Tuesday, 22 June 2010

PHD Minim Ultra

Although I have a couple of light sleeping bag options in the form of a Mountain Equipment Xero 250 at 640g and an Alpkit PD200 Piéd d Elephant at 480g I was still looking for a lighter option. The PD200 is the lightest option if I use an insulated jacket which I'd be carrying anyway but my lightest down jacket is a Mountain Equipment Xero at 390g while my lightest piece of down clothing is a PHD Ultra Down vest at 150g which I bought specifically for summer use. Unfortunately the down vest doesn't work well with the PD200 as there's no arm insulation. I tried to sell the down vest to help fund either a Mont-Bell UL Down Inner jacket or PHD Ultra Pullover but didn't manage to sell it. It was while looking for my own advertisement on the OM classified section that I came across a PDH Ultra Minim sleeping bag for sale.

I'd looked at the Ultra Minim but thought that the asking price of £189 was too much so had dismissed it but this one was for sale at £135 shipping included. The suggested weight is 345g and I felt that it would work fine with the down vest so I ended up buying it.

It was a standard length bag and has no shoulder baffle or zip which helps keep the weight to a minimum. It came with a small stuff sack and large mesh storage bag as originally supplied and is really compact and light although mine actually weighs 365g. Overall it's lighter at 514g when combined with the vest than the ME Xero 250 at 640g and the PD200/Xero jacket combination at 870g

The suggested temperature rating is +8°C and I tried it out for the 1st time with my Phreeranger Flysheet set up in the garden. I also used the Ti Goat Ptarmigan bivvy that I normally use with the single skin set-up and had the Ultra down vest in reserve. I choose to wear a full Sub Zero F1 baselayer and was initially fine but as the temperature dropped to +4°C outside my top side felt cold although I was otherwise fine lying on an 8mm CCF mat. I added the down vest and that resulted in sufficient insulation to allow me to get back to sleep.

Since then I've used it again with the Phreeranger set up as a 2 skin tent, with the same CCF mat but with only the Sub Zero F1 long sleeve top and was generally fine although again I addded the down vest.

The verdict? well it does what it's supposed to do but I think it would work better as a top bag as the 75g (I'm assuming total fill is 150g) of down on the base isn't doing much and would be better added to the top as that's been the only place I've felt cold. I think the baffles are closed along the side seam which prevents you from shifting the down to the top but as I sleep on my side I think I'll try to shake the down to one side next time to see if that makes a difference. In the end I don't really mind having to wear the down vest from time to time as I'd be carrying it anyway. Combined with the CCF mat and down vest the total weight of my sleeping system is 709g but that includes extra insulation to wear around camp in the evenings, of course it's strictly a summer option.

At the price I paid I'm happy with it but for me anyway it's too expensive at full price for what is really a pretty specialist piece of gear, that said I haven't seen anything lighter costing less.


Thanks to Andy (see comments) mentioning that the Minim Ultra might have open ended baffles I e-mailed PHD who informed me that the baffles are open at one end to allow down to be shifted from bottom to top (or vice versa). Thats useful to know and I'll definately give it a try next time.


  1. Check the baffles again. I thought they were closed on my PHD Minimus but it turned out that they were open, so maybe the same on the Minim. After enough shaking my Minimus is pretty much a top bag now.

  2. I have to agree with your findings Mac. I can't help but feel that you're better off with a quilt than one of these ultralight bags. I have a Mountain Equipment Xero 150 that weighs in at 450g but as you point out the down on the bottom is wasted (plus the fact that quilts are just so much more comfortable to sleep under). The argument that sleeping bags cut down on convective heat loss is voided by the use of bivy bags that many of us are using under tarps/single-skin shelters.

  3. Andy I'll have another look at mine then, maybe the baffles are open but I'll e-mail PHD anyway.

    Joe I think you're right about quilts although I've never tried one, I did look at the Nunatak Arc Specialist and Arc Ghost but they're very expensive.

    By the way Joe, I'm having trouble accessing your blog, I keep getting another site (go daddy dot com)