Mention the name “Campmor” to a particular outdoors demographic (perhaps over 35 years or so old; originally from the northeast United States) and a certain nostalgia is induced.
Before the rise of easy internet shopping, and the ubiquitousness of REI in every state, Campmor was where it was at for those who did not live close to an outdoor store. Their black and white catalog with old-school line drawings were chock full of gear.
The mail would arrive. Among the flyers for local pizza places, a telephone bill, and the family church newsletter, there would be the eagerly awaited Campmor catalog.
It would be placed on the nightstand table. It would be perused over until the next catalog arrived. For a person just starting their journey into the outdoors, it was not just a gear catalog. It was a catalog that had the potential for future outdoor jaunts.
The catalog was not flashy. It was not meant to for impulsive buying. You looked for a particular item when you perused this catalog. Maybe something caught your eye once in a while..but it was really meant for goal-oriented shopping. Want a tent? Look it up. Need some rain gear? Let’s see what is for sale.
The catalog perhaps mirrored the northeast where Campmor is based: No frills, blunt, to the point, functional, here for business. Get what you need and move along.
The items ranged from discount brands such as Coghlan’s to mid-range brands such as Columbia or Eureka or higher end brands such as Thermarest and MSR.
You could, and still can buy basic thermal tops or something like Patagonia Capilene.
And among the gear, you could buy was the Campmor house brand gear. Good quality gear that was not overly expensive.
Their rain gear was basic, but functional (I still use their oversized “mountaineering” shell in winter). Their Campmor branded tarp is still a workhorse. Love their simple zipper pulls, and they are the only retail store (I know of) that sells my gaiters of choice for winter use on-line.
And among this house brand gear, they used to sell were the Campmor branded down bags.
The 20F bag was a good budget bag.
And their 0F bag? A reasonably priced winter bag.
It is what I have and use for my winter backpacking.
It is has a draft collar and a draft tube, the nylon material resists snow and it, at least in my experience (with a total R-value of my sleeping pads at least 5, wearing a thermal top and bottoms, a hat and in a shelter), the temperature rating always felt accurate. At 3 lbs, 5 oz reasonably light for a winter bag. It “only” has 550 down fill…but it wasn’t that long ago where 750 or even 650 fill was considered high-end rather than merely a minimum baseline for a decent to a good garment. ( Makes me wonder how much these fill power numbers are useful rather than marketing hype and/or contrived at times…. But that’s another article… )
The Campmor 0F down bag is no frills, functional and reasonably priced at $160 in today’s dollars. Though I winter backpack in a tent, I don’t do enough of this backpacking (perhaps 2-3 trips a season vs. day skis, hut trips or snow caves where I can use a lighter bag) to warrant a $500 or more for a 0F down bag. And if I go really cold weather winter backpacking, I’ll layer another quilt on top to bring it down to the lower digits. For various reasons, I don’t think I’ll be on any hut trips this year, so I plan to winter backpack more…
Alas, Campmor no longer makes (or has made for them) this bag anymore. Much like their house brand shells, other gear companies have made similar items and are competitive in price. Campmor even sells some those items, too.
As for Campmor itself, their catalog has not changed much. But with online shopping being so easy, and there are so many more options, I don’t think their catalog has the same thrill as it did so many years ago for many of us.
I like Campmor. I just go to their website rather than their catalog now.
My gear purchases are less and less, but socks, thermal tops and bottoms and similar replacement gear and clothing will always be needed.
Why I still use this gear: A 0-degree bag, for me, is a nice compromise between being good for Colorado winters and allowing me to layer with a quilt for even colder temps without spending too much money/having more gear than I need. The Campmor bag has proven to be a functional warhorse.
Would I recommend buying it? Alas, this bag is no longer made. Kelty makes similar bags that have received decent to good reviews. I suspect the Kelty Cosmic Down 0 Degree bag will fill a similar niche to my old Campmor one. But, I can’t speak to its use from personal experience.
If you are doing extensive deep winter camping/mountaineering (meaning more than a weekend here and there ), a -10F or -20F bag may be warranted. For me, a zero degree bag and another bag/quilt combo is good versatility for my weekend or so jaunts