- Don't miss out on REI's current sale - shop now and save on all your outdoor gear needs!
If you're a cold, side (or tummy) sleeper looking for a backpacking sleeping bag, don't get a regular mummy sleeping bag and instead check out Nemo's Riff and Disco models. Their spoon-shaped design allows greater room around your legs and shoulders without sacrificing warmth, which solves the problem for cold, side (or tummy) sleepers. You can see their manuals here [PDF].
But... which one should you get? Disco or Riff (or, for women, Rave or Jam)? 15 or 30? Reg or Long? This post is all you need for the answer.
In summary, if extra 2-4 ounces and an inch longer packed size aren't huge concerns for you, Disco 15 (or Rave 15 for women) will work perfectly fine! Otherwise, Riff 15 (or Jam 15 for women) would be a better choice.
Because, most importantly, the warmth provided by Riff/Jam 15 is equal to the Disco/Rave 15, and the warmth provided by Riff/Jam 30 is equal to the Disco/Rave 30!
Before I get to the bolts and nuts, I'd like to say that I really don't see why would anyone go for 30 F deg models of these bags. Decrease in price doesn't worth the warmth sacrifice - even if you aren't a true cold sleeper (more on this later)...
So, as you see, their only difference is:
Weight and packed size.
I talked to the NEMO Equipment Customer Service (screenshots below) and made hours of research to conclude that Riff/Jam Series DO NOT provide more warmth than Disco/Rave Series!
In fact... You know what? Technically speaking, Disco/Rave provide more warmth than Riff/Jam (although the difference is pretty much not noticeable)! More on this later.
Now on paper, their differences are as follows:
- Higher down quality (so called fill power): 800 FP is used in Riff/Jam compared to Disco/Rave's 650 FP
- Fill weight (so called fill power): Less down is used in Riff/Jam and hence it weighs less
- Thinner shell fabric: 20D vs 30D - which is slightly lighter & more compressible but also slightly less durable
- Weight: Slightly (2-4 ounces) lighter
- Packed smaller: 0.5 inches shorter (in length - not dia) when packed
I didn't provide the exact numbers to these specs because they differ between 15-30, male-female, reg-long models.
And now let me translate these.
Fill Power Difference: 650 FP vs 800 FP
Fill Power (FP) is the measured loft of down. In other words, it's the end size of the down when it's in rest, e.g. "fully expanded".
For example, an 600 FP down means that 1 oz of that down can cover 600 cubic inches. This, in other words, is what defines the quality of down. Higher FP means more warmth for its weight. Because more air will be trapped inside the down and will work as an insulator:
Generally speaking, for sleeping bags, over 750 FP (to my knowledge, they go up to 900 FP) is considered top notch quality down (Riff/Jam) whereas 600-750 FP as "medium" quality (Disco/Rave).
Now when I said "for its weight" above, what I'm trying to say is that Fill Power is NOT the only thing that determines the ultimate warmth of a bag. The amount of down is also very important - which is called "fill weight".
A product filled with 500 FP down can provide the warmth a product with 800 FP down does. But it certainly will be A LOT HEAVIER since it requires more down!
And that, kids, is what causes the key difference between Disco/Rave and Riff/Jam products. Disco/Rave is filled with more 650 FP down, whereas Riff/Jam is filled with less 800 FP down.
As a result, Riff/Jam weighs substantially (2-4 oz - depending on the model you get) less and its packed size is smaller.
But what about their ultimate warmth? Does Jam/Rave's 20.5 oz 800 FP down provide more warmth than Disco/Rave's 22.5 oz 650 FP down?
Short answer: No. They're identical.
Now when we get to the long answer - I don't know the math behind these calculations, but I do know something more useful: EN 13537.
It's a standard metric used for the warmth provided by a sleeping bag. It basically takes into account ALL the factors that affect the warmth of a sleeping bag and rate them on a scale. Lower EN Rating always means more warmth!
Now let's see where Disco/Rave and Riff/Jam stand...
EN 13537 is the warmth standard for sleeping bags, and there are different EN ratings.
