The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20 is our Editors' Choice as the Best Ultralight Mummy Bag because it features a super warm and comfortable design combined with an excellent set of features. This bag is filled with a whopping 18 ounces of 900 fill-power down, ensuring that you are surrounded by heat-trapping loft. Not only that, but the down used is Q.Shield treated, meaning it doesn't absorb water and lose its warmth retaining capabilities like traditional down, an attribute that will allow you to bring this bag with you no matter what climate you are traveling through. As part of their top-of-the-line Ghost Whisperer series, this bag uses the same Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop fabric and attention to detail found in the extremely popular and award-winning, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded down jacket, a recipe for success! If you're an ultralighter who wants a mummy bag for its warmer design, this should be your top choice.This mummy bag is for folks staying light while heading into cold environments and high elevations, and also can afford the price tag. If you don't need the extra warmth and could use the money saved, check out our Editors' Choice-winning quilt, the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL. It'll save you on overall pack weight with an incredible set of features for warm nights in the backcountry.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20 Review
Cons: Expensive, underneath side of bag uses sewn through construction, weight, fragile
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
If it wasn't for the relatively low score we gave this bag for weight, it would have probably been the top overall scorer in this review. Of course, those few extra ounces come with a direct benefit to warmth, which is well worth it if you want a bag that can handle temperatures below those found only in summer. While many people prefer the versatility and lack of weight that comes with choosing a quilt for ultralight missions, we have found that when temperatures and weather get tough, being able to completely enclose oneself in a mummy style bag is worth the extra constriction and slight bump up in baseline pack weight. Simply put, this is a lightweight bag for those gnarlier missions to colder, wetter places than an average summertime fastpack.
Mountain Hardwear claims that this bag is perfect for alpine climbing, and we would agree as long as you are using it in conjunction with an insulated sleeping pad, and not for exposed bivies on route. The Feathered Friends Vireo UL is probably a better choice if you are hauling kit up the wall, as it's lighter and works better in conjunction with your belay jacket (the Ghost Whisperer 20 is a little tight with a jacket on). Staying tied in while sleeping can also be an issue with this bag, as the cord must run out through the face opening, in contrast to the two-way zipper that easily facilitates sleeping while tied in found on the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30. We would instead recommend the Ghost Whisperer 20 as a backpacking or trekking bag for higher altitudes, colder climates, and shoulder seasons.
We tested the regular length Ghost Whisperer 20, but it also comes in size long, which adds $30, less than one ounce of weight, and six inches of length. For those who like the design but want an even lighter bag for warmer temperatures, check out the Ghost Whisperer 40, which weighs just over 1 lb. for a regular size, and costs nearly $200 less.
The Ghost Whisperer 20 is EN rated with a comfort rating of 32F and a limit rating of 20F. It is filled with 18 ounces of 900 fill-power Q.Shield treated down, the most down filling we have seen in an ultralight sleeping bag. Its not surprising, then, that we awarded it the highest rating of any bag for warmth.
What was surprising to us is the way that the down is distributed throughout the bag. On the top side, the down is held in place using box baffle construction — the warmest and highest quality type of baffle sewing for this purpose. However, on the underside of the bag, we found less down held in place by sewn through baffles, which do not distribute the down as evenly and are known for being less warm due to the gaps that form around the seams. It seems that Mountain Hardwear took a page out of the down-quilt philosophy that insulation on the underside is wasted weight, and so used much less of it there. The implications are that in order to stay optimally warm in this bag, especially in colder conditions, you will need to consider the insulating properties and R-value of your sleeping pad, much like you would if you were sleeping in a quilt such as the Katabatic Gear Palisade 30. This is another reason that we don't recommend this bag as highly as the Feathered Friends Vireo UL for exposed bivies on alpine climbs, because it doesn't have a uniform insulation map like that bag does.
