While there are many sleeping bags that claim to be the lightest, the PHD Minimus is one with a decent claim to that crown. At least as the lightest practical summer bag in UK conditions.
How light can a sleeping bag go? Well, it’s got to be a balance between weight and insulation. In theory, you could just go for a pertex bag and claim it’s the lightest in the world, so it’s really a moot point. It depends what kind of insulation you expect from a summer bag. The Yeti Passion One claims to be the world’s lightest sleeping bag at 265g, but as it has a comfort rating of 15°C (and a limit of 12°C) doesn’t lend itself to be a practical option for typical UK conditions (the Yeti Passion Three seems to be about the equivalent of the Minimus, but twice the price).
I think 5°C is about right for typical summer use, considering that I’d like to use this from late spring and into early autumn. Even then, the temperature on my Knoydart trip was borderline and I took a PHD Combo bag instead (we’ll be reviewing that soon). However, PHD claim that the bag has been tested to be as efficient as some bags rated to 0°C so you may find the bag to be more versatile still.
The lightest bag that PHD do is the Minim at a shockingly low weight of 345g. This is good to 8°C, which I decided was a bit to chilly for my liking. So the next model up is the Minimus, weighing in at a hefty 465g in comparison but a bit warmer. This is where it gets a little confusing. There’s not just one option here, but countless ones. To start with, you can choose to have the bag made with 900 fill power down which is the same as the Minim and knock the weight down further to 415g. Tailor the bag to your needs with MX fabric and you cut the weight to an impressive 385g, but the price up to £256! You can also tailor the zip to your needs, with no zip as standard and a few extra quid buying you anything up to a full length one. There’s also the option of a heavier Drishell outer, which is much more water resistant than the standard M1 fabric.
Not only that, but these bags now come in different sizes. While there’s the standard size, if you like more wriggle room you can go wide or even extra wide. They even go as far as offering a long and extra long version that’s good for those of basketball player proportions. If you’re shorter and slighter, then you can also downsize the bag. No weight is given, but you can bet that the 385g minimum weight would be cut down much further. It also means that the bag should be a bit more efficient at keeping you warm. The standard was fine for me and I’m somewhat on the larger side (around the shoulders, obviously!)
As it comes, some might not like the idea of a zip-less bag. I was unsure, but zips invariably snag in my experience and the lack of one can only be a good thing. Once you work out how to get into a zip less bag the first time, it’s easy enough after that. The lack of zip also makes a zip baffle unnecessary and the bag slightly warmer. The only downside is that you can’t open the bag if you’re over heating. But this is mainly going to be used in the Welsh hills in summer, so there’s little risk of that. I found it just right for summer use, and the temperature rating seems spot on for my use.
With low weight comes low bulk. The Minimus fits easily into the supplied stuff sac, and if that it isn’t small enough you can always use a compression bag. For when you’re not on the hill, PHD supply a mesh storage bag so that the down remains lofted as storing a down bag compressed reduces it’s efficacy.
Beyond that, it’s a well made bag, with absolutely no unnecessary extras, that I can’t really fault. You may want to take marks off for the lack of a zip, but that’s the compromise made in order to be able to wild camp with what’s the lightest practical sleeping bag for UK conditions. The only problem I had was that the summer was so dire that it didn’t get half the use intended. Full marks!!!