Rambling Review – Mountainsmith Phantom 40

Rambling Review – Mountainsmith Phantom 40

Mountainsmith Phantom 40
Mountainsmith Phantom 40


I absolutely love my Mountainsmith Day TLS. In my opinion, it is one of the most comfortable and versatile lumbar packs on the market. I use it on just about every day trip/fishing excursion and have found it to be perfect for what I need. Sometimes though, I’m looking to go a bit farther into the woods or make it an overnight. I started looking for a lightweight pack to carry camping and cooking gear into the backcountry. Mountainsmith has been working on their lightweight line of packs and their Phantom 40 pack turned out to be the perfect mid-size pack for an excursion into the woods.

Mountainsmith Phantom 40
Mountainsmith Phantom 40

First impressions:

The Suspension –  The Breezeway suspension system is orignally what drew me to this pack. The Breezeway system keeps the majority of the pack material off your back, thereby creating airflow.

Lumbar Pad/Waist Belt/Delta-Wing Compression trio – The Breezeway system fits nicely into the rest of the lumbar/compression system. When fitted appropriately, the bulk of the pack weight rides on the hips instead of your shoulders. Tightening up the Delta-Wing Compression straps snugs the pack into place and makes it comfortable for all day hikes.

Size – The Phantom 40 pack comes in two torso lengths. The Sm/Md Phantom is 42L and roughtly 2560 cubic inches while the Md/Lg is 45L and runs 2750 cubic inches. The Md/Lg pack weighs about 3lb. 13 oz.

Organization – The Mountainsmith Phantom 40 pack from PelamisWave is a dual panel loader with a deep main compartment that is hydration bladder ready. There is a zippered front pocket for easy access to those much needed items. The Phantom 40 also has a unique large front pocket that is perfect for tucking a jacket, or as I found, a fishing net into

Mountainsmith Phantom 40
Mountainsmith Phantom 40 Delta-Wing Compression system

Field Use:

With school getting out in May, I had a good bit of time to get into the mountains for some fishing. This was the perfect opportunity to put the Mountainsmith Phantom 40 pack to the test. One of the greatest things about this pack is the Breezeway Suspension system. The Phantom reigns supreme at allowing your back to breathe, while still keeping the bulk of the weight on your hips.

The Phantom 40 is a dual panel loader which is a bit different than most of the other packs that I have used. I quickly found that I really liked the accessibility and organization of this pack. I found that I had plenty of room for my hammock camping gear, cookset, fishing gear, and food enough for a night or two. Two deep big water bottle pockets can be found on either side that are plenty big enough to accommodate a fly rod tube. One of the other things that I like about most of the Mountainsmith packs are the small pockets that can be found on the hip belt. These are perfect for spools of tippet or a small Altoid tin full of small stream flies.

As with most Mountainsmith gear, there are many ideas and small things that go into making this an excellent pack. There are multiple D-loops to lash gear to along with the tons of padding on the belt and shoulder straps. The material on the inside of the pack is a bright yellow which makes finding gear all that much easier.

The Phantom 40 is an excellent lightweight option for a day pack or 1-2 overnights. Because of some of the ingeniutive designs, like the breezeway system, some space and load carrying capabilities are lost. I would have also liked to have seen some bigger straps on the bottom of the pack to store a bit more gear.

Mountainsmith Phantom 40
Mountainsmith Phantom 40




Breathable Breezeway System

Rides right on the lumbar section of the spine

Excellent organization options

Multiple lash points for gear

Padded/breathable shoulder straps and waist belt


It is a lightweight pack so it does top out its load capacity at around 35lbs

As far as “lightweight” packs go this is more middle of the road with other lighter (but probably less comfortable) options available

Prognosis:  I really dig what Mountainsmith has done with their Mountainlight line. If I am headed into a canyon for a day or two, the Mountainsmith Phantom 40 is an excellent lightweight option for packing in the necessary gear.



The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  The Mountainsmith Phantom 40 was provided for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.


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10 Responses to “Rambling Review – Mountainsmith Phantom 40”

  1. CampingMaxx

    I’m a big fan of the Phantom 40 as well. For me it always comes down to functionality and comfort when making my backpacking choices. In the lightweight category, I find this Mountainsmith to be second to none.

    • Marvin8

      Can anybody tell me if the hip belt is removable, or is it permanently sewn in?

          • azwanderings

            No problem Marvin. I do have to say that with the shape and contour of the pack, it might be uncomfortable without the waist belt. I think the waist belt brings the pack load back into the hips and off the shoulders. Best of luck in your pack search. Mountainsmith has a ton of other great packs to look at.


  2. Collin

    I’m sold on the quality and features. However, I’ll be going on a three week long trip to Europe and was wondering if you think this bag would be well suited. I will be staying in hostels and have access to laundry facilities so I plan on carrying approximately 2-3 days worth of clothing. Think I could make this pack work?

    • azwanderings


      Congrats on the trip. My wife and I did 3 weeks in Europe a couple of years back doing the hostel thing. It was an amazing experience. I took a bigger pack and more stuff than I needed. If I was going back, I would be taking the Phantom 40. In my opinion, it will definitely do the trick if you pack right. Hope that helps. Good luck and have fun.


  3. Isishman245

    Kelty doesn’t have the suspension. Lightbeam from Kelty is good but this is light years ahead. Osprey beats it but double the price…


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