Big Agnes Anvil Horn Sleeping Bag

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Jacob Ferrall
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The Anvil Horn is a heavy-duty sleeping bag made by Big Agnes designed to slip over a sleeping pad using a sleeve on the back. Big Agnes is an outdoor gear company so naturally there is an obligation to present sustainable products to its consumers. I personally have experience with their products and can attest that they are quality and perform under outdoor conditions. Although Big Agnes is showing signs of taking some initiative towards sustainability, such as reducing energy and water usage in tent manufacturing, running their US facilities off renewable energy and releasing products specifically targeted towards sustainable consumers (like the TwisterCane pad), they are still behind other outdoor recreation companies like Patagonia.

What it's made of:


Thankfully, Big Agnes is very transparent about the materials used in all of their products and lists them on their web page. The Anvil Horn sleeping bag is made of polyester ripstop fabric, polyester taffeta, and insulated with DownTek fill. Ripstop fabric is a woven fabric that is resistant to tearing usually made from nylon. Big Agnes instead uses polyester, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, polyester is petroleum based and there is no getting around that. Big Agnes does use recycled polyester in some of their products but not in this sleeping bag. The good news is that polyester products last a long time (which is what you want for a sleeping bag) so you won’t need to buy another one, and the issue of microplastics coming off of polyester with every wash is not too concerning with a sleeping bag that you might wash once every year or so. Nylon suffers the same production issues as polyester, and it’s hard to say if their choice of polyester is preferable. Taffeta is a soft fabric used in a lot of clothing, and can be made from various substances, synthetic or biological. Big Agnes uses polyester, and the alternative would be using silk most likely. I think this is the right choice as silk production can be very problematic from an animal rights standpoint, and also due to the pollution the industry causes. Polyester isn’t biodegradable like silk, but once again a sleeping bag is something that should last. Big Agnes boasts that the down filling is made by DownTek which creates water repellent down. Down is thermal insulation found on birds under their feathers and is harvested as a byproduct of the meat industry from duck and geese. DownTek’s water-repellent down is free of polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that are normally used to treat water-resistant clothing but cause environmental damage. They also have a Sustainable Down Source certification for what it’s worth (DownTek was founded by the down company that gives the certification). I should mention that this product essentially requires a sleeping pad to pair with it by design, and the Big Agnes sleeping pads are made of nylon. Requiring the customer to purchase two products separately would be objectionable, but Big Agnes offers sleeping bags that work fine by themselves, so if you are looking for a sleeping bag that specifically wraps around a sleeping pad you either already have a sleeping pad or are looking to purchase one.

How it's made:


Big Agnes sleeping bags are made at a factory in the Guangdong province of China. The Big Agnes website does not reveal any information about the manufacturing process other than that the bag is “imported.” However, there is an article in a local Colorado journal featuring an interview with Big Agnes cofounder Bill Gamber. Gamber himself visited China and made a deal with a manufacturer, claiming he was “comfortable with the working conditions there” and “impressed” with the quality of the work. We can take his word for it, but the lack of a manufacturing section on the company website or any information regarding this, makes it seem like they aren’t proud of it. The only item I found on their website that is made in the USA is a knit beanie, in which they prominently advertise the manufacturing details in the description.

Who makes it:


Big Agnes was founded by Bill Gamber and his partner Brad Johnson in 2001. It is based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Big Agnes is a nearby mountain peak), and Gamber had a previous outdoor gear company called B-Wear Action Products. Big Agnes has a sustainability section on their website and they list their principles and commitment to social responsibility. The social responsibility page doesn’t note many actions Big Agnes has actually taken, but rather that they have a commitment to sustainability and support an array of charities/non-profits like Leave No Trace and the National Forest Foundation (however it is not clear in what way they are partnered with these charities). They do have a material recycling program called “Re-Routt” and they explain some things they’ve done to go green like stopping plastic bag usage. Unfortunately, Re-Routt doesn’t allow consumers to recycle their old sleeping bags, it is only a tag given to some of their products which they make with recycled materials. If they accepted old equipment from their customers they could end up with more material to use and less waste. Surprisingly they don’t release a CSR report, because it seems that they are making an effort to appear sustainable on their website. Big Agnes is potentially making a transition towards being an overall more environmentally conscience company but they have yet to prove they aren’t simply pandering to the consumer.