The Mountain Hardware Ultralamina Bag vs. The Backside Backsider

4:36 p.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Today while reading through the Gear Reviews right here on Traiilspace.com, I came across this gear review:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/mountain-hardwear/ultralamina-32/review/16371/

I did some looking into this bag and discovered it uses Mountain Hardware's own proprietary synthetic fill, Thermic Micro.

Now compare The Backside Backsider model, which is rated to 35 degrees: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/the-backside/backsider-x-fibre-35/review/11118/

Please note Mountain Hardware is supposed to be so good, according to some people, which I cannot name. Ye know who that is. Think of Phil's "brother" from Genesis.

However, The Backside is not widely known. Yet these bags are very good. This model uses their own proprietary X-fibre synthetic insulation.

Note the bags are rated to similiar temperatures. Plus the weights are the same too: 2.2lbs (the long size in the Mountain Hardware model); 2.2 lbs for The Backside model. I find this most interesting.

This really got me puzzled. Can any offer some explanation why this might be?

6:31 p.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Made in China by the same manufacturer? :P

10:08 a.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Honestly I could not tell you.

All I know The Backside (not being some well-known brand name) makes bags that are more satisfying to the users than BIG NAME Brand Mountain Hardware, at least in this particular model.

I personally never owned a Mountain Hardware bag but did own several The Backside models including The Down Lite 15 degree bag in addition to my present X-fibre bag.

Appears that Mountain Hardware is hyped to be so great by many in the backpacking world. I really wonder how true this claim is...Bob.

11:52 a.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Many manufacturers put their own label on fabrics and fills and claim them as "proprietary", although there are actually only a small number of actual synthetic fiber and fabric manufacturers for the outdoor world. Aside from Malden, Primaloft, and a couple of companies in the old textile centers in the Carolinas which are the only remaining US manufacturers, most of the fabric and fills come from SE and S Asia (mostly China). And even the US companies have associated factories and subcontractors in in Asia, plus some of the US companies send their thread to Asia for the weaving into fabric.

A number of the "proprietary" fabrics and fills are actually batches made to order by the small group of Asian companies for companies in other countries.

As for your specific question of Mountain Hardwear (the correct spelling) vs The Backside, I can only comment directly on MH from personal use. MH is a division of Columbia, purchased a year or two back. It is a fairly small company, benefitting from Columbia's policy of keeping the culture of the quality companies thay acquire intact. From the financial reports, MH and Backside's sleeping bag divisions are roughly the same size. MH built their reputation over a number of years by producing gear that has been well-proven in the field, as have several other companies in the outdoor gear field. Big Agnes is a recent example of a company that started small, building quality gear. Because of their quality showing up in actual field usage, they have grown quickly (maybe too quickly, with their expansion into more mass-market offerings, if there is such a thing as "mass market" in the backpacking area). I have not used BA personally, but have seen it in use by people whose judgment I know and respect. Perhaps Backside will prove to be the same. But until I can closely examine, observe in use, and personally try out Backside's sleeping bags, I cannot judge their quality.

As for MC's comment on MH gear being "hyped", I can only say that my Trango 3.1 has been through 4 seasons of heavy winter storms plus being on Denali and is standing up very well - well enough that when Barb and I were using it last month in the Sierra during one of our 3 storms we had this winter (really low snow year!), we were asked if it was brand new (it has somewhere between 50 and 60 nights of usage, about half in blizzards and storms). I have seen no claims by Mountain Hardwear for their gear that have been exagerated in what has shown up in actual usage, including in other MH tents and clothing I have used.

2:48 p.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Hmmm, ministecreek,

Speaking from my own use, and what I am told directly by other users.

Mountain Hardwear gear is time tested and field proven as is other trusted names like Patagonia, Marmot, ID, Big Agnes, etc. These gear manufacturers, and several others, have a stout following because their gear does what it is supposed to do under less than favorable conditions. This is why the true outdoors man / woman trusts these brand names and gives favorable reviews. There will always be a group of people who buy these brands just because it is trendy and look down their nose at people who don't have those brands, but we should not blame the gear manufacturer for that. MH has given me good customer service and I trust my Skyview tent because it has proven itself to be reliable in some really foul weather for 13 years now.

So I would say that hype has nothing to do with it, MH really IS all that great, then again, so are a lot of other brand names that have been around long enough to prove theirselves. The Backside brand will have / has the same opportunity, and the backpacking community will decide what they think of their gear.

Some companies are able to hype their way into the market but do not stick around long with serious outdoor consumers, either the quality is there or it is not. It's pretty much that simple, there is no huge "Big Name" gear conspiracy out there amongst real backpackers, just relax and enjoy the outdoors my friend.

5:14 p.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Some companies are able to hype their way into the market but do not stick around long with serious outdoor consumers, either the quality is there or it is not....It's pretty much that simple, there is no huge "Big Name" gear conspiracy out there amongst real backpackers, just relax and enjoy the outdoors my friend.

