Marmot Phase 30 Review
Cons: More suitable for 40F temps than 30, no neck baffle, zipper catches on fabric easily
Our Analysis and Test Results
As we have already mentioned, we chose to award this bag our Top Pick because of its water-repelling capabilities. Many other bags also used treated down in their construction, but we chose to recognize the Phase 30 because it scored higher in our overall ratings.
Perhaps a little disclaimer is in order. While we recognized this bag for its water resistance, we don't want to suggest that this bag is waterproof. In our testing, we found that the Pertex fabric caused condensation to bead up on the surface, but if it was rubbed too much, some would absorb into the face fabric. However, we also found that the capillary wicking action caused it to dry literally within about 30 seconds of airing in the sun in the morning. It was not possible to completely test the claims Marmot has made about their Down Defender treatment, but on an especially dewy night with heavy condensation inside our tent, we suffered from no loss of loft. In short, while the technology in this bag is noteworthy and valuable, the user should still take all precautions to keep their equipment dry for greatest safety.
We have to admit we are a bit bothered by the fact that the Marmot Phase 30 did not exactly live up to its stated temperature rating. Once again, the EN tested comfort rating for this bag was 42F, and the limit rating was 33F, so we don't know where the number "30" is coming from. Regardless, we tested this bag during October nights that went down to about 32F, or freezing, and were a bit chilly, even when wearing long underwear as well. We conclude that it is better to think of this bag as a 40F bag.
What we liked was that it was a full zip hooded mummy. The zipper has an effective draft tube, and the hood is broad and covers the entire head, leaving only a small hole for the face. These features add to the warmth and make it a decent choice for three-season use, even if it is a bit on the thin side. For those who wish to use this bag during colder nights than we did, laying clothing inside will be a must.
On our independent scale, our regular sized bag registered 18.3 ounces, with another 0.9 ounces for the included stuff sack. This was a bit heavier than advertised on Marmot's website, but still light enough for long-distance adventures. We also thought this bag stuffed down pretty small in the included sack, so it won't take up extra room in your pack, while also providing a hood and full enclosure.
For testing, we ordered a regular size Phase 30 (it also comes in long), and while it wasn't stated anywhere on Marmot's website, this bag is designed for people up to 6'0" tall. Our head tester is 5'11", and thought that this bag was of perfectly adequate length. It also features an anatomically constructed foot box, giving the feet the room they need to be natural while enclosed. We certainly enjoyed this feature but found the amount of space in the legs and lower torso to be a bit tight, especially when wearing extra clothes.
Other features contributed positively to this bag's level of comfort. The Pertex 10d fabric used for both the face and inside liner is soft and slippery to the touch, and we found it to be very comfortable for sleeping in, with little friction between the liner and the clothes we were wearing. We also thought that the hood fits well, was very cozy, and we were happy that the drawcord easily rested outside of the bag, so it didn't hit us in the face as we slept.
There is no doubt that versatility is the Phase 30's strongest suit, although it didn't register as high as some of the quilts that we tested. While it wasn't the warmest bag available, the fact that it can be fully enclosed and zipped, with a warm hood, made it a good choice for stretching your thru-hike deep into autumn. Likewise, the fact that it offers nearly a full zip meant that it was far easier to ventilate than nearly any other ultra-light mummy bag.
What set it apart was the reason that we awarded it our Top Pick, the fact that it features both a superior water-resistant Pertex Quantum nylon face and liner fabric, and combines it with treated down on the inside.
Although you must still be careful to keep it as dry as possible, we think this bag makes a decent choice for those tackling the PCT, who might be concerned about the rain they will inevitably encounter once they hit Oregon and Washington, or the AT, who could encounter deluges almost anywhere. There is no doubt this is a bag suitable for epic thru-hikes.
The Phase 30 has an interesting combination of unique features that we didn't find on any other ultra-light bag, combined with some widespread features that didn't perform as well as we would have liked. Its unique offerings included a small internal pocket with a zipper just big enough for a small smartphone (our older iPhone 5 barely fit). Its position is on the side of the chest, so you don't risk rolling over and smashing whatever you put in there. We thought it was nice for a cell phone to keep the battery alive on cold nights, but wouldn't think of using it for our glasses, just in case we did roll over. It also has a glow-in-the-dark pull tab on the zipper so you can quickly find it once the headlamp has been shut off, but was also dim enough so as not to be distracting from our zzz's.
While these features are nice, we would have liked to see the standard features perform a bit better. In particular, we found that the zipper, which is a tiny gauge to save weight, has the habit of catching on fabric two or three times per night. While there is a more durable zipper guard fabric in place, it didn't work as well as we would have liked. We were also missing a neck baffle, although we were able to tighten up the facial opening till it was a tiny hole, and barely allowed in any air.
The price puts in on the higher side of average. Since it scores pretty comparable to these bags in our overall rankings and was worthy of recognition as a Top Pick, we think this presents a pretty good value.
The Marmot Phase 30 offers all the great advantages of an ultra-light sleeping bag, such as super lightweight and great packability, while also suffering from their common drawbacks — not super warm, fairly expensive. We love its versatility and think it is a great choice for those who want an ultralight mummy bag rather than a quilt, but don't want to pay the price in ounces.
— Andy Wellman