Most quality sleeping bags will keep you warm, safe, and cozy in a variety of challenging natural environments. The only problem? Some sleeping bags can make you feel like you are sleeping in a straight jacket.
The Nemo Disco 15 has ditched the traditional mummy bag design in search of a more comfortable (and less claustrophobic) sleeping experience. If having a bit of space and freedom of movement while camping sounds like your idea of a good time but you do not want to sacrifice warmth in the process, the Nemo Disco 15 could very well be the perfect sleeping bag addition to your gear kit. Side sleepers: pay attention!
A few days ago, I took the Disco 15 out for an overnight backpacking trip deep into the Mount Hood National Forest near my home in Portland, Oregon for a test run.
Below I break down everything I learned from my experience using this sleeping bag on a cold winter night in the Pacific North West forest.
This Nemo Disco 15 review will cover key features and performance, weight, materials used, price, comfort rating vs. limit rating, sizing options, competitor comparison and everything else you NEED to know before you invest in this sleeping bag.
*Note: This review cover’s the men’s version of the Nemo Disco 15, however, moreover less, all of these same product details with the exception of sizing and weight can be applied to the women’s Nemo Disco 15 as well.
Nemo Disco 15 Review: Is this the right sleeping bag for your next adventure?
Here are some of the important questions this Nemo Disco 15 review will answer:
- Comfort vs Limit rating of the Disco 15?
- What insulation does the Disco 15 use?
- Is the Disco 15 a true ultralight sleeping bag?
- Is the Disco 15 waterproof?
- Can the Disco 15 be used for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or PCT?
- What size should you choose? Long or regular?
- How does the Disco 15 compare to other sleeping bags in its temperature rating class?
Nemo Disco 15: Key Features and Performance Breakdown
Getting a comfortable night’s sleep is just as important in the wilderness as it is the “real world”. I personally seem to sleep better in the mountains than I do at home, but I know for a fact that many people have a hard time getting proper rest in the back country.
Being that sleeping bags are one of the most crucial elements of any adventure gear kit, you want to go with something that will help you achieve the highest level of comfort for your own body. For backpackers, another necessary consideration is weight. If a sleeping bag is so comfortable that it makes you feel like you are sleeping in a king-size bed but weighs five kilos, it is useless to the average traveler or backpacker.
My initial general impression is the Nemo Disco 15 is a great all-around three-season sleeping bag that offers a great warmth-weight ratio without sacrificing interior space (anything but).
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the cool features the Disco 15 has to offer…
Disco 15 Warmth Performance
I had the Disco 15 out for a test in late November. The low temperature at night was 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius). An important distinction to make when evaluating any sleeping bag is the comfort vs limit rating.
Actually, these ratings are not always clear as the manufacturers do not always include them. Let me break it down for you (although both are pretty self-explanatory). The limit rating is the least possible temperature your sleeping bag can handle whilst still remaining an efficient and safe unit.
You can still very much be cold if you take the sleeping bag to its limit. The comfort rating is the maximum cold temperature your sleeping bag can—you guessed it— comfortably handle. Most of the time, the real comfort rating is 8-14 degrees higher than the limit rating.
For the Disco 15, Nemo states the lower tested limit of the Disco 15 to be 14F / -10C.
When sleeping in 28-degree temperatures I was warm, but I would not say overly toasty and certainly not hot. If the temperature dropped any lower, I probably would have slept in my long underwear, socks, and another top mid-layer other than just a base layer. In freezing temperatures, zipping the bag up completely is a must.
The Nemo Disco 15 does have several unique design features that help to regulate internal temperature and to lock in body heat in cold spots.
The fact of the matter is that every person experiences a different comfortable temperature inside a sleeping bag. If you tend to be a cold sleeper, I suggest pairing a sleeping bag liner with the Disco 15 if temperatures are expected to dip below 20-25 degrees F.
For most adventures where the temperatures stay above 25 F, the Nemo Disco 15 provides more than enough warmth power to feel comfortable. Since most people do their camping during the warmer months anyway, I’d say the Disco 15 is good to go for 95% of your average 3-season backpacking trips.
Check Out: Best sleeping bag liners for travel
Warmth Performance Score: 4/5 stars.
Temperature Regulation Features
So what the hell are those funky slits that look like someone took a knife to the outer fabric? Those my friends are Thermo Gills. Though they may sound like a body part of some pre-historic fire-breathing fish, the Thermo Gills extend the temperature range of the bag on less frigid nights, allowing you to unzip and let body heat out without letting cold air in. Kind of genius right?
Since its founding, Nemo has been on the cutting edge of gear design. I happen to really love the concept of this idea as I have definitely experienced overheated nights in the backcountry wishing my sleeping bag had something just like this.
