Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Warm for its weight, packs small for 15 degree bag, great hood design, good value.
Cons: Heavier, colder, and less versatile than quilt style bags, zipper snags frequently.
Best Uses: All-purpose camping.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 is a high quality hooded down sleeping bag. It combines 800-fill down with an efficient and comfortable fit. The Phantom is equipped with one of the most comfortable hood designs of any bag we tested. This bag offer campers and backpackers a moderately lightweight bag that's viable below freezing.
Traditional sleeping bags with zippers and hoods have fixed girths that can be a large drawback for backpackers and climbers that cross multiple climates or wear clothing inside the bag. We've found that quilt style sleeping bags are more versatile, lighter weight, and more comfortable in a wider range of conditions. Our testers much prefer quilts for multi-day trips. Compare the best bags that prioritize weight savings in our Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review. If you're set on a hood check out our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 is one of our highest rated traditional style three-season down bags. It exemplifies a well-designed, comfortable, and efficient sleeping bag, and its significantly more affordable than slightly better bags.
Outside, the Phantom is protected by superlight 15 Denier ripstop nylon. Inside, 800-fill goose down provides a luxurious amount of puffy loft. While weight and compressibility are top factors when choosing a sleeping bag, its fit that separates a good bag from a great bag. Disregarding the stretchy Montbell Down Hugger, the Phantom is the best fitting all-purpose bag reviewed in this category. The Phantom 15 fits a wide variety of body types without being too wide or too skinny for the masses. Its available in a Womens cut, which is shorter than the Regular cut. We prefer the fit of the Phantom to the fit of the Marmot Plasma, which is slightly wider and not available in a Womens cut.
What separates the Phantom from the competition is its comfortable and compact hood. Here, Mountain Hardwear removed excess volume and created a snug fitting hood that doesnt need to be cinched unless temperatures drop close to the bags limit. And this is exactly when the Phantom shines brightest. Unlike all other bags tested here, the Phantom has an asymmetric neck baffle that curves around the front of your neck, keeping warm air in but not choking you to death. The Phantom also has differentiated pull cords. For both the neck baffle and the draft collar, flat webbing tightens the back, while a round elastic tightens the front. This allows you to move about at night without undoing the neck baffles velcro closure a common problem on most bags without elasticized pull cords. All other sleeping bags weve reviewed, except for the Marmot Plasma, have inferior hood and neck baffles. The Plasmas is, more or less, as comfortable as the Phantoms, but its slightly less efficient (heavier). Were comparing minute details here, but theyre important because its what surrounds your face and neck.
The Phantom also addresses a key problem found with most other bags. When the neck baffle is fully closed (on other bags) a foot of pull cord dangles annoyingly around your neck. To remedy this, the Phantom includes a small and concealed stuff pocket by the left shoulder. Simply cinch it and stuff it.
Unfortunately, the zipper on the Phantom is extremely prone to snagging. Like terribly likely to snag. This author once spent 10 minutes freeing a caught zipper in the middle of the night (much worse than most other bags). While this is rather annoying, the problem is akin to a small blemish on a flavorful fruit. You can deal with it.
Like all sleeping bags with fixed girths, the Phantom is significantly heavier and less versatile than quilt style sleeping bags. Our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review discusses the advantages of quilts, which are found in the Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.
All-purpose multi-day camping.
The Phantom is a great value. Its not as light or as fancy as the Marmot Plasma 15, but its lower price make it a sure bet for someone looking for a quality do-it-all down bag.
The Phantom also comes in 32 and 0 degree versions and is also in available in a Womens cut. Weve tested the Phantom 0, which is nearly identical to the 15-degree version.
— Max Neale
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Most recent review: December 3, 2012
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