Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 sleeping bag
By Raymond Estrella
February 14, 2006
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Web site: www.mountainhardwear.com
Product: Phantom 32 F (0 C) down sleeping bag.
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP: $ 260.00 (US).
Weight listed: 1 lb 7 oz (644 g)
Actual weight 1 lb 6.8 oz (638 g)
Inside length listed: 78 in (198 cm) Verified accurate
Shoulder girth listed: 60 in (152 cm) Verified accurate
Loft listed: 4 in (10 cm)
Actual loft 5 in (12 cm)
Insulation type: 800 fill goose down.
Fill weight: 10.5 oz ( 294 g)
Stuffed size listed: 10 x 7 in (25 x 17 cm) Actual size 6 x 11.25 in (15 x 28 cm)
Warranty: (from company web site), “Mountain Hardwear guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed. This warranty does not cover damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown of materials over extended time and use.”
The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 (hereafter referred to as the Phantom, or the bag) is a mummy style down filled sleeping bag. It is mainly maroon in color, with a band of black on the top of the bag at the shoulder area, and a black section at the bottom of the foot-box. A black trimmed drawstring surrounds the hood as well.
The outer shell is made of “Superlight 15D™Lining, Shell Fabric, 359 thread count, 66 high tenacity nylon. 300 mm waterproofness. DWR finish. Lightweight and tear resistant. 0.85 oz./sq. yd.” It has a rip-stop grid pattern, and is very soft to the touch.
On the zipper side of the bag near the top is the Mountain Hardwear name and “nut” logo, as well as “800 fill down” stitched into the shell. At the foot end is the normal consumer tag with the fill type, “made in China” and size listed. What I found interesting is that there is a second tag on it that says, “Style; Phantom 35* LG RZ”. Not 32* (What is three degrees among friends, though?)
The two-way zipper is called a three quarter zipper in company info, but as it is 48 in (120 cm) long, and stops 29 in (72 cm) short of the bottom, it is more accurate to call it a two thirds length zipper at the most.
At the top of the zipper is a Velcro-type hook and loop closure to keep it from unzipping during sleep, and to keep the bag closed if the zipper is down for venting purposes. On the side away from the zipper, to the left in my case, is an elastic draw-string for the hood.
The inner lining is made of the same material as the outer shell, and is black in color. A stiffened zipper-guard runs along the zipper to thwart snagging. A care instructions label is sewn onto the lining next to the zipper about half way down.
The foot of the bag is constructed in such a way that it stands up by itself, which is supposed to give more room for the feet.
The entire bag is built with baffle construction, including the hood and foot-box. The baffles feel to be about 2.5 in (6.25 cm) high.
It came with an interesting .8 oz (22 g) stuff sack. The sack has a double draw-string configuration. There is an extended collar with one drawstring, and then 2 in (5 cm) lower is another draw-string. One stuffs the bag into the sack using the upper largest-volume setting, if you will, and draw it tight. Then by pushing down on the top, the bag compresses further, allowing the lower draw-string to be pulled closed. This makes it a very compact little package.
It also came with a netting-style storage bag. I keep it in an after-market cotton storage sack though.
This bag has been used about 12 nights so far. It has been at Manter Meadow in the Dome Land wilderness at 33F (1 C), and to Kings Canyon with lows at 45 F (7 C). It has been up to 9200’ (2760 m) elevation in the eastern Sierra, and 1500’ (450 m) in Cleveland National Forest. It went on a stormy trip in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and a beautiful 3 days in Sequoia National Forest above Kernville, CA. Strangely the highest night was also the warmest, above Brainerd Lake, at 10400’ (3120 m) where it was an unpleasant 80 F (27 C) in the evening.
This bag was purchased to fit a very narrow niche in my hiking. That is the reason for the low number (for me) of bag nights with it. My warm weather bag, a Big Agnes Yampa (see review) had a couple of unexpectedly cold nights in the field. I wanted a bag that would be good to freezing if I had to, without breaking out the 20 F (-7 C) bag. So I bought the Phantom in the fall of 2004. I was immediately blown away by this little beauty.
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It is constructed as well as any bag I have ever owned. And as an admitted gear-hound I have lot of them. The stitching is excellent. The hood fits wonderfully, and the foot-box works. After almost two years it still lofts higher than the manufacturer says it should. The zipper is smooth running.
It packs unbelievably small. When I first saw the stuff sack that came with it I thought it was a mistake. My Marmot down sweater would have had a hard time getting into that sack. (A big reason I upgraded to a Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Jacket later.)
I think that the 35 F (2 C) rating on the tag is more accurate than the 32 F (0 C) in its name. To make it work at those temps, the hood must be used, though. This is the best example of a hood on a mild weather bag I have seen yet. It is sewn so well that it does not bunch up as some are wont to do. It is an excellent bag for 35 to 40 F (2 to 4 C). When I took it to the Domeland Wilderness in spring there was still snow on the ground. I wore a pair of REI lightweight long-johns in the bag, and was perfectly warm. It got down to 33F (1 C), but was 37 F (3 C) in the tent.
I do wish it had a full zipper, even though it would add a couple of more ounces. If the weather is mild when I use it, my normal strategy is to unzip it all the way, then flip the bag 90 degrees so that the zipper is pointing down, and spread it out as a semi-comforter, with my feet in the foot-box, but the rest of the bag spread over me. Then when it gets cold enough, I flip it over and zip it up. Presto-warm-o!
It is meant to be a snug fit. As I am tall and slim, (well not quite as slim as I used to be) it fits me fine. I do not feel constricted or claustrophobic in it. I am a side-sleeper, and flip from side to side all night long. Mountain Hardwear did not employ the trick of using less down in the bottom (pad-side) of the bag to save weight. So I do not have a cold spot when I roll the bag with me, which has been a problem with other bags I own.
As small as this bag packs down, and as light as it is, taking it on a hike is a joy. It is about the size of two grapefruits, and less weight.
As I write this, I have to say that I really cannot say anything negative about the Phantom, even though I contemplated for a long time to try to come up with something I did not like about it.
Read more reviews of Mountain Hardwear gear
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella