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Carinthia Defence 4 Sleeping Bag Review – Worth the money?

Carinthia Defence 4 Sleeping Bag Review – Worth the money?

We dive into the Carinthia Defence 4 sleeping bag and explain our reasons for buying three of them…

If you live in a colder climate or enjoy camping more on the cold side then the Carinthia defence 4 sleeping bag makes sense. Up until now we’ve enjoyed the relative warmth of southern Europe but having moved back to the UK and with future plans for overlanding Scandinavia we thought it was time to move away from the budget bags suitable for summer and invest in something far more substantial.

carinthia defence 4 sleeping bag
Carinthia defence 4 sleeping bag

There are hundreds of sleeping bags out there from the cheapest to the eye wateringly expensive. For us, the Defense 4 was the sweet spot in between. We paid €192,00 euros [£166,00 at the time] and that was on a late summer deal. Heading back to the UK with the high probability of camping periods over the winter we needed something that was going to keep us warm and the Defence 4 didn’t have a bad word said about it no matter where you looked.

What Carinthia say…

The Defense 4 comes from the military sector and is one of the best-selling 3-season sleeping bags in its class. It is characterized by the center zipper and an extremely robust and waterproof outer material. The zippered cover flap protects against wind and moisture and the integrated zipper warming strip additionally prevents heat loss.

– Carinthia

The Carinthia defence 4 sleeping bag comes from the military which is fine by me, you also get two different sizes to choose from which is very handy when it comes to storing some of your gear actually in the foot of the bag itself. Everything about the bag screamed quality and it’s modular. Carinthia is a company out of Austria with all products being made in the EU so if you like spending your hard earned with a company who benefits from stricter quality control then there is nothing not to like.

We pulled the trigger on three bags.

Specs:

Insulation G-LOFT®, 100% Polyester
Outer fabric 100% Polyamide
Inner lining 100% Polyamide
Size M [outer dimensions]215cm x 85cm x 57cm
Size L [outer dimensions]230cm x 87cm x 60cm
Weight M1850g
Weight L2000g
Temperture [comfort/extreme]-15 °C (10 °f) / -35 °C (-33 °f)
Size compressed M24cm x 30cm
Size compressed L25cm x 32cm

Material

The defence 4’s outer shell is made from ripstop nylon, it’s lightweight, durable [a must for our style of camping] and it’s PU coated. The bag is windproof and water resistant, make no mistake though it not ‘waterproof’ and while it will withstand some rain it will eventually succumb. The Defence 4 is also breathable which given the characteristics mentioned about is impressive.

There are various colours but we settles on the plain green as the camo versions add a significant cost, the option is there though for those who might need it. The material feels light yet robust when handled, there are no doubts when you pick up this bag.

best miltary inspired sleeping bags
durable materials inside and out

Layers: There are a few layers to this bag one of which is something called ‘Thermoflect’, this is essentially a layer which helps reflect heat back inside the bag. You have a double layer of G-LOFT filling [insulation] plus the outer shell which have been layered together to create an air trap between the quilted insulation and the shell of the bag. The result is warmth – and plenty of it.

Heavy duty zips

The zippers on the Defence 4 are pretty heavy duty and while not YKK you get the feeling that they are quality, afterall what would be the point in designing a sleeping bag at this price point then letting the whole thing down with a poor zip?

The bag boasts a double zip so it can be unzipped from the top and the bottom if for example you want additional ventilation or have gear stored in the foot of the bag and need quick access to it. The top zip can be opened from the inside too whereas the bottom zip is only on the outside.

Heavy duty zips

Carinthia say the zipper system is ‘non snag’ and they are right, a cleverly designed guide runs through the system almost completely ruling out any snagging issues. The zip on the Defence 4 is also central, you will also find a zip cover flap to help prtect aginst the wind and a warming strip to prevent heat loss. This bag really has been very well thought out and has a very high spec.

Insulation

G-LOFT® is Carinthia’s own product and one aspect that differentiates it from it’s competitors. To keep something technical very simple G-LOFT is a synthetic insulation with memory properties, is easliy maintained [washable] and highly breathable. The memory aspect is of particular interest as after prolonged use overnight or after compression in the sack the Defence 4 will ‘grow back’ and puff itself up again. Want all the tech jargon? Check out Carinthia’s G-LOFT specs.

Hood

One feature that stands out with the Defence 4 is that hood or rather the small opening for your face at the top of the bag. At first this may seem odd, certainly unconventional and something that you might think is going to be, well, different. The important thing is that it works and it works well although for some it may take a few nights to get used to.

carinthia defence 4 hood opening
hood opening

The design of the hood works equally well for back sleepers and side sleepers and is exceptional for heat retention on the coldest of nights. The opening features a drawstring to close things up more snug if required. The hood of the bag is just about large enough to have a folded fleece or similar in there too to use as a pillow.

