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Montbell Super Stretch Down Hugger #3

in Sleeping Bags - Mummy & Other

Average Rating
3.88 / 5 (8 reviews)


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mark henley
( flash582 )
Montbell Super Stretch Down Hugger #3 on 01/03/2007 14:21:29 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I've been backpacking seriously for about 4 years now, not including my Scouting days of yesteryear. This is my first Down bag as I've always used synthetics in the past. I've used the bag for 12 months now.

I tend to sleep just a touch warm and have found the temperature rating to be pretty much right on the mark. The Bag conforms to your body shape no matter what position you're sleeping in and gives me the girth I need to be comfortable at night, especially since I sleep on my side. If you have wide shoulders, look at a Montbell Super Stretch.

Good Points:

Excellent quality bag
Accurate rating
conforms to your body yet gives you a lot of extra room to move around

Nitpicks:
Zipper gets caught too easy because of the light fabric
The provided stuff bag is way too small for comfort, unless you just happen to have a half hour to stuff your bag every morning ... get a 400 cu in bag for stuffing.

Brett .
( Brett1234 )

Locale:
CA
'go to' bag on 01/05/2007 11:34:06 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The temperature rating of this bag is right on IMO; I use it with a wool 1 layer, and various mats depending on ground temperature. If I'm in doubt about how much bag Ill need; I take this one; thus it is my 'go to' bag.

Marks two negatives are valid; I found a technique to solve them..
1. For the zipper issue, hold the zipper pull tab between your thumb and middle finger, use the index and ring fingers on either side of the zipper to keep the material feeding smoothly as the zipper closes. Its second nature now for me and requires no extra time.

2. An efficient way to roll the bag (not stuff), is lay it out, fold it in half so it is the same length but half as wide. Key point, make sure the zipper runs diagonally from upper left to lower right (or vice versa), not straight up the bag. Then fold the foot to the head, and roll from the fold to the head/foot ends. The zipper is now coiled uniformly from side to side, so will fit easily through the stuff sack opening. Again, takes no extra time for me.

The head to foot 'super stretch' system Montbell uses is patented, and no other manufacturer can copy it. It solves many problems inherent in other bags, with one simple solution. For more details see my other posts on 'super stretch'.

I would not go back to a non super stretch bag.

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Brett Tucker
( blister-free )

Locale:
Puertecito ruins
Disagree about temperature rating accuracy on 11/25/2007 21:23:30 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

My new 2007 model 800-fill bag failed bigtime in the warmth department. Even with ample layering, pad, and use inside a tent, I couldn't seem to shake off annoying cold spots and a palpable sense that my body heat was leaking through the bag like a sieve - even despite overnight temps no lower than 45F.

By way of reference, my usual 3-season bag is a Marmot Hydrogen (30F), which has proven dependable to or below its rating, and at essentially the same bag and fill weights, and fill power.

So what's going on here?

My bag went back to Montbell on a possibly-confirmed hunch of an underfilled baffle or two. MB claims their bags are QC'd for fill wt but not per baffle - and the design of the Down Hugger series incorporates many baffles. The purpose of all those baffles, of course, is to keep the down from shifting and so to reduce the overall quantity necessary to achieve x amount of warmth.

Is there a "down" side to all those baffles, though? In the case of the Super Stretch bags, my feeling now is that there is. Underfilled baffles are one thing, but the SS's myriad baffles present another concern. It isn't difficult to imagine how inefficient such a design would be were the baffles of sewn-through seam construction. And while they are not in fact sewn-through, the elasticed "super stretch" circumferential baffle seams are so taut against the bag - even when relaxed - that they actually mimic a sewn-through baffle construction.

Note the scalloped appearance of these bags, per the imagery on MB's website, and compare it to the smooth, even look of the Alpine bags with standard non-stretch seams along the exterior fabric face.

The Super Stretch bags essentially compress their insulation at the baffle seams, creating a total-bag heat sink that I believe is the primary reason for my bag's unexpected failure, moreso than the effect of any underfilled baffles.

My experiences with this bag were bad enough to warrant a 2-ish rating, but I'll add a star thanks to Montbell's top notch customer service in the aftermath. The Super Stretch concept is smart, in theory if not by my experiences in actual practice. And for sure, the stretch design is also tried-and-true by MB's longstanding claims. My gut sense tells me that it may work better in some (thicker) applications than in others.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Marmot Hydrogen priced at: $279.20 - $348.95
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Allison Sayre
( TeamAlli )

Locale:
PNW
Great bag for people with restless legs on 04/30/2009 11:22:13 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

This bag is awesome. Disclaimer: I have never encountered temperatures less than 40 degrees so I can't comment on how accurate the temp rating is.

I have never had a problem with stuffing the bag. I would not recommend the technique of folding it in half first as that will result in a spot without down. I just grab a random bit and stuff it in. Turn the bag in a circle while you are stuffing in order to keep it even. It takes less than one minute.

I've used this bag on several weekend trips and it's been a joy. It's my first down bag and I love it. Its small pack size is nice, it allows me to stuff a lot more in to my 55L pack.

