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Dr_Crash

15-20 degrees down bags, ~2 lbs

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Hello,

 

I am in the market for an ~20 degrees (F) down bag with a weight of about 2 lbs. This will be my all around bag for here, summer as well as winter / spring on snow (for example for the Forbidden tour I'm doing soon).

 

After looking around some, the candidates I have are:

 

- Marmot Helium. Rated 15 degrees and 1 lb 13 oz. I have no idea how accurate Marmot ratings are for temperature. Any feedback?

 

- Marmot Helium EQ. Rated 15 degrees and 2 lb 3 oz. Boasts about its "extremely water resistant fabric." I have no idea whether that's true or not, but know it adds 6 oz. Is it worth it?

 

- Montbell U.L. Alpine Down Hugger #1 Long. Comfortable temperature 15.8 F, usable down to -7.6 F, 2 lb 4oz. And a shitload of data such a fill weight etc. on the Web site. And I don't understand all of that smile.gif

Montbell also has a page on the Alpine Down Hugger construction.

 

- Montbell U.L. Super Stretch Down Hugger #2 Long. Comfortable temperature 24.8 F, usable down to 5 F, 1 lb 15 oz. (The regular size is 2 oz less but 5'10" max.) Montbell has a page about the Super Stretch construction.

 

- Ajungilak (Mammut)Taiga. Comfortable to 26.7 F, usable down to -2 F. 2 lbs 2 oz.

 

- We could also throw in the GoLite Feather bag at 20 F and 1 lb 13 oz but I think the Helium would win.

 

Out of curiosity, is the REI Kilo Plus really a true 0 F bag at only 2 lb 7 oz? How good are their ratings? That's pretty good if it's true, though probably too warm for my 4-season use.

 

I like features like the foot baffle in the Montbell (can be closed down for a short person---not me, or open and used as a bootie for taller ones, and the bag can stuff in the baffle, no need for a stuff bag). I also like the Alpine's small face hole. And because I am not 5'10" I get extra room in these bags at the bottom if I want to stuff things there.

 

I also like the Marmot Helium and its really light weight. Can I trust the temp. rating? This is when I miss true independent standards of testing like those used in Europe (the Montbell ratings look similar to these too but I do not know what standard is used for testing).

 

Can anybody with real down bag experience help me here? The top two contenders are Alpine #1 (2 lb 4 oz) and the Helium (1 lb 13 oz; not the EQ, or should I look at the EQ because of the Cascades factor?) which may be also compared directly with the Stretch Hugger #2.

 

It really boils down to whether Marmot's temperature rating is accurate and whether it is a "comfortable" temperature or not. Montbell's temperature chart states:

 

"The Comfortable Temperature range* shows the temperatures in which you can restfully and pleasantly sleep 8 hours or more wearing only a thin layer. Use these ranges to select the best sleeping bag for your needs.

*These ranges were measured in laboratory tests – depending on your situation and sleeping preferences, you may be more comfortable in a warmer or colder bag.

 

Minimum Temperature

The minimum temperature range* shows the temperatures in which you can sleep in relative comfort for 6 to 8 hours.

*These ranges were measured in laboratory tests – depending on your situation and sleeping preferences, you may be more comfortable in a warmer or colder bag."

 

If Montbell's 16 F bag can really go down to -7 F with some discomfort, and the Marmot Helium can't, then it's probably worth the extra advertised 7 oz, no?

 

Anybody here can help me?

 

drC - Down newbie (amongst other things), overanalyzer

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Marmot makes a good bag but I don't think their ratings are as accurate as say, Western Mountaineering. They (Marmot) don't list their fill weights but if you call them you can get them. I've done a little comparing and basically they don't put as much down in their bags as a similarly rated WM and I think their bags, though nice are not filled enough. WM overstuffs if you do the volume calcs which make the bags have a more conservative rating. That's important because some companies just put enough down in the bag to fill the volume when you do the math but in the field you never get the fill power that down is advertised to so the bag ends up unfilled. I'm also a little down on Marmot since they played that whole 900 fill power game a year or two ago. It was total marketing hype since it was the exact same down they used before. They just changed how they 'measured' the down volume to make the down appear better quality when in reality it was the same stuff. I just hate to see marketing hype like that when it's crap. I would vote for the Western Mountaineering Ultralight (1 lb 10 oz reg 20 degree). Super nice bag and it's truer to it's rating than many bags. It would make a great all around lightweight bag. Pro Mountain Sports carries WMs. Feathered Friends also puts a very conservative amount of down in their bags and are pretty accurate to their ratings. I’d look at both those companies.

