Hiking

UltraLamina 15 Review

This is a review of the Ultra Lamina 15 degree bag from Mountain Hardwear.

UltraLamina pic #1

UltraLamina pic #1

I have used this sleeping bag a lot. Most of you can tell just by looking at the pictures. It is starting to look sorta pitiful. It has seen multiple section hikes and when Im not using it someone in my group probably is. Its been compressed a ton and has until recently been my go to bag.

UltraLamina pic #2

UltraLamina pic #2

Im going to be honest. I do not like this Sleeping bag. There are to many things I dislike about it to give it a good review. However I want to discuss the good things first. This bag has a great hood. Cinches really good and is very comfy through the night. I have the six foot version. I am 5’6. It is plenty roomy for me. I can sleep on my back, side or stomach without feeling restricted. It’s a nice looking bag. There are no cold spots in this bag. The insulation is consistent throughout the bag. I love not having to fret about the bag getting wet. One night on a section it got wet because I had the bright idea to put a trash bag around the foot area to keep water from getting to it. I woke up and the lower half was a little more than damp. It dried fast, kept its insulating properties and didn’t lose its warmth.

UltraLamina pic #3

UltraLamina pic #3

Another great thing about this bag is it packs down crazy little. I have yet to see another synthetic bag pack down this small. Its crazy. People say down packs down smaller than synthetic and that is very true. But this bag brings the competition between down and synthetic closer. That said I just purchased an EE Revelationx 30 from Tim at http://www.englightenedequipment.com and that quilt packs down 1/2 the size of this bag. You may be thinking, ” Yea but it is rated at 30 and the ultralamina is rated 15 so that makes sense that it packs smaller.” Wrong. The UltraLamina is not a 15 degree bag. It is more like a 25 degree bag. Here is were I begin the negatives of this bag.

UltraLamina 15

UltraLamina 15

I have never experienced such hate towards such a small object. A zipper. When I have to urinate and the zipper of this bag refuses to let me do so it is terribly irritating. When the mice in an AT shelter get at my hiking bag and I cant get out of my sleeping bag to get at those little peckers it is terribly irritating. When I wake up in the morning and it takes me 5-10 minutes to get out of my bag because of the zipper it is terribly irritating. Point made. The zipper is terribly irritating. It gets worse. I thru’ed Georgia’s AT in May 2013 and stayed at mountain crossings. I slept using this bag but it was warm in the hostel. Maybe high 60’s and due to the fact that the zippers (which are on both sides) only zip down 1/3 of the bag my lower body was super hot. Why couldn’t they use one zipper and make it 2/3 length rather than having 2 zippers at 1/3? It gets worse. this bag says its rated at 15. This is not true. Its good maybe to 25. I sleep just slightly warm when I have enough nourishment and when I used this bag in the teens my feet were frozen. March 1st 2013 near blood mountain temps dropped to about 18 degrees. I wasn’t terribly cold but I wasn’t warm. Yes, I used a pad. Yes, I was in a tent.

Conclusion: I give the Mountain Hardwear UltraLamina 15 a 4 out of 10. I do not recommend it. I have retired it. And I probably wont sell it. Its not versatile. It’s not warm. The bags temperature rating is at least 10 degrees off. However it is somewhat light 2lbs 10oz and packs down pretty small. Its definitely not worth the 260.00 it sells for. Do yourself a favor and buy a different bag. Last thing. This is not a Mountain Hardwear issue. They make great gear. I have another bag made by them that is exceptional and a rain jacket that is top notch. This particular item though, kinda sucks.

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Sleeping Bag (MH Phantom 0)

This review is for the sleeping bag on the right of this picture. Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 degree bag.

Phantom pic #1

Phantom pic #1

I’ve used this sleeping bag for only one section hike. I usually try to stay away from weather that would require me to use a 0 degree bag. I used this bag in the Himalayas. The weather never got lower than 20 degrees but I’d rather be safe than sorry. So I haven’t used this bag anywhere near its temp rating. All I can say is a was super toasty in the 20’s at night and have no doubt this bag would be comfortable down into the single digits.

Phantom pic #2

Phantom pic #2

This bag has 800 fill goose down, its a snug cut. I wouldn’t recommend this bag for a large build person. Rather Id push them to one of Montbell’s stretchy bags. This bag comes in at just over 2 1/2 pounds which is very good for a 0 degree bag. Mountain Hardwear really overdid it with this bag. It is a beautiful piece of gear. I enjoyed taking it out of my pack every night. Its just easy on the eyes. It takes some time for it to fluff up after being compressed all day but when it does the loft is quite impressive. However when compared to a Western Mountaineering bag or feathered friends I’d assume its not as high quality. Still, its a dependable, light, and warm bag.

Phantom pic #3

Phantom pic #3

In pic #3 you can see the hood. The hood cinches tight and the draft collar is very effective. I did not feel any heat loss from the bag through the cold nights in the Himalayas. I have yet to sleep in another sleeping bag that has as nice a hood as the Phantom does. The guys at Outdoorgearlab concur. They say, “The Phantom is equipped with the best hood design of any sleeping bag weve tested. Specifically, it was the only one that remained comfortable when the hood and neck baffle were fully cinched.” I have found these guys to give somewhat reliable reviews and couldn’t agree more with their opinion on this bag. Here is their review, http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Sleeping-Bag-Down-Cold-Weather-Reviews/Mountain-Hardwear-Phantom-0

Phantom pic #4

Phantom pic #4

Here in pic #4 you can see the loft of the bag after it had been setting out for a while. The sleeping pad I was using with this bag was a Thermarest Ridgrest SOL. Nothing fancy. I only wore underwear to sleep. This is the regular version of this bag which is good for people 6 ft and under. Im only 5’6 so this was plenty for me. I was able to wiggle around, sleep on my side, stomach or back. I even tossed some clothes in the bag to keep it warm through the night so that putting close on in the morning wasn’t horrifying. It was not constricting to me at all. For a larger male this may be different. Now this bag is not cheap. The street price looks like it ranges from 380-580. I got this bag with a coupon on sale. I ended up paying only 240 for it.