Don Selesky
( backslacker - M )
Works for me on 05/04/2009 02:45:46 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've had my 30F #3 bag down to 12F on a winter camping trip, wearing a mid-weight synthetic parka and pants, under a tarp and bivy combination. I was comfortable up to the 12F temps, although I wouldn't have wanted to push it any further.

I've used it in warmer temps in a hammock, where I like the ability to move around inside the bag. The only issue I've found is that if I use the stretch feature to its limit I can create cold spots by spreading out the down too much. When that happens I just shift position a bit and the problem goes away.

The bag is light, stuffs easily, and has never given me any trouble. Great bag.

Alan Lau
( hiusatl )
Not up to par for warmth on 10/26/2010 23:39:29 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I took this bag on a JMT thru-hike in Sept 2010. I slept in a tent with a sewn-in floor. My sleeping pad was a 2.5" thick 72" long Neoair mattress. Temperatures at night ranged from 40 degrees F down to 31 degrees. I used a silk bag liner and slept in silk underwear.
Pros:
The bag is attractive. The zipper functioned well and the bag stuffs (with some difficulty) into a small stuffsack. Despite the stuffsack's thinness, it is very strong, light and accomodates the bag's size. This is nice when you need extra space in your backpack. The superstretch feature is nice. You are able to extend your knees and legs easily. The bag continues to hug you and minimize air pockets between you and the bag.
Cons:
I found myself shivering when the temperatures dropped to 40 degrees and below. I had to layer on my down jacket. Like other reviewers, I did notice some baffles that seemed to be empty. I tried spreading the down around but this did not help. I often wished that I had taken my Marmot 15 degree Helium bag instead. 2 years ago I hiked from North Lake near Bishop to Horseshoe Meadows near Lone Pine. Temperatures were similar. The only differences at that time were: I used my Marmot bag, I didn't use a sleeping bag liner and I had a 3/4 inch prolite 3 mattress (instead of my 2.5" Neoair mattress). I had no issues with being cold 2 yrs ago. I examined the Marmot bag this time and found no empty baffles. I sent my bag back to MontBell. They found the bag met their specifications and sent the bag back to me with an explanation of their findings and possible reasons why I felt cold.

I don't believe this particular bag is up to par. I would not recommend this bag to others. That aside, I thought Montbell's service was great, as it took just over 2 weeks from the time that I sent the bag back to them to the time I received it in the mail.

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Wallace Hunter
( jeepingetowah )

Locale:
South Central
Moderate experience - no WOW on 01/06/2011 09:15:10 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

When I first got this bag, I thoroughly enjoyed the look, the feel, the size, the volume, and the weight.

It looked super progressive compared to my original synthetic NF Cat's meow. But that was already 10 years old.

It felt super light, soft and the material had some nice properties to repel water and any light condensation that might fall or accumulate in the night.

The size because it conforms to ones body when you move. Also the size because it packs up really really small in comparison to my old 3 lb bag.

The weight because it is 1 lb 8 oz in my experience.

However, after extensive use and in the cold... I have skeptical thoughts. For one, I am very unhappy with the face closure mechanism. It rubs along my face and when closed up pretty good, puts pressure on the bridge of my nose. I cannot see because it covers my eyes. So sitting up at night you have to find your way out instead of just being able to see out. Some might think that is petty, but it bothered my experience.

On the cold side, for the first few trips I never really pushed the rating or reached anywhere near or below the rating. But just recently on a trip to Bastrop State Park in TX, the temps reached in the mid to low 20s. My wife and I were cold. We even had wool layers top and bottom, as well as montbell UL down inner parkas on. I wore my hat also. In the end we warmed up water in the bottles, and put them in with us. This alleviated our issues and we went home and bought Western Mountaineering bags after that trip. We got the Ultralite bags that allow us to 20 degrees. We are planning on using the MB SS #3 for temps around 40 and through summer.

I do not suggest this bag if you are thinking of getting one. I honestly feel if you are going to use it a lot, I am somewhat biased now to Western Mountaineering, made in the USA, and amazing quality.

Video review WM Ultralite vs MB SS #3

Samuel C. Farrington
( scfhome - M )

Locale:
Chocorua NH, USA
Montbell Super Stretch Down Hugger #3 on 01/06/2011 23:10:15 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Used the reg (not super) version of this bag for three weeks; one on Maine's Grafton Loop Trail in June at altitudes up to 3K', and two in Colorado's Rawahs in August at altitudes up to 12K'
Don't look much at thermometers, but also carry BPL's earlier model PG Delta top and bottom, and never had to use them, as I frequently have at similar times and places with heavier best quality 2+# synthetic bags in the past.
Was very careful to never stuff the bag except when trekking, and then in a larger stuff sack. Used the maker's much larger storage bag at all other times.
Will be interested to see if this bag continues to perform as well in longer use this this spring and summer.
If not, will put a post on GEAR.
The down was just barely enough to fill out the bag, so I can readily imagine a problem if the down quality and/or quantity dropped even just a little.

Edited by scfhome on 01/06/2011 23:11:10 MST.

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