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Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering
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Samuel Kau
(Skau) - M

Locale: Southern California
Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 00:31:16 MST Print View

I am looking to buy a sleeping bag for my girlfriend since she has been getting envious of my WM megalite. I was going to get her a megalite but then I looked at feathered friends Kestral and it looks to be very similar to the megalite in fill and fill power and is also even cheaper! Why do people not seem to talk about FF in these forums? is WM better? thanks! FF even has a option to upgrade to 900 fill. I have no experiences with FF but so far have been very happy with my megalite. opinions/experiences welcome.

patrick walsh
(apbt1976) - F
I own a Wm on 11/29/2011 05:08:25 MST Print View

And my soon to be next bag will be a FF. I think it is really apples to apples. Seems maybe FF is the new WM for this generation. Both make great bags that is a fact. Cant go wrong either way.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 06:18:01 MST Print View

There isn't a lot of difference between the two, both are high end companies. Good stuff *is* good stuff. You will be happy with either.

The difference between 850 and 900 is more a matter of how much you want to put into the bag. 900FP down, generally speaking, lofts slightly higher, but is often offset by heavier shell materials and general conditions. Mostly, at that range, it doesn't really matter. 900FP down, in theory, will be a tad bit warmer. But it will also degrade with dirt and moisture a bit faster for the average camper. If you stick to a strict schedule of washing every 10-14 days out, 900FP down will benefit you slightly. If you go out in damp conditions all the time, you won't notice any difference. If you intend to head in to arctic areas(dry), it will make a huge difference.

Between 800 and 900FP down the big difference is the maturity of the feathers when plucked/sorted. Larger plumes, usually means softer, more compressable feathers. But, a large degree of the lofting is suported by the internal electrostatic repulsion between the barbules, too. If you camp under conditions where this can be removed or much reduced, then 900FP is no better than 800FP. We are only talking a small amount of total loft.

Try this with a "lost" down plume(assuming it is clean.) Wave it around in the air while holding the stem. Take a blow dryer on good and warm (just before it actually burns your fingers) and dry it for a minute or so, shaking it as you do this. You can see how it fluffs and seems to expand. Breath very gently on it a few times and shake it. You should notice it got a bit smaller. This is the difference between the electrostatic repulsion and none. Multiplied over the few thousand feathers in your bag, this can have a significant effect on lofting. Wipe it along the side of your nose. This will put body oils on it. Try the same experiment again...

Clean and dry are the two most important things to maintaining high FP down. A down plume can have as much as 1% of its volume flattened and wet compared with clean and dry and fully fluffed.

Keeping the bag dry and clean means extra work while camping, too. Picking a site means picking a dry site. Pick a dry tent, or tarp, with a LOT of vents. Pick a site you can have a fire at. Pick a site that has no sticks and stones to catch and tear at the shell, or, use a ground cloth (usually the manufacturors will use ultra light shell materials for 900FP.) Not an OK site, a *good* site. Even with 850FP down these tricks help, but become more important with 900FP.

High fill down usually found in high end bags means you need to keep the down clean and dry. The higher the FP, the more work you have to put into them. So, this is the trade off between going for 800+ down and 900 down. This is ignoring the dollars, of course. 900FP down is great! But you really need to *keep* it great.

Gabe P
(Gabe) - MLife
WM uses 900 fill down on 11/29/2011 07:31:11 MST Print View

My understanding is that WM uses 900 fill down, but call it 850+ because they feel that to do otherwise would mislead their customers, since 900 down is not new but based on inflated measures. See the post by Dan McHale at the bottom of the following thread:

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Big FF fan here on 11/29/2011 07:46:43 MST Print View

I have the Grouse (30* bag). I've had it for a year and it's the only bag I've used all year (not a winter backpacker.)

Depending on your girlfriend's size, you should consider the Grouse. It's a "women's" cut; proportions are different from the Kestral and I find it a LOT more comfortable. Even though the dimensions are actually smaller, it feels a lot roomier to me, and I have really wide shoulders for a woman. The fill is less, but the bag is smaller, so the loft/warmth will be the same, maybe even warmer if it fits better (more efficient.) It will also be lighter overall than a men's bag.

The 30* rating is accurate, at least in my experience. I'm comfortable into the low-30's with just lightweight baselayers and a regular Prolite. I don't hesitate to take it when it may get colder since I can supplement with extra clothes plus maybe an extra CCF pad.

Scott Smith
(mrmuddy) - MLife

Locale: No Cal
Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 09:23:54 MST Print View

I would agree that you'll be 100% happy . with either.. ( I own one of each :) )

One "plus" for the FF is that you can get it in different color combinations, fabrics, etc.. They'll even do sme " custom" work for you. E.g. I had them sew a "pillow pocket" on my Hummingbird

Richard Fischel
*why do people not seem to talk about FF in these forums?* on 11/29/2011 09:38:55 MST Print View

there are fewer ff bags sold than wm. ff sells from their retail store and thru phone orders. wm sells thru a deal network that has both a brick and mortar and internet presence. with more wm bags in circulation they are talked about more because people have more experience with them. i think if you went on some of the mountaineering forums you might see ff talked about a little more.

both companies interact with their customers differently. try and find a phone number on the wm web page. i'll give the first person who does a $1. if you call ff they will to talk to you about anything they make or sell for as long as you want. ff will also customize pretty-much anything they make any way you want. ff also does a brisk rental business for bags and parkas going to some of the coldest places on earth. a wm dealer can order you a bag with overfill. maybe they can get some other changes made.

i am in no way trying to knock wm. i am just pointing out some of the diffrences between the two compaines. my current cold weather go-to bag is a wm and i think it's one of the best sleeping bags manufactured by anyone. when shopping for my next bag i would consider both ff and wm equally.

