The Feather-Lite is a hoodless, zipperless, summer weight down mummy bag using state-of-the-art materials. It’s available in six different sizes, so short or thin people can save weight and stay warm.
- Loft is 1.5 inches more than manufacturer’s specifications
- Pertex Quantum shell is lightweight, soft, durable, and downproof
- Shoulder girth (in size tested) allows room for wearing clothing inside
- Elastic drawcord at neck opening allows you to reach out of the bag without adjusting anything
- Conservative temperature rating
What’s Not So Good
- Zipperless design may not provide enough ventilation on warmer nights
|2005 GoLite Feather-Lite|
|Hoodless, zipperless mummy bag|
|800-fill goose down|
|Measured loft 4.5 in (11.4 cm) total with about 2.5 in (5 cm) of loft on top of the sleeper; claimed loft 3 in (7.6 cm)|
Manufacturer Claimed Temperature Rating
|40 °F (4 °C)|
|Measured weight 19.8 oz (561 g); manufacturer’s specification 20 oz (567 g); stuff sack 0.6 oz (17 g)|
|Medium length, regular girth tested; available in six sizes: three lengths (short, medium, long), and two girths (trim, regular)|
|Shell is 20d Pertex Quantum with Shield DWR, lining is 22d polyester (1.2 oz/yd2, 41 g/m2)|
|6 in (15 cm) baffles, elastic drawcord collar, baffled foot vent, 2 hang loops, silnylon stuff sack, cotton storage bag|
The Feather-Lite is a no-frills, ultralight, summer-weight, mummy-style sleeping bag. It has no hood or zipper, just an elastic drawcord that snugs the bag at your neck. It requires a hat or balaclava to keep your head warm, which allows those items to do double-duty. The only extra this bag has is a baffled foot opening to stick your feet through and increase ventilation when needed.
Especially for short or thin people, one way to save weight (and sleep warmer) is to get the exact size sleeping bag you need. GoLite offers the Feather-Lite bag in six different sizes: three lengths (short, medium, and long), and two girths (trim and regular). Most other manufacturers’ bags are available only in regular or long lengths, and one girth for each.
The medium length, regular girth bag that I tested had 1.5 inches more loft than the manufacturer’s specifications and the weight was right on the money (at least for current GoLite catalogs, older catalogs list the weight 4 ounces higher than actual weight). This is a bit unusual for GoLite because they are usually right on with their specifications. Loftier than the specification sounds like a “sleeper” to me!
Let me say up front that I have nothing but praise for the GoLite Feather-Lite sleeping bag. It is not the absolute lightest 40-degree rated sleeping bag to be found (sleeping quilts, top bags, and bags with ultra-thin shell fabrics get that honor), but its design and state-of-the-art materials optimize performance, weight, and durability.
The outer shell of the GoLite Feather-Lite is Pertex Quantum, considered by many to be the best shell fabric currently available. It is soft, durable, water-repellent, breathable, and downproof. I found the claims to be true, but emphasize that water-repellent means just that. With extended exposure to water, the fabric wets through and the bag gets damp. I had this happen several times while sleeping in a bivy or under a tarp in rainy weather.
For the cool night conditions under which I tested the Feather-Lite, I have no reservations about the bag’s hoodless, zipperless design. The issue for me most of the time was keeping heat in, not venting off excess heat. The bag is easy to slip into and out of, so that was not an issue. I liked not having to mess with a zipper and hood.
Most of my bag nights were below the Feather-Lite’s temperature rating. That was intentional; the bag was used as part of a SuperUltraLight backpacking system, where my base pack weight was less than 5 pounds. My technique was to use a minimal bag, and wear clothing inside as needed to extend the warmth of the bag. It worked beautifully, and I had no problem extending the Feather-Lite down to 30 °F wearing micro-fleece long johns and an insulated jacket. The 62-inch shoulder girth (in the size tested) was just right to allow room for extra clothing without being too loose or too tight.
The Feather-Lite has an elastic drawcord closure that seals around the neck like a gasket (top photo). To reach for something, all I had to do was stretch the drawcord (second photo). The bag’s baffled foot vent (third photo) allows you to cool your feet when needed, and increase ventilation through the bag to exhaust excess heat. With six sizes available, it is easy to size the bag for a good fit and allow room to wear extra clothing inside to extend the bag’s warmth (bottom photo).
One simple feature I really liked is the bag’s elastic drawcord closure for the top opening. It allowed me to snug the top of the bag around my neck like a gasket to seal heat inside, yet I could stretch the cord with my arm to reach outside the bag to get something (see photos above).
The bag’s foot vent is sealed with overlapping baffles. On one warmer night (55 °F) I tested the foot vent and found that it ventilated through the bag fairly well. The obvious alternative for really warm nights is to sleep partially out of the bag, then slide further in as the temperature drops. On colder nights, I did not have a need to use the foot vent for ventilation, and was happy to find that it does not create a draft or cold spot. Basically, the feature is there to use when you need it.
There are a lot of factors that affect a bag’s warmth, not the least of which is the shelter system used. For example, sleeping under a tarp with a nighttime convectional breeze is a lot different than sleeping fully enclosed in a double wall tent. I used the Feather-Lite with several different shelter systems and clothing systems, and had no problem staying warm below the bag’s rating by adjusting the amounts of clothing worn inside.
Missing from this review (and for all sleeping bag reviews published here, for that matter) will be an assessment of whether or not the sleeping bag performs adequately at temperatures near its manufacturer-reported temperature rating. Click here for the complete Backpacking Light Position Statement on Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings.
GoLite uses state-of-the-art materials and a minimalist approach to hit ultralight backpacker’s needs squarely on target with the Feather-Lite bag, and it’s available in six different sizes (three lengths x two girths) so most people will find a good fit.
Recommendations for Improvement
A 30-degree version of this bag would be really nice; just add a little more down. A nitpick: one of the hang loops could be eliminated to save a few grams.