Saturday, 6 February 2010

New Gear, Montbell UL Down Pant & Titanium Goat Ptarmigan Bivvy Bag

Titanium Goat Ptarmigan Bivvy

I got 2 new pieces of gear this week, one bought new from the USA and one used from Canada.

The used gear was a Titanium Goat Ptarmigan Bivvy Bag with full mesh hood option. I'd mentioned on Outdoors Magic about trying to make a lightweight bivvy bag, lighter at least than my Trekmates one which is about 300g but had a private message from 'Mike fae Dundee' telling me about a Titanium Goat Ptarmigan for sale on the forums. I'd looked at the Ptarmigan bivvy in the past but the cost at $110 (including full mesh hood)plus shipping had delayed purchasing. I contacted the seller and we agreed a price, $80 including shipping.

PHD Minim 500 + Ptarmigan Bivvy

The bivvy bag arrived within a few days and even in the padded envelope felt seriously light. It's in almost perfect condition with only the small tab used to lift the mesh missing which I was aware of anyway. It's big enough for my PHD Minim 500 both length/width, the full mesh hood is in addition to the main hood and closes with a one way zipper, the main hood can be folded back under the top of the bag to keep it out of the way. The main hood has a 2 way zipper and the bag can be sealed up if required. I really only intend to use it as a sleeping bag cover under the flysheet of my Phreeranger but the mesh hood should make it possible to use the flysheet without a bug nest. It packs really small and with an Alpkit Apollo 2 A6 stuffsack weighs 205g.

Full Mesh Hood with 1-Way Zipper, Fabric Hood Folded Underneath

Fabric Hood with 2-Way Zipper

The 2nd item is a pair of Mont-Bell UL Down Pants (trousers). I had to make a choice whether to get a warmer winter bag or try to upgrade my Minim 500 but after looking at the options which included an Alpkit PD800 I opted for down trousers as they offered more versatility with no real weight penalty.

Mont-Bell UL Down Pant

The choice then came down to either the PHD Minim trousers or the Mont-Bell UL ones. The PHD ones wouldn't have fitted off the shelf and would have cost £175 inc shipping to have them made in Small with a longer leg, what clinched it was the waiting time of over a month. The Mont-Bell UL's were ordered from Oregon Mountain Community and including shipping, VAT and service charges came to £142. I suspect that the PHD ones would be warmer as they have 800EU fill power down rather than 725US but I'm pretty confidant that the Mont-Bell's will be warm enough.

Elasticated Waist, Stud and Zip Fly

Ankle Cuff Elastic

The Mont-Bells came in at 180g although they don't have pockets like the PHD ones. They have a zip fly, stud fastening waist and slightly elasticated waist drawcord, there's also a elastic drawcord at the ankle. As expected they pack down very small and should take up very little space in the Roll-Top drybag along with my sleeping bag.

They Pack Down Much Smaller.

I haven't had a chance to try either of the items yet but should hopefully be able to try them out soon.


  1. I ordered my Mont-Bell Down Hugger Bag from OMC. Great service. It's a cracking bag too, the comfiest bag I've ever had, highly recommended for large/fat folk.

    My Alpkit bag was never big enough across the chest/shoulders, snug if your arms were by your sides, but tight otherwise. Mont Bell's elasticated seams are a revelation though, it's not the lightest bag on the market, but the comfort more than makes up for the extra grams carried.

  2. The service from OMC is 1st class.

    I have the opposite problem, my Minim is too big but at least it'll allow me to wear the down pants and they'll still have room to loft.

    What Alpkit bag do/did you have?

  3. Looking good Richard.
    All you need now is a pair of down booties and you're set! :)
    Mike fae Dundee

  4. That bivvy and your single skin tent setup is a winner combination. Plus the added warmth you will get with the bivvy is a bonus. That and those pants and you will be toasty warm.

  5. Hi Mike, my wife says you're a bad influence ;-)

    Martin, can't wait to try them out to be honest. If things work out as planned I should have a very versatile set-up. The Phreeranger can be used single/double skin and the down pants with/without a down jacket should provide plenty of flexability with the PD200, Xero 250 and Minim 500.

    I had a quick recce down to the Mournes yesterday (more later) but next weekend is tied up, I need to try for the following weekend before my shift changes again.

  6. Hi Richard, I had the Pipedream 400, but sold it to part finance the Mont-Bell. I was actually able to sell it for the same price I paid, as Alpkit had put their price up by £30, it was still a bargain for someone.

    It was a good bag otherwise.

  7. That fly on the pants is a good idea!

  8. Fraser, the Pipedream stuff is good, I'm well pleased with my PD200 and was seriously tempted by the PD800. Good value for money.

    PTC, I didn't really consider the benefits of the fly to be honest, in fact I wasn't even aware of it until they arrived.

  9. I went for the Minim trousers (pants are indeed something other than trousers ;-) ). Have had no opportunity to compare the MB and the PHD bottoms but own both the PHD Ultra Pully and the MB UL Jacket. The former is indeed significantly warmer than the latter. The MB jacket will get me to a couple of degrees above freezing but the PHD is comfortable to a few degrees below (all other layers being equal). As extra layering in a sleeping bag I think the MB garments are a good choice, they are still very warm for their weight and don't need much room to loft effectively. I've used the MB jacket to good effect in relatively tight fitting Cumulus bags.