Other features that contribute positively to the warmth of the Ghost Whisperer 20 are a deep and heavily insulated hood that easily fit over the entire head, an adequate zipper baffle that helped to keep out drafts, and a snug profile that minimizes the amount of space within the bag that must be kept warm. While the temperature ratings were similar to the Zpacks Classic and the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20, the fact that it was a fully enclosed, hooded mummy gave it the nod in functional warmth.
Our regular length bag weighed in at 26.5 ounces, about an ounce lighter than the stated weight on the manufacturer's website. There is no doubt this is heavy to be considered "ultralight", as the Sea to Summit Spark I, the lightest bag in the review, weighed less than half as much. Even a comparable bag in terms of warmth, the Zpacks Classic, is six ounces lighter.
That said, we feel that if the warmth provided by the extra weight of this bag is needed, then clearly it is worth it. We also found it interesting that minus the 18 ounces of down fill, this whole sleeping bag is made of only 8.5 ounces of material, a testament to the quality of the Whisperer Ripstop fabric used. We were also impressed that it comes with a very small, highly compressible compression stuff sack that ensures it will be one of the smaller items in your pack when you set off.
We found this to be a very comfortable sleeping bag. While hooded mummy bags are often knocked for feeling claustrophobic once fully zipped up, this one allowed us plenty of room to lie however we wanted. The size regular bag was more than long enough for our 5'11"+ head tester, which couldn't be said about a couple of the regular sized bags that we tested.
The little details found on this bag also added to its comfort level. Unlike the hood found on the Western Mountaineering HighLite, this one was plenty big to easily wrap over our entire head, covering it all the way down the forehead without the need to tighten the drawcord. Speaking of which, there is one next to the head that lives on the outside of the bag, so the cord never dangles in your face when sleeping. Nothing to complain about here.
For a hooded mummy bag, this one is pretty darn versatile. The use of Q.Shield treated down throughout the bag, combined with an effective DWR coating applied to the outside material, means that you can bring it along on missions to rainy, wet places, and not automatically end up sleeping in a sopping pile of feathers. Additionally, the fact that it is very warm and packs down super small means that it is a great choice for shoulder seasons, high altitude, or colder missions that 40 degree UL sleeping bags simply don't handle as well.
On the other hand, it is a mummy bag with only a ½ length side zipper, making it difficult to ventilate on hot nights. Compared to the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL, which optimally allows for use as a blanket, a foot enclosed quilt, or a hoodless mummy, there is less temperature range that one is likely to feel optimally comfortable in this bag.
Most of the features of this awesome sleeping bag, including its deep hood, treated down insulation and included compression stuff sack, have already been positively documented. However, it has one more unique feature that we have never seen before that is worth a look.
The snag resistant zipper glows in the dark (so it is easier to find without your headlamp) and is ridiculously easy to thread and pull without getting caught on the fragile liner material, as often happens with sleeping bag zippers. Unfortunately, it also loves to come apart at the base when you fully unzip it, so it's a good thing it's really easy to thread together!
The Ghost Whisperer 20 is the ideal sleeping bag for thru-hikers, backpackers, or climbers who want the warmth and security of a fully enclosed mummy bag that is simply lighter than what they are used to. It is also a great choice for those who sleep cold and are thus scared away from quilts. Due to the fragile nature of the very light fabrics used, we recommend saving this bag for those special trips when it is really needed, and not using it on regular old car camping weekends where it might get ripped.
This bag retails for a whopping $570-$600, depending on the length that you need. This is a lot of money for a three season sleeping bag, and is far more expensive than virtually every other lightweight bag we tested. However, you cannot argue with the quality of construction or materials used. While this is a great sleeping bag, compared to the others in this review, it is hard for us to call it a good value unless found at a steep discount. The budget-conscious should look elsewhere.
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20 is a very high quality, and very expensive, lightweight sleeping bag. It pairs top of the line fabric with 900 fill-power down that is hydrophobically treated to resist absorbing water. It also offers superior warmth and comfort, making it our favorite hooded mummy ultralight sleeping bag.
— Andy Wellman
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