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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Quilts and Blankets > Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron
Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter
Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: July 6, 2009
Field Report: Sep 9, 2009
Long Term Report: Oct 30 2009
Image courtesy of Cascade Designs website
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA
Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.
Manufacturer: Cascade Designs/Therm-A-Rest
MSRP: $229.95 USD
Weight: (stated) 2 lb 8 oz (40 oz) (1180 g) (weight and conversion from manufacturer's hang tag)
Weight: (actual) 2 lb 5 oz (37 oz) (1056 g)
Rating: (stated) 40 F (4 C)
Size: (stated) 60 in. x 82 in. (152 cm x 208 cm)
Colors/sizes available: Limon and Chili Pepper/Regular and Large
April 15th, 2009
I received the large chili pepper comforter. This is a large down comforter with 650-fill down in a box baffle system. The comforter is part of Therm-A-Rest's comfort sleep system and works either alone or in conjunction with either a fitted sheet or snap kit each sold separately. The comforter has an elasticized footbox that can hug the bottom of a sleeping mat or feet helping to keep it in place. There are two snaps at the bottom of the comforter along the footbox and three along each side. The sides of the comforter have a draft baffle that extends around the bottom creating the fitted footbox. The side snaps are along the outer edge of the comforter and not along the draft baffle whereas the snaps at the footbox are located along the baffle. The snaps alternate between male and female snaps and line up with the snaps on the fitted sheet. There is a small pocket at the top of the comforter with a snap closure. The comforter came with a generously sized stuff sack as well as a mesh topped storage cube.
My initial impressions of the comforter was how large it is. I wasn't expecting the comforter to be quite so generous. It is almost the same size as my double bed. Once I got over the size, I pulled out my air mattress and attached the fitted sheet to the mat to see how the comforter would work. The comforter has a set of snaps that line up with the snaps on the sheet. I draped the comforter across my bed upside down and placed my mat on top of it making the snaps easy to line up. I did notice that the snaps were difficult to snap together and pull apart. I grasped the material surrounding the snap and had to use quite a bit of force to pull the snaps apart. The comforter covered my regular length mat from top to bottom. As I am not that tall, I will likely have to fold the top of the comforter over if I don't want my head covered.
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I looked at the website. I thought this was just a comforter to drape over myself with nothing to hold it in place. I was pleased to discover that there was a snap system to hold the comforter down as needed but I wasn't expecting the snaps to alternate male with female. Once I discovered this, it also lead to the realization that I could snap the two sides of the comforter together and securely wrap myself up in the comforter like a sleeping bag. From the information tag I also see that it is possible to snap two comforters together to create a larger comforter creating a sleep system for two.
The comforter is a little narrower at the feet and wider at the top. Once snapped onto the mat, the system works almost like a twin sized bed. I can snap along one edge and toss the comforter off to one side pulling it over myself as needed. While the cut of the large is extremely generous for my body size, it does still give me plenty of room when folded in half and snapped to itself. The comforter can be used in several ways and with several Therm-A-Rest items. A fitted sheet can be used to cover the mat and snap the comforter securely in place. There is also a snap kit that allows snaps to be stuck to any mat to secure the comforter. Plus the comforter can be used solo or snapped to another comforter for two person comfort. Finally, the comforter can be used as a lap quilt or wrap around camp to stay warm.
I am generally a stomach and side sleeper, but since I have difficulties sleeping, I tend to toss around a lot. I will be interested in how close to bed-like comfort I can get with the comforter when snapped down, as well as how well it stays in place when not snapped down. I will be using this comforter with a Therm-A-Rest Neo Air, as well as a mummy shaped summer weight Insul-Mat. I will use the comforter both with the fitted sheet and without as well as to wrap myself up with around camp. I will also try to use the comforter in a hammock on a warm night to see if snapping myself inside will work well.
My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the Ventra Comforter on all my outdoor overnight activities. This will include backpacking in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, as well as occasionally car and kayak camping. I will be especially interested in looking into how well the comforter stays in place when not snapped to something.
Sep 9th 2009
I have used this comforter for a total of 5 nights at this point. I have outlined the trips below and how the comforter was used. On all these trips, I wore minimal base layers as it was warm enough to not require extra insulation under the comforter.
