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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > MontBell Down Hugger 800 > Test Report by Frances Penn

MONTBELL DOWN HUGGER 800#3 SLEEPING BAG
TEST SERIES BY FRANCES PENN
FIELD REPORT
August 05, 2014

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Frances Penn
EMAIL: oldhikergirl AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 57
LOCATION: Santa Ana, California USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for six years mostly on long weekends in Southern California with two or more 5-day trips per year in the Sierras. My total daypack weight, including food and water, is usually 15 lb (7 kg) and my total backpack weight, including food and water, is usually 26-30 lb (12-14 kg) depending on the need for a bear canister. I have recently converted to a tarp, bivy and quilt sleeping system instead of a tent. I have experienced all night rain, hail, heavy winds, camping in snow once, but mostly fair weather.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
courtesy website


Manufacturer: Montbell America, Inc.
Manufacturer's Website: www.montbell.us
MSRP: US $299.00
Listed Weight: 24 oz (680 g)
Measured Weight: 23 oz (652 g)
Fill Weight: 11 oz (310 g)
Insulation: 800 Fill Power Goose Down
DWR: Standard Durable Water Proof treatment
Listed Compressed Size: 5.9 in x 11.7 in (14.9 x 29.7 cm) (4.2 L)
Measured Compressed Size: 6 in x 11 in (15 x 28 cm)
Shell: 100% 20 denier ripstop nylon
Lining: 100% 20 denier ripstop nylon
Filling: 90% Down, 10% Feather
EN Ratings:
40 F (4 C) for the Comfort Limit
31 F (-0.55 C) for the Lower Limit
3 F (-16 C) for the Extreme Lower Limit
Shoulder Girth: 53 to 75 in (135 to 191 cm)
Knee Girth: 44 to 62 in (112 to 157 cm)
Finished Size shown on bag: 73 in x 30 in (186 cm x 77 cm)
Sizes Available: Regular and Long
Regular fits up to 6 feet (72 in) (183 cm)
Long fits up to 6 ft 6 in (78 in) (98 cm)
Colors Available: Green exterior with black interior
Color Tested: Green and Black
Zipper Length: 67 in (170 cm)
Zippers Available on both right and left side for mating

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Montbell website categorizes this down sleeping bag at 30 degrees F (-1 C), while the specifications indicate a rating of 40 degrees F (4 C) for comfort and 31 F (-0.55 C) for the lower limit of warmth.

Montbell's patented "Super Spiral-Stretch System" cuts woven nylon fabric on the bias for extra warmth. According to the instructions, orienting the warp and weft threads at a 45 degree angle to most major seam lines creates a warmer bag with less filling. The spiral stitching is designed to draw the bag closer to the body during movement at night to eliminate cold areas. The elasticized thread used for the stitching is done in a gathered manner to create more stretch and comfort. I am a side sleeper and I roll from side to side during sleep. I will be interested to see if I get wound up in this bag as it draws closer to my body during sleep.

IMAGE 2
zipper at top & drawcord around face


There is a draw cord adjustment around the face opening. There is no draft tube inside the bag just above the shoulders. The zipper draft tubes are single insulated. The upper zipper draft tube is 3 in (7 cm) wide and has three lines of stitching in the black material that run the entire length of the zipper on the side of the draft tube closest to the zipper. The auto locking zipper limits slip and runs almost to the bottom of the bag to facilitate zipping two bags together. The zipper appears sturdy with a hook and loop closure at the top. The zipper starts easily, opens from the top down and the bottom up and locks at the bottom. There are zipper pulls on the inside and outside of the zipper.

IMAGE 3
zipper at bottom of bag


The bag comes with its own tapered stuff sack which is a little larger at the opening to make stuffing the bag easier. The light gray stuff sack has two drawstrings 3 in (90 cm) apart at the top but does not have a flap to cover the end. The bag easily fits in the stuff sack below the lower drawstring. There is a label on the end of the stuff sack. A cotton storage sack is also included.

IMAGE 4
end label on stuff sack

IMAGE 5
stuffed
IMAGE 6
size comparison


This is a very lightweight sleeping bag. The trapezoidal shaped toe box provides ample room. When I first crawled into the bag, I didn't want to get out because it was so soft and comfortable. Naturally, the bag feels like it fits closer than the quilt I have been using recently. It will be interesting to get back into a traditional style sleeping bag with a similar warmth rating and see if I enjoy having a hood. I will pay attention to the close fit and warmth provided during my test trips. I can't wait to get this bag into the wild on my planned summer trips to Yosemite, the Sierras and the San Gorgonio area.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #1:
Location: San Gorgonio area of San Bernardino Mountains, California, USA
Elevation: 9,000 ft (2,700 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night

Trip #2:
Location: Little Jimmy Campground in Angeles National Forest, California, USA
Elevation: 7,600 ft (2,300 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night

Trip #3:
Location: Yosemite High Sierra Camp Loop, California, USA
Elevation: 9,800 ft (2,980 M)
Trip Duration: 6 days, 5 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night

