Expedition Tales

  • Max Neale Spoonbill Review

    The Spoonbill is one of our most unique sleeping bags, and gear-tester-epic-adventurer Max Neale put the bag through it paces over the last four years.

    Here is a snippet from his full reivew (which we highly recommend you read!): The Best Ultralight Four-Season Sleeping Bag: Feathered Friends Spoonbill Review.

    Spoonbill on Denali

    "I have tested at least 60 different sleeping bags, including six Feathered Friends bags, watched the Spoonbill in production at Feathered Friends’ Seattle factory, and feel it’s their best product. If you’re serious about saving weight for colder weather backcountry trips, the Spoonbill is an essential purchase. Next to another person, and with the right clothing, the bag can be used in the coldest winter conditions. Compared to bringing two warm winter bags, it can save four pounds! Since 2012, my Spoonbill has been used on trips of all types by ten people. The best test was in 2014 when Zeb and I used it at 17,700 ft on the third night of climbing Denali’s Cassin Ridge. I’ve also used it on Mt. Huntington’s Harvard Route, a climb-ski-packraft trip out of the Alaska Range, and on a lot of shorter hiking and skiing trips in Alaska and the lower 48. This is one of my all-time favorite pieces of outdoor gear."

  • The Labor Day Sale is On Now

    The Feathered Friends Labor Day Sale - Save on outdoor gear and apparel Summer and autumn adventures are calling! Save on gear, footwear, and apparel thru September 5th

    Feathered Friends Labor Day Sale | Aug 25 - Sept 5

    Get decked out for late summer and autumn adventures during the Labor Day Sale at Feathered Friends. Drop by the Seattle store for the best selection on great deals on apparel, gear and footwear till September 5th

    Savings abound on the top brands in outdoor footwear and apparel, including: Arc'teryx, Patagonia, Mammut, Outdoor Research, Rab, Ibex, La Sportiva, Scarpa, Salewa, Five Ten, Boreal, Osprey, MSR, and more!

    Save:

    • Up to 30% off select baselayers and outerwear from Arc'teryx, Patagonia, Mammut, Rab, Black Diamond, Prana, and Montbell
    • Up to 30% off select IBEX merino wool apparel and accessories
    • Up to 30% off select backpacks from Osprey, Arc'teryx, Patagonia, Montane, Black Diamond, and Mammut
    • Up to 30% off camping gear from Exped, Sea to Summit, and MSR
    • Up to 30% off glasses from Julbo and Native
    • Up to 25% off select footwear from Mammut, La Sportiva, Scarpa, FiveTen, Boreal, Salewa
    • 15 - 30% off select climbing ropes
    • 20% off MSR Hubba Hubba tents

     

    This is in-store only - don't miss out!

  • National Park Centennial Photo Contest

    photo contest announcement

    Instagram National Park Centennial Photo Contest

    Start Date: August 23
    End Date: August 31

    Winner will be chosen September 2, 2016.

    To celebrate the National Park Centennial, we invite you to enter your favorite images from our National Parks in a photo contest. Share your pictures on Instagram and tag with #FeatheredFriendsGear and #NPS100.

    The winner will receive a pair of Feathered Friends Down Booties!

    Feathered Friends will consider each photo submitted and will choose one winner based on whichever image best captures something special about a park. The winner will be notified via direct message on instagram, and must respond with size and color of chosen down booties within two days of initial notification.

    By entering, entrant agrees that Feathered Friends has the right to post and use all tagged and submitted content on public galleries on our blog, Instagram, Facebook, and/or website.

    Entrant (the person who posts/submits a picture) must be the owner of the photograph, or otherwise have the right to submit the photograph for consideration in the Competition.

    Instagram in no way sponsors, administers, endorses, or is associated with this contest. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram and Feathered Friends of responsibility, and agree to abide by Instagram's terms of use.

  • Join Our Team!

    Feather in the Store

    Customer Service Pro / Retail Sales Associate

    Feathered Friends is looking for a full time Retail Sales Associate to join the team at our Seattle store!

    QUALIFICATIONS:
    Must enjoy working with all types of customers
    Detailed knowledge of outdoor gear and equipment
    Passion for the outdoors and a desire to foster this in others
    Ability to stay on task and motivated
    Excellent communication skills and outgoing personality
    Retail experience preferred but not required
    Requires working 35-40 hours per week including most evenings and some weekends

    DUTIES:
    Opening and closing the retail store
    Counting down registers, bank deposits and point of sale usage
    Helping customers in their purchasing decisions by drawing on detailed product knowledge and personal experience
    Provide outstanding customer service in person, over the phone, and via email
    Sales floor maintenance and other duties as assigned

    TO APPLY:
    Email a cover letter and resume to neil@featheredfriends.com. Please reference “Retail Sales Associate” in subject.

