The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Mountain Hardwear UltraLamina 32: My #1 Sleeping Bag
Posted on: December 25, 2007
MSRP: $175-$200 (varies with size)
Weight: 870 g (1 pound, 15 ounces)
Every summer I spend many nights camped in the mountains, and this year has been no different. Alpine weather and conditions in my favorite local stomping grounds, the Bugaboos and Canadian Rockies, have tendencies to change faster than you can see them coming, and—all too often—you're shivering, getting snowed on or cowering from the latest thunderstorm. Fortunately, I was able to retreat on multiple occasions to the comforts of the Mountain Hardwear UltraLamina 32-degree synthetic sleeping bag.
Welded with new Thermic Micro insulation (offering outstanding compressibility and durability) the Ultra Lamina checks in at 870 grams, comes in two sizes, and retails for $175-200, depending on size. It comes with an ultra-light compression sack, as well as a large storage sack for when you're keeping the bag at home. The new synthetic insulation worked well, and Mountain Hardwear claims that it will maintain its loft through repeated washings and compression cycles. Even when it got damp from being exposed to the leaky floor of my well-loved tent, it still maintained its loft and provided more than enough insulation to keep me warm and comfortable. The shell fabric is a light, tear resistant, DWR-coated ripstop nylon.
I thought the cut was perfect, and in particular, the profile cut around the feet and shoulders served me well. One impressive thing about this bag was it actually lived up to its 32-degree rating. Throughout the year I regularly use three other sleeping bags, and they all require every piece of clothing I've brought along to stay warm. I feel comfortable pushing the UltraLamina to colder temperatures. My proof? I'm bringing it to Patagonia for the upcoming season.
Another solid feature of the bag is the dual half zippers; these allow you to stay in your bag while sitting up when you need a little extra insulation for cooking, reading or hanging out in camp during mornings and evenings. The only con I found was not being able to unzip all the way when cozying up to your girlfriend or boyfriend, as the half zippers make any romance challenging at best.
Overall the UltraLamina is an excellent choice for damp, cool conditions, and perfect for base-camping or multi-day, big wall adventures. It has and will remain my #1 bag for future trips to my favorite climbing areas where a lightweight bag makes sense.
Pros: Lightweight; extremely packable; stays warm when wet; impressive ergonomic cut.
Cons: Dual half zippers complicate gettin' yo' freak on.