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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Quilts and Blankets > Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter > Test Report by Bob Sanders

Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter


Test Series by Bob Sanders

Initial Report: July 5, 2009
Field Report: September 14, 2009
Long Term Report: November 10, 2009


PERSONAL INFORMATION
Name: Bob Sanders BobBackpacking Background: I went on my first backpacking trip as a Boy Scout at the age of 16. Over the years I have hiked the Wonderland Trail in Washington and section hiked parts of the Florida Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail and 740 mi (1191 km) of the Pacific Crest Trail. I continue to backpack and hike year round in the Colorado mountains. I have evolved from a heavyweight backpacker to a lightweight backpacker and sometimes reach ultralight weights. My three day summer solo adventures (using a hammock) have me hovering around a 10 lb (4.5 kg) base weight.
Age: 51
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Email: sherpabob(at)mac(dot)com
Location: Longmont, Colorado USA


INITIAL REPORT

July 5, 2009


PRODUCT INFORMATION (From Website)
Manufacturer: Therm-A-Rest
Manufactured: 2009
Website: www.cascadedesigns.com

Description:
The Ventra comforter provides all the technical benefits of a down sleeping bag—lightweight compressibility and warmth —without making you feel…like a mummy. It snaps directly to your mattress with our Fitted Sheets or Mattress Snap Kit, eliminating the wasted down and fabric underneath you that provides little additional warmth. Instead, you get the added benefits of space, ventilation and foot-loose freedom that you only ever felt at home. Used as a part of a sleep system, or on its own around camp, the Ventra Down Comforter is creating a brand new genre of technical, outdoor luxury.

Ventra ComforterSpecs:
  • Rated to 40°F (4°C)
  • Box-baffled, 650-fill down to eliminate cold spots.
  • Sizes: Regular & Large (testing)
  • Colors: Limon & Chili Pepper (testing)
  • Listed Weight* (Size Large):
    2 lbs 5 oz  (1180 g)
  • Actual Weight (Size Large):
    2 lbs 5.5 oz (1063 g)
  • Stuff Sack: 0.9 oz (26.8 g)
  • Listed Size: 60 in x 82 in (152 cm x 208 cm)
  • Actual Size: 59 in x 80 in (150 cm x 203 cm)
  • Made in China
*The converted weights don't match. On the website it lists 2 lbs 5 oz (1180 g) and on the product literature that came with the product, it lists the weight at 40 oz (1180g). Neither one of the ounce weights match the gram weights. The common measurement of 1180 g is (41.6 oz or 2 lbs 9.6 oz)


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Ventra arrived in a cube shaped storage container made of a heavy weight cordura type nylon. On one end is a mesh panel with a zipper and on the other end is a carry strap. Also included was a stuff sack with a simple draw cord, made of the same two nylons as the comforter itself.

Storage CubeStuff Sack
My very first impression was "wow this thing is big". I ordered the large size because of my height. The length of the Ventra seems just fine but the width is quite large. Wide enough for two very friendly people to sleep under. To give you an example I laid it flat on top of my queen sized bed and the top edge is nearly as wide as the bed.

I am so glad I have an opportunity to test this product. I love quilts/comforters and I was introduced to them about 5 years ago and I use them extensively during the spring, summer and fall. The only time I use a sleeping bag is during the winter when heat retention is paramount. For me quilts fit my way of sleeping. I sleep all over the place. I sleep on my back, on my side and on my stomach. And most importantly is my tendency to sprawl. A sleeping bag, especially a mummy bag just does not accommodate my style of sleeping comfort.

Ventra TopVentra Bottom
 

The top of the Ventra is made of a mini ripstop (slightly shiny) nylon in the Chili Pepper color. The color is quite pleasing and is kind of a rusty, reddish orange. The inside is made of a very soft, smooth gray nylon which feels quite luxurious against the skin.

The shape of the Ventra is wider at the top 59 in (150 cm) tapering to 41 in (104 cm) at the foot end. The foot end has an elastic foot pocket. This foot pocket is also designed to wrap around the bottom edge of the sleeping mattress. Also along the two sides are 7 in (18 cm) wide draft tubes. The Ventra has a small pocket with a snap closure located along the top edge .

