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Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review

A warm, refined sleeping bag, but not the lightest in its class.

Overall Rating: Above Average

The Phantom 32 is a good solid ultralight sleeping bag. It gets high marks on the main factors: shell, down, loft, hood, and sizing. However, the zipper snags easily and the stuff sack is too small. From an ultralighter's perspective, the shell fabric and lining could be a bit lighter, the zipper could be shorter, and the down fill power could be higher. From a lightweight backpacker's perspective, the Phantom 32 is spot on, meaning it's an excellent balance of warmth, light weight, and durability. If it were not for the snaggy zipper, the Phantom 32 would easily earn a Recommended rating.

About This Rating

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by Will Rietveld |


Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review - 1
The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 features 15 denier shell fabric, 800 fill power down, a full length zipper, and a sculptured hood. Weight is 23.1 ounces (measured) for size Regular.

A three-season down sleeping bag is a core item for ultralight backpacking because it offers the best combination of warmth, light weight, and seasonal versatility. I prefer a mummy style bag rated at around 30 F for mountain backpacking. The mummy design eliminates drafts, I can wear extra clothes inside and "mummy up" to extend the bag's warmth on cold nights, and I can open it up and use it as a quilt on warm nights.

The popular Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 sleeping bag (with a temperature rating of 32 F) has been around a few years. Its main features are 15 denier (0.85 oz/yd2) shell fabric with DWR, 800 fill power down, a full length side zipper, and a six chamber sculptured hood.

It has received a few refinements along the way, and Mountain Hardwear deserves kudos for keeping the upgrades nearly weight neutral. The original Phantom 32 had a 2/3-length side zipper and weight of 22.7 ounces, while the current bag has a full side zipper and weighs 23.1 ounces. Weight saving refinements throughout the bag nearly offset the added weight of a longer zipper.

The Phantom's lightweight shell fabric has a very soft hand, and its taffeta lining is very durable. The #5CN YKK zipper auto locks, so it doesn't open when you expand the bag, and it operates from outside or inside the bag.


I measured the bag's average double layer loft to be 4 inches (single layer 2 inches), which agrees with the manufacturer's specification and is similar to other bags with the same temperature rating. From our table of estimated temperature ratings based on measured loft (read our Backpacking Light Position Statement on Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings), 1.8 inches of single layer loft translates to about a 30 F rating, so the Phantom 32 has a little extra loft. Please take the time to read the referenced article and note that sleeping bag warmth depends on a number of factors.

Mountain Hardware describes the Phantom's sizing as a "snug mummy fit." Size Regular fits a person up to 6 feet tall; that's my height, and it fits me perfectly. When looking at sleeping bag dimensions, I look for adequate shoulder girth. A snug bag is good for staying warm (no excess volume inside to warm up), but it also has to be roomy enough inside to wear extra clothing without being too tight. I found the Phantom 32, with 60 inches of shoulder girth, to be just right for me.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review - 3
I tested the Phantom 32 on seven late spring, summer, and early fall backpacking trips in the mountains of southern Colorado. Nighttime temperatures ranged from a cool 38 F down to a frosty 15 F.

Although the Phantom 32 is not the loftiest bag around with a 30-32 F temperature rating (see comparison table below), I found it to be quite warm. In my field testing, my methodology was to wear my basic sleepwear (dry wool socks and microfleece top, bottom, and cap) inside the bag initially, then add insulated clothing later in the night if I got cold, noting the time and temperature when I got chilly. On most nights down to freezing, I stayed adequately warm in my basic sleepwear, although I got a little chilly when the "4:00 a.m. freeze" occurred. I noticed that the temperature when I felt chilly varied somewhat, from 30 to 35 F, depending on weather, shelter, and metabolic activity. I felt the coldest when I was hungry during the night.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review - 6
There is a small Velcro tab at the top of the zipper to further insure the zipper doesn't open unintentionally. The right tab includes a patch to park the Velcro so it doesn't catch on clothing. The Velcro doesn't stick to the bag's fabrics.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review - 2
The "single-handed drawcord" on the hood (left) actually requires two hands to operate: squeeze a small cordlock with one hand and pull the drawcord with the other hand. There are actually two drawcords: an elastic drawcord in the lower part of the hood and a grosgrain drawcord in the upper half that are tied together and tighten simultaneously when pulled. The hood (right) has six down chambers that wrap around the head and covers the face well, and places a breathing hole right at your mouth.

