With a choice of synthetic, down and hydrophobic treated down the scope within the 3 season sector is a widespread as the price range, and with price often the determining factor market leaders Vango are looking to pack the features in while keeping the price as low as possible. The Vango Ultralite Pro 200 is a classic example of using the temonology, in this case "ultralite", in combination with reduced price derivatives of high end features to deifferentiate thee product from the competition. We took it out for testing to see how well the features hold up in the real world.
What Vango say:
Our Ultralite Pro sleeping bag is designed using a combination of advanced technologies to keep you insulated whatever the conditions. Made for year-round explorers looking for ultra small pack size and weight yet need high thermal capacity from their bag. Look out for it's 4T insulation, Tri-lateral construction plus Thermal-Reverb and Thermal Embrace which combine for the ultimate trekking pack.
- Trilateral Construction - An independently floating layer of insulation is not compressed by stitching, which reduces cold spots and increase core temperature.
- Polair® Active Shell - 20D Nylon fabric for a warm and compressible fabric which is water and tear resistant
- 4T synthetic insulation - Innovative synthetic insulation fibre. Improves warmth to weight ratio by trapping air in its patented channel structure
- Thermal Embrace System - Elasticated thread sewn into the inner fabric. Makes the sleeping bag gently conform close to the body. Reduces cold spots and increases loft of insulation.
- Insulated, adjustable shoulder baffle - Retains heat within the sleeping bag
- 3D hood with multi-cord closure - Structured hood design keeps the head and shoulders warmer during the night. The hood's dual cord thicknesses allow easy adjustment in the dark
- Arrow Foot - Shaped foot area allowing feet to relax into their natural position
- 3D insulated zip baffle - Minimises heat loss through the zip. The 3D shape allows the filling to loft and provide insulation
- Full Length Two-Way Auto-Lock Zip with Zip Guard: Used to seal in warmth or provide ventilation and can be used from inside the bag. Anti-catch piping helps to prevent the zip from snagging on the lining.
- Internal pocket - Provides convenient storage for small items
- Omega shaping - Engineered to position zips and seams in the lower section of the bag. Ergonomically shaped to fit around head and shoulders for improved heat retention
- 4-strap compression stuffsack - Minimises pack size for easy transportation
Vango Ultralite Pro 200 on test:
Writing a review of the Vango Ultralite Pro 200 isn't easy; it is what Vango say but at the same time it isn't! If you're one of those who looks at the description alone without bothering with the specifications you could be disappointed, but check the specs and you're getting exactly what they say. The difficulty comes with the description "Made for year round explorers looking for ultra small pack size and weight". In all honesty it's not a "year round" sleeping bag - the specs on their website state 3 season and it's highlighted both on the bag itself as well as the sale ticket.
Equally it's neither an ultra small pack size or weight. If it was a true 4 season bag it would possibly squeeze into the ultralight category but "ultra" is hard fought territory and comes at a price.
Having looked at the negatives, however, we decided to review it based on what the spec sheet says; a 3 season bag that packs well, compresses to a smaller than average size and nelow average weight for a synthetic 3 season bag. Based on these specs you get exactly what it says, and at a decent price for the quality.
The quoted temperate range of -1C to -20C.is quite a range but confusingly the ticket says Comfort 4C, Lower Limit -1C and Extreme -16C. In practice we'd forget about the -16C/-20C figures and treat -1C as the lower end of the comfort range.
As 3 season synthetic bags go it is pleasantly small, not only when it comes to pack size but also when used inside a bivvy bag where extra high loft can cause condensation on the outside of the bag. As a spring to autumn bag you get plenty of features you'd expect on a more expensive bag, and that's where the Ultralite Pro stands out. At £170 or £180 you'd expect a good shoulder baffle and a well fitting hood. You may expect a shaped foot at that price and if you're picky you'd hope for some form of compression system to pull the back in around the user, but not at £100 and with a street price closer to £75.
The shoulder baffle proved to be both a very effective draught barrier and very easy to adjust and once sealed, along with a pully pulled up zip the bag built up temperature very quickly. For a bag of this price the zip was well protected against draughts and the hood, while a little small was as easy to adjust as the shoulder baffle. The techy named "Thermal Embrace System" is essentially an elasticated upper to the bag, which contracts to give a close fit. You can see the difference in the stitching between the upper and lower halves of the bag instantly.
While the Thermal Embrace System does gently pull the upper towards you the downside to this is it does make turning in the bag more difficult so some people may find it a little restrictive; it's not the widest of bags even without the elasticated upper. In use we found thatlowering the zip 3 or 4 inches below maximum allowed enough room to manoeuvre while helping with the ventilation.
The shaped foot box allows a more natural position for the feet but it doesn't have some of the more advanced features, like differential fill, normally found when the manufacturer has gone to the extent of shaping the foot box. It does, however, sum up the UltraLite Pro 200; the sleeping back is characterised by reduced cost versions of features you'd expect on higher rated, more expensive, bags.
Three season bags are often a compromise between fill, features and price; In the case of the UltraLite Pro 200 Vango have achieved a very good balance for the price. At list price it's amongst the best value for money 3 season bags around and at street price it comes into entry-level territory, where it's a real bargain.
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