Footbox

The Carinthia Defence 4 sleeping bag is a mummy design, the footbox is large due to being of military design the bag was built to accomodate soldiers sleeping in their boots. The design also prevents your feet pulling at the bag creating cold spots like a conventional ‘flat’ bag.

carinthia defence 4 footbox
large footbox

The footbox also comes in useful when being used outdoors for storing items that you don’t want to get wet or damp like footwear and clothing. The double zipper as mentioned above allows easy access to the foot fo the bag. The footbox also has two quite substantial loops which are used for hanging the bag upside down to air out/dry out if required.

Compression sack

The compression sack that the Carinthia Defence 4 comes in is a decent bit of kit on it’s own, nothing cheap here. The colour is the same green as the bag itself and with five compression straps it is easy to get what is a fairly large sleeping bag compressed down even more.

carinthia compression sack
Defence 4 compression sack

More importantly you don’t have to be a WWE champion to get it back in there either as the bag fits in the compression sack with room to spare. The ‘pack size compressed’ [large 25 x 32cm / small 25 x 30cm] is always going to be hit and miss depending on how you stuff the bag in there and the Defence 4 does retain some air after use too.

All about temperature limits

Choosing a decent sleeping bag in the good old days could be a bit hit and miss, there was no real standard of measuring how warm and effective any given bag could be. Nowadays we have something called EN13537 which is a ‘standard’ requirement for sleeping bags. To keep it simple a manekin is placed inside the bag and a few hours later the bag gets a number.

The big positive that comes from these no doubt very expensive tests is consistency in results [to within a degree or two anyway]. This has erradicated discrepancies with manufacturers allowing the consumer to make a more informed choice.

Carinthia defence 4 temperature limits
Carinthia defence 4 temperature limits

Having looked across the internet for a simple straight forward explanation it was evident that many had their own interpretation and sources of info so I decided to ask Carinthia themselves and below is what they came back to me with. [within the hour]


The temperature ranges of all our sleeping bags are measured according to a standard norm. The comfort F, comfort temperature and the extreme temperature.

Comf. F (-8,8C°): This value is calculated for a “standard woman” (25 years, 60 kg, 1.60 m) who is not yet cold.

Comf. Limit (-15C°): This value is calculated for a “standard man” (25 years, 70 kg, 1.73 m) who is not yet cold.

Extreme (-35C°): This value is calculated for a “standard woman” (25 years, 60 kg, 1.60 m) under severe cold stress. Here there is an increased risk of hypothermia.

However one must always bear in mind that every person has a different sensation. A lot depends on the physical strain the cold sensation and what you may have done before (sports etc.). It is therefore not possible to guarantee 100% that everyone feels -15°C in the same way.

Hope I could help you and have a nice day!” – [Carinthia]


To keep things simple ignore the extreme number. If you are a woman then the ‘comfort F’ number is the one to look for. If you’re a guy then the ‘comfort limit’ number is the one to watch.

Modular

The Defence 4 was designed to be a modular sleeping bag. It is advertised by Carinthia as a three season bag which can be boosted upwards to a five season using the Tropen sleeping bag. The Carinthia polycotton liner can also be used inside the Defence 4 to add another layer. What this all means is that you can build a sleep system to cope with sub zero temperatures and have the option of one or two bags and the extra weight etc for any given situation, the flexibility is there instead of one heavy [and big] extreme weather bag.

Overlanding with the Defence 4

When you need something warm and durable then the Defence 4 is a reliable sleeping bag to have in your kit. If you like to work in a bit of bushcraft into your travels or like to park up in woodland and sleep outdoors then this is where the Defence 4 comes into it’s own.

carinthia defence 4 bags for overlanding
Big bags rolled up but the compression sack helps

The only issue with the Defence 4 for overlanding is it’s size, it’s not a compact bag but you’re not going a get a 3 season bag of this quality and pricepoint to stuff in the glove box either so there’s always a trade off.

Conclusion

So the Carinthia Defence 4 sleeping bag is on the big side for overlanding but we think it is well worth finding some extra space in the rig to accomodate it. You have the option of adding to it for colder conditions, it is feature packed for it’s price and it gives you the confidence that you’ll have a good night’s sleep without worrying about the weather.

best sleeping bag for bushcraft
Carinthia defence 4

We have been using the Defence 4 in southern and northern Spain during Autumn and they performed exceptionally well during our road trip back to the UK. The weather was cold and very wet off the back of storm Keiran and the bags were top notch throughout.

somewhere near a very cold and rainy Madrid, defence 4 sleeping bags in use

The defence 4 can take some getting used to, it’s not a conventional bag but it’s highly functional when it comes to retaining heat. The face hole is small which may be what you struggle with initially but once you get used to it after a couple of nights you’ll get a great night’s sleep. We love these bags and would not hesitate to recommend.

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Mac

K90overland is Mac and Gayle, they lived in Andalucia for 19 years before moving back to the UK. Overlanding since 2019 the pair have built up a 'budget rig' and now enjoy a relaxed approach to discovering Scotland and the north of England.

Mac

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