On three really cold nights - down to 19, 18, and 15 F - I wore my insulated camp clothing plus my rain jacket and pants inside the bag all night, and managed to stay warm. On the 15 F night I was camped at 12,500 feet following the passage of a cold front that produced 45 mph winds the night before that had me hanging onto my Tarptent. I knew it was going to be a cold one, so I wore everything in my pack at bedtime, and ate some nuts to generate metabolic heat. It worked and I managed to stay warm at 15 degrees in a 32 F rated sleeping bag. On warmer nights I unzipped the bag and used it as a quilt. That's the versatility of a three-season down mummy bag - with a little resourcefulness I can use the same bag to comfortably sleep with nighttime temperatures ranging from 50 down to 20 F, and occasionally colder than that when you have to.

The Phantom's shell is quite downproof; I observed very little down coming through the shell fabric or stitching during my testing.


The following table compares the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 with some popular 30-32 F rated ultralight mummy style down sleeping bags. All of the bags have baffled construction. Data are manufacturer information for a size Regular bag.

Manufacturer Model Temperature Rating (°F) Single Layer Loft (in) Weight of Down (oz) Fill Power Total Weight (oz) Cost US$
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 32 2.0 10 800 22 290
Western Mountaineering SummerLite 32 2.0 10 850+ 19 315
Marmot Hydrogen 30 2.0 11 850+ 25 319
MontBell Spiral Down Hugger #3 30 1.9 10 800 20 229
The North Face Beeline 30 2.4 10 850+ 22 279

As you can see from the table, the Phantom 32 compares favorably to similar sleeping bags in loft, weight, and cost. The Western Mountaineering SummerLite bag is three ounces lighter, but it costs a bit more too. The MontBell Spiral Down Hugger #3 appears to be the best value.


Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review - 5
Although the bag has a narrow grosgrain strip on each side of the zipper to create a channel for the zipper to glide in (left), it simply does not work very well. The zipper snags easily and frequently (right) on the grosgrain strips, draft tube, lining, and outside shell. It helps a lot to straighten the zipper before zipping it.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review - 4
The stuff sack provided has two drawcords to stuff the bag down to bread loaf size. It's simply too tight. In my opinion, the two drawcord design is overkill, extra weight, and overstuffing may damage the down over time. I prefer a stuff sack that does not overstuff a down bag, although it takes up a little more room in my pack.

Overall, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 is a highly refined sleeping bag. It's filled with 800 fill power down and has good loft, but it's not the loftiest among its peers. It has a number of important factors on the positive side of the ledger: snug sizing (but has adequate room to wear clothing inside), down filled draft collar, two-way locking zipper that operates from the outside and inside, excellent hood, lightweight downproof shell, durable lining, and no Velcro damage to fabrics. However, there is a negative side too: the zipper snags badly, and the stuff sack is over-engineered.

From an ultralight point of view, its full length zipper may be a drawback too. Personally, I am content with a one-third or one-half length zipper, or none at all. A short zipper still allows easy entry and exit, and allows the bag to be unzipped and used as a quilt on warm nights. However, manufacturers seem to perceive that consumers want a full length zipper; even Western Mountaineering puts a full length zipper in most of their bags. What do you think? Post your opinions in the attached forum.



Mountain Hardwear


2009 Phantom 32


Hooded mummy with full length zipper

  What's Included

Sleeping bag, stuff sack, mesh storage bag


800 fill-power down, 10 oz (283 g) size Regular, 11 oz (312 g) size Long


5-inch baffles

  Measured Loft

4.0 in (10 cm) average double-layer loft, manufacturer specification 4.0 in (10 cm)

Claimed Temperature Rating

32 F (0 C)

  Stuffed Size

7 x 10 in (18 x 25 cm)


Size Regular tested
BPL Measured Weight: 1 lb 7.1 oz (655 g)
Manufacturer Specification 1 lb 6 oz (624 g)


Regular fits to 6 ft (1.83 m)
Long fits to 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)


Shell is 15d Superlight 0.85 oz/yd2 (29 g/m2) high tenacity nylon with DWR, lining is 20d 1.2 oz/yd2 (41 g/m2) nylon taffeta


Full length two-way auto-locking zipper with anti-snag panel and down filled draft collar, zipper pull operates from inside or outside, small Velcro tab at top of zipper, six chamber sculptured hood with down filled face gasket, single handed elastic/grosgrain drawcord on hood, comfort footbox


Regular US$290
Long US$305


"Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-11-10 00:02:00-07.


