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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > MontBell Down Hugger 800 > Test Report by Bob Dorenfeld

MontBell - Down Hugger 800
Test Series By Bob Dorenfeld
Initial Review    May 17, 2014

Tester Bio
Name: Bob Dorenfeld

I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier, and backpacker.  Home base is the Southern Colorado Rockies, where I'll hike from 7000 ft (2100 m) to above treeline, with desert trips to lower altitudes.  Six to 12 miles (10 to 20 km) daily is my norm, with elevation gains up to 4000 ft (1200 m).  Many of my backpack trips are two or three nights, other trips are longer, and I usually carry about 30 lbs (14 kg).  My style is lightweight but not obsessively so - extras like binoculars, camera, and notebook make my trips more enjoyable.

Email: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
Age: 56
Location: Salida, Colorado, USA
Gender: M
Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)

Product Overview

Manufacturer:  MontBell Co., Ltd
MSRP:   US$299.99
Fabric: 20-denier Ballistic Airlight® rip-stop nylon
Insulation: 800 Fill Power Goose Down
Weight: 1 lb 8 oz (687 g)
Measured Weight (with stuff sack):  1 lb 8 oz (687 g)
Fill weight: 11 oz (310 g)
Compressed size: 5.9 in x 11.7 in / 15 cm x 30 cm (4.2 L)
Sizes:  Regular, to 6 ft (1.8 m)
            Long, to 6 ft 6 in (2 m)
Color: Green outside, black liner
Zipper: Right or Left
Included:  Stuff and storage sacks
EN Tested Ratings:
    40 F (4.5 C)  Comfort
    31 F (-0.5 C)  Lower Limit
      3 F (-16 C)  Extreme

 MontBell Down Hugger 800
Photo:  MontBell
The MontBell Down Hugger 800 is a down-filled sleeping bag with a twist - actually a spiral twist in the way the baffles are sewn.  MontBell's patented invention, what they call their "spiral-stretch™ system",  uses fabric "cut on the bias" (the fabric's warp and weft threads are oriented at 45 degrees to most seams) along with elasticized thread to give an unusual stretchiness to the entire bag.  This lightweight bag is intended for mostly above-freezing temperatures.  According to the included label, EN (European Norm or EN13537) warmth testing rates the Down Hugger 800 at 40 F (4.5 C) "Comfort" level (for women), and the 31 F (-0.5 C)  "Lower Limit" level for men.  (More information about EN testing is available on the web.)  For both inner and outer shell MontBell uses a nylon that they claim is very lightweight, downproof, compressible, and wind resistant. 

The long side zipper has a double-handled slider at the head end, and a locking slider at the foot.  Draft protection at the zipper is provided by a down-filled tube, and a stiff narrow nylon strip helps keep the zipper from snagging in the thin fabric.  A hook-and-loop flap at the top of the zipper helps keep the bag connected when the zipper is open.  The hood can be tightened around the head by the cord-locked draw string.  The Down Hugger's shape is modified mummy - tapered from head to foot, but not tightly curved.  A trapezoidal foot gives extra vertical room for feet, and there are two small nylon hooks at the outside of the foot end for hanging the bag.  The zippers are designed to mate with another Down Hugger bag to double its capacity.  Included with the Down Hugger are a non-waterproof nylon stuff sack and a cotton storage bag.  A nice touch is a printed label on the outer shell listing the EN ratings as a reminder of where most campers would find this bag best deployed.

- Initial Review -

First Impressions     

out of the boxUpon opening the delivery box, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Down Hugger bag not stuffed into the stuff sack, but rather rolled into the cotton storage bag.  This is good, because it keeps the down uncompressed during storage before the sleeping bag finally gets to an eager backpacker like me.  The intensely bright green of the rip-stop nylon outer shell really pops, and is brighter than the photos can show here.  The shell fabric is almost metallic-shiny and has a very soft and pliable hand, but feels durable nonetheless.  The inner black lining feels like the same fabric, just not as shiny.  With a new item like this, the first function I test are the zippers - do they start and slide easily?  Do they avoid getting snagged in the fabric?  For this bag, I answer "yes" to both questions.  The hood draw cord seems easy to operate while pulling tight and end

Sliding into the bag for the first time I like the feel of the soft nylon (at least at room temperature), and yes, MontBell's "stretch system" does seem to work on first try - it allows some extra maneuverability in all directions.  I see that there is no draw-corded draft collar across the chest, as is often found in bags rated for colder temperatures; it remains to be seen if I will miss that feature in this sleeping bag.Stuffed

So what's it like to stuff this bag?  Turns out, very easy.  The non-waterproof stuff sack is tapered wider at the top and has elasticized seams along the sack's length and width, so the bag stuffs in quite nicely.  An unusual aspect of this sack is the double draw cords - the lower one is about 3 in (90 cm) below the top cord.  But since there's not the usual dust flap at the open end, I figure that MontBell intends the lower cord to be drawn tight at the bag, leaving the drawn upper cord to provide additional protection for the open end, as well as a handle if needed.  As the photo shows, the Down Hugger compresses to quite a small package.

What's Next?     

I'm eager to get the Down Hugger out into the field, and have lots of trips planned.  I'll be mostly in the higher mountains of Colorado, but will also spend some time at lower elevations and perhaps some desert environments too.  I'll be paying particular attention to my comfort at various temperatures - when it goes down towards freezing and below I'll be prepared with extra clothes to wear if necessary.  Will the Hugger be comfortable and roomy enough in both bare skin and clothed?  I expect that the stretch system will help when wearing clothes in the bag.  I'll see how easily the zippers work while fumbling in the dark, and how well the hood keeps my head covered and warm.  I'll be looking for cold spots and draftiness as well.  Lately I've been using a single-wall tent, which can be subject to condensation, so if I do find extra moisture in the tent I'll check the water resistance of the Hugger's outer shell.  Since any new sleeping bag will be part of my existing "sleeping system", which includes a pad, tent, pillow and clothes, I'll be testing how the Down Hugger integrates into the gear I already use for backpacking.

So please check back in about two months to see how the Down Hugger performed for me on my backpack adventures...



Thanks to MontBell and to BGT for the opportunity to test the Down Hugger 800.

Reviewed By
Bob Dorenfeld
Southern Colorado Mountains

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