MONTBELL DOWN HUGGER #3 SLEEPING BAG
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
October 05, 2020
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: MontBell Co., Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2020
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montbell.us
MSRP: $309 US
Listed Weight: 1 lb 4.2 oz (573 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 4.2 oz (573 g) including stuff sack
Fill weight 9.9 oz. (280 g)
Insulation 800 Fill Power EX Down
Fabric Shell & Lining: 10-denier Ballistic Airlight nylon
DWR Standard DWR treatment
Compressed size Ø5.5 x 10.9 in. (Ø14 x 28 cm), 3.8 L
Other ISO TESTED: 40 F / 4 C (Comfort), 31 F / -1C (Lower Limit)
Max User Height: 6 in / 183 cm (Clearly, they meant 6 ft not 6 in)
Shoulder Girth: 59 - 76 in / 149 - 194 cm
Knee Girth: 48 - 63 in / 123 - 160 cm
Color Tested: Balsam
Other Color Available: Sunrise Red
Zip Tested: Left-Hand
Right-Hand also available
Made in Vietnam
FEATURES (per Montbell)
Super Spiral Stretch System
Two way right or left-hand mating zippers (67 in / 170 cm)
Anti-snagging slider cover
Hood Adjuster (Draw cord for face hole adjustment)
Insulated Flap (covering the zipper to shut out cold air)
Auto Locking Zipper (to limit zipper slip during the night)
Triangle Gusset (Reinforcement at the end of the zipper)
Storage sack included
Stuff sack included (Tapered, bias stretch stuff sack for easier packing)
The Montbell Down Hugger #3 Sleeping Bag is an 800-fill goose down bag rated to 31 F (1 C). Montbell also provides a comfort rating of 40 F (4 C) which is more suited to a comfortable night's sleep for a standard woman where the lower rating is more typical for a standard man.
Montbell promotes a patented spiral stretch design which uses woven fabric cut on a bias and oriented to be stitched at a 45-degree angle to the major seam lines (i.e. top and bottom) using elasticized thread. The effect results in a stretch that allows for more movement leading to better fit and comfort. The idea is that as I change positions throughout the night, the bag moves with me keeping the goose down closer to my body and eliminating drafts. The fabric is a 10-denier ballistic airlight nylon with a standard DWR treatment and an anti-static treatment.
The two-way zipper extends from above the footbox to the neck area. The zipper slider design is unique to keep the fabric from snagging. It is also designed to 'lock' in place so that it won't slip inadvertently during the night. The zipper is accessible from both outside and inside the bag. The bag is available in both right and left-handed zippers that allow for mating two bags. There is an insulating flap under the bottom end of the zipper and a zipper garage at the top end to keep out drafts.
At the head there is a drawcord to tighten the hood around the face opening. The foot of the bag has two hang-loops.
Included are a cotton storage sack and a nylon stuff sack. The storage sack is a larger volume bag for longer term storage (at home). The stuff sack is made of the same spiral fabric to allow for a good stretch during packing. The stuff sack also has a second draw cord to allow the bag to be stuffed down even smaller. The bottom of the bag has a built-in grip to easily grab the sack while I'm pulling the bag out.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My initial impression was the light weight and small size of the shipping box when it arrived on my porch. When I pulled the bag from the box, the sleeping bag was so light that I felt the weight of something heavy inside which turned out to be a desiccant bag. Next I noticed the beautiful color and then the cool anti-snag zipper.
I stuffed the bag into the stuff sack and was impressed with how easily it stuffed into a small package. The stuff sack is cool with an extra drawstring spaced down below the opening for squeezing the bundle even smaller if preferred. I can see that I may use the full bag size if I include my pillow and the smaller if I want to squeeze the bag down alone.
I then laid out the bag on the carpet and got inside. Since I'm used to using a quilt or double-wide sleeping bag with my husband, my first impression was how confining and small the bag seemed. The bag isn't tight in any way. There is room for me to move and roll over inside the bag but clearly the preferred method would be to roll WITH the bag. This will be a new experience for me, so I'm looking forward to seeing how well I sleep under those conditions. The length of the bag seemed a tad smaller than I expected. I seem to fit just perfectly but I am 6 in (15 cm) under the maximum height recommended.
I found it easy to operate the zipper from either outside or inside the bag and really like the dual-direction so that I can cool my feet when I'm hot. The hood and shoulder areas along with the footbox seemed a bit more insulated making for a very cozy experience. I could easily tighten the drawcord around my face which seemed comfortable. Montbell seems to have thought of everything for eliminating drafts and providing for a cozy cocoon experience.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The stuff sack has a large tag which covers care instructions. The bag is to be hand-washed using a down-specific cleaner. The tag lists a lot of details that I won't repeat like closing the zippers, rinsing thoroughly and not wringing. These are all standard things when washing down. Drying is to be done in a large dryer at the lowest heat setting.
The bag is to be stored in the large breathable cotton storage bag. I shouldn't store it for long periods in the stuff sack.
|Storage and Stuff Sacks|
The Montbell Down Hugger #3 Sleeping Bag is an 800-fill goose down bag rated to 31 F (1 C) more typically for men and to 40 F (4 C) more typically for women.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Field test period, I used the Down Hugger Bag for two backpacking trips and one car camping trip for a total of seven nights. I experienced overnight low temperatures from 30 to 51 F (-1 to 11 C).
