PHD 900 Down first look, Minim Ultra Bag and Ultra Vest

It’s the oddest thing when you talk to a company about test kit and they say “Okay then, we’ll make you those items”. That doesn’t happen every day. That was last week, and this morning a tiny parcel arrived containing two items of jet black lightness.

First up is the Minim Ultra 900 Down Vest. 150g of uber-packable warmth. The cut is just right for pulling it on over a base layer plus a 100weight fleece. The arms and hem have elasticated sections to keep the heat in, the half zip saves weight and allows for a tunnel pocket for warming your hands and storing Greggs sausage rolls. There’s a handy wee zipped pocket at the right side as well.

The other arrival is the Minim Ultra 900 Down Bag. Seriouisly, this is the lightest bag I have, it might even be the lightest down bag I’ve seen at 345g. The features are: drawcord on the opening. I don’t mind missing a zip, even in a bivy bag it’s no great hardship getting in and out.  The fit is slim and there’s a well shaped foot. The vest is stitch-through and the bag has a baffled construction. The baffles are slim, tha bag lofts okay and the down fill is well distributed in both pieces. The down itself is very soft indeed, almost textureless. I’m not expecting to see any rogue feathers poking through the fabric at any time. This super fine down plus the light and flexible MX fabric used on both items make the pack size unfeasably small. The stuff sack for the bag takes my hand and wrist and that’s it. Quality looks good, as I was saying earlier it’s haun made, no’ haun knitted.

Together they make a flexible sleep system. The vest on its own is a super versatile wee bit of kit. I’ve used various gilets for years and they’re just the ticket for camping, especially spring to autumn. You get all the warmth you need and unrestricted mobility in a tent as well. The bag is light, beyond the limit in the minds of most folk probably. But the simple design is making the most of the fill. I’m not worried, and I’ll get my first impressions on trip coming up shortly. 

36 thoughts on “PHD 900 Down first look, Minim Ultra Bag and Ultra Vest”

  1. The down vest is long been on my wish list and the bag, well I would like a PHD bag to go with my PHD down Jacket, but am thinking more of the custom made route. Would cost but be worth it. The bespoke way is the future. And like I said before combing loft with bag/jacket combos is the way to go. And PHD stuff looks lush to.

  2. That down vest looks mighty tasty.Dont own a gillet at the mo,but this one is already on my shopping list,would be great to use when climbing outdoors in colder weather.
    Any idea on the retail price?

  3. Check it out at

    It’s wonderful stuff. I’d like to get some of these new 900-fill down goodies, but alas, I may be waiting a good while yet for my bulging cupboard of PHD things with the 800-fill to wear out!

  4. Hello there, That gillet looks like a nifty piece of gear. Trying to find a light piece of warm kit on a par with the Rab Photon sort of thing for camp site warmth etc that I can chuck in my bag. Do you reckon its on a par warmth wise or warmer maybe? (Know its not water friendly btw!)

  5. Hi brigsy. The vest will be warmer, but in a different way. A well fitted down vest keeps your core warmer and you can afford to lose the arms most of the time. As long as your not standing in a blizard with no gloves on :o)
    A killer year-round solution is a down gilet and a primaloft pull-on.

  6. Ooooh, ‘design your own’, now there is a very tempting option. I had it narrowed down to two bags by other manufacturers but now i can just design the perfect bag with the best features of the other two.

  7. It’s the stuff I can’t talk about that would really annoy folk.
    You know I’m just spreading the joy :o)

  8. Joy? Is that what you’re calling it? :o)
    I wore my PHD Minimus Vest in my bo-bo’s 2 weeks ago and was plenty warm. Left it behind last week and was just the wrong side of comfy. Lesson learnt.

  9. Aye, that’s the just the thing. A wee tiny but of kit that makes a huge difference in the field.
    That’s probably the essence of proper lightweight hiking kit that.

    The PHD kit also means my pack for the trip is under 30L. Heavens.

  10. I managed not to go overboard on the DYO option (was tempting though! Overfill? Why not! Mummy hood on a lightwight bag? Hell yes!). £260 odd quid and 780 grams in the end. Combine that with a down vest and what more do people need?! I’ll be ordering soon in time for our 2nd trip to Norway. You should work on commission PTC!