 

I’ve owned bags from all three companies and they were all good quality. In terms of customer service Marmot rocks. I sent them my 18 year old bag a few years back that went flat and they added some down to bring it bag to spec and put a new zipper on all free of charge. That’s good service.

Edited by hydroman

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I have a WM vest that I Lou; for bags I'd like to stay with the 3 brands I mentioned for cost reasons.The Montbell are 725 fill which surprised me a bit when 850/900 can be found be hey... Do their fill weight sound good? (Again I don't know shit about that stuff.)

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The feathered friends Hummingbird is lighter than the Marmot for about the same price (even if you add a couple of oz of overfill to bring it down to 15F). I have a FF bag and I love it.

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i've got a helium. at 1lb 6 oz and a 30 degree temp rating i think its pretty ture to the rating. i have taken it down to about 23ish, and stayed fairly warm.

i think the higher quality the more true the temp rating is.

the new rei kilo plus and sub kilo have a higher quality down than they ever have. plus with the new pertex shell they dont look all that bad, i have an older sub kilo and its ok. prolly not up to its rating, but not bad for $220. the new one looks to be a little better.

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Yeah - it would be nice for the industry to finally agree on standardizing the tempurature ratings for sleeping bags. Every year there's a meeting with the ASTM and all the major bag manufacturers at the OR show in SLC, but from what I've heard the discussions just go around in circles. It usually just breaks down into one camp saying the ratings should be conservative and accurate, and the other camp argueing for the ability to say their 3" lofting flannel bag can really be used to 20 degrees. Unfortunately, the flannel bag companies make a bazillion more bags than the high end down bag manufacturers, so there it stays - unresolved.

 

To get a more accurate and objective read on how warm a bag is, reference the fill weight and dimensions of the bag. When comparing bags of similar widths and fill weights you'll notice discrepancies in temperature ratings; some are more conservative, others are more optimistic. Also remember that lower fill down will weigh more than better down at the same volume, but won't increase the R-value. Use a bag you're already familiar with for reference and decide if you need more or less down for what you're doing.

 

When comparing weights, take a good look at what the shell material is. I think this is more important than fill-power. Quantum is great for what it does, but be ready to care for that bag with kid gloves and realize it's one of the least h20 resistant materials out there. For a small weight penalty consider a more durable and h20 proof fabric, especially if it will be one of your workhorse bags.

 

[shameless plug] A comparable FF bag, in specs, to the ones you mentioned is actually cheaper than one you listed, and with a better shell. [/shameless plug]

Edited by Figger_Eight

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Well maybe you down bags guys could adopt a standard regardless of what the flannel bags guys do. Any decent standard and certification by an independent lab would work. Pick a CE standard and keep it as is or improve it, whatever, but market the bags as being tested. A smart consumer will notice and buy rated bags. I know people in the USA do not care much (I mean consumer in general). But where I come from we do, and I remember a <US name withheld> 0 degree bag bung tested at more than 15 and that is simply not acceptable.

 

flow does FF establish its ratings? Have you done lab tests to get numbers like Monbell's or what the CE does, or are you being conservative enough as to not risk to disappoint a consumer? It'd be interesting to know your approach.

 

YA

 

And yes you guys have a stellar reputation. Not part of my equation at the moment but probably some day.

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have you ever heard of valandre? they make really awesome stuff.

 

My top three are valandre, western mountain and feathered friends. But, i've never really seen or used a mont-bell...

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Another vote for the FF. I have a eight year old 20deg, weighs right at 2lb w/dryloft shell. Best bag I've owned hands down. Plus, you're supporting the local bros instead of some corporate wanks getting Mao's millions to sew em.

