Review Date: August 29, 2014
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the experience of snoozing in a sleeping bag. There’s something wonderfully comforting about climbing into, and zipping up, that cozy, cushy bag of slumber bliss. Whether it’s camping in the backyard or the backcountry, sleeping bags usually accompany some kind of out-of-the-ordinary adventure.
When I moved to Aspen from the Midwest after college I was introduced to the wide array of sleeping bags. Until then, I had only been accustomed to using the heavy, WalMart variety for 4-H camp, car camping and sleepovers. After a climbing harness, a synthetic, 0-degree Marmot bag was my second purchase. Twelve years later I still have, and love, that bag, but as my summer backpacking activities kicked into full gear over the last couple of years, I needed something a little lighter and not rated for such a low temperature.
The Japanese company, MontBell, received rave reviews a few years ago for its Spiral Down Hugger that applied an old tailor’s trick of a bias-cut design allowing the bag to utilize more of the interior space. Fabric is usually cut when the material’s threads run vertically with perpendicular cross-threads; bias-cut is simply cutting the same fabric on a tilt of 45 degrees. This bag is also stitched with elastic on the bias at a 45-degree angle, so it ends up with more stretch and room from the same amount of fabric.
The Down Hugger 900 #2 is the updated version of that design, but with even more stretch and unparalleled comfort. MontBell increased the stretching capability from 1 to 3 inches to a ridiculous 18 to 22 inches. You could almost do your morning yoga in this thing. However, when moving around, the bag literally “hugs” your body so that cold pockets of air are eliminated and it only expands where you need it. I tend to be somewhat of a restless sleeper when camping, but have already had some nights of quality sleep since using this bag. The expansion makes it possible to sleep in any position without feeling constricted.
Not sold yet? The Down Hugger is made with ultra-light, 900-fill goose down with a durable water repellent that translates to it weighing less than 1½ pounds and stuffs to approximately the size of a Nalgene bottle. Most bags fall into the 650 to 800-fill range, so this is another area where MontBell steps it up a notch. The 900-fill down has more fill power, which means it keeps you warm while having excellent compressibility and loft. However, the higher the fill power, the higher the price. The price tag on this thing is not for the faint of heart.
There are a two temperature ratings from which to choose. I have the 25-degree version and it’s proven ideally warm for summer backpacking in the cool nights of our Colorado mountains. I’ll switch back to my 0-degree bag for winter camping, but this will be my ultimate go-to for hut trips, shoulder seasons and the summer. Time will tell how it performs once the temperature starts dropping, but I’m optimistic that it will function well in relation to its rating. I’ve only tested it in the high 30s and have stayed perfectly toasty without being too hot.
This bag is a dream for everything from multi-day backpacking trips to river trips to overnight jaunts up to Lincoln Creek. The price is hard to swallow, but the Hugger has all the attributes you could want in a three-season bag: packability, comfort, warmth and high-quality construction.
from Aspen Daily News by Meg Simon