  • Backpacking Hacks Part 2

    Part two is a smorgasbord of advice from the Feathered Friends staff on simple ways to maximize the fun while on a backpacking (or camping) adventure.

    clean socks hanging from a line Who doesn't love a good pair of clean socks? Photo: Claire Giordano

     

    1. Bring “Sacred Socks”

    Our feet take a beating on hikes, especially backpacking trips, when we wear the same pairs of socks for days on end. While some feet (and noses) don’t mind, others do not take kindly to the abuse and complain. Our solution; bring a pair of clean “sacred socks” that are only worn in the tent. Not only does this keep your bag clean and fresh, but it also gives you the opportunity to rinse the salt and dirt from your hiking pair to prevent salt rash and unhappy feet.

    2. Don’t skimp on your sleeping pad

    Campsite comfort matters. After a long day of hiking there is nothing better than sitting down for a good meal, and then crawling into a cozy tent and sleeping bag. Sadly, too often people forget about their sleeping pad, and end up tossing and turning all night trying to find a comfortable position.

    For some people, the simple foam layer will work well, but we are big fans of inflatable sleeping pads like those made by Therm-a-Rest, Exped, and Sea-to-Summit. While expensive to get a high quality one, when taken good care of these pads can last a long time. They are also not only more comfortable, but quite a bit warmer in cold conditions.

    3. Trekking poles

    Meet your new best hiking friend. Trekking poles are an incredibly useful piece of gear, that have a multitude of uses. First, they have a huge impact on the happiness of our knees and leg joints, especially on the descent. Second, they also help immensely with balance, especially on rocky trails and snow. Third, they are a useful tool around camp, from anchoring a tarp to defending your chocolate bar dessert from hungry fellow hikers.

    4. Find the right bug spray

    Mosquitos. Flies. Ticks. Oh my! There are many biting bugs that coexist in our favorite outdoor places, so it is important to find a bug spray that matches our needs. In some places, the mosquitoes are so bad that you have to use DEET, a strong chemical that is not great for us, and is worse for our plastic based gear. With prolonged use, DEET can discolor and eventually degrade a wide variety of gear, especially those that contain rayon, spandex, and vinyl. With this in mind, my personal favorite bug spray uses the chemical Picaridin. A synthetic chemical based on the compounds in black pepper plants, Picaridin is gear-safe and better for your skin.

    A typical campsite after a long day of hiking. Somewhere in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. A typical campsite after a long day of hiking. Somewhere in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Photo: Claire Giordano

     

    5. Make your own firestarter kit

    The ability to make a fire is not only a cool skill, but also a potentially life saving activity. In emergency circumstances, a fire helps rescuers find you and could provide warmth too. Starting the fire is the tricky part, however, and a firestarter kit makes it infinitely easier. While you can buy premade kits, one of the easiest and affordable options is to saturate a few cotton balls with vaseline, package them up in plastic, and put them in a ziploc bag with waterproof matches and a small flint. WIth these three tools, you stand a much better chance of starting that fire when you need it, especially in bad weather.

    6. The easy way to stuff a sleeping bag

    It is 6 am, you have a big day of hiking ahead of you, the horizon steadily lightens, and you are still packing up camp. To speed the camp-breakdown process, a simple tip is to stuff your sleeping bag inside out. The outer face fabric holds in heat and air well, resuling in the balloon of downy sleeping bag that refueses to go inside the sack. By stuffing inside out, the air can escape through the thinner inner lining of the bag, eliminating the frustration of hte morning stuffing ritual.

    7. Don’t forget a towel for the dogs

    Hike with four legged companions? Then d stash a few dry towels in the car! After a long day (or days) of hiking, our furry companions are often a little damp and dirty. Once you are back at the car, the fluffy dry towels make loading and cleaning up for the car easy.

    8. Bandanas: they do everything.

    It is amazing that a simple piece of fabric could do so much. Sweatband. Washcloth. Knee wrap. Pack decoration. Hankerchief. Necktie. Sun shield a la Lawrence of Arabia hat style. Headband. Compress…. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination.

    9. Always bring extra batteries for your flashlight.

    Keep a set in your pack, at all times. They are so small, and easily forgotten, and always seem to run out at the least opportune time.  Having a spare set is critical for your safety, especially if something unexpected happens.

