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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 > Owner Review by Peter Spiller

Mountain Hardwear Phantom +15 Sleeping Bag

Peter Spiller

February 16, 2008

BiographyUser Experience
Product InformationSummary
Product DescriptionLocations and Conditions

Name:Peter SpillerPeter Spiller
Age: 37
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
City, State, Country:La Mesa, CA U.S.
Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking avidly since childhood.  In the last several years my passion for backpacking and kayaking has grown.  I am a Chapter Outing Leader for the Sierra-Club, I have trained in Wilderness First Aid, and am a staff member for a Wilderness-Basics course.  I enjoy solo backpacking and group trips.  I have an adaptable style that is fueled by my interest in backpacking gear.  I pack as light as possible when the situation dictates, but I am not against hauling creature comforts. I average 1 hike a week, and 1 backpack a month year-round.

Product information:
Manufacturer: Mountain HardwearPhantom 15 Seeping Bag
Manufacturers Website:
Listed Weight: 31 oz (880 g)
Delivered Weight: 33 oz (936 g)
Purchased: December 2006
Manufacturers Description: (from the website) Designed to be warm and as light as possible, the Phantom™ 15 is a great all-around choice for colder conditions. This light, warm mummy cut bag has a snug fit and is an ideal choice if you only want one bag. The Phantom 15 is insulated with 800-fill down, tuck-stitched for durability and built from Superlight 15 denier fabric.


Product Description:

I purchased my Mountain Hardwear Phantom sleeping bag (hereafter referred to as the Phantom 15) with the intention that it be my only sleeping bag through the next several seasons.  With this in mind, I settled on this sleeping bag as it was represented as being the most versatile on the market.

The sleeping bag is a mummy-cut down sleeping bag rated to keep the user warm to 15 F ( -9.4 C).  Its 800-fill power down is encased in lightweight fabric that is blue ripstop type nylon on the top exterior and black ripstop type nylon on the bottom exterior.  The interior is a slightly heavier black material. There are seams sewn across the body of the bag at regular intervals that hold the down in place.  The zipper is on the right hand side and is of the bag in length.  There are two zipper pulls on the opening allowing me to zip the bag closed and then vent the mid-section of the bag using the second.   A substantial draft tube backs the zipper track.  The interior of the bag features a down-filled draft collar near the neck area that has a Velcro closure on the right side. Two differentiated pull-cords are on the left side running through a single cord lock that is attached to the bag via a short ribbon.  Just above the draft collar on the left side is a small triangle-shaped zipper pocket backed by another Velcro closed pocket formed by the zipper pocket and the wall of the sleeping bag.  The sleeping bag has a substantial hood with a Velcro closure on the right side of the bag and two differentiated pull-cords running through a single cord lock on the right side of the hood.  

Detail of fabric
detail of exterior fabric
detail of hood
detail of hood

Detail of pockets
detail of stash pocket
draw cords
                 detail of draw cords

The bag I have been using is a medium and my 6 ft (183 cm) 190 lbs (86 kg) frame fits into the bag a bit snug, but not uncomfortably so.  It is long enough that my feet reach the foot-box without pushing up on the bottom of the bag.   I am a side sleeper and the cut of the torso and shoulders of the bag allow me to sleep on my side, but it is somewhat tight in the shoulder area.  When rolling over in the bag I need to use a little care to keep the bag from rolling over with me as the bottom of the bag is not as generously insulated as the top.  The bag has substantial loft when uncompressed, but does compress down very well, and fits in a 7 in (18 cm) by 20.5 in (52 cm) compression sack.  The stuff sack that came with the bag ripped within the first week of using the bag, so I purchased a waterproof compression sack.  I did call Mountain Hardwear in regards to the defective stuff sack and they responded by sending me a replacement.  There was also a large mesh storage sack included for uncompressed storage when not in use.

packed in factory supplied stuff sack
packed in factory stuff sack
packed in commpression sack
packed in waterproof compression sack

storage sack
storage sack
zipper and draft tube
zipper and draft tube

Locations and Conditions:

