If weight and packed volume are your biggest priorities, then look no further
Price: $419 ListPros: Lightweight, tiny packed size, interior fabric feels great against your skin, ample shoulder room to wear a light puffy on colder nights, is a true 25F bag that felt warmer than some 20F bags we tested Cons: Tighter interior dimensions, on the expensive side Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
Sea to Summit discontinued this version of the Spark III in 2019.
The Sea to Summit Spark III is incredibly lightweight and one of the most compact sleeping bags in our review. It does give up some luxury and versatility in order to achieve its amazingly low weight and minimal size; it sports the tightest dimensions among bags we tested and only a 1/3 length #3 YKK zipper that was both the shortest and the smallest zipper of any bag we in our review. What the Spark III doesn't give up is warmth; in our real-world testing, it proved to be a real-world 25F sleeping bag and was even warmer than a few other 20F bags we tested. While we loved this bag for how light and small it is, it's worth noting for folks worried about its small dimensions, that the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, our Editors' Choice Award winner, and the Marmot Phase 20, are only a couple ounces heavier. They are also nearly as packable (but not quite as packable), yet offer larger interior dimensions. The Spark III previously won our Top Pick for the best lightweight model and remains a top contender. Though it's worth noting that while we thought the Phase 30 was warm enough for most backpackers, it was more like a 35-40F bag, so if sleep a little on the cold side or find yourself frequency sleeping at higher elevations or colder locations the Spark is a LOT warmer for only a tiny bit more weight and packed volume.
Like the Spark but Looking for less heat? Check out the Spark I
The Spark I looks the same as the Spark III, but it's designed for warm weather camping. Retailing at $300, it's way less expensive than its beefier sibling that we reviewed. The Spark I's temp rating is 46F, and Sea to Summit claims it only weighs 12.3 oz and compresses to a tiny 1.55 L. If you frequently overheat in your bag, or camp frequently in warm nighttime temps, the Spark I saves you a lot of weight and cash.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Offering the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any bag in our review, the Spark III provides a focused design that minimizes weight without compromising warmth. It shaved grams with tight (thermally efficient) dimension, super light 10D fabric, and only a 1/4 length zipper. While the Spark III wasn't quite the lightest bag in our review, it isn't far behind while offering a good deal of warmth and tiny packed size.
The Spark III is rated as a 25-degree bag. Our testing team felt even despite its impressively low weight, it was a true 25-degree bag, and on the warmer side of bags with similar temperature ratings. It features 14 ounces of 850+ fill power down that helps it achieve its 25F rating. Check out the chart below to see where the Spark III stands in the Warmth category.
The volume of 850 fill-power down stacks up comparably with other bags, such as the 30 degree Western Mountaineering Megalite, which features 13 ounces of similar 850+ fill. The Spark III is perfect for cooler weather backpacking trips, where evenings might dip down close to or below freezing, or for folks who just plain sleep on the cooler side.
At 1 pound 6 ounces, the Spark III is definitely lightweight. Despite being rated to 25F, it remains on the warmer side of all bags we tested. In fact, there are not many bags of comparable warmth that are even close to the weight of the Spark III. It achieves its best in class weight in four ways. The first way the Spark III minimizes its weight is by using a 10D UL Nylon exterior fabric treated with DWR; this makes up the backbone of the bag.
The fabric featured on the Spark III is the lightest weight nylon used on any model we tested. We found this material was exceptionally durable. It's worth noting that while sleeping bags do not take a ton of external wear and tear, you do need to be careful with sharp objects inside of the tent, or with pointy rocks if sleeping out under the stars. The Spark III uses some of the highest quality down, minimizing the amount of extra insulation needed to achieve the same warmth. The cut is one of the tightest in the review, shaving off the few additional ounces that a more spacious bag would contain. Finally, the Spark III features a 1/3 length #3 YKK zipper; both among the shortest and smallest sized zippers that we tested.
This contender is an incredibly compact bag and was extremely close in packed volume to the Marmot Phase 30, which is not as warm.
