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NEMO Forte Endless Promise Sleeping Bag Review: The Sleeping Bag You Can Recycle

Jun 13, 2023Jun 13, 2023

NEMO’s Forte Endless Promise sets a high bar for sustainability in the outdoor gear industry with its new 100% recyclable sleeping bag.

It is not news that the lifecycle of most material goods is harmful to our environment, most notably the production process, and disposal. In the last few years, we’ve seen a new push in the outdoor industry to take responsibility for its impact on the planet — especially since using outdoor gear depends on having access to outdoor spaces to begin with.

Based in New Hampshire, NEMO is a gear company that is known for making strides to reduce its environmental footprint. The brand has set a goal to cut its emissions intensity in half by 2030, like a handful of other brands. In an effort to accomplish that, NEMO introduced its new Endless Promise collection for 2023. It’s gear that’s designed to reduce resource consumption and keep gear out of landfills.

The very first NEMO Endless Promise product is an updated rendition of the Forte synthetic sleeping bag. The 2023 Forte sleeping bag is made entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials, insulated with 100% post-consumer recycled content, and is 100% recyclable at the end of its lifetime

In short: With the 2023 Forte sleeping bag, NEMO has taken a long-time fan favorite and revamped it with new materials and design elements. Synthetic insulation provides warmth. Mesh “Thermo Gills” unzip and allow for improved ventilation. A “Blanket Fold” draft collar closes to trap heat or opens up to dump it. On top of that, as part of the Endless Promise series, this sleeping bag is fully recyclable. So, at the end of its life, the brand can break this polyester bag down and remake it into something else. It’s also worth noting that while the Forte was the brand’s first experiment for Endless Promise in sleeping bags, another NEMO model, the Disco, will get the fully recyclable treatment as well for 2023.

With its Endless Promise series (note: not just sleeping bags), NEMO is aiming to take full responsibility for the life cycle of its products, designing them for “Total Circularity.” But what does total circularity look like in practice?

For 2023, NEMO took its top-selling synthetic sleeping bag back to the drawing board, a bold risk — to make it 100% recyclable. It partnered with Unifi, a U.S.-based recycler. Unifi sent NEMO an outline of the requirements the Forte had to meet in order to be 100% recyclable.

And after 15 different prototypes, it had created a fully recyclable, mono-polymer sleeping bag made up of 90% polyester without sacrificing any of the durability and performance its products are known for.

NEMO’s Forte synthetic, three-season sleeping bag has been a popular staple for the brand for a long time. This year, in addition to being fully recyclable, NEMO has updated its top seller with some awesome new improvements.

The Forte has always offered a Classic Spoon-shaped design. The Spoon shape has more room around the knees and shoulders. So, it’s a great bag for those of us who don’t sleep flat on our backs. As a side sleeper, and having never slept in a spoon-shaped sleeping bag, this was one of the first things I noticed. This feature definitely added to the overall comfort of the bag, and the quality of my sleep.

The Forte Endless Promise also includes NEMO’s newly improved Gill vents. These have a multistage zipper system that widens the temperature range of the bag. The best part of this feature is that you can adjust the zipper while inside.

I took the Forte to the West Texas desert on a climbing trip in the early summer. The nights were cooler, but not that cool. So, the ability to unzip the gills in the middle of the night was a saving grace.

The draft collar is designed to trap heat when folded up. Or, it can let warm air out if it’s folded down. Couple that with a pocketed hood that holds your pillow in place and the incredibly soft, lofty feel of the fabric, a restful night’s sleep is almost inevitable.

I tested the women’s long 20-degree bag in the field. For the early summer, it was definitely on the warmer side. With temperatures only dropping into the 50s at night, I mostly kept the gills open and the draft collar folded down. I will also be taking it with me to Wyoming this fall to the Wind River Range. I’m excited to see how it will perform in the cooler backcountry!

Along with hitting the mark to make it a part of the Endless Promise collection, the Forte’s comfort and performance were clearly still priorities for NEMO.

Both the men’s and women’s Forte Endless Promise sleeping bags come in different lengths and temperature ratings, at different price points.

The 20-degree long sleeping bag is at the highest price point at $240. It weighs in at 3 pounds, 11 ounces and fits someone up to 6’6″. I could have definitely fit in the regular. But, I personally thought the longer size was perfect for me. I sit right under 5’10” (most of that height comes from my legs), and I was more than comfortable.

The next price drops down to $220 for the 20-degree, regular-length Forte. Weighing a little bit less at 3 pounds, 7 ounces, it can fit someone up to 6 feet tall. The men’s bag comes in a darker blue and bright yellow color. The women’s is the same dark blue with a light blue accent.

Right at the $200 price point is the 35-degree, long-length Forte, which weighs in at 2 pounds, 5 ounces. The 35-degree bags come in a gray and orange color for men, and a gray and sage color for women. The regular length of this sleeping bag is NEMO’s least expensive and lightest Endless Promise product. It’s an approachable $180 and weighs exactly 2 pounds.

NEMO has a few options for how its customers can reuse or recycle its Forte bags. If the gear is still usable, but you are ready to move on to something bigger and better, customers can send their sleeping bags back to NEMO. The brand will then resell these bags through its partner organization, Trove. This gives your sleeping bag the chance to find a new, loving home.

If the time has come to part with your well-loved gear, and it is no longer usable, NEMO will provide free shipping for you to send your Forte back to the company. NEMO then recycles the Forte with Unifi. It turns the bag into Repreve polyester yarn that can be used to create something new.

Whatever path you decide, NEMO will send you a gift card with either the resale value of your Forte (if it’s in good condition), or a $20 gift card if it’s at the end of its life. And, of course, there is always the option to get your Forte repaired at NEMO if you are not yet ready to part with it. All in all, these are three pretty good options to keep this recyclable gear in play. That is, as long as NEMO continues this project for as long as it takes to start seeing their Endless Promise bags come back to be recycled.

When I first got word that NEMO was updating its Forte sleeping bag to be a fully recyclable product, I was amped. When I heard I was getting the chance to test it out, I was equally stoked to see how and if a more sustainable bag could still hold up to the performance, durability, and comfort standards NEMO has built its brand on.

In my opinion, NEMO’s Forte experiment was a success. The Forte Endless Promise sleeping bag held up its end of the bargain, both for the environment and the consumer. And, improvement updates like the draft collar and gills are awesome. I honestly expected nothing less from a NEMO product.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how it continues to perform. And I feel good knowing that at the end of my bag’s life, it’ll be recycled into something useful.

However, we all know the fight for sustainability doesn’t stop at one sleeping bag, and it seems NEMO is already one step ahead. It has already announced its plan for the Endless Promise 2024 collection, with even more products added to the line. These products will include new sleeping bags (synthetic and down), sleeping pads, tents, a camp chair, and more.

And yes, we already have 2024 testing in the works. Stay tuned.

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