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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > MontBell Down Hugger 800 > Test Report by Gail Staisil

MontBell Down Hugger 800 #3 
Sleeping Bag

Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Page Contents:

Initial Report - May 27, 2014
Field Report - July 25, 2014
Long term Report - September 29, 2014
 
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Initial Report:Author on Lake Superior
May 27, 2014

 Tester Information

 Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 61
Gender: Female

 Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 152 lb (69 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For over two decades, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

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Product Information

Manufacturer
MontBell Co., Ltd.
Website
https://www.montbell.us
Model
Down Hugger 800 #3
Color

PMGN (Green)
Size

Regular (also available in Long)
Manufacturer Weight
1 lb 8 oz (687 g)
Tested Weight in stuff sack
1 lb 9.1 oz (712 g) 
Model Year
Spring 2014 
MSRP
$299.00 US

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Initial Impressions and Product Description 


The MontBell Down Hugger 800 #3 Sleeping Bag arrived in the requested size of Regular (fits up to 6 ft/1.83 m) and with a right zipper. It is also available in Long (fits up to 6 ft 6 in/1.98 m) as well as with either a right or left zip (can be mated). The width dimensions on the Regular size are smaller (shoulder girth 53 to 75 in/135 to 191 cm and knee girth 44 to 62 "in/112 to 157 cm) than those for the size long. Most consumers would have to check what would work best for them. The bag came in a cotton storage sack but also included a small stuff sack for use only during trips.
MontBell Down Hugger 800 #3

Design and Technical Features

The Down Hugger 800 #3 Sleeping Bag is a lightweight sleeping bag that is rated at 30 F (-1 C). However there is more to the rating than that according to the EN testing that MontBell lists, the bag has a comfort level of 40 F (4 C), a lower limit of 31 F (-1 C) and an extreme level of 3 F (-16 C). The later is generally known as a survival level but is not advised for regular use.

The most noticeable feature of the sleeping bag is MontBell's patented Super Spiral Stretch System. This system is comprised of orientating the fabric's warp and weft threads at 45 degrees to most major seam lines. The fabric weave also has crimped fibers to make it stretchy and an elastic-stitch technique allows the threads to be stretched just like an elastic band. This keeps the down insulation closer to my body and therefore likely warmer.

The bag is insulated with 800 Fill Power Goose Down and it is contained within 2-denier Ballistic rip-stop nylon with a DWR treatment. The bright green exterior fabric is complemented with a black interior lining.  Diagonal baffles are used. A printed MontBell logo is located at center front of the bag. Two other logos indicate the temperature rating of the bag as well as the model while the other diagrams
the Super Spiral Stretch System technology.

There is an integrated draw cord on the hood which circles the entirety of the hood but closes with a single cordlock. It can be adjusted by pulling the cord on either or both sides of the cordlock to snug it in place. There is also a hook-and-loop closure which covers the top of the zipper.

The stuff sack has two drawcords. Once the bag is stuffed in the sack and the outer edge drawcord is used, I can further compress the bag by pushing down the top portion and then drawing the second cord. The bag packs down to less than 6 X 11 in (15 X 28 cm).

The Down Hugger has a 67 in (170 cm) zipper which has a pull tab on both sides so that it can be opened from inside the sleeping bag or outside. The top of the zipper features an auto lock so that it can not slide down inadvertently. One side of the zipper has an approximately 2 in (5 cm) draft tube. The tube has multiple rows of stitching which could decrease any chance of fabric getting caught in the zipper. An easy-to-use zipper pull loop made of flat webbing is located on the outside while a smaller braided flat loop comprises the inner zipper pull. The zipper works flawlessly with no catches.

I find the bag very comfortable as the stretch component allows me to crawl in with a few layers of clothing and still feel great. It is easy to turn over without feeling constricted. The sleeping bag arrived right before a four-day backpack. Those details plus many more will follow in my next two reports.

First Photo: Courtesy of Manufacturer

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Field Report:
July 25, 2014

USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period I have used the MontBell Down Hugger 800 # 3 during three backpacking trips for a total of twelve nights. Locations of all activities were in the state of Michigan and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (612 m).