Phantom pic #5

Phantom pic #5

Phantom pic #6

Phantom pic #6

Now to talk about the packed size of this bag. Its kinda huge. Like I wouldn’t be able to carry this in my Golite jam 50. I have to switch to my osprey Aether 60. Now I don’t really know What size is good for a 0 degree bag but the two pictures to the right show the size of this one. You can make up your mind if it is good or not. I’ve thought about selling this bag many times because I hardly use it. But I got it for so cheap and I know that one day I may need it again and wouldn’t forgive myself if I got rid of it. So for now, it sits in my closet. Hope this review helped you. As a conclusion I would recommend this bag to a friend. However I wouldn’t recommend it at 580.00 dollars. At that price one could buy a western mountaineering bag. I would recommend it for around 380.00 dollars. You just need to find it on sale.

Conclusion: I give this bag a 7 out of 10 only because it is so expensive. If you can find it for less than 380.00 then it is a 10 out of 10 bag. For 585.00 you can buy a kodiak MF from Western Mountaineering that will be better than the Phantom 0.

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My Heart Beats

I am tired of explaining to people my plans for this year. They ask me what I am doing or someone mentions my intentions for this year and a full load of questions gets dropped on me.

-What?
-Why would you want to hike for 5 months?
-So you’re just not going to work for 5-6 months?
-How are you going to support yourself?
-Is this a good idea?
-Have you really thought about this?
-Are you like trying to “find yourself or something?”

As the date draws nearer I find these questions happening more and more often. However today I got a new piece from an individual. This person said.. “oh I knew two people that tried to do that a couple years ago. They didn’t even get close. I bet you won’t make it.” At first this angered me, but as my filter stopped my initial thoughts from turning into statements I began to think. I don’t care what this person thinks. Im not trying to prove anything. This isn’t about me. Sure only 1 in 5 that attempt a thru hike of the AT succeed. These are just stats and I don’t care about them. The absolute only thing that will stop me from reaching Mt. Katahdin next year is a serious injury that would prevent me from moving north any longer.

I would like to take a moment and answer these questions:

Q: Why would you want to hike for 5 months?
A: I don’t. I want to live outrageously for 5 months. I want to go do something that makes others confused as to why I would choose to do such a thing. I want a revolution in my mind and body. I don’t want to find myself. I’ve already done that. I want to find glory. To see Life in ways most never will. Through the lens of irrationality. Away from the nonsense of societal common sense. Tell your grandchildren about your 100,000 dollar salary, I’ll tell mine stories that make their human spirit crave new experiences and new relationships and when I die those stories will be passed on while your wealth is wasted away by your decedents. No one of significance has ever lived a safe life within the boundaries of their culture.

Q: So what, your just not going to work for 5-6 months?
A: I’ll be working harder than most Americans every single day. Only difference is I wont be paid, rather I’ll raise payments for others.

Q: How are you going to support yourself?
A: I’ve saved money.

Q: Is this a good idea?
A: For some no. For me, there couldn’t be a better one. My entire life I have had a backpack on my back. In school, in Church, at events. The first message I preached I wore a backpack. Playing piano at gigs or church, I wore a backpack. I’ve worn a backpack for years and never understood why until a couple years back. To go places, to be constantly on the move, to see a different and changing sunset every night, to be nomadic, to be free. Settling down. The word itself hurts my ears. Do I plan on doing it one day? Im still not sure. Probably. Having kids and a wife sounds to amazing to pass up. But as of right now. Well, I’m going hiking.

Q: Have you really thought about this?
A: Everyday for the past year. I’m tired of thinking about it.

Q: Are you like trying to find yourself or something?
A: No. Two years ago I went to Israel to study abroad for 5 weeks. That is where I “found myself.” Standing in a hole in the ground in what was once, the Head Priest of the Pharisees, Caiaphas’s house. I sat in the same place Jesus sat awaiting his brutal murder and had one of the greatest epiphany’s of my life. So no I’m not trying to find myself. However if one needs to do so, the trail is a great option.

Two days ago I went to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I went at 9:45 by myself. In the beginning he constantly daydreamed. Eventually he gave in and began to truly live. His daydreaming stopped.
My entire life I’ve daydreamed. I’d sit at my desk in elementary school, middle school, high school and even the first two years of college, and dream of beauty, of adventure, of great places, of open waters, of enormous snow peaked mountains, of vast dry deserts. I would be lost in my mind with no clue what the teacher was rambling on about. I felt like a shaken soda bottle waiting to explode. I was terribly ready for something new. Finally in 2011 I decided to leave Charleston, SC and my daydreaming ceased.
I have since then done amazing things. Seen vast deserts, swam in the Dead Sea, climbed Masada, felt the wrath of the Himalayas, ran through the Ecuadorian Jungle, hiked in the greatest canyon in the world, seen the Rocky mountains, received my diploma in something I actually enjoy, and have lived in a new city where I initially new only one person. I also have hiked 280 miles of the Appalachian trail, and 120 on the Florida trail. All this from 2011-now and I have no intention of slowing down.

My heart beats for outrage. The outrage caused by dreams that throw this country into shock.
My heart beats for irrational ideas. Ideas that cause this countries regular to conclude insanity for the holder said idea.
My heart beats for the underdog. The underdog who receives constant criticism of their dream.
My heart beats for the person reading this. That you would stop dreaming and start doing.

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