  • Backpacking Hacks Part 1: Food

    It’s backpacking season in Washington, and the Feathered Friends staff is getting out there on adventures big and small. Here is a collection of some of our favorite backpacking tips. Part 1 focuses on food!

    Backpacking meal by Claire Giordano Dinner in the Sierras. Picture: Claire Giordano

     

    1. Fun food = happy hikers

    You may have been told that it doesn’t matter what food you bring, because you will be so hungry and eat it anyway... no matter how bad it tastes. While we have all choked down our fair share of freeze dried cardboard packs, taking the time and energy to bring exciting food elevates our backpacking experience like little else out there.

    From lugging cold pizza to base camp to carrying in a bag of candy, we each have a favorite food that we bring along. If weight is a concern, however, we suggest bringing something simple but fun like Expedition hot sauce or sausages to add to a lightweight freeze dried meal.

     

    2. Stash a special food item, and share to make best friends

    One of my personal favorite things to do is to carry something special, and keep it secret until midway through the trip. Sometimes this special item is a small bundle of strawberries, other times it is a bar of chocolate or cookies or a beer. In the middle of our trip, when we are all a little tired or stuck in bad weather, I bring out the special food stash. It is a simple action with surprisingly big responses, each time bringing smiles to everyone’s faces and happiness to our tummies.

     

    3. Spice up your life

    Dont settle for bland food. Bring a small collection of spices to personalize each meal. Rae’s recommendation is to buy a small stackable spice jar, which usually has a diameter about the size of a quarter, and can hold anywhere from 1-5 spices depending on which one you find. Her favorite spices are salt, pepper, and garlic powder. After a long hike in the hot sun, being able to sprinkle on some extra salt is just what our bodies need to replenish for the next day’s adventures.

     

    4. Wine and Nalgene bottles do not mix

    Some of us may remember making this mistake in college; filling our favorite hiking nalgene bottle with wine or beer on the way to meet friends, only to get home and realize that the smell is never, ever, going to leave the water bottle.

    The solution; a flask or a plastic container specially designed to carry our favorite adult beverages. There are bags for wine that are lightweight, reusable, easy to clean, and compactible once emptied.

     

    5. Invest in Efficient Cookware

    Preparing for a backpacking trip can be overwhelming, between planning a destination, analyzing the weather, and packing all the gear. Sometimes it is easy to overlook our camp kitchen set-up, which makes it a great place to shave ounces from our pack loads.

    A good place to start is with the simple (and more affordable) items such as our pot and bowl. While any old thing from the kitchen will get the job done, we might end up carrying a lot of extra weight and bulk. Aluminum pots are a good place to start, and if you don’t mind dishing out a little more cash a non-stick pot makes cleanup easy.

    One of our staff members also recommends getting a lightweight foldable bowl. She carries two; on for her, and one for her dog. The foldable design makes it small enough to fit in the dog’s pack too!

     

    Next up: A smorgasbord of backpacking hacks from how to make your own fire starter to tips on traveling with dogs.

  • Section Hiker Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag Review

    Philip Werner, the adventurer behind the Section Hiker blog, wrote a review of the Flicker Sleeping bag. Here is his summary:

    Image of the Flicker bag by Section Hiker

    When I first received the Feather Friends Flicker 40 UL, I wondered if was a bit overbuilt for three-season backpacking. Was an insulated draft collar really necessary or a full length zipper? While highly desirable, you don’t find these features on other ultralight quilts or hoodless sleeping bags.

    Then I started using the Flicker UL 40 on backpacking and camping trips and became a complete convert to the design philosophy behind this bag. If you’re the kind of person who likes to switch between different tents, tarps, or hammocks as the seasons change, it’s nice to have a sleep system that can be reconfigured for different temperatures and in different ways to complement them. Especially, if there’s no weight penalty or price premium for the added flexibility. I’d rather own one product that can be used in several different ways than buying several products that only have one purpose.

    If you’re looking for a new lightweight sleep system, I’d encourage you to include the Flicker 40 in your search. Do the price and weight comparisons and consider the benefit of the added versatility that the Flicker provides. I can tell you that I’m seriously considering selling my top quilt and hammock underquilt and replacing them with a Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag. Consider me a convert.

    Click here to read the full review!

  • The Flicker Family History

    Flicker in action in North Cascades

    They are finally here: a wide version of our bestselling Flicker Quilt sleeping bag, AND a kids edition!

    Take a look at them on our website!

    Here is a little history on how the Flicker family of bags came to be.

    Two years ago, we launched the Flicker series of down quilt sleeping bags. They quickly became favorites of our staff and adventurers of all types searching for a light bag that could meet a wide variety of needs.

