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Photo credit: Fiona Russell.

PHD Minimus Down Sleeping Bag review

22-Dec-15

Last updated: 16-Aug-18

By Fiona Outdoors

If you are looking for a super lightweight sleeping bag that is ideal for use in the warmer months, when temperatures dip no more than 5ºC, the PHD Minimus range could be for you.

In terms of a down sleeping bag it’s hard to beat the sub-500g weight yet the warmth is still very good. The bag packs into a super small nag to easily fit inside a rucksack.

Obviously, the type of bag you buy will depend on when and where you will be using it. Most sleeping bags are rated according to their ability to keep the average person warm in a particular air temperature range. If you get cold easily, take this into account when choosing the bag.

Because I get cold easily, it was recommended that I use the Minimus sleeping bag in temperatures no less than 10ºC so it’s definitely one to keep in my Scottish summer outdoors cupboard.

PHD make a huge range of sleeping bags and in ready-made and customised styles. You can tell them what you need, including details such as “I get really cold feet” or “I am 6ft 6in” and they will tell you the ideal off-the-peg bag or how they can create a bag to suit you.

The PHD Minim range is a “minimalist design that cuts weight, but not warmth”.

PHD Minimus Down Sleeping Bag - Features

  • 5°C (41°F)
  • 465g (16oz)
  • 900 fillpower European Goose Down
  • Lightweight Drishell outer fabric that is water resistant
  • Superlight MX inner fabric
  • Box-wall construction for maximum loft
  • Hood draws up close around head
  • No zip to keep weight down
  • Packed size: 13 cm x 21cm
  • £233 or £258 with water-resistant Drishell fabric
  • See PHD

Photo credit: Fiona Russell.

Pros: What’s good about PHD Minimus Down Sleeping Bag

This is a very lightweight bag. It is so light that I worried it might float away when opened up! It also packs into a small stuff bag and would fit into a neat corner of a small running rucksack.

Yet, when you get inside the down is immediately warming. It’s quite incredible how warm the bag feels for its weight.

PHD recommended that I use the bag in temperatures 5ºC above what is advised on the label because I do get chilly. I took this advice on board when testing it.

The bag is a no-frills design. It is plain and simple with no extra weight created by a zip or other features. There is a basic drawstring to allow you to pull the hood around your head.

PHD have focused very hard on making a bag that is light and warm and I think they have down a very good job. A 900 Goose down fill makes the bag warm enough for warmer season use in the UK and the design is basic but very functional. Read about PHD down.

I also liked what I read about PHD. Their website states: “We make everything, start to finish, in our own factory in the UK. Local people using traditional skills. It's not as cheap or as efficient as large-scale production in the Far East or Eastern Europe. But we feel there's a value in preserving and using the very real skill base which still remains in UK.”

I usually wear a few layers when sleeping in a bag. I wore walking socks, running tights, a long-sleeved baselayer top and started off with a beanie hat. In the end, I found the hood was warm enough over my head and removed the hat. The hood has a drawstring and toggle so you can draw it close around your head.

I’d asked for a width of bag that would give me some wriggle room. I don’t like to feel hemmed in by a bag and I usually want to move around inside the bag to turn over at night otherwise I end up with sore hips. I also like room to easily fit in my arms and shoulders and I tend to sleep curled up.

I know that by requesting extra width I am adding a small amount of weight to the bag but I prefer a bit of extra comfort for an extra few grams. PHD sent me a “standard width” for wriggle room because I am a slim female.

Getting into the bag felt really good right from the outset. The bag is light but the down is nicely plump and airy and quickly warms you up. It is quite amazing how warm you become in such a light bag.

The outer fabric, called Drishell, feels similar to parachute material and so it is silky but strong. It is fully down proof (to prevent down leakage) yet also light and flexible enough to allow the down to fully loft up for maximum warmth.

The version that I have is water-resistant (extra £25). This worked a treat when sleeping in a tent that suffered condensation due to there being two of us breathing all night. Despite damp inside the tent my bag stayed warm.

The overnight temperature when testing this bag never dropped below 5ºC. I stayed warm most of the night although, on one occasion. I awoke at 2am feeling a little chilly. I could hear the wind howling around the tent so perhaps the temperature had dropped a bit lower or I felt cold simply listening to the wind outside. On this occasion I tucked my whippet dog closer into my body and that did the trick.

I slept on one of the new style of Therm-a-Rest self-inflating mattresses. I used spare clothing stuffed into the sleeping bag’s stuff bag as a pillow.

When not in use, the bag stuffs down to a very small and lightweight size.

Cons: What’s not so good about PHD Minimus Down Sleeping Bag

On balance, I think I prefer a zip. Even just a short chest height zip would help to give a bit more room when getting in and out of the bag. Thankfully, I had a slightly wider bag than a completely fitted one so I managed to wriggle in and out of it but you do need a bit of space for moving around when doing this.

This bag is only useful for me on warmer spring or summer nights so that restricts its year-round use but I would imagine that most people will end up with a summer and winter sleeping bag if they plan to race or enjoy adventures throughout the year.

This bag costs £258 with the water-resistant Drishell, which is a fairly big outlay but the quality is very good and I like that it’s UK-made.

I might be tempted to pay a bit more for a bag that will keep me warm at temperatures down to 0ºC but that is personal preference because I do get chilly quite easily.

Conclusion

PHD make very good quality bags. They have created a huge range to suit all sizes and needs. The Minimus is amazingly lightweight yet warm enough for most people in summer or even spring if temperatures do not drop too far.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 7/10
Performance 10/10
Value 9/10
Total 8.75/10

 

Other sleeping bags you may want to consider:

PHD Minim 400 K sleeping bag
Mountain Hardwear Phantom
Alpkit PipeDream 400 down sleeping bag
Rab Neutrino 400

About the writer: Fiona is a keen runner, preferring off-road and hilly to flat and road. She lives in Scotland where the weather is fickle so needs to be prepared for all conditions.

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