For example, EN Comfort shows the minimum temperature a 25 year old, 5'3" (1.6 m) & 130 lb (60 kg) female can sleep comfortably inside the bag. It's based on women since they sleep colder than men. Lower EN Comfort means higher warmth.
EN Lower Limit
EN Comfort isn't end all be all.
There are other measurements such as EN Lower Limit - which shows the minimum temperature at which a 25 year old, 5'8" (1.73 m) & 160 lbs male can sleep for 8 hours in a curled position without waking up. Similar to EN Comfort, the lower the EN Lower Limit, the warmer you'll feel inside the bag.
There are also EN Upper Limit and EN Extreme, which I won't go into detail, so you can check Wikipedia for that matter.
Now let's see where our two (*cough* four) bags stand:
Warmth debate concluded: Disco/Rave 15 will provide equal warmth to Riff/Jam 15. Disco/Rave 30 will provide equal warmth to Riff/Jam 30.
But... Which one should you get? 15 or 30?
Disco/Rave Riff/Jam 15 vs 30
Once more, I'd like to repeat that the warmth performance of the bag you get will be determined by whether you get the 15 or 30 model. Whether you get Disco/Rave or Riff/Jam will determine the weight and packed size of the bag - not its warmth.
15 will perform well in temperatures as low as 15 F (-9 C) and 30 will perform well in temperatures as low as 30 F (-1 C).
I'd also like to say one more time that I really don't see why would anyone go for 30 F deg models of these bags. Decrease in price doesn't worth the warmth sacrifice - even if you don't sleep really cold.
If you decide to buy one of these bags, buy the 15 F model!
Shell Fabrics: 20D vs 30D
Shell fabric isn't an insulator-specific term.
In our case, Riff vs Disco, the difference is that Disco uses 30D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR whereas Riff uses 20D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR. Higher denier (D) means thicker fabric, and therefore Disco is heavier & more durable compared to Riff, whereas Riff is not only lighter but also can be compressed further although it has slightly less durability.
On the other hand... These are from very scientific standpoint, guys. In practice, the difference is so subtle that priority of shell fabric thickness in the durability department is waaaay behind how you treat the bag or how long you use it.
That's why I change my argument to this:
Both are great fabric thicknesses (deniers) for sleeping bags and you won't notice a difference in practice.
Besides shell, their Footbox (both 40D Nylon Ripstop OSMO w/ DWR) and Lining (both 30D Nylon Taffeta w/ DWR) fabrics are identical.
What about the size? Reg or long?
This mostly comes down to your height. They're designed for the users as follows:
- Men's regular models: Men below 6' (183 cm)
- Men's long models: Men above 6' (183 cm)
- Women's regular models: Women below 5'6" (168 cm)
- Women's long models: Women above 5'6" (168 cm)
Besides height, I'd like to mention one more important thing here. When I was talking about most effective ways to heat a tent without electricity, one of my tips was to heat some rocks by the camp fire and place them inside your tent or sleeping bag (away from your stomach/kidneys).
So, if you think you might use this tip and if you're borderline between Reg/Long models (e.g. if you're a 6' male or a 5'6" female) it might be a good idea to go for the long model.
Other shared features of these bags
They all come with the following. Nemo honestly offers all the features you can ask from a sleeping bag.
Cotton storage bag and a compression stuff sack:
Blanket Fold for comfort and temperature regulation:
Thermo Gills to tune the ventilation and inner temperature for your taste:
Bottom zippers offer even further ventilation adjustment. That's why these bags are also perfect for summer - there's always something you can do to increase the air flow inside when you feel too hot:
Also as you see, all bags are left zippered.
Integrated pillow pocket: This Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow is compatible with this pocket so if you prefer buying this one you don't have to worry about its fit.
Integrated stash pocket. Perfect if you like spending time with your smartphone right before sleeping:
A very well thought out feature I like: Bottom of these bags are more waterproof (waterproofing isn't black and white! Some fabrics are more waterproof than others and vice versa).