 

Feathered Friends, you can't go wrong. thumbs_up.gif

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I have a Montbell down hugger (#3 I think) as my summer bag. I think it's awesome, warmer than I expected it to be - and a very nice price. The cut is very slim though, I am a small person, and definitely felt WAY more restricted than I do in my WM winter bag. I think if you were a bigger person, or were planning to wear/stuff extra clothing inside the bag to extend the range it wouldn't work so well because you would squish the insulation flat.

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Another vote for the FF. I have a eight year old 20deg, weighs right at 2lb w/dryloft shell. Best bag I've owned hands down. Plus, you're supporting the local bros instead of some corporate wanks getting Mao's millions to sew em.

 

Feathered Friends, you can't go wrong. thumbs_up.gif

 

Thanks for the praise, Will. Note to readers: Mr. Strickland is not on our payroll.

 

The Hummingbird would be a great choice for a lightweight mummy. We have weighed regular length Quantum Hummingbirds coming off the factory floor at 25oz (we have one in stock right now, in fact), which is less than our advertised weight of 27oz. If you ordered one with 1.1oz ripstop nylon (fractionally heavier than Quantum's 0.9oz) you would be spending $269 for a US-made 800+ fill bag. Not a bad deal.

 

Marmot's EQ fabric is what's left of Pertex's Endurance Quantum. It is Quantum fabric with their Endurance polyurethane coating. FF has used a similar fabric from Pertex in the past, and while we have liked the weight savings it offers, the breathability is not as good as other WP/B fabrics, and the functional lifespan of the coating is less than a laminate like eVent or DryLoft.

 

We also rent our bags out, so if you want to try one in the field to see if you like it, you can apply the cost of a rental towards the purchase. It's a risk-free test drive.

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Well maybe you down bags guys could adopt a standard...

 

I think it's the same issue as adopting a temperature rating for down parkas...it's more or less just a guideline. How warm people sleep is such a huge variable that any rating you give to a bag will probably be plus or minus 10 degrees. What would the rating mean? You'll be comfortable to 20 degrees fahrenheit for a 20 degree bag? Are you well rested, hydrated and fed? Or are you working on 3 hours of sleep in the last 48, strung out on 1/2 a powerbar and dehydrated?

 

My 2 cents at least.

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How warm people sleep is such a huge variable that any rating you give to a bag will probably be plus or minus 10 degrees. What would the rating mean?

True--but if the ratings were consistent among different companies, they would still be quite useful as a relative standard.

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Yes, everybody's different. But at least the baseline would be standard and would help. If I sleep 10 degrees colder than someone else, then I can take that info and apply it to any bag rated using the same standard. I mean, your car has MPG ratings for city and highway, but if you're lead footed, none of these will apply; still when shopping for a car it's a good measure of fuel efficiency.

 

RE: Valandré, I know about them but never think of them; I am sure that if I had started mountaineering while in France rather than here they'd be high on my list. Hey, I could make a chauvinist buy with them :-P.

 

drC

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I've heard that the proposed standard would not give a temperature rating, but rather a rate of heat loss (BTUs/hr, or some such), with a suggested temperature range as well. People buying their first bag would go by the suggested temperature range, but after a while you'd learn what sort of BTU/hr figure to look for, depending on whether you're a warm sleeper or not, or what sort of temperature you expect to encounter. The temperature rating would still be highly subjective, but the heat-loss rating would not.

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I would agree that some kind of universal standard would be a good thing. For now all you can do is check the spec's for comparison and look for companies with a good reputation. I purchased a 20 degree bag 3 years ago after doing a bit of research. I was somewhat hesitant to invest in down at first and mainly focused on synthetic bags. I was gradually swayed towards the merits of down and haven't regretted it yet. Price was a big issue at the time so a lot of time was spent looking for a good value. I found the Moonstone 800 Lucid at the following link. Free shipping and no tax made it easily $100 less than other options. They've since made the bag a bit heavier than the 1 Lbs 12 oz for mine, not sure if they added fill, I've contacted Moonstone to find out. Current model has same fill weight as a comparable temp rated WM but is heavier overall. I've heard nothing but praise for Marmot, WM and FF. I've heard complaints about the temp ratings for Montbell in the past. I'm happy with my bag but money isn't as tight as then and I might spend a bit more for one of the other brands if I were purchasing today. I'm currently contemplating getting a real light summer bag and am looking at the Marmot Atom and the WM HighLite.