    The Flicker was a long time in the making. Our designers are always exploring ways to not only make traditional bags even better but also to create new designs. Their work has resulted in a wide range of bags, from the Penguin and Condor sleep systems to expedition bags for the coldest climates and the innovative and unusual Spoonbill. The quilt-style bag was an area of increased interest for outdoor enthusiasts looking for lightweight but adaptable insulation, so we began experimenting with designs that maximized versatility in a unique and effective way.

    At first, our designer spent over a year experimenting (a luxury of being a small company) off-and-on with the classical quilt design which had no zipper. In warm weather this design is perfect, because it is light and provides just enough insulation while not restricting movement. In cold weather, however, the open quilt is not ideal because every movement results in a gap between quilt and pad that steals heat and lets cold air in. He explored ways to attach this traditional design to the pad, but none of the approaches panned out.

    The breakthrough happened when our designer accidentally got stuck with a quilt during a particularly cold night. To keep warm, he ditched the pad attachment straps and simply tucked the bag beneath him. While this approach meant he was stuck on his back all night, it occurred to him that adding a few extra inches to the quilt would allow it to zip, which would drastically improve the quilt’s warmth and allow him to move around.

    The next morning he returned to the factory and built the first flicker prototype. From the beginning the goal of the Flicker was to save weight while maximizing versatility. This philosophy led to the design refinements that characterize the Flicker of today; a center zipper instead of an open quilt, and a cinch around the feet rather than a clunky fixed footbox.

    Throughout the exploration phase, our designer was also guided by a desire to balance weight with usability. The Flicker occupies the sweet spot discovered during the design process; the fabrics are light but durable, the design allows for many uses, and the zipper and cinch increase comfort and warmth without adding too many grams.

    Now, we added two new quilts to the Flicker Family; a wide quilt and a kids version. These new adaptations of a favorite design are the result of feedback from those who loved the original Flicker and a continuation of the creative and thoughtful design process that is at the heart of all Feathered Friends products.

  • 2016 Mount Rainier Permits Demystified

    Glaciers on Mount Rainier

    Planning for Mount Rainier isn’t just about gear, food, people, and conditions; we also have to think about permits.

    Summertime within Mt. Rainier National Park is truly stunning - from lowland forested trails to the massively glaciated alpine - it offers exceptional recreational opportunities. Being so close to Seattle, however, things get a little complicated if you are looking to experience the beauty by exploring the high mountain or staying overnight.

    Most years, getting camping permits to the most sought after locations within the park can test the will of most folks. Large chunks of the allocated spots are reserved months in advance, and the few that remain are left to a first-come first-served battle of the early birds.

    2016 is unique, however. ALL wilderness camping and climbing permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis (aka walk-in). Usually you put in a request for a climbing date or a Wonderland trail trip plan, and then reservations are processed by hand. Earlier this year, however, the old reservation system experienced a critical failure resulting in the loss of 2,000 odd reservation requests. The result is an atypical permit season - a great opportunity to get out on a whim! With that in mind, it is important to understand the passes, permits, and registrations needed.

    Climbing Mount Rainier involves glacier travel and spending a night on the mountain. If this applies to you, then you will need the following: a Wilderness Camping Permit and a Climbing Pass, which you use to obtain your Climbing Permit for specified dates.

    Climbing Pass & Permit

    According to the National Park website, a “Climbing Pass is required for anyone who plans to climb above 10,000 feet or onto any glaciers.” In other words, if you plan to go to go beyond camp Muir or Camp Schurman, or on a glacier, you’ll need a pass. Each pass covers your climbing fees for the rest of the calendar year and you can use it to register for an unlimited number of climbs that year.

    Once you have a Climbing pass, the day before or the day of your climb you go to a ranger station and use it (along with Photo ID) to reserve your climbing permit. The permit should go up the mountain with you. One way to think of it is the climbing pass is your admission fee for the year, and the climbing permit reserves your spot on the mountain during a specified time frame.

    Permits are first come first serve. Wherever you plan to go on the mountain, there is a set number of climbing permits allowed each day for each location, which means on the most popular weekends you would be best off going the day before to help ensure that you are not turned away empty handed. A climbing pass does not guarantee a climbing permit for the time that you want.

    The fees associated with the climbing permits support a variety of programs on the mountain that ensure the health of the ecosystem and the safety of human visitors. These include supporting the climbing rangers at the high camps, staffing ranger stations, flying human waste off the mountain to be disposed of properly, and protecting the alpine environment.