Admittedly, since I was testing this bag in freezing temperatures, I did not make proper use of the Thermo Gills. That said, in the morning when I woke up, I had the Gills open for a few minutes and could notice a difference. For use in warmish summer alpine climates, keeping the Thermo Gills open throughout the night is much more practical.
I will note that when the Gills are closed, you can’t really see that they are there, which is kind of cool.
The vertical baffling design makes it near impossible for the down material within to shift and produce the much dreaded down-less cold spots.
Hot sleepers take note: the Disco 15’s temperature regulation designs are unique to Nemo and you won’t find them anywhere else.
Temperature Regulation Score: 5/5 stars.
Disco 15 Weight and Packability
Weighing in at 2 lbs 11 oz. (regular size), the Disco 15 packs a lot of warmth in a relatively light package. True ultra lighters may want to seek alternatives, though for the rest of us, a sleeping bag under three pounds and with a 14 degree lower limit rating is pretty darn good.
For warm-weather adventures, it should not be too hard to keep your backpack under 2o pounds with the Disco 15 as your sleeping system—even for a multiday trip.
In terms of packing the Disco 15, I have high praise. Using the included compression stuff sack, the sleeping bag can consolidate into a shockingly small compact shape (taking up only about 7.2 liters!). Note that the included stuff sack is 12.5 liters.
If you have a 70-liter backpack, the Disco 15 will only take up less than 1/7th of the total available packing space. More snacks and less pointless bulk is always a good thing.
For travelers looking for a compact sleeping bag that will perform well in the mountains of Nepal as well as on the beaches of New Zealand, the Disco 15 wins big packability points.
If you are seeking a sleeping system that is almost a pound lighter than the Disco 15, but offers the same level of warmth, check out my REI Magma 15 review.
Weight Score: 3/5 stars.
Packability Score: 5/5 stars.
Insulation Material and Moisture Resistance
The Disco 15 is filled with 650-fill down with Nikwax certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). The primary reason why the Disco 15 tends to be heavier than other sleeping bags in its class is the 650 fill spec.
Amazingly though, I found that the Disco 15 compresses down to pretty much the exact same size as my other bags with 800 down fill.
Down insulation will never be waterproof. Bearing that in mind, Nemo has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Disco 15 is highly water-resistant. When you get two or more people sleeping inside a tent, condensation is bound to build up to a degree and damp sleeping bags are just a reality some mornings.
The hydrophobic Nixwax treated down inside the Disco 15 ensures that you have the best chance of staying dry (and warm) even if you are unfortunate enough to own a tent that leaks a bit. The area that seems to have received the most attention is the foot box zone.
The foot box is indeed waterproof which is awesome because, for most of us, our feet are the first body part to become cold. If like me, you inevitably drag your feet against the tent wall at least once in the night while sleeping, the waterproof (and breathable) foot box ensures you won’t wake up with a sodden sleeping bag wrapped around your feet.
Insulation Material Score: 4/5 stars.
Moisture Resistance: 4/5 Stars.
Disco 15 Zippers and Pockets
Zippers are obviously important components for a sleeping bag. Whether you need to get up to pee in the middle of the night or easily seal yourself inside your feathery nest for the night, you want zipper use to be as easy as possible.
The Nemo Disco 15 is outfitted with full-length double slider #5 YKK zippers and also features a snag guard built into the draft tube. The zippers feel beefy though despite the snag guard I found that I had to take care not to pull on the zippers too quickly lest they get caught on the sleeping bag fabric. For the most part though, the main zipper works great.
The zippers found on the Thermo Gils I had more trouble with. They are quite small, finicky things that snag easily. As a general rule, go slow when making use of any of the zippers, and especially the Thermo Gill zips. This will save you the frustration of needing to de-snag the sleeping bag fabric from the unforgiving teeth of the zipper track.
Inside the sleeping bag itself, you will find a zippered stash pocket. Stash pockets are great for keeping small items within reach. This pocket, in particular, is great for keeping electronics warm on frosty nights.
When the temperatures drop below freezing, I almost always keep my camera batteries and phone inside the sleeping bag or zipped inside a base layer pocket. Cold weather is not kind to batteries so if you are hoping to get that epic sunrise shot you’ve always dreamed of, keep your batteries in the stash pocket so that you don’t wake up to a battery with no juice.
I kept three Fujifilm X series batteries inside my Disco 15 during my test run and they all were 100% good to go in the morning as I knocked small flecks of ice from the rainfly of my tent.
Disco 15 Sizing and Fit
The #1 selling point for most backpackers looking at the Disco 15 is its unique wide-cut spoon shape. The spoon/hourglass shape gives much more freedom of movement than traditional mummy bags. If you are looking for the closest thing to a at-home-bed-feeling experience, the Disco 15 will meet that need.
