PHD Combi Down Bag Review

I’ve only used this bag a handful of times, but it’s been in conditions difficult enough that I feel I’ve got a handle on it.
The Combi bag is basically a slightly looser cut down bag that fits over regular PHD lightweight bags. I’ve been using it with the Minim Ultra 900 (featured in the current Trail as my ultimate lightweight sleeping bag) that was sent for test in the summer where I found it spookily warm for it’s weight.
The fit is very good, no crushing of the inner bag and the hoods line up well. Both bags have standard box wall construction and the loft is very good. There’s nothing quite like returning to a tent in foul weather to see a fat sausage of fully lofted down waiting for you.

In the photie below the blue bag is the Combi (production version is in red) and the black bit sticking out of the hood is the Minim. The fabrics are all excellent, the Drishell used on the Combi outer is very good indeed. Water resistant enough to cope with spills, drips and a user daft enough to keep dragging snow into the tent.

The technical details are all on the PHD site, what’s most important to me is what it’s like in the field.
Using PHD gear has been a voyage of discovery for me, lighter than anything else I’ve used, more basic that anything I’d been used too. There seemed to be a danger that I’d prove the lightweight doubters correct and shiver through nights of tears, snotters and sufferng on the tops.
But the Minim was great in summer, and as reported recently, the Combi+Minim has been a revelation. Warm enough for me to abandon all clothing bar my coating of 190 weight merino, and although slim cut, I don’t feel restricted in it. The two bags interact very well, there is no sensation of multiple layers, moving from my right side to my left both bags move together and I haven’t had the nightmare scenario of the inner bag revolving right round an leaving me trapped inside like a bug in a coccoon.
The closures are simple, an opening with a drawcord, but having two gives venting options and I’ve always managed to find a comfortable balance. From open full when waking up roasting as the temperature outside climbed towards zero, to cinching everything in and pretending that the weather outside isn’t real.

One concern was that the gap between the two bags would be a dew point, would get wet and screw it all up, but the combination of accurate measuring from PHD and the fabrics used means that hasn’t happened. The two bags feel like one, but it’s some how cosier. I dare say it’s one of those things that you have to try, but I have to say I have been warm, comfortable even delighted using these bags.
Some folk might baulk at the idea of carrying two bags, but the Minim fits in your pocket and where else will you get that much boost to your comfort for the weight? I’m happy enough to carry both on cold camps.
I’ll use the Combi on it’s own when the temperatures suit and report back.

I think it’s good to look at the two bags as a system and as individual bits of kit. That way it does kinda cover the whole year, does that mean it’s all you need?

54 thoughts on “PHD Combi Down Bag Review”

  1. Aye winter ! Best time of the year for me. Just took delivery of a Black Diamond Deploy snow shovel. Was deprived of my summit grub one day last winter due to white-out conditions. Never again I told myself, this year I will dig a snow hole if need be. Talking of winter, I am getting the Minimus/combi bag as I mentioned above. I have a neo air mat, do you know if this is warm enough on snow ?? I am considering either getting a exped downmat or adding a foam mat like a ridge rest under the neo air. What are your thoughts or even better what do you use?
    Steve Lumber

  2. Good call on the snow shovel Steve. I carried a Snowclaw and now the CAMP version which packs a bit easier. Digging in for lunch, flattening snow for the tent, using as a windshield for the stove or even just as a seat, great bit of kit.

    Now, I still carry the Neoair in winter, but I supplement it as its not great on snow or ice on its own. In my OMM and Macpac rucksacks In use OMM Duomats as the back system, sometimes I’ve squeezed two in there in winter and it works very well, the added insulation really works on snow and the pack size is nothing, it’s no different to sliding a magazine into the hydration sleeve inside your pack.
    I’ve used big and beefy winter mays plenty as well, probably the best one being a Big Agnes thing, it was like a Thermarest prolite and it just cut me off from the cold altogether, great thing. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that a light matt bleeds heat quicker, when you move around you have to reheat where you’re lying, where a big insulated matt feels more consistently warmer. Does that make sense?

    Both ways work for me with no clear winner, one good thing about using an underlay like the Duomat (or any foam rollmat, just cut it to size) is that your expensive inflatable gets extra protection from the ground.
    Just remembered that I tried a silver foil underlay and as well as not being very warm at all I spend the whole night slipping about the tent like I was on a sufboard.

  3. OK Cheers, thanks a lot. Plenty to think about there. Just hope the snow god dumps on us this year ay?

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