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Newly homeless? The SBS might be right for you

Chad Abraham
Aspen Times Weekly

My wife offered no assistance in helping me review this product.

Heather couldn’t stop laughing. The cacophony of cackles began once I opened the bathroom door. Getting into the Selk Bag Sleep+Wear System requires much unzipping, rustling of the nylon shell and rezipping. Suspicious sounds. Heather kept pounding on the door, demanding entry. Once she saw what I was wearing, and realized I was not dismembering a corpse or packaging Afghan chieva, the peels of mirth from her continued for a good half-hour afterward as I tried to go to sleep in the garment, which henceforth will be referred to as the Sleeping Bag Suit, or SBS.

The SBS is manufactured by a Chilean company, Lippi Outdoor, and retailed by a host of online firms. The “about us” section for one outlet has this unsurprising line: “Right now, we have a warehouse full of funky Selk Bags waiting for you to buy one.” And, one imagines, waiting. And waiting.

It is interesting to contemplate the target audience for these things, which sell for $169. My initial test, sleeping in it, resulted in overheating, which is better, I guess, than the opposite.

More tests were required. Wearing it, I tried to shove one of the booties into my ski boot, to no avail. So after work one night, I donned the SBS and set off for New York Pizza. En route, I encountered two young couples in front of the Jerome.

“Whoaaa,” one of the guys said.

“First thoughts, c’mon,” I said. “What’s the first thing that pops in your head?”

“Antarctica,” the other guy said.

“Hugs,” a girl said. (This was a sentiment shared by a female co-worker when she saw me strutting around the office. Not so funny now, is it, Heather?)

I continued on toward New York Pizza. My feet stayed warm. Outside the pizza shop, I pulled the hood’s drawstrings tight so hardly any of my face was visible and walked upstairs. My friend Brady didn’t recognize me, nor bat an eye at my garb. I performed a perfunctory shamanistic tango, a whirligig of green Go-Go dance moves. Still no reaction. But then, he’s seen many a disturbing thing in the restaurant’s wee hours, when Aspen weirdness is in full bloom.

But a few hooligans looked on approvingly. I asked for input. Maybe climbers, those adherents of sleeping high alongside sheer rock faces, would be fans, I suggested. A disagreement was posited, the kid saying those people track the weight of everything down to the micro-ounce and that an SBS, at 4-1/2 pounds, would be far too heavy. We all agreed it would be effective at a hut. And if one happened to pass out drunk at the bottom of a snow mound, it very well could save your life.

One retailer says the SBS is “ideal for summer festivals, a comfortable option for couch potatoes and a fantastic choice for everyday camping.” What a perfect euphemism the latter is for homelessness. The company didn’t return my inquiry seeking an interview. Which is too bad. I had many questions for the designer of this thing. Such as, “Did you sense the economic downturn was coming and think, ‘Millions of people are going to need a way to stay warm in their cardboard shanties'”?

Should you, the consumer, be you of unimaginable wealth, imaginary wealth, the hard-working rabble or a suddenly everyday camper, buy an SBS?

Hell if I know. I have mixed feelings about it. It’s perfect for making a spectacle of one’s self, and is fairly comfy and convenient. But I wouldn’t shell out 170 clams for it.


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