I grew up camping with my parents and had taken a few short backpacking
trips, as well as a couple of 10-day trips before I got married. While
my wife and I have enjoyed car camping and day hiking for close to 6
years, we have both decided to make backpacking a permanent part of our
lives. Our trips are generally shorter (2 - 5 days) over rocky, hilly
terrain. My general pack weight for a 3 day trip is around 25 lb (11.4
kg) including food and water.
||27 / Male
||5' 11" (1.8 m)
||250 lb (113 kg)
||69 in (175 cm)
||46 in (115 cm)
||mwood_bgt at markandkc
||Chenango County, NY,
||$370.00 US (Regular
$390.00 US (Long Length)
||2 lb 7 oz (1.02 kg)
||Bag: 2 lb 7 oz (1.11 kg)
Stuff Sack: 1 oz (28 g)
||Long Length with Right
||Shell: DWR Treated
15-Denier Ballistic Airlight Nylon
Fill: 800 Fill Power Down
||15 F / -9 C
MontBell U.L. Super Stretch Down Hugger #1 is one of the warmest
sleeping bags in MontBell's Hugger line of bags. These bags have
elastic sewn into the horizontal seams of the bag, giving it a slight
"hugging" property. This bag is one of MontBell's Down bags which,
according to the tag attached to the bag, is guaranteed to have at
least 90% goose down and less than 10% goose feathers. The shell is
claimed to have a DWR treatment which, according to the attached hang
tag "retains 90% of its original water repellency after 100 washings."
Numerous locations will
be visited during the testing time
frame. My usual backpacking areas are the Catskill and Adirondack
regions of New York as well as some Northern Pennsylvania trails such
as the West Rim Trail. Also, the Finger Lakes Trail passes very close
to my home and I have been looking into incorporating this hiking
opportunity into our "regular" destinations.
In general, temperatures
will range from around 32 F (0 C) to 95 F (35
C) during the testing time frame. Over the last few years, Upstate New
York has experienced very heavy rains and lots of flooding so I'm sure
rain will be in the mix somewhere. Snow could also be a possibility.
Elevations in my normal
hiking areas generally range from 500 - 2500 ft
(150 - 750 m).
The MontBell Down Hugger
#1 sleeping bag will accompany me on many
trips throughout the testing timeframe. Due to the weather lately, I
should be able to test some of the lower limits of the Hugger without
too much of a problem.
Report - April 18, 2007
The Montbell Down Hugger
#1 arrived in its supplied cotton storage sack
with plenty of room so the down wasn't compressed. Attached to the
drawstring of the storage bag was a set of hangtags and a stuff sack
for packing the bag for travel. I noticed no loose down as is sometimes
the case. The hangtags are nothing too special. One has some
information regarding the "hugging" properties of the bag and the other
has some information regarding the features of the bag. Close
inspection of both the stuff sack and the bag itself revealed tight,
even stitching and no loose threads. I also noticed no down peeking
through the fabric of the bag in any location.
Laying the Down Hugger #1
out on my bed and letting it loft for an hour
or so revealed a beautiful, thick, and cozy looking sleeping bag.
Closer inspection revealed all the small features with make me quite
excited about the prospect of spending my first night outdoors. There
is a nice thick draft tube running the length of the zipper as well as
around the neck portion of the bag. To keep the neck draft tube snugly
against my neck, the sides nearer the zipper have hook and loop
fasteners and the opposite side has a drawstring. This keeps the entire
draft tube securely where it belongs. The main zipper of the bag
features both and internal and external zipper pull and the entire
length of the zipper has approximately an inch (2.5 cm) of stiffened
fabric on each side to eliminate the hassle of the zipper getting
snagged on the fabric. Initial attempts to zip myself in the bag
resulted in mixed success, with the fabric getting slightly caught on
the zipper. It was never a problem to free the zipper so I will
continue to watch this throughout the testing timeframe.
One of the most unique
features of the Down Hugger #1 is the external
drawstring located on the first horizontal seam at the foot of the bag.
This drawstring can serve double duty as it can be used to seal off the
foot area of the bag for added warmth or if one pushes the foot box up
into the bag and cinches it down, it effectively shortens the bag by
about 8 inches (20 cm). Testing will show how effective sealing off the
foot box is with respect to keeping my feet warm.
The other unique feature
about this series of bags from MontBell is the
stretch properties. While the elastic is not too tight, I can certainly
notice the bag does stay rather close to my body. I usually have a hard
time moving around in sleeping bags as I have somewhat large shoulders.
The added stretch of this bag makes it so I can easily move around to
adjust the zipper or drawstring without feeling too confined -- a
welcome relief! I also find the Hugger #1 to be a very comfortable
length for me.
Getting into the bag was
really a wonderful experience! The lining is
soft and feels very good against my skin. Plus, the elastic keeps the
fabric quite close to my skin making me feel very encased! Also worthy
of noting is that the hook and loop fastener used on the draft collar
around the neck of the bag has two of the more plastic halves of the
fastener material. While they securely attach to each other, I find
that my hair and clothes remain unstuck. These small features can make
a big difference with respect to comfort.
The only issue I have
experienced thus far is where the elastic is sewn
into the horizontal baffles. This creates a series of pleats in the
fabric where it is gathered. I notice that on my bare legs and arms,
these tend to rub a bit. It's not immediately uncomfortable, but I did
notice it. Time will tell if this becomes an annoyance or not.
Getting in and out of the
bag is really not too difficult. As mentioned
above, I did notice that there is some snagging of the zipper on the
adjoining fabric, but nothing too serious. I also notice that near the
top of the zipper it seems to become more difficult to pull. I'm not
sure if it's the angle I'm pulling at or just a fact that the zipper
curves around my shoulder toward the side of my head. I will keep my
eye on both of these issues as the test continues.
Stuffing the bag into the
stuff sack takes considerable effort. Then
again, I'm not usually very good at stuffing bags, so this may be a bit
subjective. Once in the stuff sack, the bag is quite compact. I foresee
no trouble packing the bag into my hiking pack.
The care instructions for
the MontBell Down Hugger #1 are attached to
the included stuff sack. I actually missed seeing them at first as I
was looking for them on the bag itself. According to the tag, it is
safe to wash the bag using a mild, non-detergent soap or special down
soap in a front loading washing machine or by hand in a bath tub. It is
supposed to be rinsed thoroughly using two rinse cycles. The bag should
be hung to dry.
Also listed on this same
tag are storage instructions. They recommend
letting the bag dry completely after use and caution the user not to
store the bag in the stuff sack, but instead in the included cotton
The Hugger #1 seems to
have a host of great features. My initial likes
and dislikes are listed below:
- Soft fabric is quite
- Hook and loop fastener
doesn't grab my hair or clothes
- Draft collar stays
secure around my neck without any
feelings of being choked
- The gathers from the
elastic feels a bit rough on the skin.
- Zipper seems to catch
the fabric especially when zipping
around my shoulder
- A bit difficult for me
to stuff into the supplied stuff sack
concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to
this report in approximately two months from the date of this report.
Please check back then for further information.
Report - June 26, 2007
I have used the MontBell Down Hugger #1 for a total of 5 nights to this
point. Early in the test period, I went on two car camping
overnights simply due to the opportunity for very cold weather.
Nighttime lows during these two outings were around 25 F (-4
Throughout the months of May and early June, I took three
overnight backpacking trips with the Down Hugger in and around Upstate
New York and Northern Pennsylvania. Nighttime lows ranged
- 55 F (22 - 30 C) during these trips. For all of these
the Down Hugger was used on top of a 3/4 length self inflating pad
inside of a Hanry Shires Rainbow Tarptent.
During testing, I found the Down Hugger to be one of the most
comfortable bags I've used to date. The hood closes easily
the draw cords are easy to use even in the dark. Once inside
the bag, I find myself encased in warmth. The elastic really
hold the bag close to me and I find it makes the bag feel very
comfortable and cozy. During the colder nights of testing, I
found that all I needed was a lightweight pair of long underwear and a
shirt to be perfectly comfortable. No socks, gloves or hat
necessary. I do realize that I wasn't near the temperature
of the bag and I do tend to sleep quite warm. Usually, about
halfway through the night I would wake up and loosen the hood some to
keep myself from sweating too much. I never noticed any draft
along the zipper and if anything, I found the bag to be almost too
warm! On the first night I did attempt to cinch the foot
to pull the bag closer around my feet. I found this
to be a bit confining and so after a half hour or so, loosened the
drawcord again. While I think this feature would keep my feet
warmer, I was not in need of extra warmth and the confining feeling
around my feet was a bit much for me.
During the three backpacking trips, the temperatures were much warmer
and I found myself leaving the bag mostly unzipped. On these
warmer nights, I usually wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt to bed
and was able to control my temperature just fine with this arrangement.
This bag is very warm!
So far, everything about the MontBell Down Hugger #1 has been a joy to
use except for the zipper. While there is a stiff piece of
running the length of the zipper, I still find the zipper catches the
fabric of the draft tube or surrounding fabric. I have found
if I put my finger over the zipper while zipping, it tends to keep the
fabric away and things go much smoother. I experience the
most often right were the zipper curves around my shoulder.
The stuff sack works well and thought the bag is a tight fit, it does
keep the size of the bag a manageable size. Providing a
stuff sack would make the stuffing procedure much simpler, but the bag
would take up more precious pack space. Overall, I find the
a good trade off. I did attempt to stuff the bag into the
box and use the foot drawcord to create a sort of stuff sack.
While it is possible to do, it really didn't compress the bag
that well and the resulting package was somewhat bulky. On
that, I really do prefer a more protected means of storage to shield
the shell of the bag from anything rough or sharp in my pack.
I have not attempted to actually wash the Down Hugger.
thought I have sweat some in the bag, I don't find that the bag has
held on to any unpleasant odors.
Up to this point in the testing, I have found the MontBell Down Hugger
#1 to be an excellent bag for cold weather use. I am still
impressed with the comfort offered by the hugging property and thought
the zipper can be a little tricky, I still find myself reaching for
this bag to use on my backpacking trips even though I have cooler bags
to choose from.
concludes the Field Report
portion of this test series. The Long Term Report will be
to this report in approximately two months time. Check back
for further information.
| Long Term Report - September 13, 2007
I have continued to use the MontBell Down Hugger #1 for at least three
more nights during the Long Term reporting phase. Temperatures
during this test period were much warmer with night time highs close to
80 F (27 C). Due to the warmer weather, the Down Hugger #1 was
used primarily as a quilt while I slept on top of a 3/4 length self
inflating pad inside of a Henry Shires Rainbow Tarptent. I'd
already proved that the Down Hugger was very comfortable in cooler
weather, but I was curious how well it would work in this quilt
I was somewhat concerned with using the Down Hugger as a quilt due to
the elastic which tends to make the bag narrower when there is no body
inside. As it turns out, my fears were largely unfounded and the
sufficiently wide for the warm nights in the tent. Throughout its
use, the fabric stayed quite smooth and comfortable and the
configuration of the hook and loop closure system at the top of the bag
was such that I never felt it poking me -- something I cannot say for
other bags I have used. The Down Hugger #1 is incredibly warm
even in quilt configuration and I often found myself waking up with the
bag next to me. It was clearly overkill for such warm nights.
I would also use it some nights to simply lie on as my self
inflating pad does not have the nicest texture for my bare arms and
No issues have surfaced during use of this bag that I have not talked
about in my previous report sections. The zipper still catches
once in a while, but running my finger along with the zipper as
mentioned in my field report has all but cured this problem. I
still find the stuff sack to be somewhat lacking in compressibility,
but since this is a down bag, I supposed that overly tight compression
is not really a good thing. With my other summer gear, I find I
have plenty of room in my pack anyway so it has yet to be a huge issue.
For the warmth this bag provides, I really cannot find fault.
Perhaps I am simply very careful with my gear, but I have had no reason
to attempt washing the Down Hugger #1. I have sweat plenty during
the warmer months, but I have found no noticeable stains or unpleasant
I have to say -- the MontBell Down Hugger #1 is probably one of my
favorite bags for cooler weather. The "hugging" capability given
by the use of the elastic makes the bag really cozy and warm -- a
pleasure on cold nights. I will say that it is overkill for me in
warmer weather. I sleep quite warm and, while I find having a
quilt nice, it is really not necessary as the temperature rises.
The only two minor issues I've had with the bag are from the zipper
around the curve near the shoulder and the stuff sack. Neither of
these are significant enough to not give this bag a full recommendation
in my opinion.
I would like to thank MontBell
and BackPackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this bag.
Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Mark Wood