For EDIT: MontBell U.L.A.P. Thermal Sheet FR - Carol
- Here is my FR for the MontBell Thermal Sheet:
MONTBELL U.L.A.P. THERMAL SHEET
TEST SERIES BY CAROL CROOKER
September 28, 2007
NAME: Carol Crooker
EMAIL: cmcrooker AT att DOT net
LOCATION: Phoenix, AZ
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)
TORSO LENGTH: 19 in (48 cm)
For the past 8 years, I've backpacked about 30 days each year. My
trips were from 2 to 28 days, with my usual trip being 3 to 6 days
long. Most of my trips have been in Arizona with the High Sierras,
Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Pennsylvania, and New York
thrown in for variety. Weather has varied from 107 F to a low of 0 F
(42 to -18 C). Most of my backpacking trips are solo. My
three-season base pack weight varies from 10 to 5 pounds (5 - 2 kg),
depending on the weather and trip length. My winter base pack weight
is about 16 pounds (7 kg). I use a tarp for shelter all year round.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 1" IMAGE CAPTION = "Manufacturer
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE -
Listed Weight: 14.5 oz (411 g)
Fill Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Temperature Rating: 50 F (10 C)
Fill: 800 fill power down
Shell: Ballistic Airlight (TM) nylon, 15 denier
DWR treatment: POLKATEX (TM)
Maximum User Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Maximum Dimension: 71 - 31.5 in (180 - 80 cm)
Stuffed Size: 4.4 x 8.7 in (11.2 - 22.1 cm)
Weight Sleeping Bag: 14.8 oz (420 g)
Weight Stuff Sack: 0.8 oz (23 g)
Loft: 3.0 in (7.6 cm) measured in three places across three chambers,
all measurements averaged. Bag was allowed to loft for three days and
Circumference: Neck 36 in (91 cm), Shoulder 56 in (142 cm), Hip 48 in
(122 cm), Foot 34 in (86 cm)
The sleeping bag arrived on July 18, 2007 along with a cotton storage
sack and a double drawstring stuff sack. The imprinted label on the
sleeping bag and stuff sack as well as the hang tags refer to the
"Ultra Light Alpine Down Hugger Thermal Sheet" although the website
names this bag the U.L.A.P. Thermal Sheet.
My first thoughts as I pulled the bag out of the box were that is was
an "interesting" color, very light weight, narrow and didn't look warm
enough for the temperature rating. I could see through the panels in
spots where the down was clumped and had settled elsewhere. A zipper
runs along one side and the bottom so that the bag can be fully
opened. The top of the zipper curves inward above the shoulder to form
a neck opening. There is a hook and loop tab at the top of the zipper.
The zipper is two-way so the foot can be unzipped for ventilation, or
possibly to move around camp. That is something I'll try out during
Field Testing. It's nice to be able to wear a sleeping bag when
getting up at night.
By "interesting" color, I mean one I don't particularly care for.
MontBell calls the color "muskat" which I believe is after the muskat
type of white grape used for wine production. The color is what I'd
call chartreuse or apple green. However, after a friend pointed out
that it is a color found in nature, it is starting to grow on me.
Both sides of the zipper have substantial stiffening tape - stiffer
than what I've seen on other lightweight sleeping bags. The neck
opening has a drawstring with cordlock. Both the foot end and head end
have two loops. The bottom ones could be used to hang the bag for
drying and the top two might fit the toggles from the MontBell pillow.
The bag is hoodless.
The fabric is very lightweight; I'll be watching for durability during
testing. Quality of stitching is excellent. Amazingly for such a light
weight bag, it has box baffles rather than being sewn through.
The hang tag is inaccurate. It says the bag has a foot adjustor to
shorten the bag - this is not the case on my test bag. It also lists
the "Gathered Quilt System" as a feature. The MontBell website defines
this as elastic baffles which my test bag does not have as far as I
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The tag attached to the stuff sack gives laundry and storage
instructions that are typical of what I've seen on other down gear.
