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Field Report - Slumberjack Ultimate +20 F - Coy Boy

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    Slumberjack Ultimate +20 F (long left sleeping bag) Field Report 01-03-2005 Tester: Coy Starnes Gender: Male Age: 42 Weight: 230 lb (104 kg) Height: 6 ft (1.83
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2005
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      Slumberjack Ultimate +20 F
      (long left sleeping bag)
      Field Report

      Tester: Coy Starnes
      Gender: Male
      Age: 42
      Weight: 230 lb (104 kg)
      Height: 6 ft (1.83 m)
      Waist: 38 in (97 cm)
      Shoulder circumference: 57 in (145 cm)
      E-Mail: cstarnes@...
      Location: Grant, Alabama, USA

      Tester Bio
      I live outside a small town in northeast Alabama. I also enjoy
      hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities.
      Backpacking is my favorite pastime. I consider myself a knowledgeable
      backpacker but I am not an expert. I enjoy hiking with my friends and
      family or solo. I limit my hiking to areas fairly close to home,
      usually within a day's drive of home. I hike throughout the year and
      actually hike the least in the hot humid months of summer. My style
      is slow and steady and my gear is light. However I will sacrifice
      weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3 season load for me is
      around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water. I usually sleep in a
      hammock and cook with an alcohol stove. My backpacking trips are
      usually 2, 3 or 4 days in length.

      Product Information
      Item Tested: Slumberjack Ultimate +20 F (long left)
      Manufacturer: Slumberjack
      Manufacturer URL: http://www.slumberjack.com/
      Year of manufacture: 2004
      Color: Navy (blue) / Pine (green) / Rage (vivid orange)
      Size: long left 34 in x 86 in (86 cm x 218 cm)
      Maximum user height: 6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
      Outer shell: 227T Nylon Diamond ripstop
      Liner: Polyester Taffeta liner
      Fill: Dupont Thermolite® Extreme Insulation
      Fill Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (748 g)
      Listed Carry Weight/in stuff sack: 2 lb 15 oz (1338 g)
      Verified Carry Weight: 3 lb 5 oz (1503 g)
      Compression Stuff Sack Weight: 3.5 oz (99 g)
      Carry Size: 6 in x 16 in (15 cm x 41 cm)
      MSRP: not listed

      Product Description
      The Slumberjack Ultimate +20 F is a synthetic fill mummy bag. From
      the Slumberjack website "Designed for people who want compactibility
      without sacrificing comfort and quality. Ideal for fast packing,
      canoeing, kayaking, biking and even family camping." I found on the
      Slumberjack website that their sleeping bags are rated assuming the
      user uses a tent or bivy. This keeps the wind (convection) from
      robbing so much heat. They also recommend using a good pad under the
      bag. Overall the Slumberjack website was very helpful, providing
      information on each sleeping bag and then a lot of hints on everything
      from staying warm to how to care for the sleeping bag.

      Visually the Ultimate +20 F reminds me of Halloween with racy stripes
      of loud orange, blue and green on the top side. Besides the cool
      stripes on top of the bag, the same blue color covers the entire
      bottom of the sleeping bag, the inside liner uses the same green color
      and the same orange color covers most of the hood. Other than that,
      the bag looks big and looks thin.

      Physically the Ultimate +20 F looks and feels well constructed. My
      bag weighed in 6 oz (170 g) heavier than the manufacturer's specified
      carry weight. The zippers function very smoothly even from inside the
      sleeping bag. The outside material has distinct diamond hatches and
      feels soft but tough. The liner is smoother and feels soft. The hood
      is rather large but has a flat drawcord which will pull it snugly
      around my head leaving only my face exposed. The drawcord across the
      neck is round so that it is easy to tell which draw cord is which.
      Both drawcords lock with the same barrel-lock. A generous draft
      collar goes across the neck opening. The top zipper has a draft tube
      and the bottom zipper (which allows the foot section to be opened
      slightly and let air in) is covered by an insulated flap on the outside.

      Dimensionally the Ultimate +20 F (I have the long left version) is
      long enough to fit a 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) individual. The Ultimate +20
      F is a half zip affair and the main zipper extends about 28 in (71 cm)
      down the left side of the sleeping bag. It is cut wider than most
      mummy bags I have tried. I find I have plenty of room to move my arms
      about inside the bag. My legs and feet also have plenty of room. My
      feet have even more room when I unzip the foot ventilation zipper.
      This zipper allows a 24 in (61 cm) section of the foot end of the bag
      to be opened for air to enter, but is screened by a mesh material to
      keep out bugs. The foot end of the bag doesn't truly open, rather it
      can expand a little.

      Field Test Locations and Conditions
      I tested the Ultimate +20 F sleeping bag on an overnight hike to The
      Walls of Jericho and on several overnight hikes in the woods close to
      home. The temperatures on these trips ranged from overnight lows of
      52 F (11 C) down to 26 F (-3 C). I also tested the bag for short
      periods of time over a three day cold snap and was in the bag as low
      as 18 F (-8 C) for a few hours. I used a tent and a hammock for
      testing as well as two different pads. Elevations were between 1300
      ft (400 m) and 2000 ft (600 m).