Using the comforter around camp was quite nice. Due to the wind, I felt quite cool and I ended up wrapping myself up in the comforter for around camp use. This worked quite well and kept me warm in the place of my forgotten down jacket. I did have to be careful to not drag the edges or corners on the ground when sitting moving around or sitting on the hammock.
The next trip out was a one night trip out to the Brighton Lakes area in Utah. We hiked a total of 10 miles (16 km) both days with 5 mi (8 km) hiked each day and a total elevation gain of about 4500 ft (1370 m). Overnight temperatures were down to about 55 F (12 C) with little humidity. The rain really brought the temperature down. The comforter was quite toasty at that temperature and I was nice and warm. In fact the comforter was large enough to toss part of it over my hiking partner in order to help share warmth. Not quite a two person comforter but certain the large size is enough to share a little. The little pocket does come in handy for storing ear plugs and my inflatable pillow or stuff sack for the pillow.
The next trip was a three day, two night trip down at Bryce Canyon. This was a car camping trip and I actually had a chance to use the comforter as a two person setup. Since my hiking partner also had a comforter it was possible to snap two together to create a large comforter for two. Having the fitted sheets was also helpful to keep the two mattresses together. Temperatures were lower on this trip, dropping down to 50 F (10 C) and possibly even a little lower. Overnight, I used the comforter as an individual setup and I didn't get cold at the lower temperatures.
The last trip out was a car camping trip. Temperatures dropped overnight to a low of about 65 F (18 C) but started closer to 80 F (27 F) when I first went to bed. I didn't immediately crawl under the comforter as it was still a little too hot and sticky out. I instead just pushed the comforter off to the side within easy reach. I used the comforter with the air mattress again, but this time I did not snap the comforter in place, I simply placed the air mattress in the foot box. Given all the tossing and turning I do over night, especially towards the morning hours, I was happy to see that the comforter remained in place around the air mattress and gave me ample coverage on the sides. Since I have the large sized comforter, I found that the comforter spreads out nicely on the sides creating a good seal with the bottom of the tent. I don't have to tuck the sides underneath although I did tuck one side under my arm so it wasn't directly against the ground.
Impressions and Comments:
I haven't had any problems with durability yet, nor have I noticed any excess escaping of feathers from the comforter. Actually, I haven't noticed any feathers escaping. I have been warm down to 50 F (10 C) and will continue to push that rating lower to see at what point I am no longer comfortable. I have so far been using the comforter with a rectangular air mattress. I have either snapped the comforter in place or just placed the air mattress in the elasticated foot box both with great success.
Long Term Report:
October 30th 2009
I have used this comforter for a total of 7 more nights at this point. I have outlined a few more trips below with how the comforter was used.
Another trip out over 2 nights saw relatively warm temperatures with high humidity. I was staying on Assateague Island in Maryland with a light rain the first night and 60 F (15 F). The second night the tent was covered in condensation and temperatures were down to 55 F (12 F) at night. The comforter wasn't too warm the first night, I felt is was just on the edge of too warm so I didn't pull it all the way up until late in the night. The second night I definitely pulled it up over my shoulders. The comforter saw a little condensation rain down on it from the tent but was otherwise away from the tent walls. I did find that the comforter seemed to feel damp and likely had picked up some of the moisture in the air. I aired the comforter out when I got back home.
I really have not had any issues with this comforter. I have enjoyed using it from the beginning and can definitely see myself using it in warmer seasons. I did find that I was cold below 50 F (10 C) and wasn't sure if the high humidity might have played a detrimental role in my staying chilled. The comforter worked as a great overbag with plenty of extra room for another puffy bag underneath. Given the right combination of comforter and underbag, I could see this being a good early spring and late fall addition on trips where weight is starting to increase due to weather and warmer clothing. While not necessary, the sheet made the system great and I didn't have to worry about sticking to my pad. My fear that the comforter might tangle up around me never happened, I never tossed around so much in my sleep that the comforter came untucked from under the sleeping pad.
This concludes my long term report on the Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter. Thank you for following this test series, I hope you have found the information contained within useful. I wish to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Therm-A-Rest for allowing me to test this sleep system.
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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Quilts and Blankets > Therm-A-Rest Ventra Down Comforter > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron