The Down Hugger sleeping bag line from Montbell utilizes a unique spiral construction that’s paired with elastic stitching to gather the loft up around the seams, improving warmth, comfort and fit. This is my review.
The Down Hugger 800 #1 is an 23 degree EN rated sleeping bag. It is constructed from lightweight 20 denier ballistic ripstop nylon with a DWR coating provided for water resistance. All the major seams and baffles are aligned at 45 degrees to provide a more natural flex pattern, while the baffles themselves are stuffed with 20 ounces of 800 power fill down. There is a full length double zipper that runs down the side of the sleeping bag, complete with a thick draft tube to prevent cold air from leaking in. There is a second draft tube that circles the circumference of the neck for a better seal, and a small cinch allows the hood to close up tight around the face for maximum coverage. It fits sleepers up to 6′ in height with a girth of 75″. The bag weighs 2 lbs 4 oz, packs down to about 7″ x 14″, and retails for $439.
What I liked
Looking at the Montbell Down Hugger 800 #1, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the unique spiraled construction. The use of 45 degree angles isn’t just for show. These angles and the use of stretchy, elasticized stitches allow the bag to expand and contract in a natural way around the sleeper, making for a nice, comfy fit. Instead of being taut and resistant, it simply move and flexes with the body in a very natural way. The sensation reminds me a little of being tucked into a bed, but instead of being heavy and tight, the walls just move and mold to whatever shape I ended up in. I could splay my knees, roll over, and even curl up into a ball all while the sleeping bag happily tossed and turned with me. It’s nice and roomy in the inside too, with a little extra space around the shoulders, and hips for adjusting position, but not so much that it becomes difficult to heat up the interior. It helps that the materials are exceptionally smooth and silky also, with none of the plasticy feel that that many treated nylons have. All of the zippers and cinches are padded and tucked away from the body too. When combined with the light build and smooth materials, the bag becomes almost undetectable at times as it sits softly against the skin. It’s very comfortable.
When it comes to warmth, the Hugger #1 is great. I’ve had it down to about 18 degrees and found it to be more than adequate, keeping me toasty warm with nothing but a synthetic t-shirt on underneath. Likely, I could push the bag even further as I’m yet to get so much as a cool sensation or cold spot anywhere on the bag. This is largely due to the impressive baffling technique. The stretchy stitches create what is called “gathers”, where essentially the baffles bunch up together, creating marshmallowy tunnels of warm down that snuggle up against each other. This eliminates gaps around the stitching where cool zones normally form, enhancing the warmth of the bag. The draft collars are both generous in size with the longer one running the entire length of the zipper, blocking potential air leaks. This thing feels like a polar bear wrapping around the body, in the best possible, not turning into dinner, kind of way.
Weight and packability are both excellent. At just over 2 lbs and with a pack size similar to that of a small melon when using the included stuff sack, it’s a great option for long backpacking trips where weight is a concern, but warmth is a necessity. It’s lighter weight than most 3 season sleeping bags, but still provides exceptional comfort and safety. It’s hard not to love that.
Build quality is also great, with impressively consistent seams and stitching. I’m yet to find any lose threads or leaking feathers, and the bag has held up great to packing, unpacking, and of course sleeping on various mats and surfaces. The zippers slide quite well and I’m yet to get any real hangs on the fabric, which is a rarity on a sleeping bag. The lightweight 20 denier ballistic nylon has proven to be more durable than it would appear also, resisting all the wear and tear I’ve put it through with no signs of damage. Being a supple material, you’ll still want to keep thorns, granite and such away from it to prevent picks from forming or wearing down the DRW, like most.
The sleeping bag is also beautiful. The spirals combines with the vibrant colors, thick baffles and smooth finish in a way that is highly presentable. It doesn’t quite look like anything else on the market, despite the simplicity.
What I didn’t like
For the life of me, I couldn’t find much of anything to complain about with this sleeping bag, except perhaps the naming scheme. Instead of arbitrary numbers (#1 in this case) representing their warmth, it would be better to simply list the EN temperature rating in the name. This way, customers would know exactly what temperature the bag is ready for when looking at it. Still, I’m nitpicking here to fill in this section. I have to have something right?
The Down Hugger 800 #1, while a little long winded in name, is a great sleeping bag. Where most sleeping bags widen out to create more room for the sleeper, which creates cold spots and more air to heat up, the Hugger simply molds and flexes with the sleeper, maximizing warmth and comfort by keeping the bag as close as possible. The stretchy, twisting baffles create some of the most leak free seams I’ve ever tested, and the attention to detail with the full draft collars, tucked away cinches, and padded zippers help to push the bag into another league. It’s easy to justify such a lightweight bag on even the longest of winter trips, and the warmth it provides allows it to be used well below freezing, without sacrificing comfort or safety. It’s exceptionally comfortable, holds up great, and looks fantastic. It’s basically, everything I want out of a sleeping bag. For these reasons, I can’t hesitate to give it my highest possible rating.
The highest of recommendations
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