Gear performance: TRUST BUT VERIFY
Product Specifications- the lengths (and volumes, pressures and insulation values etc.) to which Sea to Summit goes to help consumers understand product performance.
We are, apparently, living in the Information Age. At least, according to something I read on the internet, we are. This in itself may be part of the problem – not everything which appears on the internet turns out to be true.
Along with the lack of reliability of some data, there’s also the sheer volume of information presented to consumers. A colleague likens this to penguins on an ice floe – in times past, the mental ice floe was big enough to contain all the penguins who might happen by, but nowadays if a new idea (or penguin) should pop up, one of the existing penguins has to jump off. (Don’t worry; this is merely a metaphor; no penguins were harmed in the making of this analogy).
So – how can a consumer verify (and indeed make sense of) all the mass of factoids about how strong or how warm or how small or whatever which are presented about outdoor gear?
Clearly, relying on manufacturers to give objective assessments is akin to having foxes guard the henhouse (again; just an analogy. Sea to Summit does not employ foxes in any capacity).
Fortunately, there are empirical measurements. These measurements can often be independently verified according to accepted test protocols. Not every brand does, but Sea to Summit goes out of its way to test its products according to these criteria…
Compressed volumes of our sleeping bags.
You will find these on the specification section for each bag. These are calculated according to the ASTM standard F 1853-11. You may well be able to compress the sleeping bag smaller than this standard suggests; but it gives you a reliable baseline.
Warmth rating of our sleeping bags.
These are tested using a heated manikin in a cold chamber according to the EN (European Norm) standard 13537. Sea to Summit tests each model of each sleeping bag series, rather than extrapolating the results from one bag in that series. Female end-users should orient themselves using the Comfort rating, male end-users using the Lower rating.
Down quality used in our sleeping bags.
Each batch of down used in each production run is independently tested in the IDFL (International Down and Feather Laboratory) labs to ensure its composition (percentages of down feathers and clusters, percentages of material from specific species) and for fill-power (loft). This information is presented to the end-user in a detailed certificate – so you know the quality of the down you are paying for.
Humane sourcing of the down used in our sleeping bags.
Since the Fall of 2016, all Sea to Summit down-filled sleeping bags utilize down sourced in accordance with the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). You can read about the scope of this inspection/auditing system here http://responsibledown.org/
R-Values for our sleeping mats.
This information is the only objective way of determining how well a sleeping pad may insulate you from the cold ground. You can read about this in our blog post here. Finished sleeping mats are tested in a laboratory according to ASTM Standard F-3340-18.
Hydrostatic head for all waterproof products.
A hydrostatic head represents the amount of pressure necessary to force water through the weave of a fabric and the waterproofing layer bonded to it. We batch test fabrics as they arrive in production; any specification we quote is a minimum value for that fabric type. (Please note that products designed to withstand some degree of submersion are tested according to the IPX Ingress Protection rating system)
The above are samples of the consumer-facing information which helps define and quantify Sea to Summit products. There is a myriad of criteria for things such as FDA-testing / EU Food Grade standards according to which our cookware and tableware are certified, but that’s a separate ice floe.
Anyone can claim that a product has a specific level of performance. But – as someone once said – Trust but Verify.
And as always – if you should need more details,