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Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review on 11/10/2009 15:24:35 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review

christopher shive

Locale: Along the AT in PA
Zipper Length on 11/10/2009 19:35:14 MST Print View

Regarding zipper length. I think I would be most content with a 3/4 length zipper that stops at about the knee or a little higher. Enough of a zipper to open the bag up like a quilt and allow for easy entry/exit. My Mont-Bell super stretch zips down to mid-shin level, and I never feel the need to completely unzip the bag.


Matthew Dunn
(Boddunn) - F

Locale: Kirby Muxloe
Cumulus 200 on 11/11/2009 03:27:04 MST Print View

I've got a Cumulus 200 bag and I'm pretty impressed, no hard figures but I've had it down to around 0 degrees (30F) and it's preformed pretty well, mine weighs 550 grams including the stuff sack (not the 495 advertised) and it cost me £165 (about $270 at present exchange rates); definitely worth considering.
As for the zip, it's full length but I agree a 3/4 length would be better to save weight and make it easier to stay covered when using it in summer.
Here's a link.

Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Re:Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review on 11/11/2009 09:02:06 MST Print View

Great write-up Will!

One thing I would love to see though is the comparison grid you have, but with the girth of the bags included.

I.e. a 62" bag with 10oz of 850+ down vs. a 57" with 10oz of 850+ down will obviously have different loft depths.

Alan Little
(AlanL) - F

Locale: Bavarian & Austrian Alps
Re: Zipper Length on 11/11/2009 09:20:13 MST Print View

I often find it comfortable in not too cold conditions to sleep with my torso zipped up but my feet sticking out.

I'm currently on the lookout for a new down bag, and find that the Valandre Mirage looks impressive in many ways, but the 3/4 zip is a concern for my sweaty toes.

Maybe I'm just weird. Should I perhaps be looking at using a quilt upside down?

Edited by AlanL on 11/11/2009 09:20:55 MST.

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
"Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag Review" on 11/11/2009 09:46:10 MST Print View

Great review
I was already thinking of getting this bag to outrank my DIY down quilt. This is lighter (my quilt is about 28 oz and very warm), and I already bring primaloft clothing. I've also been moving away from the quilt idea in my thinking, as it is less thermally efficient with drafts and all, and a mummy bag can still be used as a quilt anyway.

Don Root
(doninmarin) - F
Good review on 11/11/2009 09:55:23 MST Print View

I have this bag and used it for the first time on an 18-day trip in the Sierras last summer. The zipper is definitely a drag, and the stuff sack was so obviously ridiculous I replaced it before going on the trip. I also agree that 850+ fill down would be better--the insulation seemed a little wimpy, even for a 32 bag. Better to save weight with a down quilt, I'd say. I got this bag on sale, and for the sale price, I guess it's OK. But if I were buying today I'd keep looking. Gotta be something better out there.

aarn tate
(aarndesign) - MLife
full length zipper on Phantom 32 on 11/11/2009 10:22:48 MST Print View

Either a 3/4 length or a full length zipper that is available in left and right versions (so 2 bags can be zipped together) is essential for me to sleep ultralight with my partner. I also need zip compatability with other bags in the same manufacturers range so i can zip a warmer bag with a cooler bag as my partner needs more insulation than me. Using a 2 bags together saves weight as we can use lighter bags.

Aarn Tate

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Zipper Length on 11/11/2009 11:22:06 MST Print View

"Maybe I'm just weird. Should I perhaps be looking at using a quilt upside down?"


Zipper length will always be controversial. Some tough folks Like Glen Van Peski can cope without any zip! I am OK with a half zip, and two half-zip bags mated together works well for us too, bit I prefer full length. Of course some folks get offended at the presence of any zips (ie quilters). I too like to have my feet hanging out while the rest of me is covered, and a full length zip (or quilt) is essential for this (as is NOT zipping together with someone else).

