Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Incredibly comfortable.
Cons: Other bags are warmer for their weight, hood is claustrophobic and restricting when cinched, stretchy seams leak down after extended use.
Best Uses: Luxurious three-season backpacking, basecamping, car camping.
The Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger #1, referred to by our testers as the Tangerine Dream, is one of most comfortable sleeping bag we've ever tested. This bag combines good quality 800-fill down with a stretchy shell material and elasticized seams which make it ridiculously comfortable and reasonably lightweight. The Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger accommodates both strapping lads and dainty ladies; when not stretched out, the Down Hugger contracts to eliminate dead air space. This is a sleeping bag you sleep with not in.
Comfort is the main reason to go with the Super Spiral. Other bags offer more warmth for their weight and are more versatile. Check out our full Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review to see how this bag compared to others with attached hoods. If saving weight is a top priority visit the Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Youre cold and miserable on what was going to be a fun long weekend in the mountains. Your fingers and toes are numb, the wind is howling, temperatures are well below freezing. All is terrible. Then you climb into your sleeping bag and everything becomes warm, cozy, and orange. Introducing the Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger #1, a tangerine dream of a sleeping bag, and the only down-stuffed garment worthy of such a ludicrously long name.
Montbell threw traditional sleeping bag design into the wind and started over, working ground up, to create this brilliantly comfortable and fully-featured bag that blows most others out of the water when it comes to comfort. Here are some of the features that set it apart.
Fit is the single most important characteristic of a sleeping bag. A bag thats too tight will be uncomfortable and a bag thats too spacious will be inefficient and drafty. The best aspect of the Down Hugger is that it provides a comfortable and efficient fit for just about anyone. Montbell was able to achieve this by orienting all major seams and baffles 45-degrees from vertical in a super spiral pattern that drapes more evenly over the body. Longer baffles allow for fewer seams, and fewer seams mean less hot air escapes.
Montbell uses a stretchy and strong ripstop nylon to contain top-quality 800-fill down. Further, elasticized seams allow the bag entire to stretch up to 20%. Unlike most bags, the Down Hugger lets you move about in relative freedom. We were able to touch our fists together and point our elbows out and still have several inches to spare. Even better, we could sit up and cross our legs. When youre done moving about and have settled into a blissful sleep, the Down Huggers elastic nature will draw insulation in closer to you. This eliminates drafty dead air space and makes the bag equally warm and comfortable for broad shouldered strapping lads as it does for finer boned ladies. The Down Huggers unparalleled versatility is by far its best attribute.
The Down Hugger is the only sleeping bag weve tested with a stretchy shell material. Its 12-denier Ballistic Airlight Nylon provides a super comfortable sleeping experience while still keeping down inside the bag.
While most sleeping bags have a single draft tube to prevent cold air from penetrating through the zipper, the Down Hugger has two. In theory this is advantageous in that if one tube folds open, only half of the zipper area is exposed. In practice, however, we didnt observe a significant difference between this design and the more traditional single tube design.
Unfortunately, we were thoroughly unimpressed with the hood design on the Down Hugger. It is equipped with a neck baffle that keeps hot air in and cold air out (see the sleeping bag anatomy section of our Buying Advice article for more details on the neck baffle). The bad news is twofold: first, the draw cords on both the hood and neck baffle are not elasticized. Seeing that the main selling point of this bag is its fluid and flexible nature, we believe its rather ironic that the Down Hugger lacks elasticity in the one area that all other bags have it. So, inflexible draw cords mean that when you move about at night, or lift an arm out of the bag, you either break the neck baffle velcro or loosen the hood draw cord. This forces you to reattach the velcro or retighten the pull cords, or both. Annoying!! The second round of bad news comes farther up in the hood area. We found the hood opening to be clumsily large. When you cinch it down part way, an awkward drafty opening exists on the sides. When cinched fully, the hood is uncomfortable and restricting. This is partly due to the lack of elastic drawcords, but primarily because the opening is very close to the neck area. Unless youre a conehead, youll have three plus inches of extra down above your head. This wasted dead air space leaves your mouth part in the opening and part out. Its either that, or jam your head all the way to the top, leaving the opening down by your neck. Our photos above illustrate the Down Huggers hood problems.
Slightly more serious is the Down Huggers long-term durability. After about 80 days in the field one of our testers bag started leaking down out the elasticized seams. Leaking lots and lots of down We have yet to hear from others who have put the bag through the paces (if you have please comment below).
Like all sleeping bags with fixed girths, this bag is not a light or as versatile as quilt style sleeping bags. We much prefer quilts for backpacking.
Luxurious three-season backpacking and car camping, people with broad shoulders.
The Down Hugger is a good buy if you are on the larger side or want the most luxurious bag in existence.
Montbell also makes the Spiral Down Hugger #1. This is the exact same bag except as the one described above, except it lacks elasticized seams. We believe this is a better option for snow camping because its lighter and because one generally doesnt want to roll around on top of cold snow. The super stretchiness is simply unnecessary.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: June 6, 2014
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