Location of Trip #1: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (May 23-26)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 42 mi (68 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunIsle Royale National Park
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 41 F to 85 F (5 F to 29 F)

Location of Trip #2: Isle Royale National Park (June 13-21)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 64 mi (103 km)
Length of Trip: 8 days, 8 nights
Pack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain, some sun
Precipitation: 0.65 in (1.65 cm) rain
Temperature Range: 44 F to 80 F (7 C to 27 C) with mostly 50 to 60 F (10 to 16 C) weather during the daytime hours

Location of Trip #3: Grand Island National Recreation Area (July 23-24)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 22.5 mi (36 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night
Pack Weight: 21 lb (9.53 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, windy
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 48 F to 63 F ( 9 C to 17 C)

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Trip Talk
 
Sleeping bag in tarptent at a Pictured Rocks campsite
The MontBell Down Hugger 800 # 3 Sleeping Bag has been taken on a variety of trips throughout the field test period. Although daytime highs were all over the place, most nights were consistently low. That said, I was very comfortable all nights. During the first trip at Pictured Rocks, the three different campsites were heavily wooded and protected against the winds from Lake Superior. I used a tarptent with the REI Flash Pad for ground insulation. Even though the temps at night were around the 40 F (4 C) mark, I only zipped the bag up without tightening the hood closure (had on synthetic hat). I was perfectly warm even though I am a cold sleeper. I also wore two thin top layers (wool) in the bag and wool leggings.

My second trip was to Isle Royale National Park for eight nights. The actual temps at Isle Royale vary considerably due to location on the island. The island is surrounded by Lake Superior which is normally cold any given time. This year it was especially so, since the ice didn't fully melt until early June. That said the water temp was reportedly 38 F (3 C) at the time of the trip. This combined with windy conditions meant that the wind chill is considerably lower. Even though most nights were in the low to mid 40's (4 C to 7 C), it really felt colder with the wind. All of my camp sites were very close to the lake as I chose no interior camps during this journey.

MontBell Down Hugger #3 in shelter at Isle Royale National ParkSome of my nights on the island were in three-sided shelters (fourth side is screen). Shelters are usually colder to sleep in due to more exposure to winds as well as being elevated off the ground. I used my REI Flash Pad again for insulation. Many nights I fully enclosed the hood around my face and a few nights I put on my MontBell lightly insulated down pants for more warmth on my legs. That said I was happy that the bag can accommodate extra layers if needed. The elasticized stitching allowed me to comfortably move without restriction. My other nights on the island were in a tarptent so without the wind chill, I chose not to wear the hood of the sleeping bag.

My third trip was to a nearby island in Lake Superior. Conditions were still cool with the overnight low of 48 F (9 C). I used the sleeping bag as a quilt most of the night. By early morning I decided to zip it around me to take the chill off (the zipper works very smoothly which I really appreciate when I am only half awake). I wore only capilene tights, socks and a light wool top in the Down Hugger during the night.

During all trips the sleeping bag was carried in the stuff sack provided. The sleeping bag stores quite nicely in my backpack without taking up much room. I used my Granite Gear Crown V. C. Backpack on all the trips during this field test period.


So far I have been highly satisfied with the warmth and comfort of the sleeping bag for all conditions encountered. I usually am hesitant to use a bag only rated at 30 F (-1 C) for two reasons, one being the temps can go below freezing in the summer months here and the second one being that I sleep cold. All of my nights so far have been only up to 10-12 degrees above that even though the trips were taken in late spring and summer. I am super pleased with the warmth-to-weight ratio of the Down Hugger 800 # 3.


Care and Durability

So far, the sleeping bag has held up well. It is stored in the cotton storage bag after a sufficient airing out after each trip.


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Long Term Report:
September 29, 2014

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term test period I have used the MontBell Down Hugger 800 # 3 for eleven nights of backpacking, two nights of car camping and one night of indoor airport terminal stay (Illinois). Locations of most activities were in the states of Michigan and Wyoming and ranged from lakeshore to boreal forest to mountainous terrain. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to 11, 560 ft (3523 m).