Draft tubeSmall Pocket

Therm-A-Rest also included two other items which are accessories to the comforter. A fitted sheet (with snaps) which is large enough for a 20 in x 72 in (50 cm x 183 cm) sleeping pad and a snap kit that contains 8 self adhesive strips with snaps that adhere to the bottom of a sleeping pad. The snaps allow the Ventra to be attached to the sleeping pad. The Ventra has 8 snaps along it's outside edge — three on each side and two on the bottom edge. Using the snaps makes the comforter more like a sleeping bag and wraps the edges around and underneath the pad. I will over the course of this test decide if utilizing the snaps works for me or not.


Instructions: The instructions are printed on a paper band that wraps around the storage cube. They were easy to follow and seemed straight forward. Also included were care instructions indicating that the Ventra is machine washable in a front-load washer.

Sewn on the bottom edge were additional down care instructions:

Wash: Hand wash or machine wash in a large capacity, front loading washing machines using a mild, powdered soap or special down soap. Cold water, gentle cycle with two rinses. Do not dry clean. Do not bleach. Do not iron.

Dry: Tumble dry in large commercial dryer with low heat, checking comforter often to redistribute down and to check for over heating. As the bag dries, shake gently to redistribute down. Do not hang dry.

Do not store your comforter compressed.

Trying it out: The day it arrived I tossed it on top of my bed and slept under the Ventra all night. The windows were open and the ceiling fan was on medium. By morning the room temperature was about 65° F (18° C). I consider myself a normal to warm sleeper and most of the night I was just too warm, even sweating a bit on occasion. The good thing is that the Ventra is very easy to ventilate. Just throw my arms or a leg out and I cooled right off. My first experience taught me that the Ventra is not for warm weather and I should wait until it gets closer to 50° before I try it out again. And the best way to do that is head for the mountains.

LIKES:

  • Very Comfortable
  • Luxurious fabric
  • Easy to ventilate
  • Fits my sprawling style of sleeping
  • Elasticized foot pocket

DISLIKES:
  • Very wide - Good coverage is important but the width seems excessive for one person.

_______________________________________________________________

FIELD REPORT

September 14, 2009


I have gotten out on two weekend trips with the Ventra. These two trips are beginning to give me a pretty good idea of the comfort range of this comforter. Overall the temperatures have been pretty typical of a mild Colorado summer. I tent camped one trip and slept in a hammock the second trip.

Testing locations and conditions:


The first trip was a three day, two night backpacking trip on the Buchanan Pass/Pawnee Pass loop trail 24 mi (39 km). I headed out Friday morning and got back Sunday afternoon. Elevations were between 9,000 and 12,500 ft (2,743 and 3,810 m). My first trip out I decided to not bring the fitted sheet (used on a Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad) or the snap kit. The comforter is so large that I basically felt like I did not need them. Two nights of sleeping under the comforter proved me right. I toss and turn quite a bit while I sleep but I found that there was always plenty of comforter to keep me covered. I slept underneath the Ventra in underwear and a short sleeved t-shirt. When I went to bed temperatures were warmer at about 65° F (18° C) but got down to about 55° F (13° C). I went to bed a little warm but woke up nice and toasty. I also tried tucking one side under my sleeping pad and the weight of my body kept it in place most of the night. By morning it was no longer under me but I was always covered. The second night it was a little cooler and got down to 48° (9° C). I wore the same clothing and woke up nice and warm. I was inside a single wall tent so wind and drafts were not a problem. Humidity was very low both nights so condensation was minimal and I did not notice any wet spots on the comforter where it touched the walls of the tent.


In the tent

The Ventra is wide enough to cover the entire bottom of a two man tent.