Despite packing in a fair amount of warmth, the Spark III achieves this via several of the same reasons we just mentioned. This bag is an incredibly low weight option; it's made up of a super light 10D shell fabric, has a 1/3 length smaller than average #3 YKK zipper, is made of high-quality down, and has a tighter cut than many of the other contenders.
The Marmot Phase and Western Mountaineering Megalite pack down nearly as small, but the Spark III packs down 15-20% smaller. When compared to average 20-30°F bags, the Spark is much smaller, packing down to almost a third the size compared to The North Face Cat's Meow.
Comfort, Spaciousness, and Fit
The Spark III is not very spacious; in fact, it was one of the tightest bags we tested. For those used to classic cut mummy-style bags, the Spark III feels marginally smaller than most. However, for those that struggle with tighter-cut bags, they will find the Spark's 57"/50"/35" dimensions feel like they just got into the bed and the sheets are WAY too tight. If you want a light bag, but wish it had a little more space, the Marmot Phase 30 offers slightly more space, with three inches more circumference in the shoulders (overall dimensions 60"/58"/39"). While the Phase's dimensions do not appear like they would offer much of a difference, we quickly noticed them as soon as we crawled in.
The WM MegaLite, our Editors' Choice award winner, featured far more room, with 64"/56"/39" overall dimensions. As a bonus, it's only two ounces heavier. It's worth noting that the Spark III feels a little smaller in the shoulder area than most bags; however, its leg area is where most folks noticed its smaller diameter cut. The lightweight fabric feels above average against our skin, and the Spark III was among the best feeling bags in our review.
The Spark III is excellent for trips where weight and packed size are at a premium and is a fantastic option for folks looking for a lightweight bag. Overall, the Spark III isn't a super versatile option. Its one-third length zipper doesn't allow for a ton of ventilation; this means that using it on warm summer night won't prove to be as pleasant as other options. Despite an overall tighter fit, the shoulder girth is only one inch smaller in diameter than several other non-comfort oriented bags. When using the Spark III, our broad-shouldered testers found that they could at least wear a light, or medium weight puffy, allowing this bag to be used in cooler temps down to 15-20 F.
The Spark III is a poor option for car camping or shorter trips where you might just be hanging out in the same camp for multiple nights in a row, where weight and packed size are likely to be less of an issue. It's a rad bag for all weight weenies; it offers enough warmth to make it adequate for light and fast trips, long-range backpacking trips, mountaineering, and alpine climbing, or even the occasional spring ski mountaineering trip.
Features and Design
This contender doesn't offer a lot of extra features, with its most appealing aspects being its minimal weight and fantastic packed size (while still offering surprisingly solid warmth). While it features the thinnest shell fabric in our review (10D), it did not "leak" more down than other bags in our tests. Even after a few weeks of use, it leaked less feathery insulation than other bags using thicker nylon shells.
We loved that it came with a proper compression sack that was easily the most helpful stuff sack included with any sleeping bag we reviewed. It also fits perfectly into the compression sack, allowing the user to maximize the compressibility of the Spark III without having to throw down another $30 on a lightweight aftermarket compression sack.
This bag is best for any trip where weight and packed size are the most important factors. During the testing phase of our sleeping bag review, the Spark became our go-to for summer alpine climbs. We even brought it with us on a mid-spring ski mountaineering traverse in Washington's North Cascades. The Spark III would be a killer option for any long-distance or thru-hiking adventure. It would also be a great bag for folks who are camping in a colder climate or for those that desire a sleeping bag that offers more warmth.
At $419, the Sea to Summit Spark III is one of the most expensive sleeping bags in our review. Despite its steep price, it offers several advantages with its minimal packed volume and exceptionally low weight. Few, if any, options on the market can match it for its weight.
If you're on the hunt for a bag that is lightweight and packs down to an impressive size, look no further. This high performer excels across the board in all metrics and is an excellent model to bring along when going fast and light. While the Spark III does sport one of the highest price tags in our review, it does offer exceptional performance, no matter the adventure.
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