Having grown up in Southern California, it's no secret that my impression of the 'elements' is based loosely on 50 degree 'Winters' and skylines scattered with tell palms swaying in the warm Santa Anas. Even as I type, it's a clear 75 degree February evening, and the dry winds playfully brush tree branches along my windows. Yes, I traveled 'Back East', and even during the Winter, as a child- spending several months there in my late teens. But there is a specific kind of conditioning and mentality that one develops having been raised in a town where the annual precipitation topped off under 16 inches last year, and the last recorded snowfall was less than 2" in 1989. And even without these factors, my Momma always had one heck of a time convincing me to 'bundle up.'
It's hard to break a child of their flip flop wearing ways, and to drive home the necessity of clothing for functionality (rather than style). There was always a reason I didn't care to wear a sweater, or a jacket. There's nothing cool about being bundled up thicker than a marshmallow in the microwave. Okay, I was also extremely lazy too- in So California by the time 'jacket' weather hits, it's over in a few hours and you're left dragging a piece of clothing around all day. That and I found some sense of stubborn pride in defying the temperature with my refusal to dress sensibly. After all, it seemed like a small price to pay, a few days with the sniffles vs. a lifetime of repressed sweater head memories (I'm kidding, of course). I really can't say what specifically it was, but it all boiled down to the simple fact that dressing for function wasn't cool.
Now, if you love the outdoors, of have the type of family that likes to trek to the middle of nowhere for an extravagant annual reunion, you know the importance of a good sleeping bag. As children, we covet those My Little Pony and Star Wars themed bags for the sheer fun of sleeping outside our bed. A way of rebelling against society, despite still sleeping under 'the man's' roof. As adults, we realize the value of ditching the cool graphics for something that will keep us warm on nights where the temperature can dip below 20. And if my camping experiences have been anything like those standard for others, I'd wager at least 50% of overnight campers are less than thrilled about the prospect of ditching their central heated homes for a rustic experience in the wild.
Don't get me wrong, camping can be immensely fun, and there's nothing more calming than being one with nature, escaping the persistent yap of the neighbor's chihuahua, and gazing up at that impressively vast night's sky. But if you've ever had to wake up at 3 am and search for an outhouse, or even shrub- or felt the nip of the morning's chill on your ears when waking up in a tent, you know that comfort is key to a good excursion. And the place where I consistently find myself uncomfortable when camping is often 'in bed'. If I had a dollar for every time I've had to wrestle with a zipper mid-night, or wear double layers of clothes for warm sleeping- well, I'd have a handful of dollars because I haven't been camping THAT many times, but still- Let's just say my sleeping bag experiences have been traumatic, or unpleasant, at best.
Have you ever wondered why the warmth of evening camping wear can't translate into warm sleeping without the lack of mobility or comfort? I can remember, once, thinking how amazing it would be to take my sleeping back with me to breakfast in the morning. The simple truth is, when camping, you won't see me surface from the tent until the temperature outside reaches a tolerable degree. And if I have to hold a midnight bathroom break all night, in exchange for toasty warm, you better believe I'm doing it. So when I stumbled across a product that marketed itself as a "Sleep Wear System" I was quite intrigued. A sleeping bag, that was also a functional piece of clothing, a kind of all encompassing cold weather body suit, if you will.
Inspired by the legacy of Chile's Selk'nam (meaning "men"), the Selk bag is as much a statement as a way of camping. Selk'nam were tall hunters and gatherers with a fierce upbringing and proud appreciation of their heritage and selves. These men were somewhat of show-offs, having passed their boyhood rites, a new Selk'nam would paint their body in portrayal of the spirits that had guided them through their ritualistic journeys. A sight to behold naked, but wearing just a mask, and covered in mud and bark from head to toe the Selk warrior would become that which he portrayed. There was no fear of the environment, or it's elements, proudly displaying all with a sense of honor and lack of humility rarely found in modern cultures today.
