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Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends?
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S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends? on 10/09/2010 21:25:16 MDT Print View

I am looking for a -20F rated bag and have narrowed it down to Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends. I will be using this bag for technical mountaineering trips in winter and high altitude. I had a few questions. First question is, how valuable is a decent coating on the bag? Western Mountaineering is available in Gore Windstopper and Feathered Friends is available in eVent. Are these good options to have or does it really matter that much? I like WM for availability and price, but eVent seems like pretty cool stuff, not to mention custom color/fill options. How important are these things and what would you go with? Hoping from feedback from people who have used products like these in cold/harsh conditions. Thanks.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
You may want to consider Valandre' as well for subzero temps. on 10/09/2010 23:36:06 MDT Print View

I would REALLY suggest that you consider a Valandre as well. WM and FF make beautiful bags, no doubt. We own a number of WM bags in our family and enjoy them. But the Shocking Blue or the Freja (by Valandre') compresses smaller and is lighter than comparable bags.

If you live along the Wasatch Front, you're welcome to check out my Shocking Blue if you want, as a comparison. I live up near Logan.

DISCLAIMER - I'm an authorized retailer for Valandre and have been one for 6+ years.

My preference is have a breathable outer shell and get a UL bivy from Ti Goat if you need it. Others may have differing opinions on this subject regarding condensation.

Edited by vigilguy on 10/09/2010 23:38:55 MDT.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: You may want to consider Valandre' as well for subzero temps. on 10/10/2010 02:17:08 MDT Print View

The Valandre bags look super nice too. I looked up the specs on a few of the different bags and here is what I came up with:

Valandre Freja - 33.7 oz. down, 3 lbs. 6 oz. total weight. Comfort rating of 3.2 degrees F.
Valandre Shocking Blue - 27.5 oz. down, 3 lbs. 1 oz. total weight. Comfort rating of 10.4 degrees F.
Feathered Friends Peregrine - 37.4 oz. down, 3 lbs. 14 oz. total weight. Comfort (?) rating of -25 degrees F.
Western Mountaineering Puma - 36 oz. down, 3 lbs. 7 oz. total weight. Comfort (?) rating of -25 degrees F.

It seems to me that more down fill would equate more warmth. Is the fill quality on a Valandre high enough quality to approach the other bags' ratings? Valandre seems to have the most complete info. on sleeping bag ratings which is probably not surprising given that the Europeans are ahead of the game in bag ratings. What would the ACTUAL ratings be for the WM and FF since there is some obvious discrepancy there?

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
mountain light on 10/10/2010 05:04:58 MDT Print View

You may want to consider the EMS Mountain Light -20°. I plan on getting one the next time EMS has there 20% off sale. I already have the 20 degree version of this bag and love it. Also, you should be aware that the listed weight may be about 3.1oz heavier than the bag actually is because they include the weight of the heavy stuff sack (I just tossed it and don't use a stuff sack at all). The fill weight is 37oz.

Anyway, they're nice bags, worth taking a look. And, I've seen them on sale for as little as $320, if that matters at all.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F - M

Locale: Northern Utah
Valandre' on 10/10/2010 06:46:11 MDT Print View

Be careful how you use the EN ratings. In actual experience out in the field, I have used the Shocking Blue down to -20F (actual measured temp outside the tent) and stayed warm. I have customers that have used it in measured temps ranging from -10F to -18F and have stayed warm. That is why I suggested you taking a look at them as only so much info can be received from specs on the internet. I would certainly suggest that you test whichever bag you buy in the backyard (if you can) and see where YOU fit in terms of warmth, relative to the bag.

I use an Exped DAM 9 in those temps and that works for me. Of course, using a 4 season tent with other bodies helps too.

I have found that Valandre goose down is really, really high quality down. I personally own four of their bags and two of their jackets, and have used them in the field quite extensively over the last 6 or 7 years.

The Valandre Odin (-40) has been the favorite bag for clients of mine who go to Denali, because of its weight and compressibility.

Edited by vigilguy on 10/10/2010 06:48:58 MDT.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Sub-zero bags on 10/10/2010 07:04:50 MDT Print View

You can't go wrong choosing among Valandre, Feathered Friends, or Western Mountaineering. Pick the bag that has the shape and features that you prefer.

Scott Smith
(mrmuddy) - MLife

Locale: No Cal
Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends on 10/10/2010 09:20:28 MDT Print View

One Plus to FF .. you cn do a lot of customizing .. Fabrics/ Color Combos/ over stfuffing/ etc.

I even had them add / make a little pocket .. on the back of the hood of my hummingbird .. where I could stuff my Volant . and make an instant pillow.

Their customer service is GREAT to !

