Cold spots are the source of my bad experiences with any sleeping bags. Poorly constructed baffles, bunched up insulation, and even a lack of good zipper draft tubes have all been culprits that let cold air in. But the big story with the new Mountain Hardwear Hotbed Flame 20° sleeping bag, is that they claim cold spots are now a thing of the past. There’s a host of ways they’ve accomplished this, which I’ll talk about below, but I did get to experience it first-hand on backcountry ski yurt trips this season.
The Mountain Hardwear Hotbed Flame 20° sleeping bag features:
- Proprietary, vertically welded Lamina™ construction
- Roomy fit
- Microfleece-lined stuff sack that doubles as a pillow and mesh storage bag
- Full length #5 zipper with double sliders allows two Hotbed™ bags to be zipped together
- Thermal Q® insulation
- Comfort footbox
- Face gasket
- Insulated draft tube with anti-snag panel
- Single-handed draw cords
Ok, so you may say a yurt trip is not an appropriate place to test a sleeping bag. Yurts have fireplaces in them! This is true, but remember, unless someone gets up in the middle of the night to tend the fire, the flames go out. And it doesn’t take long for the interior of the yurt to become as cold as the air temperature outside. I tested the Hotbed Flame on nights that dipped down into the 20s, and not once did I get cold enough to feel a need to start that fireplace back up.
First of all, this sleeping bag is super comfortable. Most sleeping bag shells are a shiny, almost jacket-type material. But the Hotbed Flame shell is made from 75D Polyester Taffeta, which is very soft and supple. I like it so much I would probably use it as a blanket around the house (if I wasn’t married.) The bag is also comfortable because it’s pretty roomy. MH calls it a “relaxed fit” and says it efficiently maximizes warmth without constriction. This makes sense because when there is more room for air inside the bag, the more warm air you have keeping you, well, warm. The foot box is also wider than other sleeping bags I’ve used, which allows for more natural sleeping positions.
Now, about those cold spots. When the yurt interior got way below freezing, I never felt even a whiff of chill. This sleeping bag holds true to its name! The lack of standard baffles or stitching plays a key role here. Instead, there are vertically welded Lamina seams, which means no stitching is poking thousands of holes into the shell. This construction also allows the insulation to be more evenly spread out throughout the bag, rather than sections of insulation separated by stitching.
The Thermal Q Thermic MX Insulation is quite warm, and again, I never wanted for more heat when things got cold.
Other features like the face gasket, draw cords, and draft tube all worked as they should and helped to keep the cold out as well.
One feature that’s really a nice touch is that the stuff sack has a fleece lining on one side, so it doubles as a pillow. I crammed my down jacket and other layers inside and cinched the sack down. For three nights I slept with it and found it to be as comfortable as any camp pillow around. So with the Hotbed Flame stuff sack, a camp pillow is one less thing you need to pack!
There are only a few downsides to the Mountain Hardwear Hotbed Flame. First, the insulation, while compressible, is nowhere near as compressible as down or even some synthetic insulated bags I’ve tested. And at 3lbs, 10oz, it’s on the heavier end of the weight spectrum if you want to use it for backpacking. Also, the company says the insulated draft tube has an anti-snag panel. But leave it to me to figure out a way to snag that damn zipper every-single-time I try to escape.
Overall, I really dig the Hotbed Flame 20° sleeping bag. It’s probably the most comfortable bag I’ve used in recent memory, is plenty warm, and does a bang-up job at not having any cold spots. It’s bag that can be used on backpacking trips (I hauled it in my pack for the yurt trips) but is not for the ultra weight-conscious. However, this bag would be awesome for short backcountry trips and 3-season car camping. And at $179, it’s a quality, technical bag at a very reasonable price.
Good Hotbed Flame: No cold spots, comfortable fit, fully featured
Bad Hotbed Flame: Not as compressible or light weight as some backpacking bags
Final Word: The Mountain Hardwear Hotbed Flame 20° sleeping bag is affordable, warm, comfortable, and technically suitable for any 3-season camping adventure… even on winter yurt trips!