Trip #4:
Location: Mt. Silliman in Sequoia National Park, California, USA
Elevation: 10,000 ft (3,000 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions and a large granite slab to climb up to camp at Silliman Lake
Temperatures: 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night

Trip #5:
Location: Midnight Lake area of the Sierras, California, USA
Elevation: 11,300 ft (3,400 M)
Trip Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C)
Weather: partial sunny days with overcast skies and drizzles the first and second day and a thunderstorm on our way out the third day

Trip #6:
Location: Boothe Lake area of Yosemite, California, USA
Elevation: 9,800 ft (2,980 M)
Trip Duration: 6 days, 5 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 35 to 75 F (1 to 24 C)
Weather: sunny with mild winds at night

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I slept in a tarptent on most of the trips and used my NeoAir sleeping pad on all of the trips. There were two exceptions to this sleeping setup which will be described in further detail below. On all the trips, I wore my fleece tights, fleece socks and a long sleeve thermal top for sleeping clothes. I would add my fleece beanie, my Mountain Khakis Rendezvous wool long sleeve top and my Montbell UL Thermawrap Synthetic jacket if needed for extra warmth.

On all the trips, the sleeping bag was carried in its stuff sack. Due to the small size the bag compresses down to, I was able to use my Gossamer Gear G4 UL backpack. This backpack only works for me when my pack weight is below 25 lbs. This sleeping bag being so small and light to carry definitely allowed me to use the lighter backpack, thus contributing to my overall lighter pack weight.

On the trip to the San Gorgonio wilderness, I had some hesitation about staying warm enough in the bag the first night out in the field. I put on all my warm clothes in an effort to keep warm. That concern quickly evaporated within five minutes when I was so overheated that I needed to remove all clothing except my base layer. I slept all night and awoke in the morning still warm and comfortable. The bag was so comfortable in the morning that I only crawled out when the sun warmed the tent so much that I was overheated again.

On the trip to Little Jimmy Campground, there were mild winds at night that I only noticed once I was outside the tarptent. Upon returning to the tent and getting back into the sleeping bag, I was warm and drifted off to sleep quickly.

On the Yosemite High Sierra Camp Loop trip, we camped by several different lakes which can have cooler nighttime temperatures. I was so warm and comfortable in the bag that I only noticed coolness upon exiting the tarptent.

IMAGE 1
waking up in Yosemite


On the Mt. Silliman trip, I used the bag with my bivy in an effort to keep pack weight to a minimum since we had to climb up the granite slab to camp at Silliman Lake. The bag was so warm inside the bivy, that I unzipped the bag entirely and just wrapped it around me to adjust the temperature.

IMAGE 2
morning at Silliman Lake


On the Midnight Lake trip, I used the bag with a fast pack setup with my one person tent which only included the footprint, poles and fly and not the actual tent. It rained the second night and I was worried the bag might get wet. Fortunately, I had chosen a good tent site so the nighttime rain water didn't run under me or pool around me while I slept. Unfortunately, the inside of my fly was damp due to the moisture and touched the bag in a few places as I exited in the morning. Luckily, the sun was out and I laid the bag over a dry rock to air dry. Once I made breakfast and got dressed, I noticed the bag was dry enough to be compressed back into its stuff sack. When I got home, I double checked to see that the bag was dry and it was. The moisture that was on the bag outside dried quickly.

On the Boothe Lake trip, we again camped by the lake in the tarptent. The bag kept me warm every night except the one where we found frost on the grass in the nearby meadow just below our campsite in the morning. I had to wear my jacket and fleece beanie to bed that night to keep warm.

I have been warm and comfortable in the bag on all of the above trips. I have not awakened during the night due to being cold in the bag. I have not yet had to pull the hood tight around my head to keep warm.

The elasticized stitching allows me to roll from side to side without restriction. Quite often I have found other sleeping bags wound around me in the morning so that I was not able to locate the zipper. This did not occur while using this sleeping bag.

I have not used a bag rated at 30 F (-1 C) previously for warmth concern reasons. I need to be warm to get to sleep and stay asleep all night. I am pleasantly surprised with the warmth-to-weight ratio of this bag. So much so that I am considering selling my quilt. For an extra ounce with this bag, I get a full sleeping bag that includes the hood and it packs down smaller than my quilt. This bag has definitely changed my idea of the most necessary gear to be carried on my future trips.

Care and Durability

The sleeping bag looks like the day it arrived. It is stored in its cotton stuff sack once it gets a sufficient airing out after each trip. There is no damage, wear or smell so far.

SUMMARY

So far this bag has performed above my expectations. It keeps me warm and comfortable all night, even though I am rolling from side to side most of the night. The zipper works easily and is easy to locate in the dark. The zipper being almost the length of the bag makes it easy to get out of the bag after my long legs and back become stiff during sleep.

Things I like:
The bag has kept me warm every night
I don't get wound up while rolling from side to side in my sleep
The zipper is easy to locate and easy to operate in the dark
The soft nylon material slides easily over my sleeping clothes
The outside material is water repellent

Things I don't like:
so far nothing

This concludes my Field Report. Please check back in two months for my Long Term Report.

Thank you to Montbell and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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