Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20˚

Ultralight 900-fill down bag from Mountain Hardwear


MSRP: $570 (reg); $600 (long)


When it arrived, I thought Mountain Hardwear had sent an empty box. It felt like nothing, but viola, there was a sleeping bag inside. At just 1 pound 11 ounces, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20 (rated to 20 degrees; also available as a 40-degree bag; $400; 16 ounces) is a superb work of craftsmanship, and will satisfy the next-gen alpinist, weight-watching backpacker, or any mountaineer who wants top-shelf performance.

On my maiden voyage with the bag, I got rained out on an alpine mission in Colorado’s Elk Range. With drizzle and fog rolling in, I dug a cave. Within an hour, the winds shifted, and my snow cave drew in moisture as an open mailbox welcomes a hurricane. Well, this is a fine way to test the bag, I thought, pondering a long night ahead. It was 3:00 in the afternoon.

With 900-fill down, the plumes in the Ghost Whisperer’s feathery inside are treated with a proprietary water repellant, termed QShield down. For practical purposes, this means the bag will retain much of its loft when confronted with wetness, since the plumes are individually coated. Translation: I fared just fine at that mountain bivy.

For features and design, the Ghost Whisperer has a single drawcord (easy and can pull with one hand), a ¾ zipper, and though I have broad shoulders, I could still turn over in its mummy-fit design. The top of the bag is constructed with box baffles with no sewn-through seams, while the back does have sewn-through seams, although I didn’t experience cold spots.

The bag stuffs to about four slices short of a loaf of bread (the good whole-wheat kind). Another feature I loved is the glow-in -the-dark no-snag zipper. Just to be sure, I tried 12 times on purpose to get the zipper to snag, balling it up and pulling the thing, etc. No snag.

The Ghost Whisperer 20 is available in regular ($570; inside length 78 inches) and long ($600; inside length 84 inches). The long adds an extra ounce.

Those accustomed to a wolverine-proof outer shell might balk at the bag’s thin outer fabric, but, then again, it’s extremely light, ripstop, and just about every superlightweight bag on the market will have something akin. All in all, the Ghost Whisperer is a premium product, and you get what you pay for.

——Francis Sanzaro


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This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 251 (July 2018).