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Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 Review

   
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Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  • Currently 4.8/5
Overall avg rating 4.8 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: March 13, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $260 - $275 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Warm, very comfortable, high quality materials.
Cons:  15 degree rating is slightly optimistic.
Best Uses:  Backpacking and climbing in cold and wet conditions.
User Rating:     
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 (4.7 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (3/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 17, 2012  
Overview
The Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 is our highest rated synthetic sleeping bag. It earns high marks because it's built with high quality materials and constructed in an efficient and innovative way. This is our top choice for extended trips in wet conditions where everything else is cold and miserable.

For wet trips in warmer weather we prefer the Enlightened Equipment Prodigy because it's 12 ounces lighter and nearly as warm. Check out our full Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review to see how the bags compare to the others tested. If saving weight is a top priority see the Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Note: this bag was updated in 2013 and now includes, among other things, a full-length zipper. Keep this in mind when reading the user reviews at the bottom of this page.

Likes
The Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 is our highest rated synthetic sleeping bag. This high performance cocoon is filled with Thermic Micro fibers, a high performans synthetic insulation, and uses a lightweight ripstop nylon shell fabric. These materials are soft and silky, and the insulation is light and feels more like down than like the heavy, suffocating feeling of most other synthetic bags.

The primary factor enabling the Ultralamina's high warmth to weight ratio is its unique laminated construction. This method uses an adhesive to bind the insulation and shell material. The result is a flat, stitch-free seam that's lighter, warmer, and more water-resistant than traditional construction. It's more water resistant because there are no holes for water to permeate; it's lighter because there are no seams; and its warmer because the insulation isn't pinched at the seams (see illustration below). This construction makes it particulalry well suited to unprotected alpine bivis.

Mountain Hardwear's Welded Lamina Construction.
Mountain Hardwear's Welded Lamina Construction.
Credit: Mountain Hardwear

Most sleeping bags with dual zippers are uncomfortable when the hood is fully cinched. Fortunately, Mountain Hardwear did an excellent job at addressing this problem with the Ultralamina. There are three good characteristics about the hood area: one, the bag has differentiated pull cords (one round, one flat) so you can tell what your'e tightening by feel not sight; two, an elasticized draft collar let's you reach outside the bag without loosening the pullcord; and three, like most Mountain Hardwear bags, the hood is compact and only needs to be tightened in temperatures near the bag's limit. These three attributes make the hood area more comfortable than most other sleeping bags. Overall, the Ultralamina 15 is the warmest, most compressible, and second most comfortable three-season synthetic sleeping bag we reviewed.

Dislikes
Synthetic insulation is neither as compact, as light, nor as durable as down. Our testers only use synthetic bags for extended trips where there's a high probability that the bag will get significantly wet, or that our bodies and clothing will be soaking wet and unable to dry off before we get into a sleeping bag. We use down bags for >90% of trips.

Although synthetic insulated bags are typically marketed as less expensive alternatives to down bags we've learned, by testing nearly seventy sleeping bags off all types and styles, that down bags are better and cheaper than best synthetic bags. We believe the only reason to get a synthetic bag is for its increased performance when the insulation is wet. See our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review for a general overview and consider, specifically, the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 or the Enlightened Equipment Revelation.

The Ultralamina has one annoying drawback to its dual zipper design: the front (elasticized) pull cord could use a better cinching mechanism. As is, the cord can only be tightened by jamming it between one of several small notches in a round plastic device (see photos). While this is lighter than a traditional cincher, its considerably less functional; we found that the cord loosens over time or pops loose all at once. Although this isnt a serious drawback, wed prefer to have a fully functional traditional style cincher.

Another nuisance: As with most Mountain Hardwear bags, the zippers are extremely prone to snagging. They use two thin grosgrain strips that help to insulate the zipper. This is a feature commonly found on -25 to -40 degree expedition winter bags. Mountain Hardwear chooses to use it on their three-season bags as well. Convenience or warmth? Although we don't like how the zipper snags we do value a warm bag and this feature helps to increase warmth.

Best Application
The Ultralamina 15 is built for cold wet weather. Its best for unprotected alpine bivis or extended trips that span multiple climates.

Value
The Ultralamina is an excellent value for its performance.

Other Versions
The Ultralamina is available in a zero degree version and a womens cut in the Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 - Women's. It also comes in a long version. We highly recommend getting the warmer version for extended trips in really wet conditions.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 13, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.7)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Mar 13, 2013 - 09:25pm
Badger · Hunter
This bag is one of the best gear purchases I've ever made. Absolutely love the design. I have the model with a full zip down one side and a partial on the other (green and black). Allows me to be in the bag with my arms out to work on stuff. Pure genius! The zippers are beefy and I've had zero snags.

Bag has kept me warm at the freezing mark and didn't make me sweat at 60F. Compresses as advertised and lofts up quickly when unpacked. Easily fits in the bag compartment of my Gregory Baltoro. There is no draft collar, but I haven't missed it. In fact I like the freedom of movement.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 15, 2012 - 01:28am
Vegasclimber · Climber · Las Vegas, NV.
The Ultralamina 15 has new features for 2012.

The bag in now green and black, but the biggest addition is the full length left side zipper. The left zip has three pulls on it so ventilation is now much easier. In addition, you can move the lower zippers up to allow your arm out while the hood is held in place by the top zipper. The right side quarter zip still allows for the unique feature of being able to have your bag on while having both your arms out for cooking or digging in a haul bag. The new style can be found in the $200 range from many retailers.

One issue that doesn't seem to have been fixed is the zippers snagging. My bag is new, so I'm hoping some of that will go away as the zippers wear in.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 7, 2012 - 06:51pm
Couchmaster · Pacific Northwet
I agree that this is a 5 star product. Yet for a exhausted climber in water deficit going to sleep on the ledge in the pitch dark, the last thing you want with this bag is a leg cramp. The short zipper SUCKS! Rab does that with their otherwise phenomenal down bags as do some others.

For a fleece bag, Mountain Hardware is the clear winner. They have learned to bond the fleece to the bag better than other company's (so far) and so the bags last longer than others as the fleece doesn't start to shift after the repeated stuffing - unstuffing cycles we subject bags to. So you want a Mountain Hardware if you want fleece.

If you NEED (AKA want) a full zip bag, the Mountain Hardware Extralamina is a near identical bag to the Ultralamina reviewed here which comes with with a super long zipper which wraps all the way down AND AROUND your foot. There is a few ounce penalty for that extra zipper length, but you'll thank your lucky stars if you are like me and leave the bag unzipped on hot nights so my feet can get fresh air, or need to jump out of the bag due to a leg cramp and are trying not to wake either your girlfriend on one side or your wife on the other side.

So the Ultralamina bag rules, but the Extralamina rules with a bit more freedom.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15
Credit: Mountain Hardwear
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