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
-20F rated bag - A picture versus a hundred words on 10/10/2010 09:34:04 MDT Print View


Edited by richard295 on 10/10/2010 10:43:55 MDT.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: -20F rated bag - A picture versus a hundred words on 10/10/2010 10:40:11 MDT Print View

Another wrench in the works. I bow to your expertise, Richard. Now I have the Montbell bags to consider. Their claimed rating on their U.L. Down Hugger Exp bags is -20F and their fill is 38 oz. of down. I plan on using the Exped Downmat 9 along with a CCF pad from GG. I wrote Montbell and Feathered Friends about their ratings and am waiting for their feedback. I can't find an email or feedback forum for Western Mountaineering stuff but everyone seems to agree that their ratings are conservative. The MEC bags are also highly reviewed. Aarrgh.

stefan hoffman
(puckem) - F

Locale: between trees
Gore on 10/10/2010 10:49:25 MDT Print View

The original post mentioned the Gore Windstopper coating on WM bags. I would also like to know if people have experience with this, and what conclusions you have come to as far as it's effectiveness.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Gore on 10/10/2010 11:43:05 MDT Print View

I have no first hand experience, but to me it seems that if you are looking for a bag to take you well below freezing, the waterproof shell would be waste since all the precipitation should be frozen at that point. I would also think that the gore/even shell would be less breathatble, but I don't know if that would be benefital or not.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: -20F rated bag - A picture versus a hundred words on 10/10/2010 11:52:33 MDT Print View

This is an UL site with a common mind set of "What is the lightest solution that will address my needs?"

My picture can be summarized by saying, "The anticipated minimum temperature needs to be addressed for both camp chores and sleeping. Wear your camp chores insulation in your sleeping bag (girth permitting) to reduce the total insulation required."

It is a mistake to make your decision based on the vendor's CLAIMED temperature ratings versus independent EN 13537 lab tests. In the US, each vendor can arbitrarily assign what ever temperature rating will yield the most profit. There are a number of common marketing schemes that will show up when you do the two value calculations discussed later.

In lieu of lab tests, you can most simply make an educated warmth guess by sorting your options based on the amount of fill they each have. The difference in warmth between bags filled with 850 fill versus 800 fill only averages 2.1%.

Next do two value calculations by both dividing the cost by the fill amount and the claimed temperature rating by the fill amount. You will be able to clearly see if a vendor adds more fill than is required for an accurate temperature rating but charges more for their claimed temperature rating. Their users review the bags on the Web as being superior because they are conservatively rated without ever having done the comparative value calculations. You will also see which bag is a real BEST value.

Edited by richard295 on 10/10/2010 11:59:44 MDT.


Locale: Western Michigan
Something NEW to think about! on 10/10/2010 11:58:26 MDT Print View

Have you ever thought going the route of Incorporating a Vapor Barrier Liner (VBL) with one or more of the following:
A.) Nunatak Arc Expedition bag (fill wt-med 20 oz of 875+ down….COST $561)

1.) Feathered Friends IceFall Parka - eVent (Fill wt-med 15 oz of 800+ down…..COST $569)
2.) Nunatak Skaha Plus sweater - Pertex Quantum (Fill wt-med 4.75 oz of 875+ down…..COST $369)
3.) Mont-Bell U.L Down Inner Parka – Ballistic Rip-Stop (Fill wt-med 4.3 oz of 800 down…..COST $185)


1.) Nunatak Torre Bibs - Pertex Quantum (Fill wt-med 12 oz of 875+ down…..COST $533)
2.) Feathered Friends -40* Pants - eVent (Fill wt-med 9.6 oz of 800+ down…..COST $469)
3.) Mont-Bell U.L.Down Inner Pants - Ballistic Rip-Stop (Fill wt-med 2 oz of 800 down…..COST $175)


B.) Feathered Friends Down Suit - eVent (Fill wt-med 26 oz of 800+ down…..COST $1150)
1.) With a Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends bag of your choice (Incorporating a Vapor Barrier Liner) that could be used in environments below 16K AND would fall within your available cash flow!

Edited by KENLARSON on 10/10/2010 15:08:29 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends? on 10/11/2010 11:30:44 MDT Print View

Feathered Friends Peregrine - 37.4 oz. down, 3 lbs. 14 oz. total weight. Comfort (?) rating of -25 degrees F.
Western Mountaineering Puma - 36 oz. down, 3 lbs. 7 oz. total weight. Comfort (?) rating of -25 degrees F

The Puma is nearly a half-pound lighter for a bag that is at least as warm. I own bags from FF and WM, and have played quite a lot with many from each that I don't own. FF makes really nice stuff, but overall I find that WM seems a bit better made, bit better fit and finish, a bit more densely packed. That said, when I had a FF Snowbunting and WM Antelope side by side they looked pretty comparable. The Snowbunting in Epic weighs about the same as the Antelope in WS; the MF Antelope is ~6oz lighter.

I have owned and used a number of bags with and without WPB/WR shells. Those shells add some weight; generally I find a normal shell is more than adequate, and feel that the WPB will just impede breathability a bit more. But my experience has been that the WPB shells haven't affected the loft of my bags, particularly in temps ~ -20F to 20F. The best use of WPB, in my mind, is around the hood area and draft collar, to block all your exhalations from saturating those areas. I generally don't have warmer weather bags cinched down that much.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
:D on 10/11/2010 11:31:50 MDT Print View

the easy answer is you won't regret or be disappointed with either option

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Puma GWS on 10/11/2010 12:23:14 MDT Print View

I've owned the GWS version of this bag for a number of years, and often sleep outside in the worst weather Michigan has to offer (I know that's not saying much compared to where some of you live)without other shelter. I usually just build snow walls to shelter my face from snowfall. Having said that, I'm not sure the GWS adds much. At the temperatures you might use this bag, water instantly freezes so there is little risk of wetting. If I were buying again, I would probably just get the MF version and use a light bivy with it. As another poster commented, I have not experienced detrimental effects from the GWS either (ie. condensation), I think it's just heavier than it needs to be.