by Ryan Jordan | 2006-05-09 03:00:00-06
The Feathered Friends Rock Wren is a wearable, mummy-style down sleeping bag with a closeable footbox, zippered arm holes, and long chest zipper so the bag can be worn around camp or while sitting and doing camp chores such as cooking. As such, it is designed to replace, or otherwise serve as, one's insulating clothing.
Feathered Friends offers three versions (weights) of their wearable bag systems, including the Rock Wren (27 oz, 4.0" double layer loft, 35 °F rating), the Winter Wren (35 oz, 4.5" double layer loft, 25 °F rating), and the Chickadee (25 oz, 3.0" double layer loft, 45 °F rating). All bags are offered with either standard fill (700+ down) or premium fill (800+ down), and shell fabric options of nylon, Pertex Quantum (to save weight), and Epic or eVENT (to improve external moisture resistance.
The bag reviewed herein is the Rock Wren with 800 fill down and Epic as the shell fabric.
I had the chance to use the bag this winter, during nights ranging from 10 °F to 40 °F. On colder nights, I paired the bag with a bivy sack (Integral Designs eVENT South Col) and synthetic-fill insulated clothing (usually, a Montbell U.L. Parka at 14 oz and Bozeman Mountain Works Cocoon Pants at 7 oz). This system kept me warm down to 10 °F easily, due in part to the fact that the bag's actual loft exceeded the manufacurer's specificed loft (actual measured loft was nearly 5.0" vs. manufacturer's spec of 4.5").
With insulating clothing, there is plenty of room (girth) in the bag to prevent compression of loft of either the clothing or the bag. And therein lies the bag's weakness. While its girth allows the bag to be cinched up around the waist so you can easily walk around camp in it, it's excessive interior volume in the hip and foot region means that it's a relatively inefficient design, and I did find it cool at its temperature rating without insulating clothing, even in still (no wind) conditions.
Ironically, the Rock Wren works best as a complement to existing insulating clothing, and in fact, is one of the few mummies I've slept in that provide adequate room to allow insulating clothing, and the bag, to completely loft without compressing either. I was pleased, and surprised, to remain comfortable even in inclement conditions (moderate wind and snow) at 10 °F with a bag that weighed less than two pounds and less than 24 ounces of insulating clothing!
As for the feature set, the Rock Wren's zippered arm holes, drawcorded footbox, chest zip, and hood design are exceptional, as is manufacturing quality. My only recommended change: reduce the baffle width to 5 or 6 inches (it's currently 10 inches) for better down control.
While I found the Rock Wren to serve as an "interesting" parka (in both looks and function), I liked its design the most while sitting up in a tent or bivy sack underneath a tarp while cooking, working with my gear, writing in my journal, or simply having a conversation with my trek mates.
Other Features: Drawcord hood opening; zippered arm openings with draft tubes, center chest zip, drawcorded footbox.
"Feathered Friends Rock Wren Sleeping Bag SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/feathered_friends_rock_wren_sleeping_bag_spotlite_review.html, 2006-05-09 03:00:00-06.