Location of Trip #4: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (August 14-15)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 19 mi (31.6 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night Wind River Range, Wyoming USA
Pack Weight: 22 lb (10 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sun
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 43 F to 72 F (6 C to 22 C) 

Location of Trip #5: Grand Island National Recreation Area (August 20-21)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 6 mi (9.66 km) backpacking and 4 mi (6.44 km) dayhiking
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night
Pack Weight: 25 lb (11.34 kg) luxury backpacking - brought camp chair and hammock and tarptent!
Sky and Air Conditions: foggy, cloudy, light mist
Precipitation: Not measurable
Temperature Range: 53 F to 65 F (12 C to 18 C)

Location of Trip #6: Wyoming Wind River Range (August 28- September 1)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 36+ mi (58 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days, 4 nights (+ 2 nights of car camping in the Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks)
Pack Weight: 29 lb/13 kg (bear canister with too much food)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, rain, sleet and snow Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Precipitation: 0.18 in (0.46 cm)
Temperature Range: 30 F to 65 F (-1 C to 18 C)

Location of Trip #7: Hogsback Mountain (Sept 8-9)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 6 mi (10 km) round trip
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night
Pack Weight: 14 lb + 4 lb water/6.35 kg +1.81 kg (no water on mountain)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, partly sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 52 F to 75 F (11 C to 24 C)

Location of Trip #8: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness (Sept 25-28)
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 30 + mi (48.3 + km)
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights
Pack Weight: 25 lb including 2 lb water (11.34 kg/.0.91 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 50 F to 81 F (10 C to 27 C) 
 

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Trip Talk

During the long term period the Down Hugger 800 # 3 continued to keep me warm during several different backpacking trips. The coldest temps were encountered on a backpack trip in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. I also car camped in Wyoming at the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. All nights were either at freezing or below. I  usually put my light down pants in the sleeping bag with me and about half the nights I got up and put them on to keep my legs warm. I wasn't freezing but it seemed silly not to be warmer given the choice. I normally slept wearing a light wool top and Capilene 3 hoody over that. I wore a hat on my head, a wool neck warmer and pulled the sleeping bag hood snug. With the additional clothing, the stretch system of the sleeping bag allowed me to remain comfortable for the duration of the nights which sometimes included rain, sleet and snowSleeping in the Winds outside the tarptent.

During my short trip to Hogsback Mountain to view the super moon, I used the sleeping bag in combination with a bivy. The top half of the bivy is netting. Even then I was too warm so I didn't zip the sleeping bag up. In the morning when I removed the sleeping bag from the bivy the lower half of it was damp due to condensation. This was limited to the outer shell material. Because I was going home I didn't bother to try to dry it out . At home the fabric dried quickly enough before I was able to put it away.

Trips to Grand Island and Pictured Rocks were simple overnighters with cool temps and much dampness. I snugged up the hood on both occasions with good results for comfort during the night.

My last trip to the Porcupine Mountains was during unusually warm weather for late September. The nightly lows were around 50 F (10 C) and the high was up to 81 F (27 C). This by the way was the warmest weather I encountered during the testing period. All of my camps were located near water but the winds were low and the nights very pleasant. I felt no need to zip the bag up fully with a couple nights just using it as a quilt. I was wearing a single layer of thin wool underwear and no hat.
Airing out the sleeping bag at the Porkies
My most unusual use of the sleeping bag was sleeping in Terminal 1 of Chicago O'Hare Airport. During a roughly 36 hr adventure getting home by plane (3 flights and many delays), my final flight was totally canceled until the next day. By then I was totally exhausted as it was already early the next day! I pulled out my sleeping bag which I had conveniently packed in my carry on. Needless to say, I heard tons of comments from people as they coveted my sleeping bag. Appears no one else had carried a sleeping bag in their carry on bag!! I was toasty warm and although I didn't really sleep that much I somehow felt secure inside the bag.
 
During all trips the sleeping bag was carried in the stuff sack provided. It was then placed in a ZPacks dry bag to keep it safe from water. I used my Granite Gear Crown V. C. Backpack or my Osprey Tempest 40 on all the trips during the long term period.

I am very pleased the sleeping bag was comfortable to use in a very wide range of temperatures/humidity overall in the test period. I am generally a cold sleeper but I was able to take the bag down much lower than its temperature rating. This was done with additional clothing but historically that didn't always work with similiarly rated bags before.


Care and Durability

The sleeping bag has sailed throughout the testing period with 26 nights of usage and no real issues. The zipper has been so easy to use with very little catching. I can easily exit the bag in the middle of the night without fumbling. I haven't felt the need to wash it as I always wear clean clothing in the bag but will do soon before storage during the winter season which will be here soon.

 
 

Pros 

  • Comfortable Super Spiral Stretch System
  • Warm for weight
  • Zipper works great
  • Packs small

Cons 

  • None 
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Tester Remarks 

Thanks to MontBell and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Down Hugger 800 # 3 Sleeping Bag. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series. 

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