Sleep In The Dirt

Q & A with BA’s Sleeping Bag Design Queen, Sally Gentling

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Does growing up with a ski area literally in your backyard mark you as destined to be an outdoor industry badass? It helps, but so does a lifetime of experience in the outdoors, a keen eye for design, and the drive to make a career that blends them all together.

Sally Gentling grew up shredding Arapahoe Basin where her dad was the GM. The seed was planted, and she was soon off raft guiding on some of the West’s wildest rivers, and ski patrolling in the winters before finding her outdoor career path, inside. Sally taps her experience living a life full of outdoor recreation to fuel her career designing and developing gear for such pursuits. We wanted to find out a little bit more about where she channels her inspiration, and in particular, how that translated into the 1101 Series sleeping bags.

Where’s your favorite place to go backpacking?

My favorite place lately has been up in the Zirkel wilderness. I am always surprised and inspired by how rugged and wild those mountains are for being so close to Steamboat.

How much of an impact/influence on your design ideas does getting out and backpacking and camping regularly, have?

Getting out and backpacking or camping of any kind has a ton of influence on my design ideas. It’s always inspiring to be out in the places where our gear gets used, and it is really important to use the gear I am working on.  I have found issues with bags or tents we were able to fix before they made it to production. Inevitably, when on a long hike I tend work through design problems. I have found that I tend to come up with my favorite ideas when I am moving around outside. Beyond thinking about how to make current gear better, it’s always an opportunity to unplug and soak up the inspiration the natural world can offer. This usually gives my mind the space to think of fresh ideas, especially two or three nights into a trip.

You come from an apparel development background at Patagonia; how does that experience lend itself to sleeping-bag design?

While I was at Patagonia, I learned a lot about fit and function but also about thinking of the product throughout its entire life cycle and choosing constructions that will last as long as possible. I was working on the un-insulated technical outerwear, but a lot of those lessons I learned definitely carry over to sleeping bags. My goal was to try to think about everything that would be uncomfortable, or annoying, so the user could focus on whatever outdoor pursuit they were doing. This is also my goal for sleeping bags. I think there are a lot of factors that can wake us up at night in the backcountry. I do my best to be sure your sleeping bag is not one of them.

In regards to the 1101 series sleeping bags, what about those bags gets you most excited?

What I am most excited about these bag, is the amount of loft we were able to get with the new insulation while still having a small pack size for a synthetic bag. The fabric is nice and quiet, and with the body mapping we put into the bags, they are really efficient. There is a really nice warmth-to-weight ratio. They look really good on the outside, too.

How do these bags stack up against other bags in their category?

Most synthetic bags tend to be a bulky, heavier and less-expensive version of a down sleeping bag. As a team we took on the challenge to see how we could build a technical, synthetic sleeping bag from the ground up. We were able to pay attention to every detail–from the fabric to the construction, to using premium insulation, to even updating the cord locks and zippers. This was all with the intention of putting a better synthetic bag on the market, and ultimately, to give the user a better night’s sleep in a synthetic bag.

The 1101 Series of sleeping bags was inspired by the rugged, scenic, and iconic continental divide trail running 3,100 miles in distance from Canada to Mexico. The 1101 Trail is part of the CDT that winds through the mountains of Steamboat Springs, and is the home to remote wilderness, high peaks, and the thick forests we play in year-round. Each bag is named after a location on or bear the 1101 trail which include Dumont Lake, Newcomb Creek, Upper Slide Lake, Lake Katherine and Lake Victoria. A portion of proceeds from the 1101 collection will benefit the Continental Divide Trail Coalition whose mission is to complete, promote and protect the CDT from Canada to Mexico.

Check out out new 1101 Series sleeping bags HERE.

Watch Sally introduce the series and talk about the bag’s features HERE:






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