I wanted to update my findings and impressions with limited use of my new Ultra 20. First off I have to admit that I, like many others, was a bit disappointed with the loft given the specs. I have a Golite Feather Lite 40 that is a wider full zipperless sleeping bag with just 5 more grams of down and it has 1 inch more loft (in just the TOP layer) and weighs just 1.8 oz more. The footbox box in particular has twice the loft and feels very stuffed with down compared to the Ultra 20. Based on my calculations for volume (within the baffles of the bag), of the two bags, the Feather Lite has approximately 20% more space to be filled by the down than the Ultra 20. With this in mind, I can only surmise that the Feather Lite either has MUCH higher lofting down than the stated 800ci per oz OR the Ultra 20 has lower performing down than the stated 800 ci per oz. A third, and likely option, is that it is a little of both of these factors. My reg size Ultra 20 weighs in at 18.6 without the straps and 19.1oz with them. The Featherlite 40 weighs in at 20.4 oz - 0.4 higher than specs.
I haven't slept at any temps lower than about 35 - 40 degrees but it was very comfortable both in temp and space. I had no problems with drafts even though I did not use the straps - and I am a side sleeper that flips from side to side throughout the night. Over the years I have trained myself to turn inside the bag, so the switch to a quilt was not a problem. If I feel that straps are necessary, I will just use a little bungee cord and cordlocks as I don't anticipate strapping the bag to the pad. I particularly like the ease of entry and exit as well has venting options. It is also more comfortable than using a bag unzipped as I have not used the hood on a bag for years. For reference, I am 5'9" and 165lbs with a shoulder girth of 51" and found the regular length to be about perfect and don't feel the need for more length.
I have little doubt that I could take this down into the low 20's with the typical clothing I have with me. In temps colder than 40 degrees, I typically sleep in long silkweight terramar underwear with merino wool socks and a fleece cap atop an Exped Down Mat 7 short. The pad makes a HUGE difference in warmth and comfort. At 22oz with the pumpsack, it is the heaviest thing in my pack other than my food bag, but it is weight I am more than willing to carry. I also have a full length 7 but use it only in winter and find that the short leaves little to be desired in my side sleeping/fetal position. Below freezing, in the wee hours of early morning, I typically throw my FF Hyperion Vest (6.5oz) over the top of me as well. Not so much because I am cold, it just keeps me from having to get up and empty my bladder before I want too.
I think that the shell of the Ultra 20 is very well made, more so than the Feather Lite or Golite's past bags, and I really appreciate the "tuck stitching" on the baffle attachment as well as the Pertex Endurance on the footbox and top baffle and I like the feel of the lining in particular. IMO the Ultra 20 would be perfect as is with 2oz more down and/or higher quality/fill power down and while I am considering adding more down, it would be a shame to cut the bag open and then patch it. Based on the construction of the quilt I think that the best way would be to make a small slit on the inside of the bag on each top baffle near where it joins the side baffle, with a hot fine tipped soldering iron, and then stitch it back up. Adding more down to the two side baffles would be an easy job of undoing the seam along the edge. If anyone has opened up the center baffles I would be very interested in what they found.
Other than these two Golite Bags that were basically impulse purchases at 40% off sales events, I have used some 12-15 bags over the years from Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends. The Ultra 20's shell construction is IMO about 90% of the quality of FF or WM's work - nothing to fault Golite over concerning functionality and durability, just a little less attention to detail. I have tried to get WM or FF to make me a quilt but both declined, although I think FF was close to doing it. While I have not seen any of Nunatak's products, I was going to pull the trigger on an ARC Alpinist last summer, but Tom's timing didn't work for my trip. At the $135 I paid for the Ultra 20 at the Golite sale last month, at this point it's hard to justify $400 or more for a custom Alpinist.
If Golite decides to dump more Ultra 20's as they introduce the two newer quilts, I will jump on at least two more, a spare one for me (in long to use as an overquilt), and one for my 11 year old son. I will be taking the Ultra 20 on a 10 day trip to the Winds in Sept and report back on how it worked.