Blast from the Past: New Mountainsmith Gear
Published on 06/15/2012
By Peter Reese
Not long ago, we had to track down some good crow recipes here at Active Junky. The reason? Blast-from-the-past gear maker Mountainsmith appeared back on the radar to reassert some Golden, Colorado-based credibility.
From smaller pieces like a photo lumbar back and trekking poles, testers gained interest in their value-priced product portfolio of tents and sleeping bags. The two-person MORRISON TENT was culled from the line along with SUNLIGHT 20 DEGREE down bag.
Testers used the highly variable conditions between late winter and spring in the Rockies to see if Mountainsmith could handle some serious doses of backcountry reality. Tent and bag got attention together as well as combined with other shelters and sleeping options – and a mix of sleeping pads.
Wrapped up and ready to go, the MORRISON delivered plenty of room for testers including a fidgety 6’4” traveler prone to claustrophobia. Whether it was the 92” long configuration of the 35 sq. ft. bottom, the airy grey-and-citron colorway or end vestibules, he quickly relaxed and got down to settling in.
Double side doors kept MORRISON from becoming a juggling act between two inhabitants. Interior mesh storage pockets combined with a detachable ceiling loft pocket for more plush than the price point warranted. Poles, sleeves and exterior grommets got quality finishing and seaming attention for confident assembly.
What’s more, the V-stakes Mountainsmith packed in added to the Christmas morning feeling around the first landing. Ditto for the standard reflective guy lines with smooth tensioner hardware. Active Junky ignored the imprinted stuff stack instructions with no loss of speed or crisp pitching.
Ventilation flowed easily and wind luffing was kept to a dull roar even in high gusts. Testers kept double-checking each other on the label (still the distinctive MS black forge) and price point when sitting up to 43” became a surprising – and positive – activity to repeat.
The SUNLIGHT 20 DEGREE bag brought the same kind of expectation busting as the MORRISON. Easy, two-way zipper operation smoothed the way for all testers, with a 65” shoulder girth that Tester Titan appreciated. All the touches showed up as SUNLIGHT earned the temperature rating without a big push.
Getting fit and operating the adjustable hood were slightly more difficult than on bags priced at $300 or more. To save well over a hundred dollars, testers were willing to be a little more patient as they tuned the hood more slowly.
More a matter of slickness than safety, this minor deficient did little to discourage Active Junky’s enthusiasm for Mountainsmith’s 650 fill bag. A sweet cotton storage bag and sil-nylon compression bag (that take’s the bag down to 12” x 8”) put more value into the equation.
So what’s the bottom line on Mountainsmith? Our experience rates the MORRSION and SUNLIGHT as worth $75 to $125 more than their retail prices. For dispassionate travelers willing to walk by other, more-familiar logos, the payoff is significant.
INSIDER’S TIP: The Mountainsmith people are smart, helpful and earnest. While testers never pushed these two products to the point of failure, Active Junky is hoping their warranty and repair TLC is even half of what the MS team invests in up-front customer care and value.