Anyway, from where I'm sitting the MH bag doesn't look very tempting. In fact, not even a little tempting!

Christopher Kuzmich
(obchristo2) - F
Zipper length on 11/11/2009 13:05:57 MST Print View

I often sleep with a foot sticking out from my covers at home, and do the same while camping. The ability to drape the bag as a quilt, let a foot out, or zip fully up is essential for me.

For me, a full length zipper is non-negotiable. Same with a full length pad.

Sleep your own sleep!

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Zipper Length on 11/11/2009 13:07:17 MST Print View

I have both the old -no zipper- and the new -half zipper- NF Beeline bags. I actually prefer the no-zip version. The zipper on the newer -half zip- version is too short to be of much use.

Edit: I don't consider myself "Tough like Glen Van Peski"

Edited by redleader on 11/11/2009 13:08:36 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Zipper Length on 11/11/2009 13:32:02 MST Print View

"I don't consider myself "Tough like Glen Van Peski""

Good point. How could anyone that carries something called a "LUXURYLITE" be a tough guy, though I'm sure Glen enjoys his little luxuries as much as anyone else.

Perhaps I should have called him "really dedicated to pushing the boundaries of SUL" rather than "tough guy"?

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
zipper on 11/11/2009 14:13:33 MST Print View

They must have changed the zipper guard design when they went to a full length zipper because it looks nothing like the one on my Phantom 0 with a 3/4 zipper. I have had no trouble with snags, though I will admit, that the design isn't as good as the one on my Western Mountaineering Bags.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
BaH! HUMBUG! on 11/12/2009 00:20:50 MST Print View

I owned a Phantom 32 and realized, without trying it out, that it sorely lacked loft. Others, after trying it, felt the same and posted their complaints on various sites.

I returned it to REI and bought a WM Megalite by mail order. Never been happier with a bag. I've had it down to 25 F. in the high Sierras with poly long johns and was fine. I seriously doubt the Phantom 32 would have kept me warm in those temps. I think the Phantom is misnamed.
42 F. maybe but 32 F., nope, not unless Mt'n. Hardware has greatly increaseed the fill.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: BaH! HUMBUG! on 11/12/2009 10:41:51 MST Print View

Well, according to Will, it has 2 inches of single layer loft which should indeed make it warm down to freezing. Maybe you have an older model, or MH has some quality assurance issues?

Interesting observation on the Beeline!

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I don't doubt the loft... on 11/12/2009 14:02:14 MST Print View

My Phantom 0 has the advertised 7.5" of loft, I would assume that all of the Phantom series bags would be as advertised as well, but I could be wrong.

I also noticed that it is rated at EN 13537 standards at 38* for the average woman, and 29* for the average man, which seem to indicate that it does indeed have 4" of double sided loft. For comparison, the Marmot Hydrogen rated at 39* for the average woman, and 30* for the average man. It probably has similar loft, but didn't preform quite as well due to its larger girth (62" vs 60").

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth on 11/12/2009 15:11:27 MST Print View


Your post was a nice job of adding some objective science to a largely subjective frequent-forum-topic. The Marmot Hydrogen has 1/2" higher loft than the MH Phantom 32 and yet the lab measurements show the Hydrogen has less thermal resistance.

Is there anyone who no longer believes the often repeated axiom, "The Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth"?


Edited by richard295 on 11/12/2009 17:10:10 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth on 11/12/2009 15:41:20 MST Print View

"Is there anyone who no longer believes their often repeated axiom, "The Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth"?"

I believe it...All else being equal...

Problem is that all else is seldom equal.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Loft and other considerations on 11/12/2009 16:09:07 MST Print View

I tried one UL sleeping bag and found out very quickly that the air permiability of the fabric made a big difference-- the cold wind went through it like a screen door. If the loft isn't there, you're gonna get cold and if the loft IS there, you need a resonable seal to keep the cold air out and the heat in.