My second trip with the Ventra was a quick overnighter to Finch Lake, a 4.5 m (7.2 km) hike each way. Elevations run between 6400 ft (1950 m) to 9900 ft (3017 m). Temperatures were between 75-85° F (24-29° C) during the day and at night it got down to about 46° F (8° C). This trip I slept in a hammock and since there was no indication of rain I left the tarp off so I could see the stars. It was a very pleasant night with only a very light breeze. I slept in underwear, a long sleeve lightweight Merino Wool t-shirt and a pair of socks. I basically folded the comforter in half (sleeping bag style) and slept on top of a closed cell foam pad. I woke up about midnight and the only thing cold was my ears so I pulled on a lightweight stocking cap and went back to bed. I woke up warm and content. Usually I am ready to retire the hammock for the season when temperatures start to approach the mid 40s. I believe little to no breeze and being able to fold the Ventra underneath me kept me comfortable.

Performance:

The temperature rating of the Ventra is 40°F (4°C). I have not experienced temperatures quite that low but so far I have been comfortable wearing very little to sleep in and stayed warm. As temperatures get cooler I will be adding additional clothing to see just how low we can go.

The foot pocket has been quite good at keeping my feet contained and warm. The elastic has plenty of give and my feet can move around a lot and still stay covered.

LIKES:
  • Everything in my Initial Report
  • It's just like sleeping at home under my comforter on my bed
  • Plenty of room to sprawl and still stay covered
DISLIKES:
  • Because it is so big it does add some extra weight.

_______________________________________________________________

LONG TERM REPORT

November 11, 2009

Squeezed in one more car camping trip to finalize this test. Wanted to make sure I was able to test the comforter at least down to it's rated temperature. We managed that and a little more including some great fishing and hiking.

Lefthand Reservior

Do ya think the wind blows up here. Check out those trees.


Testing locations and conditions:

We drove up to Lefthand Reservoir for a glorious 4 day, 3 night trip. One of my favorite spots on the planet. The elevation where we camped was approx. 9500 ft (2896 m) and the temperatures were between 50 and 65° F (10° and 18° C) during the day and at night we saw temperatures between 30 and 40° F (-1 and 4° C). Over the course of the trip the temperatures got progressively cooler. Both during the day and at night. For the entire trip I slept on a cot with a closed cell foam pad on top. This trip has been my first opportunity to test the published temperature rating of 40° F (4° C) for this comforter. The first night I slept in underwear and a cotton t-shirt. When I went to bed the temperature was about 48° F (9° C) and I was already feeling a bit chilly. At midnight I woke up and checked the temperature. It was right at 40° F (4° C) and I felt cool, not warm and toasty like I normally do. I put on a long sleeve merino wool top and a pair of wool socks and went back to sleep. In the morning the temperature had dropped another degree and I woke up warm and content. The remaining two nights got colder with the last night bottoming out at 30° F (-1° C). By that night I had switched to a long sleeved lightweight merino wool top with a thin micro fleece top over that, merino wool long johns, wool socks, and a stocking cap as the comforter does not have a hood. The last two nights I slept quite comfortably.

Fishing


Performance:

For me, and I would consider myself a pretty normal sleeper (I don't get cold too easily and I don't get too hot while sleeping). I think the temperature rating of 40° F (4° C) is pretty accurate. I think going to bed wearing light clothing is pretty normal and not excessive at all. It was only when the temperatures were in the 30's that multiple layers were necessary. Since the Ventra does not have a hood I think a stocking cap is almost a necessity at those temperatures.

Summary:

I think the Ventra is an excellent piece of gear for car camping. It is very wide which allows lots of room to sprawl and still remain covered. It truly is like sleeping at home under your bed comforter. As a piece of backpacking gear I will probably leave it at home. It is just too big and that extra size just adds unnecessary weight. The fabric is quite luxurious and I think all sleeping bags should be made from this fabric. The Ventra has a wide comfort range and for me that was between 40 and 60° F (4 and 16° C) which is really nice during the summer months when night time temperatures can vary so much.

I have enjoyed testing the Ventra and will continue to use it in the coming years.
_______________________________________________________________

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Cascade Designs for the opportunity to test this comforter.



Read more reviews of Therm-A-Rest gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Sanders

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Quilts and Blankets > Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter > Test Report by Bob Sanders



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