The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Sea to Summit Spark SPII 28 Review

An ultralight bag with a long list of problems.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $350 List | $348.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Ultralight, high-quality goose down, packs down extremely small
Cons:  Terrible zipper, uncomfortably narrow, difficult to compress, noisy fabric
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 16, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 16
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Packed Size - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 4
  • Features & Design - 10% 3

Our Verdict

There is a lot to like about the Sea to Summit Spark SPII 28—its 850+ fill power goose down, a total weight barely over a pound, and an absolutely miniscule packed volume. There is also plenty to dislike about the Spark II. Our testers particularly detest its narrow dimensions and a zipper that constantly snags. The latter is a huge concern because this zipper is sewn into the bag in a way that doesn't allow you to restart it if the teeth get misaligned. Snag this zipper badly in the backcountry, and you'll be sleeping with an open sleeping bag until you can get it to a tailor to fix. In our view, this durability issue crosses the line between ultralight and ultra-fragile. We, therefore, only recommend the Spark II to those who prioritize weight savings above all else.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $348.95 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$470.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$429.00 at Feathered Friends$389.00 at Feathered Friends$319.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
65
100
0
80
100
0
79
100
0
76
100
0
71
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Ultralight, high-quality goose down, packs down extremely smallSpacious dimensions, super comfortable, great loft, lightweight, made in the USASuper lightweight, incredible loft, snag-proof zipper, cozy hoodBest-in-class zipper, best-in-class hood, awesome loft, great warmth-to-weight ratioLightweight, small packed size, quality down, nice zipper, cozy fabric
Cons Terrible zipper, uncomfortably narrow, difficult to compress, noisy fabricExpensive, awkward hood, good but not great zipperUncomfortably narrow dimensions, bare-bones design, noisy fabricNarrow leg dimensions, no draft collar, heavier and bulkier than some 3-season optionsExpensive, moderate warmth
Bottom Line An ultralight bag with a long list of problems.The only ultra-premium bag to combine low weight, good packability, and luxurious comfort.Our favorite when ounces matter, this is a full-size mummy bag that's both warm and ultralight.Our favorite zipper and hood in a bag that's also exceptionally warm and lofty.A awesome bag at a fair price.
Rating Categories Sea to Summit Spark SPII 28 MegaLite Hummingbird UL 30 Swallow 20 YF REI Co-op Magma 30
Warmth (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
5
Weight (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
Comfort (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Packed Size (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Versatility (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
Features & Design (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs Sea to Summit... MegaLite Hummingbird UL 30 Swallow 20 YF REI Co-op Magma 30
Insulation 850+ FP Down 850+ FP Down 950+ FP Down 900+ FP Down 850 FP Down
Compressed Volume (L) 6.6 L 7.2 L 7.3 L 8.5 L 6.7 L
Measured Bag Weight (Size Long) 1.21 lbs 1.62 lbs 1.45 lbs 1.94 lbs 1.39 lbs
Compression/Stuff Sack Weight (oz) 1.2 oz 1.6 oz 0.8 oz 1.0 oz 0.4 oz
Manufacturer claimed weight of size Regular (lbs) 1.1 lbs 1.5 lbs 1.33 lbs 1.79 lbs 1.24 lbs
Hydrophobic down Yes No No No Yes
Manufacturer Temp Rating (F) 28 30 30 20 30
EN Temp Rating (Lower Limit) 28 Not rated Not rated Not rated 30
Fill Weight (oz) 12 oz 13 oz 12 oz 17.5 oz 9.7 oz
Shell material Ripstop nylon (10D) Extremelite (12D) Pertex Endurance (10D) Pertex YFuse (20D) Pertex ripstop nylon (15D)
Neck Baffle Yes No No No Yes
Small Organization Pocket No No No No No
Zipper Half-length / Side Full-length / Side Full-length / Side Full-length / Side 3/4-length / Side
Shoulder Girth (in) 59 64 58 60 63
Hip Girth (in) 51 Unknown 52 56 57
Foot Girth (in) Unavailable 39 38 38 Unavailable
Compression or stuff sack included? Compression Stuff Stuff Stuff Stuff

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


On paper  the Sea to Summit Spark II seems like an impressive sleeping bag. In the field  however  our testers were not particularly impressed.
On paper, the Sea to Summit Spark II seems like an impressive sleeping bag. In the field, however, our testers were not particularly impressed.