Taking the imagery of these Selk'nam warriors and their spirits, the Sleep Wear System's creator (fro Chile himself), set to embody the freedom and boldness in a functional piece of camp wear all ages could enjoy. Much like the Selk'nam, these full body sleeping suits portray an invincibility to the elements and freedom of mobility in all surroundings. When one is oblivious to the elements, they can truly enjoy the nature that surrounds them! Since it's inception in 2006, the Selk Bag has taken the world by storm, with outdoor enthusiasts and curious consumers clamoring to experience the freedom it has to offer. Today, the founding company has released 4 versions, the most current, 4G, having superior mobility and an exceptionally lightweight build.
I was lucky enough to get my, er, self?, on one, as well as the hubby for a camping trip this past Winter. We were sent the Selk 3G in Dark Red for review here on Momma Told Me. The Selk Sleep Wear system is manufactured in Adults and Kids sizing, with an expanding palette of colors. The Adult Selk 3G is reasonably priced at just $149, a bargain when you consider the versatility of a sleeping bag and comfort system. Our Selks arrived in vibrant boxes decked out with Alk'nam spirits and a story brochure of the Selk inspired history. Each suit was bundled compactly into a convenient 'stuff' style bag. It truly is impressive how easy it was to re-pack these, and how little room they take up when stored! For this fact alone, we're resolved to keeps ours in the car at all times in case of an emergency.
The 3G is designed to be worn comfortably in temperatures as low as 35F, with varying warmth below, though the walls of this sleep suit are quite thick. To get into a Selk, one must zip the 2 way front flap down, and step in (just as you would a pair of overalls, or a jumpsuit). The front will zip right up to the chin, and the hood has a drawstring for maximum warmth, though we preferred to leave the front flap slightly unzipped in the afternoon. As cool as a sleeping bag you can walk around in is, the Selk certainly has a list of it's own unique features that shine as much as the concept. Inside the front wall of the Selk is a pouch where an MP3 player can be tucked away and fed up through the top for concealed entertainment. This can easily offer any parent hours of 'I'm bored' free camping.
At the bottom of each foot is a durable nylon soles with lateral grips for traction that keep feet dry and the suit protected from tearing. We had some sizing particularities, and I found it a little awkward to walk in the Selk without 'holding up' my legs which seemed to be a little long. I'd like to see a strap (like a thong) on the inside of the soles for my feet to slide in for extra stability. Another sizing issue we had was that the hubby found it hard to twist in the crotch, difficult for sitting, and we would have likely gone with the next size up for added mobility. In general, these were quite comfortable, and extra warm though- I'd love to get my hands on the lighter 4G one day. The hands of the Selk actually un-zip, but lacked a zipper on the inside for self unzipping. We had to help each other a little. This feature makes the Selk great for fireside recreation, and pocketed warmth while sleeping.
These suits are intended to be slept in, while still staying mobile. The wearer can curl up when sleeping, which is nice, and the legs get incredibly warm. Because body heat is so well circulated in such a full body casing, the Selk does the job of maintaining heat best. And the 3G is surprisingly cushy all around, for general lounging- however, you may want to put a comforter or blanket down on hard dirt sleeping surfaces for added comfort. On each leg, is an incredibly useful, and necessary, vent, which unzips to reveal a mesh window for air circulation. When you get to moving around in a Selk, you do heat up, and these are ingenious for a quick cool down. I also noticed the overlap in fabric around each zipper is extra thick, to keep heat loss to a minimum, and the zipper pulls are extra long and bright for easy locating in dim lighting.
In general, I think the Selk is an exciting idea, and there is certainly a lot of ways the company can expand upon it. There are a few features I'd love to see tweaked or added, and perhaps an extra sizing level for more specific fitting. I love the price point on these, though, and think they're an excellent investment for any avid camper, outdoorsmen, or just about anyone with kids in areas with harsh winters. I can only imagine how much fun a child would have in their own Selk on sleepovers or even out in yard!
What Daughter Says: Melding function with style, Selk has finally given me a good reason to bundle up!
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