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Outdoor Vitals MummyPod Review

The Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod 0*F is a cold-weather sleeping bag that can be used either on the ground as a mummy bag or in a hammock as a peapod insulation system. Weighing under 3 pounds and filled with 800 fill power, responsibly-sourced DWR down, the MummyPod has a number of premium features, but there are several issues which prevent the bag from being as versatile as it initially seems.

Outdoor Vitals MummyPod

Warmth
Weight
Comfort
Features
Versatility

Better for Ground Use

The Outdoor Vitals MummyPod makes an effective sleeping bag for ground use, but has too much dead air when used in a hammock to make it an effective insulator.

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Outdoor Vitals states that their aim is to reduce the entry cost of outdoor equipment, in part by making multi-use gear like the MummyPod that can be used in a variety of ways. Specifically, the MummyPod was made so that customers could buy one product and have both a ground sleeping bag and a hammock insulation system in one item. The question always comes up with multi-use gear: does the increase in flexibility result in lower performance all around? As the expression goes, “jack of all trades, master of none.”

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight:
    • 2 lbs, 11.6 oz (2 lbs 13.7 oz, actual, including hammock suspension).
    • Stuff sack is an additional 3.7 oz (3.9 oz, actual)
  • Gender: Men’s; a Women’s version is not available for this bag
  • Insulation: 800 fill power StormLOFT DWR Down
  • Shape: Mummy/ Peapod
  • Fill weight: 28.21 ounces
  • Exterior and liner fabric: 20 denier polyester (shell fabric is ripstop, the liner is not)
  • Shoulder girth: 66″
  • Length: Regular 6’, Long 6’6″ (61 reviewed)
  • Zipper: Long Center 2-way Zip
  • Compressed size: 11″ x 8″
  • Temperature Ratings: 0 degrees
    • Note: Not EN Tested using the Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating Standard. Outdoor Vitals says “Our bags are rated at the lowest level of comfort for an average male.”
  • Visit Outdoor Vitals for complete specs

Peapod-Style Hammock Insulation

Just like your underside needs a pad for insulation when sleeping on the ground when you’re in a hammock you also need insulation underneath you. Most hammock users hang a 3/4- to full-length underquilt for bottom insulation. Another method is the peapod. It’s pretty easy to see how it got that name. The peapod idea was most notably brought to market by Ed Speer of Speer Hammocks. Speer suggests using a peapod as part of an insulation system, not as stand-alone insulation. More on that later.

MummyPod Features

The MummyPod, at first glance, looks like a regular modern mummy bag in terms of design. It has a hood with a drawcord and cord locks around the face, a long 2-way center zip, and vertical baffles.

Warmth

In the absence of EN ratings, looking at fill power and fill weights and comparing them to tried and true models is a way to estimate how warm a bag will be (when used on the ground with an appropriately insulated sleeping pad). The MummyPod 0*F 6’ model has 28.21 ounces of 800 fill power down. In comparison, Western Mountaineering’s 5*F bag, the Antelope, has 26 oz, and their 0*F bag, the Kodiak, has 30 oz, both of 850 fill power down. Note that the MummyPod has several more inches of shoulder girth and so the down is spread over a slightly larger area in addition to being a slightly lower fill power.

But the amount of insulation in a sleeping bag doesn’t necessarily correlate with warmth in a hammock-based sleep system, which is more prone to the cooling effects of wind since it’s suspended up off that ground. Despite that,  I found the MummyPod plenty warm, even in horrifically windy and cold weather, including snow and freezing rain.

YKK anti-snag zipper

The bane of many lightweight sleeping bags is the pairing of lightweight, delicate fabrics with a zipper that chews them up. The Outdoor Vitals MummyPod is the first time I’ve seen a YKK Anti-Snag Zipper. It really works and I love it. The zipper glides fast and smooth without worry. I hope to see some MYOG supplier start carrying the YKK Anti-Snag zipper cover–it’s just a thick plastic piece that snaps on to any YKK #5 zipper, but it’s enough to push any surrounding fabric out of the path of the teeth. I had to get up twice in the night on my last trip with this bag, and it was super easy to get in and out of. Just yank the zipper pull.

The draft collar (black) does not fully cover the shoulders (blue jacket).

Zip-open footbox with draft plug

The MummyPod’s foot box is oval-shaped and has a zipper and a drawcord going around its perimeter. You can open up this foot box to vent the bag in warmer weather, or to set it up in peapod mode. The hammock goes through the foot box opening, and you pull the drawcord tight and stuff the insulated flap (the foot box end) into the hole to seal out drafts. This system works well and I felt no drafts at my feet at night.

Hood only works for ground mode

The other end of the hammock comes out the hood opening. This means that, in peapod mode, the hood no longer seals around the face, but lies under your head like a mini head underquilt. The top of your head is completely uncovered, so you need to use an insulated stand-alone hood with this system, or wear your hooded jacket.

Shoulder baffles

The bag has two hanging draft baffles that intend to cover the tops of the shoulders. Each side has two pieces of opposite-sided velcro sewn next to each other. This allows you to connect the two baffles at the chin, but also, when not in use, you can fold them over onto themselves to prevent snags.