For side sleepers especially, the generous cut provides more room for your arms and knees. Don’t expect to be able to splay out with all extremities extended, but the roominess of the Disco 15 can be appreciated by everyone.
The Disco 15 comes in two sizes:
Shoulder Girth: Long – Left Zip: 66 inches • Regular – Left Zip: 64 inches
Is the Disco 15 Good for Long Distance Hiking?
This Nemo Disco 15 review would not be complete without bringing up the subject of thru-hiking.
My initial thought regarding this question: the Disco 15 is a borderline thru-hikers sleeping bag. When starting out on a thru-hike (in the USA anyway) most people begin their journey in March or April. Thru-hikers almost always encounter a few below-freezing nights during their first few weeks, so having a warm sleeping system is key.
The most important aspect of any piece of gear a thru-hiker must consider is the weight. Every single ounce counts when you hike for months on end.
There are lighter options out there. The REI Magma 15 is about a pound lighter and offers comparable warmth (though not the same freedom of movement). The Magma 15 costs about $70 more than the Disco 15, which is significant when we are talking about sleeping bags costing several hundred dollars.
Personally, I would go with a lighter sleeping bag that costs more because I would rather carry more food than more sleeping bag weight.
That said, the Disco 15 will keep you plenty warm during the cold start to your thru-hike without weighing you down to an unacceptable level in the process.
Thru-hikers Score: 2/5 stars.
Nemo Disco 15 Price – Is it Worth It?
- Regular: $299.95
- Long: $319.95
Alas, onto every backpacker’s favorite subject: the cost of doing business with quality gear.
In terms of cost, the Nemo Disco 15 falls right in the middle of the price range for sleeping bags in its category. In general, the higher the fill count and lighter the weight, the more expensive a sleeping bag is going to be. The Disco 15 is neither the lightest nor the most expensive 15-degree bag out there.
The main thing to consider when buying the Disco 15 is this: how important is having that extra space for you? For some people, being more comfortable is priceless and carrying an extra pound is just an afterthought.
For thru-hikers and ultralight fanatics, the name of the game is cut weight at all costs. If you want to have the best warmth to weight ratio, you’re going to have to splash out on something like the REI Magma 15 (1 lb 14 oz.) or the Feathered Friends Swift 20 YF (1 lb. 15 oz.).
As you will quickly learn though, these ultralight sleeping bags require a much higher investment, so you’ll really need to be motivated to go ultralight.
Check out my REI Magma 15 review to learn more.
My verdict? For backpackers looking to prioritize comfort as well as warmth performance, the Disco 15 provides good value for what you get.
Score: 3/5 stars.
Nemo Disco 15 vs the World Comparison Table
|Nemo Disco 15||Check on REI|
|REI Magma 15||Check on REI|
|REI Radiant 19||Check on REI|
|REI Zephyr||Check on REI|
|REI Siesta 30||Check on REI|
|Big Agnes Anvil 15||Check on REICheck on Backcountry|
|Kammok Thylacine 20||Check on Amazon|
|Feathered Friends Swift 20 YF||Check on Feathered Friends|
|Sea to Summit Spark 2||Check on REICheck on Backcountry|
Nemo Disco 15 Review: Final Thoughts
To Disco or not to Disco… that is probably the question you now have in your mind.
Congratulations, you have made it to the final act of this Disco 15 review. Sleeping bags are like any other intimate object in your life; what works for you may not work for the next person. The Disco 15 is an overall fine sleeping bag choice loaded with unique features packed into a quality build design.
If you have ever felt restricted or claustrophobic in the backcountry, then the Disco 15 is definitely the sleeping bag for you. Throw in the water-resistant down finish and the brilliant Thermo Gills concept and you have one dependable sleeping bag to keep you cozy on your next adventure.
A good indicator of whether a company is prepared to stand behind their products is usually reflected in their warranty policy. Good news amigos: The Nemo Disco 15 is fully covered by a Nemo lifetime warranty.
Whilst not the lightest (or heaviest) or cheapest option out there, the Disco 15 is not to be overlooked when considering your next big 3-season sleeping bag purchase.
Actual disco music may be dead (which I am very thankful for), but the Disco 15 sleeping bag from Nemo is a solid buy for backpackers looking for excellent value without having to take the expensive leap into the ultralight category. I had to throw disco music under the bus at least once right? Happy backpacking guys.
Overall Sleeping Bag Score: 4/5 Stars
What are your thoughts? Did this brutally honest review of the Nemo Disco 15 help you? Anything I didn’t answer? Let me know in the comments below – thanks, guys!
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Chris Lininger is a writer, photographer, and guide from California. He is an advocate for off-beat responsible travel and the preservation of the world’s wild places and spaces. Chris is also a founding member of Epic Backpacker Tours and leads expeditions to Pakistan throughout the year. He is currently riding out the pandemic in Bali. Follow his adventures on Instagram.