      Field Testing Results
      Before I start I must say my test results were not totally consistent.
      In other words, I was colder in the sleeping bag at warmer
      temperatures at times than when in the bag on colder occasions. I
      also want to make it clear that the Ultimate +20 F is fast becoming a
      favorite sleeping bag of mine. I found that the temperature rating of
      20 F (-7 C) to be a bit optimistic but I am not surprised by this. I
      mentioned in my Initial Report that the bag was thin, stating "My best
      estimation is that it is between 2.25 in (5.72 cm) and 2.5 in (6.35
      cm) thick with both the top and bottom layer being about equal. This
      would mean the top section of the bag is approximately 1.25 in (3.17
      cm) thick." I was more pleased with how roomy the sleeping bag is,
      which works against the bag being as warm as it could be.

      I'll start with the first night in the bag. I set up my tent down in
      the woods below my house and put the bag in it along with my Big Agnes
      Hinman pad. It was 50 F (10 C) when I turned in but dropped to 44 F
      (7 C) overnight. I slept in gym shorts and kept the bag zipped up. I
      stayed toasty warm all night. The next 2 times I used the Ultimate +20
      F were on nights slightly warmer than the first night with lows of 47
      F (8 C) and 52 F (11 C). Needless to say, I had no problem staying
      warm or getting too hot.

      The first time I got to use the Ultimate +20 F in a cold weather
      situation was on a hiking trip on Thanksgiving Day. I hiked about 2
      miles (3.2 km) to my camping spot but it was mostly all down hill and
      not so far that I couldn't abort for the night if I got too cold. It
      was around 40 F (4 C) when I set out hiking but by dark it was getting
      cold fast. My nose started dripping as I set up my tent and went
      about eating a cold supper. I had eaten a big Thanksgiving Dinner so
      I want all that hungry. I wore my IBEX Guide Lite Pants, a light wool
      top, my Thorlo wool blend socks, some medium wt. fleece gloves and a
      crew boggan to bed. I was also using my 72 X 27 X 3/8 in (183 X 69 X
      1 cm) closed cell pad inside the tent. Even with the extra cloths I
      was wearing I got cold enough that I had trouble sleeping. I was not
      in any danger but I would drift off to sleep only to wake up every
      hour or so feeling cold. My feet were especially colder than I liked
      even though I was wearing some thick wool socks. I got up several
      times to snack and even put on my shoes and stepped outside the tent
      to exercise enough to get my feet warm. I'm not absolutely sure how
      cold it got but at home it got down to 31 F. I was about 50 miles (81
      km) north of home and in a area generally colder than home. There was
      major frost on my tent by 3 AM. My best guess is that it got down to
      around 29 F (-2 C) but it may have been a tad cooler. I did not have
      any ice form in my nearly full drinking bottle which I left outside
      the tent. It did hurt to drink it fast though. With a full moon,
      deer stomping around, coyotes howling, and being cold, I did not sleep
      very much and it was a long night. I reckon sleeping in a tent also
      contributed to my lack of good sleep but that's another story.

      With my experience on the previous cold night I was a little uneasy
      about my next opportunity to spend a night in the sleeping bag but
      made a few changes to my sleeping wardrobe and had better results. I
      added a mid-weight thermal top and bottom and changed the pant and
      shirt combination from last time to a thicker set of fleece top and
      bottom. In place of the crew boggan I put on a bomber style hat. I
      added my ChillBlocker Socks under the Thorlo Socks and replaced the
      light fleece gloves with the ChillBlocker Gloves. I also swaped the
      tent for my Crazy Crib Hammock. And lastly, the Big Agnes Hinman pad
      I used was much thicker than the blue foam pad. I had a down jacket
      with me but just put it inside the bag under my knees. Not only did
      I stay warm all night I was hot for the first hour, maybe partly due
      to struggling to get the sleeping bag all positioned and neat under me
      while lying in the hammock. Regardless, it was colder when I turned
      in than the low the previous trip and continued to drop to 24 F by
      morning. I woke up only once at 1 AM needing to answer natures call
      and decided to remove the outer wool socks I was wearing (plus I
      needed to in order to get my boots on) and when I turned back in I
      just left them off. My feet stayed warm the rest of the night (still
      in the ChillBlocker Socks). I actually think I could have worn only
      the fleece pant and shirt this night because I did not get anywhere
      close to feeling cold. I slept much better than I did on my
      Thanksgiving trip and staying warm was a big help. I think my hammock
      helped more though.

      My next experience is where things got a little weird. I had worked a
      night shift and came home on a cold morning. By the time I had ate a
      big breakfast of bacon, 3 eggs and coffee it had warmed up to 18 F, up
      2 degrees from the overnight low. I put the sleeping bag out on the
      deck on the Big Agnes Hinman pad for a nap. I chose to sleep in only
      a very thin pair of silk boxer shorts without socks or any head gear.
      I was curious (as was my wife) to see just how quickly I would freeze
      and retreat back inside. Unfortunately, I did not get all that cold.
      I kept waiting for the cold to creep in but with the sun shining I
      could actually fell the warmth of the sun. I could tell the other
      side of the bag (the side away from the sun) felt cooler but I was not
      getting cold. I was outside for 3 hours and ended up sleeping for
      about 2 hours. When I woke up I was feeling slightly cool but not
      uncomfortable so. By this time it had warmed up to 23 F (-5 C). I
      went back inside for another cup of coffee and to mull over my findings.

      I have tried sleeping without clothes before (in a sleeping bag) and
      found that adding clothes usually equaled more warmth. However, I
      had not tried sleeping in direct sunlight. Apparently it makes a big
      difference. And so, I decided I needed to try the same setup under
      more normal circumstances (like after dark). Fast forward to
      darkthirty that evening. I had to eat a big supper to simulate my big
      breakfast so I forced myself to eat a lot of fried chicken, smashed
      taters and gravy, and cornbread and milk. It was 27 F (-3 C) at 7 PM
      so I went back out on my deck and repeated the same experiment. My
      feet got cold first in about 30 minutes. I stayed out for another hour
      but was getting to cold to call it fun. It was now down to 25 F (-4
      C) but still a lot warmer than it was earlier when I had stayed fairly
      warm. I decided that my unusual result earlier in the day was mostly
      due to the sunlight. This time I came back inside to enjoy a hot cup
      of coffee because I was cold.

      I noticed my testing was lacking in nights with temperatures in the
      mid 30's F (2 C) and was glad to see a slight warming trend. It felt
      almost hot as I set up my hammock down in the woods below my house for
      the night but was 46 F (8 C). I returned home for supper and waited
      till 10 PM to head back out by headlamp to my spot. It was almost 1
      month to the day from Thanksgiving and the moon was full again and
      with clear skies, I wasn't sure if it might not get colder than
      predicted. Turns out it did get colder but not by much. Bottom line
      is, it got down to 34 F (1 C) and I stayed warm all night. I did
      notice my feet were a little cool after I had to step out for a few
      minutes during the middle of the night for a nature brake. I didn't
      put my shoes on so my feet got cold on the ground which had just
      thawed out the day before. It took then awhile to warm back up inside
      the sleeping bag and they never were toasty warm for the rest of the
      night but I slept fine. I think the way I used my clothes helped a
      lot on this night. I put my fleece shirt from under my right shoulder
      down to near my waist and my fleece pant the same way on the left
      side. I put my down jacket under my knees. This took up a lot of the
      extra room inside the Ultimate +20 F.

      In other news, The Ultimate +20 F is still holding up very well. My 6
      overnights are not near enough testing to comment much on the bags
      durability except for the zippers which got a good stress test when I
      was in my hammock for 2 nights. All zippers are still working great
      and the loft is still like it was the day I got the bag. I have not
      needed to wash the bag yet. I have kept it stored uncompressed
      between trips and even on trips I haven't had to compress it a whole
      lot. I have not used the compression storage sack nor have I used a
      waterproof bag of any kind. So far I have been stuffing it loose
      inside the bottom compartment of the Gregory Keeler and could easily
      stuff more inside. In fact I put my down jacket in here with the bag
      as it was not needed while hiking.

      I am somewhat disappointed in the fact that the foot vent zipper is
      covered by netting. I was hoping to try using the Ultimate over one
      of my homemade hammocks. In other words, pull the sleeping bag over
      the outside of the hammock but allow the foot end of the hammock to
      exit the sleeping bag through the zippered foot section and stuffing
      my extra clothes around the opening to keep out any drafts. This
      sleeping bag is very roomy, perhaps roomy enough to use in this way,
      but only trying it out will answer my questions. As soon as the long
      term testing is over I will cut the netting and take the first
      opportunity to test it out and add my findings.

      Likes So Far
      very roomy bag
      inexpensive to buy
      don't feel like I have to baby it

      Dislikes So Far
      20 F (-7 C) rating is pushing it IMHO
      half zip design is not the best for using the bag as a quilt
      screened foot vent keeps me from trying the bag as a hammock surround

      Summary Thus Far
      By putting my extra clothes along side me when camping in cooler
      weather I got much better results. A thick pad also seemed to help
      more than I anticipated. I thought a single 3/8 in (1 cm) thick
      closed cell pad was more than adequate for ground sleeping down into
      the mid 20's F (-4 C) but my testing suggested this was borderline not
      enough. I confirmed my thinking that a good warm hat and my
      ChillBlocker Socks and Gloves helped me sleep warmer in cold weather.

      I also like the fact that I have not felt the need to baby this
      sleeping bag. The website does not list the MSRP but I found the bag
      on several sites for under $100. I think this made me a little less
      apprehensive to abuse the bag. By abuse I mean letting it hit the
      ground or fighting a zipper from my hammock instead of standing up in
      the bag and zipping up before lying down in my hammock etc.

      Future Testing Plans
      I will continue to monitor the comfort level of the bag in different
      temperatures as well as see how the Ultimate holds up to more use. If
      I need to wash the bag I will add my findings also. I still have a
      few months of really cold weather to deal with but after that I should
      be using the bag in milder weather and will hopefully be able to
      report on how the foot vent works. Stay tuned!
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