Edited by RICKO on 11/29/2011 09:42:17 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 10:16:00 MST Print View


Edited by annapurna on 11/30/2011 08:12:42 MST.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 10:40:05 MST Print View

Owning bags from both, I think I can safely recommend buying based on design, sizing and features because the quality is equivalent. And you can tell your girlfriend she's very lucky :-)



Samuel Kau
(Skau) - M

Locale: Southern California
Thanks for the responses. on 11/29/2011 12:32:31 MST Print View

Thanks for all the feedback for both companies. I am kind of tempted to get her a FF's bag just so I could compare myself! That's interesting that WM actually uses 900 fill instead of their advertised 850+. I think since the Feathered Friends actually has a little more down in their bag ratings compared to WM I will go with FF since my girlfriend sleeps pretty cold and it is cheaper when factoring potential overfills for WM. Do any of you know if you could choose the outer fabric to Pertex® Endurance UL without upgrading the down to 900 fill? thanks

Stephan Doyle
Re: Thanks for the responses. on 11/29/2011 13:00:43 MST Print View

I'm sure FF would do that for you if you asked nicely enough.

FF is a wonderful company.

patrick walsh
(apbt1976) - F
Re: Thanks for the responses. on 11/29/2011 13:27:25 MST Print View

You can call and ask yourself but i have been through this more than once on the phone. From the three people i have talked to it seems they are really pushing the Pertex Sheild EX on the Expedition weight bags -10 and below. However on the light flight they are using the Pertex Endurance UL you are interested in.

I asked myself about having a bag made in a different fabric on three ocasions and on all three occasions i was told "yes we can do it but it will cost you like $500 extra" That kinda decided it for me in regard to just taking a production bag and not a custom one.

Again call and ask yourself though, they are more than willing to chat and offer their two cents. Their two cents seems to be that what they have on the bags already is what is best and if you want something else it will cost you an arm and a leg!!!

Good luck cant wait to get my -25!!!!

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 15:10:43 MST Print View

Both are great, your girlfriend is fortunate either way. WM is available through many dealers, and the dealers will occasionally discount the bags. FF sells mostly from its factory and doesn't have sales very often. As a semi-custom shop FF is a little better at more non-standard bags - special fabrics, extra long size, semi-rec or rectangular bags, etc.

Richard Fischel
ff custom work on 11/29/2011 15:17:40 MST Print View

richard - i always wanted a great auk of my own like they made for you.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
protected baffle stitches on 11/29/2011 16:59:30 MST Print View

One of the interesting design differences between FF and WM is that FF uses a tucked hidden seam for its baffles. This means the seems are not exposed and cannot get snagged and cut. I have always liked that feature. It does however open the door for the thread to stress the needle holes when the bag is stretched. I don't think FF has had an issue with that though, or they would have quit their tucked seems long ago. It has to mean more fabric in the bag but not much.

Erik Sund
(sundek) - F
FF custom work on 11/29/2011 18:11:48 MST Print View

I haven't had FF do a fabric substitution but I just spoke with one of their employees today and custom zipper configurations are an option. There is an extra charge (I was told my request would run $60) and some wait time but I wouldn't expect that it would cost $500 more. (Of course, Patrick might not have meant that figure literally. Or he might have and he might be right.)

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
FF Custom Work on 11/29/2011 21:41:29 MST Print View

My last FF purchase, described at, was semi-custom. I called about an overbag for winter, and the rep suggested one of the company's discontinued models, the Great Auk, a rectangular bag. They had a "list" price for this in assorted fabrics. When I asked about Pertex Endurance, which had been promoted some time earlier, FF was happy to make the bag in that. Extra charge for the custom work: nil. In fact using their excess inventory fabric resulted in a modest discount. And FF sent me a Great Auk from its rental fleet to make sure it fit properly over my winter bag, again at no charge. Now this was a pattern the company had on hand, nothing special, but I think it indicates that FF doesn't price custom work intentionally high to discourage inquiries. All customer service over 25+ years has been exemplary.

(miltoncross) - F
Feathered Friends vs. Western Mountaineering on 11/29/2011 23:23:04 MST Print View

I have two FF bags and one WM bag. As others have stated, both are the excellent - the best quality bags out there. Temperature is a highly subjective matter, but I have found the FF bags to be truer to their rating (for me) than the WM bag. I'd also echo what others have said about FF customer service. One time when purchasing a bag, I talked to a product specialist at FF for 30 minutes, hemming and hawing over the pros and cons of different options. I have no experience with WM customer service, but the fact is that FF staff are available to give you a wealth of information about their products, and with WM, you pretty much get what's on their web site.

Either way you'll get a great bag.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
FF on 11/29/2011 23:41:37 MST Print View

For the FF bags, what do the #s represent next to the bag name (ie Merlin, Osprey, etc)?

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: FF on 11/30/2011 05:48:53 MST Print View

>> For the FF bags, what do the #s represent next to the bag name (ie Merlin, Osprey, etc)?

Bag girth measurements. (60/56/38) means 60" girth at the shoulders, 56" at hips, 38" around the footbox.