Eric Darsow wrote an answer about Sea To Summit XtII Sleeping Bag: 12 Degree Down on December 21, 2011
Consider this, Austin: Economically speaking, the reason we have decent tents for $50 and decent sleeping bags for $100 today is because innovation in the outdoor industry (like any other industry) is driven by the continually evolving high-end brands and gear lines that, once accepted as valuable, become mass produced and their cost slowly inches down to a range accessible by mid-level consumers. Any mainstream technology product is an example of this: LCD screens, touch screens, laptops, etc. We can drop our jaws at the thought that somebody would pay $500 for an iPhone and write them off as "materialistic elitists" but Apple innovates because they want to grab the rents they get from selling new products to die hards for some time. That technology then seeps into the gear that you and me buy at less exorbitant prices. So, consider letting the die-hards and the rich outdoorsy folks pay $500 for this sleeping bag so perhaps in 4 years you and I can buy fancy polyester shell linings on our bags for $100. It's how innovation works in a modern-day economy! We all benefit!
So while I disagree with the sentiment of your "Backcountry, have you lost it?" comment for the reasons stated in previous answers, as a teacher into mountaineering, I can sympathize with you, Austin, since I don't always have the financial wiggle room to deck the pack out with the top-of-the-line quality gear. The challenge in any sport culture is to stem the natural tide to becoming elitist in attitude. For instance, I did shell out good money for a mountaineering course last year and thought I had paid to be a third-rate participant in a name-brand outdoor clothing fashion show. Conversation incessantly drifted back to commenting on the various pieces of gear that the course members had bought, usually at top-notch prices.
But the good news is that while some people do engage in outdoor activities partly for the sake of showing off $300 Arc'Teryx pants, their doing so doesn't mean I have to do so.