I enjoyed reading your post Mr. Trouthunter. Actually I found the conspiracy comment to be very humourous. Thanks for the good laugh! :)

But on a serious note (I did not start this thread as some joke) I just find it ironic I do read some gear reviews right here on Trailspace.com from users of certain "respected" brands that aren't all what they claim to be. I compared the Mountain Hardware bag with The Backside bag as an example of this very thing.

I know The Backside has been producing bags for many years now. They sell this brand online at various Online retailers. However one will not find The Backside bags on REI.com or any other of the more well known online retailers.

5:22 p.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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As for MC's comment on MH gear being "hyped", I can only say that my Trango 3.1 has been through 4 seasons of heavy winter storms plus being on Denali and is standing up very well - well enough that when Barb and I were using it last month in the Sierra during one of our 3 storms we had this winter (really low snow year!), we were asked if it was brand new (it has somewhere between 50 and 60 nights of usage, about half in blizzards and storms). I have seen no claims by Mountain Hardwear for their gear that have been exagerated in what has shown up in actual usage, including in other MH tents and clothing I have used.

I'm not doubting the performance of your tent Bill.

However, I read similiar testimonies/reviews concerning Terra-Nova and Antarctica brand tents, both which are not what I would term "BIG name brands". I do know Antartica is a small "niche" company in the UK, specialising in mountaineering/expedition tents. The same can be said for Terra-Nova.

http://antarcticatents.co.uk/

http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/

The good news is Terra-Nova tents are starting to be sold here in the United States. http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/Retail_Partners/Terra_Nova.html This is a dream come true for me!

7:15 p.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Let's see - a quick search turns up Backside bags on such obscure on-line dealers as Amazon, Summit Camping Gear, Camping Gear Pro, Gander Mountain, and a few others. Gander Mountain? Now there's an unknown company, only been around for a half century or so and online for a good part of a decade.

7:35 p.m. on March 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Let's see - a quick search turns up Backside bags on such obscure on-line dealers as Amazon, Summit Camping Gear, Camping Gear Pro, Gander Mountain, and a few others. Gander Mountain? Now there's an unknown company, only been around for a half century or so and online for a good part of a decade.

Yes they are sold on what you call "obscure" online dealers, meaning small online retailers.

I can tell you they are great bags, lightweight and very functional. I would never hesitate to recommend these excellent bags.

I love my 35 degree Backsider bag. One of the absolute best warm weather bags I've owned. http://www.campinggearpro.com/tbs-20000.html

Thanks for posting the link for campinggearpro.com Bill. I love this down bag...rated to -50 below. Too bad I am allergic to down though. http://www.campinggearpro.com/20010.html

9:32 a.m. on March 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for putting those links up ministercreek, I think after reading about the bags and seeing the backsider bag for myself, it will be my next sleeping bag purchase. Plus the price is very nice for someone on a budget.

9:52 a.m. on March 27, 2009 (EDT)
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HikeOhio83,

I do know for a fact The Backside's bags are very good in terms of quality, performance and are reasonable in price. This is my second The Backside bag so this brand's bags must be good for me to go ahead and purchase another one from one of those obscure on-line dealers as Bill S calls it. However I did purchase mine from http://campingcomfortably.com/.

I durst to say The Backside's bags compete well against those BIG name brands like Mountain Hardware and Sierra Designs. I would challenge anyone to find this out for themselves.

Just as a side-note, I noticed Backpacker Magazine in it's annual Gear Guide Issue completely ignored The Backside which produces not only sleeping bags but also tents and self-inflating mats. Talk about a conspiracy!

5:05 p.m. on March 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Keep in mind that gear reviews here are put up by users. Some of them may know what they are talking about and some may not. Most are not comparing gear like a journalist would, just posting about what they own. Some "reviews" are by people who used a tent once in their backyard.

You won't find any gear reviews by me. I only own a small amount of gear, some of which isn't made anymore or I got overseas or both. Who cares if I love my MacPac bag? You'll never see one for sale, so what's the point? My parka isn't made anymore either, although a similar one is. I love it too, but don't have anything to compare it to. Maybe others are better; I have no idea.

It doesn't take long to figure out what works and what doesn't. To me hype is celebrity endorsements (sorry Ed, I know you need to make a living) and that sort of thing. Reputation is something else and that is what Bill is talking about.

10:28 a.m. on March 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Keep in mind that gear reviews here are put up by users. Some of them may know what they are talking about and some may not....It doesn't take long to figure out what works and what doesn't. To me hype is celebrity endorsements (sorry Ed, I know you need to make a living) and that sort of thing. Reputation is something else and that is what Bill is talking about.

Allow me point out something Tom D. I live in my tent year around. No "backyard camping" for me, save when I'm working for the DNR in Wisconsin for the season. My friend was gracious enough to allow me to camp in in his mother-in-law's backyard while I am in Wisconsin. After that I am off to some National Forest for the Winter and till I go back to work. So I really get to "try out" my gear in actual conditions. No hype on my part I assure you. So I can post most accurately what works and what doesn't. I feel I have been very honest and unbiased in my gear reviews, whether it be here on Trailspace.com or elsewhere.

All I know (again from actual experience) that one does not need BIG name, popular brand gear to have gear that functions extremely well.

I will apply this same idea when I purchase my four season tent.

July 28, 2014
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