However, since the invention of No-snag Velcro/ Omni Tape, I don’t understand why manufacturers keep using regular velcro in sleeping bags which is very abrasive to base layers and gloves. Even at full retail, a draft collar would use about $1 of No- snag Velcro. I felt that the shoulder baffles need to be bigger to lock in heat without drafts while in hammock mode. There is a velcro-closed pocket on one of the shoulder baffles to keep a headlamp close by or your electronics/ batteries from freezing.

The footbox zips open and closes around the hammock with a drawcord. The zipped-off ‘door’ becomes a draft plug.

Suspension system

Both the head and foot end have shockcord and cord locks that go over the hammock ends and can be adjusted to keep the bag tight against the hammock to avoid drafts.

Note: I watched Outdoor Vital’s setup video and noticed that my MummyPod was missing two cord locks. In order to set it up in the recommended way, I had to scavenge a couple of cord locks. I was glad I had discovered that at home and not in the field. The system is easy to adjust and did a good job of preventing the insulation from sagging away from the hammock in the night.

The shockcord head suspension effectively holds the bag in place.
The shockcord head suspension effectively holds the bag in place.

Non-diagonal Lay

The MummyPod requires a basic gathered end hammock with no ridgeline and no integrated bug-netting to work. While gathered-end hammockers usually try to sleep on the diagonal for the flattest lay, it is quite hard to get much of a diagonal with the pod. The hammock goes straight through the bag and, while it has enough girth to allow for a little movement towards the diagonal, it’s pretty limited. I found myself dangling my feet over the side of the hammock to try to get a little more of a diagonal lay and eventually sleeping on my side with my knees bent. A lack of diagonal lay isn’t specific to this bag, though: it’s a quality of peapods in general as they’ve been designed up to this point.

When used with a hammock, there is a big gap between the sleeper (wearing the blue hoody) and the top insulation (black). This gap needs to be filled with a topquilt or an insulated jacket (green).
When used with a hammock, there is a big gap between the sleeper and the top insulation (black). This gap needs to be filled with an additional top quilt or an insulated jacket (green).

Dead air gap

The biggest design issue with this bag as a stand-alone insulation system is the gap between your body and the top insulation: for me, this was about 8 inches of dead-air space that the body has to heat up. Speer puts a top quilt in a pod to fill this space, and I used my insulated jacket. The draft collar is not big enough to fully protect the neck and shoulders. I had to wrap the arms of my insulated jacket around my head and shoulders to seal off the gaps.

The bag is under a lot of tension below the chin.
The bag is under a lot of tension below the chin.

Lack of comfort

Furthermore, I found the neck adjustment uncomfortable. There are big cord locks that get cold and rub against your face, and the drawcord is a static cord: as such, it has no give when you move your head even a little bit and thus feels very restrictive. It should really be shockcord with smaller, anchored cord locks to move a little bit and be softer around the face. I found that zipping the bag up to my chin felt that I was putting the neck area under great tension. This tension and restrictive feeling are exacerbated by the velcro-sealed neck/shoulder baffles–another tight-feeling thing at the neck. I found myself cracking the zipper several inches and leaving the neck baffles un-velcroed for comfort, using my jacket to seal the gaps.

Ground use as a sleeping bag

When used as a ground bag, these issues are less problematic. The MummyPod is a big/ wide girth bag which would allow you to go lower than the limit wearing a puffy jacket, without compressing the insulation, because you don’t have the same issue of a big air gap between you and the top insulation when you use it on the ground, nor do you have the tension at the neck area previously mentioned. The hood snugs up tight around the face, but I would still prefer it to be shockcord with smaller, anchored cord locks. The draft collar works better in ground mode, but the combo of the velcro, neck cinch and center zip puts a lot of stuff right under your chin where it’s still fiddly to adjust.

Assessment

While the Outdoor Vitals MummyPod is a good, warm mummy bag for a decent price, with nice features like the anti-snag center zipper, responsibly-sourced water-resistant 800 fill power down, vertical baffles, and a ventable foot box, there are a number of issues that would prevent me from using this as my only hammock insulation. I think the best hammock usage for the MummyPod is as an overquilt for a top quilt along with stand-alone head insulation (a down-filled hood) in truly cold temperatures and even adding an underquilt inside the system when it’s really frigid. This allows you to snuggle up tight in the top quilt and cut out any drafts, with additional warming insulation from the pod. Using the MummyPod alone with a hammock there is just too much dead air space to make it really cozy.

About the author

Greg Pehrson is an ultralight backpacker who was bitten hard by the MYOG (make-your-own-gear) bug. He repairs, tinkers, and builds gear, often seeking to upcycle throwaway items or repurpose things from outside the backpacking world.
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One comment

  1. Thank you for the write up on this. I’ve been wondering how well they work. I think the diagonal lay not being there is the biggest for me, I’m on the tall side. But the idea of having the top and bottom insulation together was very intriguing. To bad.

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