The Best Lightweight Sleeping Bag for Backpacking and Traveling

As I stated in my last post, I am constantly looking for the perfect travel gear that is lightweight and compact and I wanted these same qualities in a sleeping bag.

I first ran into this situation of needing a compact sleeping bag when I was planning for a backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon.  At first I thought to myself, “it’s the desert what do I need a sleeping bag for?  I’ll just get hot and it will be more unnecessary weight to lug around in my backpack.  A thin sleeping bag liner will be good enough to fit my needs.”  While getting closer to my trip, a friend suggested that I should bring a sleeping bag just in case, because the weather could be unpredictable and it is better to have one instead of nothing at all.  At the time, the only sleeping bag I had was a huge heavy duty sleeping bag and there was no way I planned to carry that thing around with me for 5 days and 50 plus miles.  So I started looking for a lightweight, compact sleeping bag that would not take up too much space in my backpack and wouldn’t weigh me down.  After shopping around a little bit and comparing specs I found the best sleeping bag for backpacking that would again compensate all my needs.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32Not only has it kept me warm while sleeping under the stars, it has been the best sleeping bag that I ever owned.  It’s light, due to the insulation of Down, it packs to an incredible 6in x10in and barely takes up any room in my suitcase or backpack.  I can literally fit both my sleeping bag and my sleeping pad into my carry-on suitcase and still have room left over.  I like how the Nylon material feels soft on your skin and never gives me an itchy feeling like some sleeping bags do.  I also like the fact that it can be washed in a washing machine and thrown into the dryer under special instructions, whenever it needs to be cleaned.  Although the bag can be more on the expensive side, I can honestly say that I have never been happier with investing in this sleeping bag and would recommend it to anyone who might be interested.

Can it be Used Year Round?

Yes, but only if you are living in a usually warmer climate during the winter.  The bag was only designed for 3 seasons and will not keep you warm if you are using it in the winter’s colder climates.  The temperature rating on the sleeping bag is only 28o F and if you don’t combine it with a sleeping bag liner, it will not keep you warm and will make for one miserable night of ice sickle toes.  Originally from Colorado, we would go camping all the time in the Rocky Mountains and even in the middle of the summer you would wake up to frost on the ground depending on which elevation you were at.  I always used a liner inside my sleeping bag to give me an extra 10o just to be safe, but any other time I’ve used it, I kept quite toasty during the night and had no problems at all.  If you’re one of the people that like to go camping during the winter, even with a liner, you will freeze and this is probably not the bag for you.  However, Mountain Hardwear does offer a down series sleeping bag rated at 0 Degrees, which has gotten many great reviews as well.  If this sounds like more of what you need out of a sleeping bag, I would recommend checking this one out.

Pros:

  • Compact and LightMountain Hardwear Phantom 32
  • Easy to pack in the Stuff Sack provided
  • 800 Down Fill
  • Machine Washable

Cons:

  • Only 3 season and rated at 28o F
  • Zipper can catch
  • Offered only in one color
  • Price

Phantom 32 Vs. Phantom Spark 28

Looking around online to see how much the Phantom 32 is selling for these days, I realized that retailers are no longer carrying this item and Mountain Hardwear has replaced it with the Phantom Spark 28.  After comparing the two items, I realized the bags are almost exactly the same and the only things I found different were the colors of the bags and everything labeled in red within the chart below.

Specifications Phantom Spark 28 Phantom 32
Weight 1 lb 6 oz / 629 g 1 lb. 6 oz. / 629 g.
Best Use Backpacking Backpacking
Sleeping Bag Shape Mummy Mummy
Insulation Type Q.Shield® DOWN 800-Fill Q.Shield® DOWN 800-Fill
Max User Height 6 ft 0 in (Regular), 6 ft 6 in (Long) 6 ft 0 in (Regular), 6 ft 6 in (Long)
Bag Loft 4 in / 10 cm 4 in / 10 cm
Bag Stuff Size  6 in x 10 in / 15 cm x 25 cm  6 in x 10 in / 15 cm x 25 cm
Shoulder Girth 59 in / 150 cm  59 in / 150 cm
Inside Length Reg. 72 in / 183 cm  78 in / 198 cm
Hip Girth 53 in / 135 cm 53 in / 135 cm
Foot Girth 38 in / 97 cm 38 in / 97 cm
Fill Weight 10.1 oz / 285 g 10.1 oz / 285 g
Insulation Type 800+ Down Insulation 800+ Down Insulation
Lining Material 10D Lightweight Filament Weave 10D Leger Filament Weave
Packed Size 6 in x 10 in / 15 cm x 25 cm 6 in x 10 in / 15 cm x 25 cm
EN Rating T-LIMIT: 28 F / -2C T-LIMIT: 28 F / -2C
EN Rating: T-COMFORT 36 F / 2 C 37 F / 3C
Zipper #5 #3
Bag Fill Weight 10 oz. / 285 g. 10 oz. / 285 g.

The new Phantom Spark 28 would be the ideal decision to go with because it’s just like the Phantom 32 with an upgrade.

Mountain Hardwear Down Sleeping Bags

Although I focused particularly on one of the lightest sleeping bag that Mountain Hardwear offers, they actually supply a wide range of different sleeping bags covering a wide range of different specifications.  Click on the banner below for further details.


Keep in mind that the Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags can get a little pricey, but you have to ask yourself a few questions before making any purchase.  Are you looking for a sleeping bag that you only plan on using occasionally?  Or are you an active adventurer or mountaineer and don’t want something weighing you down?  After you answer these two questions, you will have a better understanding on how to get the most out of a new sleeping bag.


If it weren’t for my friend planting the little seed of needing a sleeping bag, I would’ve never stumbled upon this amazing find.  I was extremely happy that I did because the first night of camping before starting our journey into the Grand Canyon, it snowed and I would have frozen to death in the night without a sleeping bag.  It just goes to show that we should always prepare for the unexpected.

If you have any questions or wanted to share a comment, please leave one below.


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase from the website, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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