TRYING IT OUT
The Thermal Sheet looked much more fluffy after lofting for a couple
of days. The down was unclumped and spread more evenly than
immediately after shipping. The measured loft of 3 in (7.6 cm), is
about the maximum possible. I let the bag loft for several days and
fluffed it before making nine measurements and averaging them. I felt
more assured that this bag will live up to its temperature rating of
50 F (10 C).
I tried on the bag for size. I was pleased to note that it is plenty
long even though I am the maximum recommended height (5 ft 10 in, 1.78
m). The bag is very close fitting - I will see during the Field Test
phase what clothing I can wear inside the Thermal Sheet.
The zipper ran easily although I found it awkward to zip around the
curve at the shoulder, mainly because there is little room inside the
bag to maneuver.
The stuffed size is indeed as listed above. However, it was very
difficult to get the sleeping bag into the stuff sack, and I will not
do that again unless absolutely needed.
I will use the Thermal Sheet on all my backpacking trips over the next
four months. I plan to use it wearing my hiking clothing which is my
normal sleep mode, and also see what insulating clothing, if any, will
fit in the bag. As the weather on my trips gets cooler I'll see how
the Thermal Sheet works as a liner bag inside another bag or under a
quilt. I'll use it for ground sleeping and at least once in a hammock.
I will sleep in the Thermal Sheet with it zipped up and also spread
over me as a quilt.
The Thermal Sheet is well made and the zipper functions smoothly. Out
of the box, the down was clumpy leaving large uninsulated spots. After
the bag was allowed to loft completely, it started looking like
something that would keep me warm at 50 F (10 C). Testing will tell
how it performs in the field.
Please check back in two months for my Field Report.
<a name="FRPT">FIELD REPORT</a>
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 1" IMAGE CAPTION = "Thermal
Sheet on the packraft mattress.">>
August 25 - 30, Idaho Panhandle along the St Joe River
This six-day packraft trip turned into a two-parter due to very low
water levels. It began with three days of backpacking near the upper
St Joe River on rocky and forested trails with numerous creek
crossings. Elevations ranged from about 4000 ft (1200 m) along the
river to 6360 ft (1940 m) along a loop trail.
Starting pack weight was 20 lb (9 kg) with six days of food and
without packraft gear.
The next three days consisted of scouting the Skookum Canyon rapids by
walking along the asphalt road that parallels the river, running the
rapids, driving to a point down river, leaving my car, walking/hitch
hiking up the river, then spending two days floating back to my car.
Starting pack weight with the packraft, PFD, paddle and three days of
food was about 26 lb (12 kg).
The weather was clear the whole trip with an overnight low of 37 F (3
C) and highs into the 80s F (29 C).
September 27 and 28, Blue Ridge Reservoir in north-central Arizona
This trip introduced a friend and my two-year-old niece to backpacking.
Steep, rocky forest trail descending about a mile (2 km) to the
reservoir with a 100 yd (90 m) paddle across to the camp site.
Elevation about 6700 ft (2040 m).
Clear and hot with temperatures into the low 80s F (27 C) and down to
45 F (7 C) overnight.
Starting pack weight including packraft but not a ginormous tent
(which I carried in my hand) or toddler (whom I only had to carry a
little bit): 33 lb (15 kg).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I had some serious concerns about whether the Thermal Sheet would be
adequate to its 50 F (10 C) temperature rating (as I mention in my
Initial Report), let alone keep me warm on my Idaho trip where I
expected even lower overnight temperatures.