Emigrant Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 3-day fishing trip to base camp; 15 mi (24 km); 5,960 to 7,380 ft (1,817 to 2,249 m) elevation; overnight lows 30 to 40 F (-1 to 4 C)
Redfish & Alpine Lakes, Sawtooth Range, Idaho: 4 days; 27 mi (43 km); 6,547 to 8,337 ft (1,996 to 2,541 m) elevation; overnight lows 40 to 43 F (4 to 6 C)
Silver Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 3-day fishing trip including kayaking and hiking; 7,200 ft (2,200 m) elevation; 49 to 51 F (9 to 11 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Trip 1: The first night in the bag had low temperatures around 40 F (4 C) during which I wore long base layers and socks. I was very comfortable. There weren't any drafts down my back or around my neck. I had the face drawstring drawn slightly. The second night was expected to drop below freezing so I added a neck gaiter and fleece vest to my night wear. Again, I was comfortable although I tightened the face drawstring a bit more. I found my legs occasionally felt a bit cool, so I folded up my legs into my torso which warmed things up. I was able to bring my knees up completely within the sleeping bag but found it easier to just fold my legs with the bag. This also applied to the use of the bag in general. I could turn over and roll around easily within the sleeping bag, but it seemed more comfortable and useful (in order to keep my face within the opening) to just roll with the bag. I expected this to seem somewhat restrictive, but I found it to be just fine and I slept well. I was with my husband on this trip and so we used our Exped Synmat HL Duo (3.3 R-value) double-wide lightly insulated sleeping pad.
Trip 2: On this trip I wore my base layer pants, a short-sleeved base layer top and socks. I was completely comfortable for the most part but added my light down jacket inside the bag as a blanket over my shoulders. I found myself wrapping it around me during the coolest parts of the night. Again, the bag was very comfortable. This was a girls' trip, so I was alone in a two-man tent which allowed my Big Agnes Insulated Air Core (4.1 R-value) single pad to slide all around and the bag to slide with or without the pad all night long. That was a new experience for me since our double-wide pad fits the tent floor and can't move much. In this case I can see how it would be better if the pad and bag were attached. The next two nights, I brought more gear into the tent and established myself on one side instead of glorifying in the spaciousness of my tent. It worked much better to keep the pad and thus the bag in place throughout the night.
Trip 3: This was a car camp, so I had my home pillow with me. Since it was warmer overnight, I didn't need to zip up the hood and face drawstrings so there was plenty of room for my pillow. I used the two-way zipper to unzip at my feet so I could kick out and cool off. My feet are my cooling mechanism at home too, so I really appreciate being able to expose them for cooling in this sleeping bag. The zippers worked easily and didn't snag. This is so nice in the middle of the night when I'm trying to adjust my temperature without being able to see what I'm doing. Again, we slept on the Exped 3.3 R-value pad.
I found the temperature rating of the Down Hugger to be pretty darn accurate for me. At the 30-degree F mark (-1 C), I needed extra layers for comfort. At the 40-degree F mark (4 C), I was comfy in the usual base layers. As for fit, I am very happy that the bag, although form-fitting, allows plenty of movement both with the bag or inside the bag. I found that on the coldest nights when I had my face drawstring pulled tight, I preferred to roll and move with the bag. On warmer nights, I wanted to move and roll over inside the bag which was also easy to do. The fit seems to be a perfect compromise.
There have been no durability issues at all. The bag is easy to stuff into its stuff sack which I used on the first and last trips. I was able to fit my backpacking pillow inside the stuff sack too. On the second trip I was concerned about rain/snow conditions, so I packed the bag in a waterproof stuff sack instead. At home I stored the bag in the cotton storage bag for airing out in my gear closet.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Long-Term test period, I used the Down Hugger Bag for three camping trips for a total of nine more nights for a total of sixteen nights. I experienced overnight low temperatures from 45 to 55 F (7 to 13 C).
Car and Boat Camping:
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 days; 6,327 ft (1,928 m) elevation; 45 to 82 F (7 to 28 C)
Lake Davis, Northern Sierra Nevada, California: 4 days: 5,886 ft (1,794 m) elevation; 55 to 91 F (13 to 33 C)
Lake Siskiyou, Southern Cascade Range, California: 5 days; 3,185 ft (971 m) elevation; 52 to 86 F (11 to 30 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
California had a lot of forest closures due to wildfires and general closures due to COVID, so I focused on car and boat camping trips instead of backpacking this summer. With warmer temperatures during this period, I used the bag as a quilt or blanket at times and mostly unzipped at other times. During the coolest nights, I zipped up but kept my feet unzipped for kicking out when I got too hot. I also used the bag with my home pillow on a few car-camping occasions and found it to work great. I wasn't able to zip up the face drawstring with my large pillow inside, but with the warmer temperatures I really didn't need to. I still found the bag to be comfortable and welcome as my bed for the night.
I used the Montbell stuff sack on these trips since I wasn't backpacking and didn't have to worry about rain and the need for a waterproof stuff sack. When I got home, I moved the sleeping bag into the cotton storage sack and threw it in my gear closet. The bag seemed to air out well and hasn't accumulated any stinky odors. I haven't done anything yet to clean it.
The bag is not showing any signs of wear or deterioration at all. The zippers work well and are as snag-proof as I've ever seen on a sleeping bag. There aren't any loose or pulled threads. I didn't find many down feathers wanting to escape either as is the case with my down jackets.
Overall, I've really enjoyed trying out the Down Hugger this summer.
The Montbell Down Hugger #3 Sleeping Bag has been comfortable, lightweight and easy to pack.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
Temperature ratings seem accurate
Great fit for rolling with or inside the bag
Zipper guard works
This concludes my Long-Term Test Report and this test series. Thanks to Montbell and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this fine product.
Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith