TBT Gear: Campmor 0F Down Bag

campmor (1)Mention the name “Campmor” to a particular outdoors demographic (perhaps over 35 years or so old; originally from the northeast United States) and a certain nostalgia is induced.

Before the rise of easy internet shopping, and the ubiquitousness of REI in every state, Campmor was where it was at for those who did not live close to an outdoor store. Their black and white catalog with old-school line drawings were chock full of gear.

The mail would arrive. Among the flyers for local pizza places, a telephone bill, and the family church newsletter, there would be the eagerly awaited Campmor catalog.

It would be placed on the nightstand table. It would be perused over until the next catalog arrived. For a person just starting their journey into the outdoors, it was not just a gear catalog. It was a catalog that had the potential for future outdoor jaunts.

The catalog was not flashy. It was not meant to for impulsive buying. You looked for a particular item when you perused this catalog. Maybe something caught your eye once in a while..but it was really meant for goal-oriented shopping. Want a tent? Look it up. Need some rain gear? Let’s see what is for sale.

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From eBay

The catalog perhaps mirrored the northeast where Campmor is based:  No frills, blunt, to the point, functional, here for business. Get what you need and move along.

The items ranged from discount brands such as Coghlan’s to mid-range brands such as Columbia or Eureka or higher end brands such as Thermarest and MSR.

You could, and still can buy basic thermal tops or something like Patagonia Capilene.

And among the gear, you could buy was the Campmor house brand gear. Good quality gear that was not overly expensive.

Their rain gear was basic, but functional (I still use their oversized “mountaineering” shell in winter).  Their Campmor branded tarp is still a workhorse. Love their simple zipper pulls, and they are the only retail store (I know of) that sells my gaiters of choice for winter use on-line.

And among this house brand gear, they used to sell were the Campmor branded down bags.

The 20F bag was a good budget bag.

And their 0F bag? A reasonably priced winter bag.

It is what I have and use for my winter backpacking.

It is has a draft collar and a draft tube, the nylon material resists snow and it, at least in my experience (with a total R-value of my sleeping pads at least 5, wearing a thermal top and bottoms, a hat and in a shelter), the temperature rating always felt accurate.   At 3 lbs, 5 oz reasonably light for a winter bag.  It “only” has 550 down fill…but it wasn’t that long ago where 750 or even 650 fill was considered high-end rather than merely a minimum baseline for a decent to a good garment.  ( Makes me wonder how much these fill power numbers are useful rather than marketing hype and/or contrived at times…. But that’s another article… )

The Campmor 0F down bag is no frills, functional and reasonably priced at $160 in today’s dollars. Though I winter backpack in a tent, I don’t do enough of this backpacking (perhaps 2-3 trips a season vs. day skis, hut trips or snow caves where I can use a lighter bag) to warrant a $500 or more for a 0F down bag.  And if I go really cold weather winter backpacking, I’ll layer another quilt on top to bring it down to the lower digits.  For various reasons, I don’t think I’ll be on any hut trips this year, so I plan to winter backpack more…

Alas, Campmor no longer makes (or has made for them) this bag anymore.  Much like their house brand shells, other gear companies have made similar items and are competitive in price. Campmor even sells some those items, too.

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2012 catalog. From The Velo Hobo

As for Campmor itself, their catalog has not changed much. But with online shopping being so easy, and there are so many more options, I don’t think their catalog has the same thrill as it did so many years ago for many of us.

 


Campor still has a very good selection of inexpensive, mid-priced and even some high-end gear and clothing. And they still sell some unique “stuff” other places don’t sell.

I like Campmor. I just go to their website rather than their catalog now.

My gear purchases are less and less, but socks, thermal tops and bottoms and similar replacement gear and clothing will always be needed.

 

Why I still use this gear:  A 0-degree bag, for me, is a nice compromise between being good for Colorado winters and allowing me to layer with a quilt for even colder temps without spending too much money/having more gear than I need. The Campmor bag has proven to be a functional warhorse.

Would I recommend buying it? Alas, this bag is no longer made. Kelty makes similar bags that have received decent to good reviews. I suspect the Kelty Cosmic Down 0 Degree bag will fill a similar niche to my old Campmor one. But, I can’t speak to its use from personal experience.

If you are doing extensive deep winter camping/mountaineering (meaning more than a weekend here and there ), a -10F or -20F bag may be warranted.  For me, a zero degree bag and another bag/quilt combo is good versatility for my weekend or so jaunts

 

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7 Replies to “TBT Gear: Campmor 0F Down Bag”

  1. I’ve had that same bag for twenty years.. first winter camp on Mt Rogers in an ice storm, worked well there and ever since. The Mt Rogers miniature ponies came looking for handouts in the morning, better than bears. Still like to get the Campmor catalog, it is a refreshing change from glossy magazine-style catalogs featuring trust-fund kiddies modelling gear I’ll never be able to afford..

  2. In its early days, The Campmor catalog was our bible because it listed the weight of every item. Yes, back in the 70’s and 80’s some of us were UL gram weenies. I still have a lot of those little zipper pulls I bought about 35 years ago along with a pair of Campmor GoreTex rain pants. Still have the rain pants too.

    They still have their store in Paramus, NJ and I usually stop by to pick up food and stove fuel when backpacking in that area.

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

    • My good friend grew up in Brooklyn and used to go there. He described the store as “it is something I know you’d like”. Ah…I think they meant it as a compliment..

  3. Nothing brings back the memories like “on the nightstand”. Nothing like the two sleeping bags put together. Have a old and new North Face Cats Meow that I use one or twice a winter. Has to get down around zero before I can tolerate to zip them both up

  4. Hi, I am looking for an old campmor t-shirt design. I could never afford my gear and spend for the shirt back then. I had the cool backpacker with the long hair and beard with the flannel shirt and felt hat in the woods but his pack morphed into a victorian home. I am trying to find an old campmor catalog that has is to try and have one printed now.
    Thanks
    Ed

    • I’d try Campmor directly. They have great customer service and may be able to point you in the right direction. EBay also has old Campmor catalogs for sale I believe.

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