What a surprise! All five nights of my trip had lows below the bag's
rating, with the coldest night getting down to 37 F (3 C) - and I
Of course my version of "fine" may differ from others'. I am a medium
sleeper - colder than some, warmer than some. Fine for me means that I
get some sleep. Light shivering is OK if I can sleep through it. Even
short sessions of violent shivering are OK if I can warm up and then
get back to sleep. I had light shivering on the cooler nights and used
my secret weapon (the hooded Cocoon PRO 60 Parka) to add warmth when I
had some heavy shivering. I needed to add the parka at about 43 F (6
C). I went to sleep with most of my clothing each night. My sleeping
clothing consisted of lightweight long john bottoms and very light
nylon pants, ankle height wool socks (I added insulated Integral
Designs Hot Socks on cooler nights), a thin wool tank, thin wool long
sleeve top, long sleeve sun shirt, 4 oz (113 g) wind jacket with hood,
and a fleece hat under the hood. I also zipped the bivy hood up if I
I wouldn't normally carry long john bottoms, wool long sleeve top or
insulated socks for the temperatures I was expecting. I did on this
trip since I wanted to have dry camp clothing if I got soaked just
before pulling into camp. These items definitely helped stretch my
comfort range in the ULAP Thermal Sheet.
Still, I was surprised by my comfort since I had very minimal
insulation between me and the ground. The first two nights I used a
29-inch (74 cm) foam pad (Gossamer Gear NightLight Torso) under my
torso and my pack with thin foam backpanel under my legs. The last
three nights I slept on my overturned packraft with the torso pad in
combination with a foam PFD under my legs.
A bivy sack with waterproof bottom and breathable top added warmth but
the tiny tarp I slept under on four nights probably did not. The
nights were still and the air felt damp and chilly camped next to the
river each night.
The third night I slept on the packraft under the open sky. The night
was clear with a low of 41 F (5 C). Condensation had wet through my
bivy sack by my middle of the night nature call and wet through the
Thermal Sheet shell by morning. I was OK all night - just some light
The zipper tape is nice and stiff. I had no problems zipping and
unzipping even around the curve at the top.
The top of the bag curves in above the shoulders which makes it
difficult to impossible to stick an arm out the top of the bag without
undoing the hook and loop fastener and unzipping the bag a bit. I
often reach out to grab my water bottle or my watch to check the
outside temperature. On this trip I needed to reach out to turn on my
light so I could keep a salt hungry moose from licking my face (as had
happened to the last person to camp at Broken Leg Creek).
This bag has a generous length for its specified 5' 10" (178 cm)
maximum user height. I'm the maximum height and have plenty of length
inside. I don't have to work overly hard on the
shimmy-the-bag-up-shuffle to get the top opening up to my neck.
The Thermal Sheet is a very close fit. In some positions I had some
down compression at my hips (44 in, 112 cm girth). I had room enough
to wear the parka over my 44 in (112 cm) girth shoulders.
I, or rather my companions, used the Thermal Sheet as a quilt on an
overnight trip to acquaint my two year old niece and an adult friend
to backpacking. My niece looked to be warm and cozy under the Thermal
Sheet for the first half of the night. At that point, my version of
sleeping "fine" came into conflict with my friend's version. She woke
me up saying she was shivering and miserable. I gave her the Thermal
Sheet to layer under her quilt and my niece and I shared. My friend
had a horrible night while my niece and I were "fine" with less down
over us. Actually I can't speak for my niece and she can't speak for
herself much yet, but she slept deeply, appearing to do much better
than "fine." The temperature hovered around 45 F (7 C) all night.
In preparation for colder weather, I checked the fit of the Thermal
Sheet inside a Western Mountaineering HighLite bag. The HighLite is
known for a close fit itself, but the Thermal Sheet dimensions are
about 3 in (8 cm) narrower. I can fit inside the two bags without
significant down compression of the Thermal Sheet. There is little
room to wear extra leg covering but enough room for a lightweight
Although I won't be encountering cold enough conditions to need the
Western Mountaineering UltraLite with a Thermal Sheet inside, I
checked the fit anyway. The UltraLite is listed as having the same
interior dimensions as the HighLite and the fit of the Thermal Sheet
inside it confirmed this.
In my in-home laboratory the Thermal Sheet (with just the bottom
zipped) gives good coverage on top of the above bags - an option if
more room is needed inside for extra clothing.
So far, I've been pleasantly surprised by the warmth of this bag!
I will continue to use the Thermal Sheet on all my backpacking trips.
As the weather cools, I'll combine it with another bag or quilt. I
will report my further findings in two months in my Long Term Report.
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.