I have used Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Sleeping Bag in multiple locations throughout California and Arizona.  The Phantom 15 is my primary 3-season sleeping bag and I have used it on just about all of my backpacking trips in the last 13 months.  I will include descriptions of trips in the following locations in this report:

Anza-Borrego Desert, CA (January 2007)
High temp: 78.7 F (25.9 C) Precipitation: .04 in (1.0 mm)
Low temp: 23.4 F (-4.8 C) Elevation (Borrego Springs, California): 780 ft ( 238 m)
Average Temperature: 52.6 F (11.4 C) 
Terrain: The Anza-Borrego region is classic desert terrain.  It is covered in rugged rocks split by sandy washes.   The foliage consists primarily of cactus and yuccas.  The weather is usually dry, with a brief wet season in February and March in which the desert comes alive with one of the most spectacular wild-flower blooms in the world. 
user experience
Anza-Borrego Desert, California February 2007
High temp:    82.3 F (27.9 C)Precipitation:    .03 in (.8 mm)
Low tem:    37.2 F (2.9 C)Elevation (Borrego Springs, California): 780 ft (238 m)
Average Temperature:    59.8 F (15.5 C)    
Terrain: The Anza-Borrego region is classic desert terrain.  It is covered in rugged rocks split by sandy washes.   The foliage consists primarily of cactus and yuccas.  The weather is usually dry,  with a brief wet season in February and March in which the desert comes alive with one of the most spectacular wild-flower blooms in the world.
user experience
Mammoth Lakes, California (March 2007)
High temp:    69.8 F (27.9 C)Precipitation:    0 in (0 mm)
Low temp:    6.0 F (-14.4 C)Elevation Mammoth Lakes, California: 7920 ft (2414 m)
Average Temperature:    38.0 F (3.4 C)  
Terrain: Mammoth Lakes is a high altitude area covered with thick pine and juniper forests.  The violent volcanic history of the region has distinctly shaped the terrain.  The jagged mountain ranges, and plethora of volcanic rock littering the forest floor speak of this tumultuous past.
user experience
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (May 2007)
High temp:    69.8 F (21 C)Precipitation:    .65 in (1.65 cm)
Low temp:    39.1 F (3.94 C)Elevation Range: 2200 ft (670 m)-7400 ft (2255 m)
Average Temperature:    -- 
Terrain: The Grand Canyon is a unique and diverse place.  The vertical mile of elevation change allows one to experience a wide variety of terrains in one day.  The rim is swathed in juniper forests, which quickly give way to a mild shrub covered terrain, just as quickly yielding to a harsh desert regions.  The water of the Colorado River creates an oasis from the extreme desert environment, providing for riparian forests of willow and tamarisks.
user experience
Yosemite National Park, California (August 2007)
High temp:    99 F (37.2 C) Precipitation:    .14 in (3.6 mm)
Low temp:    50.8 F (10.4 C)Elevation Range:
4,000 ft (1219 M)-9926 ft (3025 M)
Average Temperature:    74.1 F (23.9 C)  
Terrain: Yosemite is covered with pine and juniper forests and is dominated by its spectacular glacier carved granite features.  The moisture from the large amount of snow in the winter, and the regular but short thunderstorms that rolls through during the summer, sustains the forests.
user experience

User Experience:

Anza-Borrego Desert, CA (January 2007):  The overnight trip that I took in Anza-Borrego Desert was my first real experience with the Phantom 15.  The weather was fairly mild and I found that I was overheating using the bag in the traditional manner. I reconfigured my sleeping setup to use the it as a quilt in conjunction with a closed cell foam pad inside a solo two-wall tent.  The open configuration of the bag used as a quilt was perfect to keep my temperature regulated, and I was neither too hot nor too cold.  The bag compressed as expected and lofted in a reasonable amount of time after removing it from its stuff sack.  I wore a lightweight base layer while sleeping.