Warmth


The Spark II is stuffed with 12 ounces of 850+ fill power goose down. This is a whole lot of down for a bag that weighs 19 ounces total. The short 1/3-length zipper limits the possibility for heat to escape. Despite these indicators, we weren't particularly impressed with this bag's warmth. It came close to living up to its 28°F temperature rating, but our testers felt warmer in several other comparable bags that chose to include a neck baffle.

The shell fabric is great at momentarily beading water. But over the course of a full night  it didn't seem any better at resisting condensation than other down sleeping bags.
The shell fabric is great at momentarily beading water. But over the course of a full night, it didn't seem any better at resisting condensation than other down sleeping bags.

Weight


Where the Spark II really shines is in the weight department. At just 1.21 pounds for a size long, it is among the lightest of the 3-season sleeping bags that we've tested. This will surely be appreciated by anyone in the ultralight crowd that prefers a full mummy hood. Considering its respectable warmth, this also means that the Spark II has an awesome warmth-to-weight ratio.

Every tester who tried the Spark II complained about the hood drawstring and zipper pull tab scratching there face.
Every tester who tried the Spark II complained about the hood drawstring and zipper pull tab scratching there face.

Comfort


In any sleeping bag design, there will inevitably a balance of trade-offs. And with this bag, the Sea to Summit product designers seem to have traded away comfort. Our testers found its meager interior dimensions to be uncomfortably constrictive, particularly for the lower legs and feet. The fabric also has an unusual coating that makes it noisier than most bags we've tried. If comfort or roominess is paramount, we suggest selecting something with a few more inches in girth.

If you can actually get this bag inside its tiny compression sack  it will compress down exceptionally small.
If you can actually get this bag inside its tiny compression sack, it will compress down exceptionally small.

Packed Size


We were able to compress this bag down as small as any backpacking sleeping bag we tried. We learned this using the same third-party compression sack that we used in all our tests, but the Spark II comes with its own lightweight sack that's capable of full compression. We disliked this sack, however, because it is sized so small that it is difficult to cram the sleeping bag all the way inside. This difficulty is worsened because the shell fabric 's seems to trap air inside in a way that other bags didn't. Our testers were routinely frustrated, waiting for air to escape so that they could finally close this undersized sack.

We tested a size long Sea to Summit Spark II  shown here in the foreground. Our testers  however  noticed that it is a couple inches shorter than other identically sized bags.
We tested a size long Sea to Summit Spark II, shown here in the foreground. Our testers, however, noticed that it is a couple inches shorter than other identically sized bags.

Versatility


If you hope to use the Spark II across a wide range of temperatures, then you should also plan to be uncomfortable. Its 1/3-length zipper hardly provides the means to vent excess heat on warm nights. At the same time, the lack of a draft collar ensures that precious heat will escape out the hood during cold conditions. Combine these two issues and prepare to sweat or shiver if overnight lows are anywhere outside the narrow range of 40 to 55°F.

One unusual problem with the Spark II is that the shell fabric traps air. This made stuffing it into its tiny compression sack a frustrating chore.
One unusual problem with the Spark II is that the shell fabric traps air. This made stuffing it into its tiny compression sack a frustrating chore.

Features and Design


Here at OutdoorGearLab, we are usually in full support of ultralight designs, but in the case of the Spark II it seems that just too much has been sacrificed for the sake of trimming ounces. We particularly dislike the small zipper (YKK #3) that was constantly snagging. The end of this zipper is inexplicably sewn directly into the bag, which means that if it snags badly, there is no way to back it down and get it restarted.

For an expensive sleeping bag, the Spark II also comes with a seemingly cheap drawstring. This drawstring, along with the zipper pull tab, is scratchy and prone to rubbing your face in a way that disturbed the sleep of several testers.

Considering all of the Spark II's faults  we can't recommend for anyone that's not obsessed with saving weight.
Considering all of the Spark II's faults, we can't recommend for anyone that's not obsessed with saving weight.

Value


To get your hands on this ultralight bag, you have to lay down a hefty pile of money. This is understandable considering the premium 850+ fill power down it contains. The overall performance of the bag, however, does not live up to this price tag in our opinion. For this reason, we don't believe it's an especially good value.

Conclusion


It can be tempting to select a sleeping bag based on the numbers. The Spark II is warm down to 28°F and weighs just 18 ounces, where do I get one?!? In the performance areas that are harder to measure, however, such as comfort, versatility, and design, this bag simply doesn't excel. For this reason, we suggest weight-conscious shoppers consider some of the other backpacking sleeping bags that are still lightweight but don't sacrificing performance in other areas.


Jack Cramer