I wonder about the relative density of the lofted material and how much it controls heat transfer. For example, a denser material may slow air currents and pumping from the sleeper's movements, where a light fluffy material might allow more air movement, taking heat with it or moving colder outer air to the inner warm layers, etc. Just impressions and thinking out load on my part.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Re: Loft and other considerations on 11/12/2009 16:25:09 MST Print View

"I tried one UL sleeping bag and found out very quickly that the air permiability of the fabric made a big difference-- the cold wind went through it like a screen door. If the loft isn't there, you're gonna get cold and if the loft IS there, you need a resonable seal to keep the cold air out and the heat in."

You ought to try hammocking. If you aren't able to make something yourself, you are forced to freeze with the commercially available underquilts. Plain old ripstop nylon does nothing more than just hold some down in place, when it's not leaking it out.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re: Loft and other considerations on 11/12/2009 16:44:33 MST Print View

Interesting point, Tom. I find my Arc Specialist quilt very warm compared to bags i have used with similar loft and rating. I ordered my quilt with the Epic shell. It's the first time i've ever used a bag or quilt with an Epic shell, and i've wondered how much of a part the shell played in how warm it felt. I also have a bag with a Pertex Endurance shell (Rab Q250), and it too feels warmer to me than other similar bags.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth on 11/12/2009 17:29:32 MST Print View

"Is there anyone who no longer believes the often repeated axiom, "The Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth"?"


I missed something along the way. What is relative loft?

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth on 11/12/2009 17:31:57 MST Print View


It is the approach where you determine which of two bags is warmer by comparing the loft of the two bags. In other words, the loft "relative" to the other bag.

Edited by richard295 on 11/12/2009 17:33:42 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Relative Loft ALWAYS Determines the Comparative Warmth on 11/12/2009 18:01:02 MST Print View

"In other words, the loft "relative" to the other bag."

Thank you, Richard.

My guess then would be that the weight required to achieve that loft would go down as fill power increased? Along with the price?

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 vs 45 on 11/12/2009 22:09:43 MST Print View

Great review Will

I've been interested in getting either Phantom 32s or Phantom 45s. I'm wondering if anyone knows how the design details differ on the 45?

In the pic on the Australian website, it looks like it has a 2/3 zipper, similar to the pic with the Phantom 32. Is this a design/model difference here (ie with the Australian model, or did Will have a full-zip or older version)? If these zippers are different, I wonder if they don't snag or have been improved?

Any ideas anyone?

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
MH on 11/12/2009 23:26:19 MST Print View

MH has had their Phantom series EN tested (look on their site) and their recommended temp ratings are supported, no matter what brand you prefer. These are excellent bags.

Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 vs 45 on 11/13/2009 10:12:17 MST Print View

One main difference is I believe the 45 is quilt stitched and does not have raised baffles in between the panels.

Edited by johnatha1 on 11/13/2009 10:13:00 MST.

jim draucker
(mtnjim) - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah Valley VA
re: MH bags on 11/13/2009 10:43:31 MST Print View


I have both bags. I will do a side by side comparison and post later.


Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 vs 45 on 11/13/2009 10:50:58 MST Print View

Interesting that the 45 is 6 ounces lighter than the 32 yet it only rates at 3 degrees cooler. Looks like the 45 is slightly under rated where the 32 and 15 are both over rated.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: MH on 11/13/2009 11:21:54 MST Print View

In a recent duscussion with a manufacturer I found out that not all laboratories, licenced to perform the EN-testing, use the same manikin nor the same temperature sensors, so every result from the EN-test should be regarded with some suspicion.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
FUD on 11/13/2009 12:21:04 MST Print View

There is a 5% m2K/W maximum variance using the old EOG guidelines. Using the current EOG guidelines the worst case variance is 3%.

National laboratories, such as NIST, would expect to measure an insulation material at ambient temperatures and obtain agreement to ± 1%, accredited laboratories within ± 3%, and industry test laboratories, such as mine, to within ± 5%. Accredited lab fees start at $500 - $600 per sample. National laboratories cost about 100X per sample. If you want your favorite cottage industry manufacturer to afford an EN13537 test, please consider the above.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) is a classic marketing maneuver used by companies in an attempt to have consumers ignore objective scientific data and accept THEIR subjective marketing messages.

Isn't my color prettier?
Doesn't mine LOOK warmer?
My style is more fashionable.
Mine was featured on a TV show.
We (Marketing Dept) rate this as a 0F bag. The EN 13537 standard LLimit rating is only 22F but you know what? Some of the labs use different thermal dummies and temperature sensors which don't yield the same result.

