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Sierra Designs Zissou 12 Sleeping Bag Review

Posted by on April 17, 2013


“Designed to excel in a variety of overnight situations, the award-winning Zissou 12ºF will keep you warm and cozy wherever you camp.” – Sierra Designs

Image Courtesy of Sierra Designs

Image Courtesy of Sierra Designs








The Deets:

Shape: Mummy

Shell Material: 30D Micro-Ripstop Polyester

Fill Material: 700-fill Dri-Down Insulation

EN Temperature Rating: 24F (Comfort), 12F (Limit)

Sizes: Regular (up to 6ft), Long (up to 6ft 6in)

Stuffed Size: 8in diameter by 16in long

Total Weight: 2lbs 7oz (regular), 2lbs 10oz (long)

MSRP: $269.95 (regular), $289.95 (long)


The Review:

The Sierra Designs Zissou 12 sleeping bag represents one of the biggest innovations that kayak camping has seen in years! This award-winning, three-season sleeping bag is stuffed with 700-fill DriDown insulation which is designed to stay drier, loft higher, and dry faster than regular down insulation when subjected to moist or humid environments.  Every feature of the Zissou 12 is designed with warmth and comfort in mind including the baffled construction, ergonomic hood, and draft collar and tubes. Kayaks campers should be excited about the promise of a warm and cozy night at your favorite island campsite in the Zissou 12 after a long day playing on the water!

Zissou 12 by Lake

I’ve had the pleasure of spending many dream-filled nights in my Zissou 12 over the past six months and I can honestly say that it’s the best three-season sleeping bag that I’ve ever owned. For starters, the Zissou 12 is oh-so-warm and cozy. I basically lived in this sleeping bag for 3 days during the Snowpocalypse that hit New England this past February. Outside temperatures ranged from 18-35 degrees with inside temperatures that were not much warmer given the lack of power and heat. Each night I curled up in my Zissou and slept like a baby. This sleeping bag offers plenty of room to move around in and I’ve yet to experience a draft. My Zissou 12 still lofts as high as it did the day that I bought it despite the moderate use that it has seen in a short amount of time!


Let’s continue the review of the Zissou 12 with a brief examination of this new insulation technology called “DryDown.” Essentially, DriDown is normal goose down that has been treated with a hydrophobic polymer that prevents the down from absorbing moisture. Sierra Designs claims that DriDown stays dry 10-times longer, retains 170% more loft when moist, and dries 33% faster than untreated down. My experience with the Zissou 12 suggests that these claims are reasonable. I’ve noticed that dries quicker than my regular down bags and remains dry when kissed by the morning dew or subjected to a sweaty night. Furthermore, the DriDown does not seem to affect the packability, weight or loft of the sleeping bag relative to my other down bags. Please note, however, that not even the likes of DriDown will save your sleeping bag from a thoroughly soaking rain or compromised hatch (always stow your sleeping bag in a dry bag)!

There really isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the design of the Zissou 12. However, a few small changes could take this sleeping bag from a strong A to an A+. For starters, I was less-than-impressed with the size and quality of the zippers used on this bag. They function smoothly and without snagging but seem to be a bit under-sized and I question their long-term durability. I also found the integrated hood to be a bit on the small side (maybe I have a big head?). Finally, I’d love to see a right-handed zipper option on the Zissou 12 in the future so that two sleeping bags could be joined to form a double bag. This feature would be appreciated by kayaking camper couples because the traditional double sleeping bags are a pain to pack into a hatch and near-impossible to keep dry if you manage to get them in there!

The bottom line: if you’re a kayak camper then put your current sleeping bag up for sale on and save your milk money for a Sierra Designs Zissou 12! This sleeping bag will keep you toasty-warm on those otherwise chilly early and late season nights on the coast. The days of settling down in a perfectly moist sleeping after a rough crossing should be fewer and farther between thanks to DriDown. Afterall, “It’s hydrophobic so you don’t have to be”!

Pros: Warm, comfortably sized, packs well, retains loft, moisture resistant.

Cons: Undersized zippers. Hood is a little small. No right-handed zipper option.

KayakDave Rating:

4 and a half paddles

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