, which, although not in the mode of traditional mummy bags, has some thoughtful innovations that actually work and make for a more comfortable night’s sleep.Nemo say the Riff 30 is a versatile superstar for everything from backpacking to car camping. For us, not being a dedicated mountain bag is evident when using for extended multi-day mountain use. This would then be a perfect bag for long distance trips where travel was varied between, backpacking, bothys, car, train, hostels, etc. As a dedicated mountain bag the Nemo just falls short for multi-day use. Although, would be adequate for single night use or extended use when the temperatures are looking consistently warmer.

Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...

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