 

http://www.backcountry-equipment.com/slpng_bg/moonstone_lucid.html

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I'm currently contemplating getting a real light summer bag and am looking at the Marmot Atom and the WM HighLite

I have the Highlite, and it's amazing! 17 ounce total weight for the "tall" size, and it keeps me warm into the upper 30 degree range as promised. I'm also in the market for a 15-20 degree bag, and I am almost definitely going to buy another WM. Sure they're expensive, but a light pack and comfortable sleeping mean a lot to me...

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I seriously considered a Valandre bag, along with Marmot, Integral Designs, WM, and FF, when I purchased my winter bag. Valandre undoubtedly makes awesome bags (at awesome prices), but they did not offer a water-resistant fabric (at least at the time, about a year ago), as do the later three companies. The FF with an Epic shell weighs about the same as the comparable Valandre, if I remember correctly, yet it is more durable and water-resistant (the Valandre used Pertex Quantum). ID offered water-resistant shells, at high price and more weight. WM did not offer as slim of a cut as FF, which added weight and since I am quite slim, was interested in saving weight and BTUs with a snugger fit. Anyway, all of these companies offer great bags, depending on your needs.

 

BTW, I question the durability of the super-light Marmot bags. Attaining the kind of numbers for down fill that they do at such light weights, I get the feeling they hold back on things like...thread. I had a friend whose Lithium bag had a seem unravel on its first trip.

 

Just some thoughts...

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Another bag option that I have been looking at for this summer is MacPac 150 SF. According to the web site, the bag weights in at 1lb 3oz for fully tape sealed waterproof shell w/725 down. I was thinking this with a light siltarp would be a good sleeping system. I know that Pro Mountain carries there packs, I bet Jim could order a sleepbag too.

 

Erick

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Another vote for the FF. I have a eight year old 20deg, weighs right at 2lb w/dryloft shell. Best bag I've owned hands down. Plus, you're supporting the local bros instead of some corporate wanks getting Mao's millions to sew em.

 

Feathered Friends, you can't go wrong. thumbs_up.gif

 

Ditto here on my 7 yr old 20 deg. Got a deal on an ugly green color, but it has held up great. I like the folks at FF, they've proved knowlegable and friendly, they're small and local.

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Couple of comments: The REI Sub Kilo is a nice bargain, but the baffles are sewn through on the side opposite the zipper so you can't move the down around. I almost bought one, but that was a deal-breaker for me.

 

I've slept a few nights in a Valandre bag, and I have to say that it was the nicest bag I ever slept in. I'm a big fan of FF and WM, but the Valandre is completely in a class by itself.

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Valandre does indeed make an incredibly well made bag. Just consider that though nice, not all ratings are the same. If you take the Valandre Mirage for instance +20 degree 1lb 7ounces. It's the lightest 20 degree bag you'll find. It's 3 ounces lighter than then the Western Mountaineering ultralight, also a 20 degree bag. Where is the 3 ounces of difference? If you compare material weights and dimensions the bags are quite similar. The only real difference is the zipper. The Valandre has a zipper that's like 10 inches long compared with a full zipper on the WM. Still, zippers don't weight that much and don't account for 3 ounces. I know, since I have a lot of these raw materials sitting around at home. (I make my own gear for myself and some friends) The difference is that it appears the Valandre is short an ounce or two of down compared to the WM (or a similar FF). 2 ounces is a huge difference when it comes to down. My point being that watch out when buying an ultralight bag as some manufacturers really cut things to the wire in order to have the lowest weight listed on their hang tag at the store. A buddy has the Valandre and though it's an awesome bag it isn't a 20 in my book. At least not for an average sleeper or compared to FF or WM.

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