    In addition, According to the NPS website, “Climbing permits for Paradise area routes require registration at the Climbing Information Center at Paradise. Emmons/Liberty Ridge route climbs require registration at the White River Wilderness Information Center at the White River Entrance. Climbs initiated from the northwest corner of the park (Carbon River & Mowich Lake) must register with staff at the Carbon River Ranger Station.”

    For more information, check out these pages from the National Park:

    NPS Information on Climbing Passes

    NPS Climbing Pass FAQs

    Wilderness Camping Permit

    Planning to camp? Then you need a wilderness camping permit. These can be issued IN PERSON the day of or the day before your trip.There is also NO fee for these camping permits.

    Unlike the climbing pass, there are quotas for backcountry camping in the national park. During peak (ha) season, popular camps and zones can and do fill up. Suffice it to say: the early bird gets the worm. Pro tip: avoid the lines at 7am Saturday morning and claim your spot Friday afternoon. Heading out midweek? Chances are you will have far more options available, but it is still busy, so having a contingency camping plan is always a good idea.

    Get an overview of camping zones and zone capacity: Rainier Climbing Zones

    This means that if you plan to go over a glacier and camp, you need to have obtained three things: Climbing Pass, Climbing Permit, and Wilderness Camping Permit.

    NPS Info on Wilderness Camping

  • Global Exploration and Recovery: 2016 Greenland Mission

    Feathered Friends is a proud partner of Global Exploration and Recovery LLC (GEaR), a team attempting to bring home three Americans who lost their lives in Greenland in a World War Two plane crash.

    GEaR team puts Feathered Friends bags to use Feathered Friends bags get a little sunshine while at work in Greenland last year.

    In the next few weeks, the Global Exploration and Recovery (GEaR) team will be on their way to Greenland. They will be opening the next chapter of an incredible mission to bring home the wreckage of a US Coast Guard plane that crashed in 1942 and became buried inside a glacier. The saga of the multiple downed planes and rescue attempts are documented in the gripping New York Times best seller, Frozen In Time by Mitchell Zuckoff.

    GEaR’s part of the story began in 2012, when a team was assembled for the first reconnaissance mission to try to find the missing plane. Their efforts were soon dubbed the Duck Hunt, after the name given to the lost Coast Guard seaplane. Over the last four years new teams have gone back, and this year GEaR is equipped with state of the art technology and a talented team who want to find the rest of the plane and bring home the servicemen.

    The modern-day rescue attempts are the continuation of a saga that began in 1942, when Greenland became an incredibly important strategic location during WWII. The United States had just entered the war, and was trying to rush equipment and supplies to allies in Europe. The problem was, however, that the aircraft did not have adequate range to fly all the way across the Atlantic, so were forced to make shorter jumps across the arctic. Greenland was one of the most important stops, but its inhospitable climate made it one of the most dangerous places to touch down. It was and still is a landscape of wind, extreme cold, and desolate expanses of nothing but ice and steep cliffs.

    Jaana Gustafsson working on the ice in Greenland. Jaana Gustafsson working on the ice in Greenland.

    In November, during an early winter storm, a B-17 bomber and its crew of nine went down on the greenland ice cap. The crew was utterly unprepared for survival in cold weather, lacking gear, rations, and functional communication. They survived for weeks, however, through ingenuity, careful rationing of their limited resources, and strong leadership.

    Multiple rescue attempts were made, including flights to the wreckage by a small duck plane piloted by Lt. John Pritchard and radioman Benjamin Bottoms. They made one successful flight, rescuing two crewmen from the B-17 bomber. The next day they flew again, and picked up U.S. Army Air Corps Cpl. Loren Howarth. During this flight, however, a storm rolled in and the plane crashed somewhere along it’s 40 mile flight back to the ship.

    The three Americans were thought lost in the ice, until international efforts in 2012 found a section of the plane, but not the main fuselage that held Pritchard, Bottoms, and Howarth.

    This summer GEaR returns to Greenland in the hopes of finding the rest of the airplane to lay the foundation for a full-scale recovery mission, with the ultimate goal of repatriating the three men and returning them to their families back home. The team members are John Bradley, Francis Marley, Nick Bratton, and Jaana Gustafsson. Thier broad range of expertise, experience, and technical skills make them the ideal team.

    Feathered Friends is proud to support their mission with the warmest sleeping bags and jackets that are built to withstand the extreme conditions of Greenland.

    To learn more, take a look at GEaR's Website

    Read Zuckhoff’s riveting book. For a shorter overview, check out this book review from the Boston Globe.

    Or look at the Coast Guard blog.

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