  11. I’ve just had in on good authority that a down gilet adds 5degC to you bags rating.
    That’s marvellous that is.

  12. Sounds about right to me. I was glad of my PHD Minimus vest when I went to Norway one August/September with my Minimus bag (+5C) and a mesh-inner tent, only to get snow and temperatures down to -4C at night! The kit coped well. I coped…. ;)

  13. I took the PHD gear to show my mate that’s heading up north tomorrow to do the LAMM this weekend and he was mightily impressed by the lightness. He also commented on the feel of the down, he asked if it was synthetic it’s so soft.

  14. Aye, filling us all with jealous rage and wallets screaming to be emptied.
    Getting it (all) into a 30L sack is very interesting. As well as going lighter, I also want to carry a smaller sack, so how tight do you have to squeeze the bag into the stuff sack?
    I stuff my Macpac topbag easily into an Exped Medium stuff sack, but the one that came with the topbag is about half the volume, but stuffing the bag into it is a real struggle.
    If the PHD stuff sack is so small, does it not over compress the down, which we are always warned against?
    30 liters? You’ll no hae coal for the bothy fire then?

  15. I haven’t found any lightweight coal yet :o)

    The stuff sack is small, but it’s not a compression sack and it’ll only ever be in it on trips so it’ll be okay. It’s a good test as well, see how lofts after being packed down.

    I do use compression sacks on my down bags and they spring back fine so far, I’m sure in time it will affect the down though.

  16. “I haven’t found any lightweight coal yet :o)”

    Surely they could make it out of Carbon fibre :)

  17. “I haven’t found any lightweight coal yet “?

    No self-repecting, 1970’s, 2 bar electic fire would be seen dead without it’s lightweight coal glow-effect on top.

  18. In that area, living flame gas fires have coals made out of lava. They’re very light. Don’t burn though.
    You could sell them to hikers from a stall in a layby and just move to a different layby the next day to avoid an unpleasant customer complaint/refund interface.

  19. I posted earlier about the delights of PHD DYO and 900 down. Wonderous things

    I had ordered a bag specifiedthus :
    400g of 800 down in a Diamir 300 shell; half zip; long size (so about 430g of down in total); Drishell outer, MX inside; rated to -4 or -5; stealth black; 800g +

    A week later they launched 900 down, so I phoned them and asked if they could change the down to 900. “No problem. It is sitting waiting to be stuffed but I’ll change the order for you” Then: “We’ve put in less down to give the same rating, otherwise it will over fill. What weight of down? Hmmm not sure, probably about 370g”

    Total weigh 780g for a -4 to -5 rated bag

    Gowd bless em.

    Any trying it for the first time soon…

  20. Aye, you have to like that flexibility. That’s a bloody good warmth to weight ratio you’ve got there.
    The 900 down packs so small as well.

  21. The buggers. Just when you think you’ve got your kit about sorted out they go and produce 900 down.

    Thanks *ptc (I think) very interesting.

    Can’t believe I’m even thinking of replacing the Minimus after only a couple of years. Must (really must) resist…

  22. It is good. I was showing it to some folk today and they were astounded by the pack size and softness of the down.
    I’m hoping to get a look at some winter kit later in the year as well.

    It just solves so many problems for lightweight missions, especially as I now trust it to give me warmth.

    Don’t resist too hard… :o)

  23. They do look a bit tasty… I have a thing about not having a full zip though, so I’m torn between this and the standard Minimus vest.
    Maybe I just need to re-educate myself ;)

    On a different but kind of related note, how come so many PHD products share the same name as (different) ME products? I know the head honcho at PHD used to be the head honcho at ME, but I would have thought ME would be touchy about that sort of thing now they’re all massive and global, so to speak? Off topic I know, but I have an inquiring mind :)

  24. I hadn’t spotted the name thing. Mind you, there’s only so many famous peaks you can name gear after :o)

    The half zip slips on easy because of the fabric, and the lack of a zip is better for sleeping in. A full zip will probably be better for general use. Ah choices!

  25. Bloody choices again.

    That’s a good point on the peak thing …..

    …… but where exactly is Mount Xero? ;o)

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