Because of this fact, while sleeping, your feet (the closest body part to this highly wet part of tent) is always more prone to get damp and hence this more waterproof design around that area:
If you're a cold, side (or tummy) sleeper looking for a backpacking sleeping bag, these designs are for you. Don't get a regular mummy sleeping bag!
If you're also looking for an air mattress for camping, this post of mine can be a good read for you.
So, in short, if weight and packed size aren't huge concerns for you, absolutely get the Disco 15 (or Rave 15 for women). If the weight and size reductions are substantial for you, Riff 15 (or Jam 15 for women) would be a better choice.
I wouldn't really recommend 30 F models for any of these bags.
Lastly, my other post how to sleep comfortably in a tent can be a good read for you.
I hope this review was helpful for you to understand which sleeping bag would be the best choice for your needs. Feel free to ask me any questions, provide feedback and I'll be happy to respond in the comment section below if it's within my knowledge.
Thanks a lot for reading. Happy trails.
Chris Jones says
THANK YOU! I tried for so long to figure out how the Riff could possibly be $100 more for a bag stamped with the same rating. It’s actually interesting that technically the Disco should actually be warmer! I can accept the tiny bit of weight and packed volume increase for the $100 difference.
Ryan Alston says
Same here ahah I’ve been researching about this single difference for so long now I ended up gathering tons of info and thought to myself hey why not make a post about it… Glad it was helpful for you too Chris, thank you for taking time to comment!!
Fantastic article and analysis! I had wondered the exact same thing as the first commenter. Thanks for doing all the research and getting us answers.
Canberk Koksal says
I’m glad I was helpful, thank you for your comment Doug 🙂
Thank you so much for your time and effort to compare and report on these sleeping bags. I do have one question. How vital is it that a woman has a sleeping bag designed for women?
Canberk Koksal says
I was having problems with my account in this site, very sorry for the late response Carmen.
I’ll still respond to this since some people might wonder:
Technically speaking, as long as your shape isn’t fairly different from an average male physique, I’m sure you won’t experience a difference.
John Dwinnell says
Finally, someone that knows what he is talking about and laid it out in a manner that was easy to understand. Thank you so much for saving me money as I was going to buy the Riff and now it is down to the Disco.
Canberk Koksal says
I’m glad it was helpful John 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to thank me!
Donald Thompson says
Very helpful review – these were exactly my questions. Thanks for posting this.
Awesome write up man. Thanks for doing the research.
The shape of the current version of the Riff is called an ‘ultralight spoon’ whereas the Disco is called a ‘classic spoon’. When you wrote this article, was this the case? If so, any noticeable difference in roominess between the two?
According to the specs on Nemo’s site, the “New ultralight Spoon™ shape adds room at elbows and knees, yet is tailored for weight shaving warmth.” Comparing between the Riff and Disco indicates that the Riff shaves down the width on the sleeping bag quite a bit in some places.
Shoulder Girth 64 in / 163 cm
Hip Girth 59 in / 150 cm
Knee Girth 62 in / 157 cm
Shoulder Girth 62 in / 157 cm
Hip Girth 54 in / 137 cm
Knee Girth 59 in / 150 cm
That’s a difference of 2″ in the shoulders, 5″ (!) in the hips, and 3″ in the knees, all for a weight savings of 5 ozs and a compressed volume savings of 0.3 L.
That all said, I feel the Disco is still the wiser (and less expensive) purchase, unless you are desperately shaving weight/volume in your pack.
I imagine the big draw to the 30F bags is the 12 oz lower weight, bigger than the difference between Disco and Riff. If you’re never backpacking below 30, no reason to carry an extra 0.75 lbs around with you. Other than that, very helpful, thanks!
Excellent point! I hadn’t caught that before.
For female version, Riff 15 is just a little warmer, lighter, and smaller than Disco15. But just a little
The price difference on the most current versions of these two bags for women, Riff 15 Long and Disco 15 Long, makes even less sense. The Nemo website now shows that the Riff is 1 oz heavier and packs larger than the Disco of the same size and warmth rating. I really don’t get the extra $100. Thanks for the review.