In the June 2016 issue of The Great Outdoors Chris Townsend tested a range of bags for spring to autumn. Here’s how he got on with Montane’s Direct Ascent
The Direct Ascent is a complex bag with many interesting features, though I’m not convinced all of them work that well or are useful, at least for backpackers. The bag is filled with high-quality down that is” certified non live plucked and non-force fed”. There is more down in the upper part of the bag than the base, which is thinner. This goes along with the overall design of the bag which, more than most, is for people who sleep on their back. As I don’t, it may be that I can’t appreciate some of the design features as well as someone who does. The back sleeping design is also shown by the shaped foot box which ‘allows for natural foot position whilst lying on back’ and the non-slip roundels on the base to stop it sliding on a sleeping mat. The bag isn’t roomy and I can’t easily turn over in it. However once the bag turns with you some of the less-insulated base is then in the air, reducing the warmth. The foot box is also less effective if your feet aren’t pointing up that’s not really a problem. If you sleep on your back the temperature rating seems accurate.
The hood is unusual. It has a stiffened peak. Montane says this is for weather protection when bivvying and to help shield light on summer nights in polar regions. I can’t see the point of it. Otherwise the hood is good and fi ts round the head well. The drawcords I found a little fiddly. There are two – one for the upper part of the hood and one for the lower. The latter is also linked to the drawcord for the draft collar.
Fumbling with the cords inside the bag it was easy to get tangled up. There’s also a soft microfleece inner on the inside of the hood where your chin and mouth would be with the hood fitting neatly round your head. I usually end up with my face in the bag and the hood covering the back of my head (it’s warmer) so this feature didn’t do much for me.
The price is good for a top-quality down bag at a reasonable weight, though there are lighter warmer alternatives. To get the best out of it you really need to be a confirmed back sleeper though.
Reviewed June 2016