Edited by richard295 on 11/13/2009 13:49:49 MST.

Scott Toraason
FUD on 11/13/2009 13:34:04 MST Print View

Richard, I had to read your post twice, well said on multiple levels.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: FUD on 11/13/2009 13:51:29 MST Print View


Thank you.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: FUD on 11/13/2009 13:57:56 MST Print View

+5 on Richard's post!


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Hmmmm... on 11/13/2009 23:18:14 MST Print View

I've seen Phantom 32s in two other stores and all were low on loft. I still contend the Phantom 32's temp rating is optimistic, just as the Megalite's rating is conservative.

That said I have a VERY warm, high-lofting Mt'n Hardware minus 20 F. bag of Polarguard Delta that IS warm at that temp, and a bit below. Heavy and bulky but really WARM.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
I have to ask ... on 11/14/2009 16:47:43 MST Print View

What would you rather have, the bag with the highest loft or the bag that was the warmest. While high loft is likely to be the warmest, other factors dictate it's not always so. What I find lacking in this review is any objective, scientific measure I can use to compare with other bags.

How about for every bag you test, you include a test where you put a bag length tube full of hot water in the bag starting at some consistent temperature, and also some consistent ambient temperature and meausre how long it takes the water temperature to drop 10 degrees? Or find some other objective test methodology that suits you.

I haven't heard of the EN test, but I think some cheaper litmus test such as I've suggested would be useful for comparing bags.

Edited by herman666 on 11/15/2009 19:00:44 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Phantom on 11/14/2009 17:05:54 MST Print View

Eric - you have never tried a Phantom but believe the temp ratings are optimistic?

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: FUD on 11/15/2009 15:05:36 MST Print View

Perhaps I'm reading this the wrong way, so if I do my apologies, but it's not about a manufacturers specific test vs the EN-test but variance between the results of the EN-tests, depending ong the lab that performed the test.

While I know that every tempaterure indication should be met with some suspicion, so also the temperatures given by the EN-test, I at least thought that one advantage of the En-test was that all bags that were being tested could be compared. Now, at least I get the impression that even that isn't the case since the different labs that are licenced to perform the test, can stay inside a legal framework while still differing quite a lof in how they perform the test. And apparantly, the different labs that perform the test have come together to discuss the issue. Although I don't know the outciome of that discussion, it does seem to mean that there is something going on.

Or, in other words, if one lab tested a sleeping bag with a manikin that differed in size and in weight and with almost half as many temperature sensors as another lab, should or should we not exspect a noticible and significant difference in temperatures? An open question and I hope to find the answer here?

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Loft and other considerations on 11/17/2009 11:45:15 MST Print View

I am still trying to get my head around the difference baffling makes to warmth. If two bags have the same loft and same fill, but one is sewn through and the other is baffled, how do we work out likely differences in warmth between them...or is there a difference?

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 vs 45 on 11/17/2009 12:00:54 MST Print View

FWIW, the Phantom 45 is baffled, not sewn-through. The Phantom jackets, however, are sewn-through.

Richard has pointed out the (2.8%?) differential in warmth up to a nominal level of insulation. Once you get more significant loft, though, there becomes more of a difference.

When sleeping bag loft is measured, it's basically taken from the highest point... so although a sewn-thru bag might have 4 inches of loft and a baffled bag might have 4 inches of loft, the baffled bag will have a consistent 4 inches of loft. The sewn-thru bag, on the other hand, will only have that 4 inches (2-inch single side, for sake of argument) at the middle of the down chamber. At each stitch line the loft will be zero. If you were to divide a 5-inch spaced compartment in half, then, you'd have 2 inches in the middle ending 2.5 inches later in 0. That might not be as important in a 40 or 50 degree bag (although when my 40* sewn-thru bag gets into the mid-40s I can quite distinctly feel the cold through the stitch lines), but when you get into warmer bags and more loft it can become significant.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Sewn-through: Diminishing returns. on 11/17/2009 12:26:46 MST Print View

A sewn-through bag is basically uninsulated at the stitch line. To determine heat loss you can't just average the thickness. I've done energy calculations for buildings and you quickly reach a point where no amount of wall insulation will make up for uninsulated surface such as single pane windows. An extreme example for visualization would be a sleeping bag where one end is 4" of down and the other end is just a sheet. You need to put insulation on the "sheet" end before adding to the 4" end.

