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Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger # 1 Review

   

Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  • Currently 3.8/5
Overall avg rating 3.8 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: December 18, 2014
Street Price:   $399 | Compare prices at 1 resellers
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.
User Rating:     
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 (3.7 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  67% of reviewers (2/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Montbell
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 14, 2012  
Overview
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

Likes
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
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.
Credit: www.montbell.com

Material
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.

Other Features
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.

Dislikes
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.

Best Application
Luxurious three-season backpacking and car camping, people with broad shoulders.

Value
The Down Hugger is a good buy if you are on the larger side or want the most luxurious bag in existence.

Other versions
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.

The Montbell U.L. Super Spiral Down Hugger #0, $590, combines top quality 800-fill down with a stretchy, water resistant, and attractive shell material that conforms to your body. This is the most comfortable bag we have tested.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 18, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.7)

67% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 25%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Dec 18, 2014 - 10:09pm
Geophagous · Backpacker · Renton, WA
I have had the Super Stretch #3 which is the older version of the bag rated to 30 degrees.

I have wider shoulders and have felt very constricted in other bags to the point that I feel the insulation being compressed by my shoulders and a very uncomfortable feeling in general.

I do agree about the down leaking…I have had the bag for about 4 years and each time I use it I will find a few feathers….really not many at all. No issues with bad stitching or rip/tears. The hood works but I rarely cinch it down so not as much of an issue for me.

For me the best part of the bag is exactly as the review points out….comfort. If you have wider shoulders this is the bag to look to for comfort and compared to other bags that have a similar shoulder girth…you won't find a warmer or lighter bag. Simply because if you get a normal mummy bag with a larger girth….it will be a bigger bag that is heavier. It is the stretchy part that makes this great.

I would call it a niche product. It is super comfortable and while I sleep warm I have had it in both fresh snow flurries and on a night cowboy camping that had a very heavy frost on the ground in the morning.

Great bag, just know what you are getting.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 28, 2014 - 05:15pm
Marther222 · Other · Sydney, Australia
I absolutely love my Super Spiral Down Hugger #1. I have an older version, (which is also the long version) that I bought $240 (for 40% off) in Vanouver in May 2012. It was discontinued. I can't remember what they improved on after mine was made, but it seems that mine only has 650 fill power down. It is still awesome.

Now I am not your typical one to go bush (I'm Aussie, google that saying), I work for an airline so usually get super cheap airfares and do fly-drive holidays and do more drive-in camping than hike-in camping. I wish I could do more of the latter. So although I appreciate good gear, I am not a gear "junkie" and the only thing I have to compare this to is a 30 year old polyester sleeping bag that weighs about 50kg and keeps you warm to about 30 degrees centigrade.

Back to the Super Spiral Down Hugger: I agree with Outdoor Gear Lab that the hood is claustrophobic, and I agree with all their comments regarding this. I really don't like the neck baffle velcro - it is so weak that it is useless.

I have used it maybe 20 times and have had no problem with seams tearing. There is some down loss but I think (?) it is a normal amount. I am not alarmed by a feather here and there and my tent doesn't look like a snowcone in the morning like some reviews of other bags I have seen.

I am a typical female who gets cold easily. I have camped with this bag to about -2 degrees celcius (just below freezing) and was super warm. Now I also have an Exped Downmat 7MW and after testing it in the New Zealand South Island Spring, I reckon with this combo I'd be warm to at least -10 degrees celcius. The downmat is really impressive with the amount of heat it retains (and cold it keeps out from the ground).

I move a lot in my sleep and really appreciate the stretchiness of the bag. And the material is really soft, it is like sleeping in a cloud. I stupidly resist using my silk liner as it would detract from the enjoyment of the bag!!

I am impressed with the tiny size that it packs down to and the weight. I understand from reading around that it is not the smallest or lightest in its class but I am still really impressed.

I am now shopping around for a second-hand one for my boyfriend, or another brand that stretches anyway. I can't find another brand that does this, but I will keep searching as I am told there are a couple out there…

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 6, 2014 - 01:28pm
Lucky Man · Hiker · WPB, FL
I have the Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger # 3, which I don't see listed separately here. This is a comfortable bag and a great design, sabotaged unfortunately by shoddy stitching. A seam on my bag tore before I even used it. I taped it but have seen down leaking from numerous other places along seams. For the high price I expected a high-quality item but instead got just another subpar product cranked out in a Chinese factory.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger #1
Credit: www.montbell.com
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