Anza-Borrego Desert, CA (February 2007): The temperature during this trip was a little more severe, and the lows dropped down in the 30’s during the middle of the night.  The Phantom 15 performed well zipped up in the more traditional manner, but I was very cold during the first night as I developed a hole in my inflatable mattress and was not carrying a closed cell foam pad. The down that comprises the underside of the bag did not insulate well when compressed with the weight of my body. Fortunately, Mountain Hardware had the foresight to use less down on the bottom than the top of the bag, concentrating the insulation where it is most effective.

Mammoth Lakes, CA (March 2007):  I camped in the Mammoth Lakes Area as part of a snowshoe trip for a wilderness basics course.  This is the first trip I experienced any extreme temperatures in the Phantom 15.  The overnight temperature dropped below 20 F  (-7 C) range, and I am happy to report that the bag was able to keep me warm and comfortable in these temperatures.  I supplemented the bag by wearing light fleece pants and a light fleece pullover and placed it in a breathable bivy sack to protect it from moisture.  Early in the night, when the temperature was somewhat warmer, I did need to open up the bag to avoid overheating.  When the temperature dropped, I zipped it down over my head, and was very comfortable.

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (May 2007):  I used the Phantom 15 as my primary sleeping bag for my backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon in May.  The conditions in the canyon were very warm, exceeding 100 F (39 C) in the day, and not cooling much during the night.  The Phantom 15 was way too much bag for this trip.  I still carried it as the weight of the bag is comparable to many summer bags, and it provided me backup insulation if the weather would take a drastic change while in the Canyon.  I did not need the backup, and never slept inside the bag during the trip, although I did drape it over me loosely in the coolest part of the night to cut the mild chill. I do not regret taking the bag with me in the warm conditions, but if I had access to any lighter less insulated bag in future trips, I would not hesitate to bring it in place of the Phantom 15.

Yosemite National Park, CA (August 2007):  The Phantom 15 excelled during my trip to Yosemite with my daughter.  The weather was warm during the day, dropping to cool to cold in the evening depending on location.  I spent four nights in the Phantom 15 and it was an ideal sleeping bag for each evening.   On the warm evenings I would sleep with it unzipped, loosely covering me.  As the temperature dropped during the night, I was able to stay warm by zipping it more closely around me.  I only needed the hood one of the nights when the temperature dropped more significantly than the others.  This was the first trip I used the bag for more than two nights and I was initially concerned about condensation compromising the down insulation, but this proved to be unfounded.  I did pull the bag out of its compression sack at every opportunity in order to dry it out, but I believe that it would have remained dry enough without the additional precautions.



The Phantom 15 is a very versatile sleeping bag.  It is functional in all but the coldest and the warmest conditions I have found in the Western United States.  The high quality 800-fill down has kept me warm while sleeping without adding undue bulk or weight to my pack.  The bag has been durable and has held up well on multiple nights of use in the backcountry.  The ability for me to ventilate the bag with double zippers, and the ability to close up the bag with the draft collar and the cinch down hood add to the range that this sleeping bag is comfortable to me.   The small pockets near the head of the bag look convenient, but I have yet to use them and would prefer the weight savings if they were removed.   The differentiated pull-cords work well and are vital to opening and closing the draft collar and hood in the dark.  The biggest problem I have with the bag is the zipper which snags the draft tube regularly when zipping and unzipping the bag.  Overall, the features, durability and flexibility of this bag far outweigh the annoyance of the snagging zipper.  What follows is a synopsis of the pros and cons of The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 sleeping bag:

•    Warm
•    Durable
•    Packs down small
•    High warmth to weight ratio
•    Well designed hood system

•    The zipper pull snags the draft tube when zipping it open and closed
•    The small stash pockets do not get used by me, and add to the weight of the bag
•    Slightly snug around the shoulders when sleeping on my side.


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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Sleeping Bags > Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 > Owner Review by Peter Spiller

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