Sewn-through only performs well in warm conditions (probably above freezing) or with synthetic insulation where one batt is sewn to the outer shell and another batt is sewn to the inner shell, and the stitch lines are offset.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Sewn-through: Diminishing returns. on 11/17/2009 13:33:35 MST Print View

Well, yes, that all makes sense to me, but when Richard commented on the relative warmth of the Nunatak Skaha versus a PHD minimus, he seemed to discard the difference in construction and rated the Minimus as being slightly warmer. This 'baffles' me, as I know from personal experience that the Skaha is warmer. I ask here, as some of the other similar rated bags available, such as the Caribou, use sewn through construction. How do we compare these to a bag like the Phantom?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: FUD on 11/17/2009 13:39:36 MST Print View

Hi Tom

I am going to stick my neck out here and answer your question without hard supporting evidence. You be the judge.

There are two competing standards for the assessment of sleeping bags: the European EN one and the older American ASTM one. (That doesn't count the off-the-planet guessing done by marketing departments.) The results of much careful EN testing has been the revelation that many American bag ratings are just so much pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. That does have hard evidence, btw.

What would you expect the reaction would be from some aggrieved American companies? A public admission that they were misleading the public, or a FUD campaign?

The claim that different labs can get different results under the EN standard is correct of course. I say 'of course' because the science and Standards communities know that ANY measurement carries with it some measure of uncertainty. (eg: What's your GPS position?) To claim that the EN standard gives different results depending on which lab you use and *therefore is unreliable* is a classic ploy for FUD merchants.

How many temperature sensors you use on a copper manikin is not critical. What matters is whether the sensors are calibrated. One calibrated sensor is infinitely better than half a dozen uncalibrated ones.

An indication of the reliability of a measurement is that an uncertainty figure is quoted. Which would you prefer out of:
* 20 F with an unstated uncertainty of +/- 20 F
* 25 F with a stated uncertainty of +/- 5 F
Me, I would believe the 25 +/- 5 F figure, but I strongly suspect the 20 +/- 20 F figure would be very strongly biased in just one direction! That is, the real result was somewhere in the 20 - 40 F range. A cynic would believe the 40 F end of the range.

That labs performing EN testing should get together to discuss results is quite normal, and happens right across the spectrum of Standards testing. It is standard practice to have 'round trials' between the labs as well - been there, done that.

I have also seen some vendors quoting the EN Extreme rating for their bags as the normal or typical rating. Apparently Joe Public is not expected to have any brains.


Edited by rcaffin on 11/17/2009 13:46:25 MST.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Re: re: MH bags on 06/20/2010 18:27:15 MDT Print View


Did you ever post a side by side comparision of the Phantom 32 and the Phantom 45?


M Stein
(a.k.a.) - F

Locale: Northern California
Phantom EN Ratings on 07/15/2010 18:20:06 MDT Print View


The EN Ratings for the 32 and 45 are as follows:

Phantom 45
41 F / 5 C
32 F / 0 C
3 F / -16 C

Phantom 32
37 F / 2 C
28 F / -2 C
0 (or -2) F / -17 (or -18) C

The good news is that despite protestations by several buyers on this forum that the Phantom 32 isn't warm enough, the series in fact beats the EN norm for the advertised temp rating.

The bad news is that a number of Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags CURRENTLY fall short of the EN norm. A good number of their ratings were only roughly on par with EN norms. They'll have to do some beefing up in coming years. For instance, take a look at the Ultralamina 0 on any European retailer site, and you will find the EN Limit rating is tested to be 14 F. The Ultralamina 15 tests at 23 F. The Ultralamina 32 tests at 36 F. (Note that the Ultralamina 45 comes in at 43 F.)

The Mountain Hardwear bags that do beat the EN ratings are the Conness 32 (24), Lamina 35 (32) and 45 (41), Merced 32 (25), Phantom 32 (28)and 45 (32), Piute 20 (12), and Switch 35 (30).

Edited by a.k.a. on 07/15/2010 18:22:26 MDT.