Choosing a sleeping bag can be a very exciting process. A proper sleeping bag will keep you warm, comfortable, and can last a decade or more with proper care! While there isn't a single sleeping bag that can do everything, we have over 40 years of experience and over 40 models of sleeping bags - we will have a great match for your next adventure! Most people start by looking at the following general parameters:
Temperature: Staying warm is very important, so it is no surprise the temperature is one of the biggest factors when picking a sleeping bag. Ideally, you want to choose a sleeping bag that is rated lower than the coldest weather you expect to encounter. If you are a particularly cold sleeper, you may consider choosing a sleeping bag that is rated 10 to 20ºF colder than you might anticipate. Many variables can impact temperature
Shape: The shape of a sleeping bag is particularly important for comfort. A sleeping bag that is very snug may hamper a good night's sleep but won't weight you down as much, whereas a bag that is very roomy may be comfortable but not as thermally efficient. It is useful to remember that a sleeping bag may get many, many hours of use - finding a balance of space and weight usually yields the best of both worlds.
Length: One of the easier parameters, you want to aim for a length that gives you a thermally efficient volume. For summer backpacking, a person 5' 11" will want a Regular length 6' 0" sleeping bag. For a winter expedition, the same 5' 11" person may want a Long 6' 6" sleeping bag to have space for water bottles, boot liners, etc.
Temperature - in depth
Temperature ratings are synonymous with sleeping bags. But what is the right rating for your need? That can be a loaded question. For a lot of scenarios, choosing a sleeping bag that is slightly lower than your anticipated coldest night works well. Cold sleepers will appreciate a bag that is rated 10 to 20ºF colder than anticipated temperatures. Hearty climbers and thru hikers can utilize other insulating layers to extend the range of use.
Our sleeping bag lineup can be broken down to the following temperature ranges:
•Three-Season: Above 30ºF down to 10ºF. These sleeping bags are our lightest sleeping bags. We offer most of the Three Season sleeping bags in two different fabrics: Schoeller Nanosphere and Pertex Endurance UL •Winter: Sleeping bags rated from 0ºF down to -10ºF. We introduce waterproof/breathable Pertex Shield fabrics for additional weather protection. •Expedition: The coldest of the cold. -25ºF all the way down to -60ºF.These sleeping bags are suitable for cold winter regions, high altitude expeditions, and the coldest conditions on Earth.
Perhaps you are heading out on a trip you've never been on before. How cold does it get? Dig around, and usually you can get a baseline temperature. The chart below shows some general temperature ranges in popular places:
What are some factors that can impact temperature ratings?
•Tent or shelter: As simple as it may seem, camping in an enclosed environment will usually be warmer. By providing a barrier, you reduce the amount of heat lost through radiant, evaporative and convective cooling. Not only does the space inside the sleeping bag get warmer, but so does the air inside the tent!
•Sleeping Pad: One of the most important pieces in the sleeping ensemble, the sleeping pad reduces your conductive heat loss through the ground while providing comfort. In some conditions, you may expect to lose more heat through the ground than from the air.
•Gender: It is by no means universal, but men and women tend to sleep differently. Women generally sleep colder than men. In women's Feathered Friends sleeping bags, we add a higher proportion of down than our other models, including more down targeting the feet.
•Metabolism: Your body acts much like an engine, using fuel (food) to to keep everything working. A result of this engine is heat. A high metabolism typically yields more warmth. A low metabolism usually means you may sleep colder.
•Food & Hydration: Ever had a big meal before sleeping, and you felt like you were cooking? Being well fed and hydrated helps ramp up your metabolism and can help boost your warmth.
•Layers: There are times it just gets really, really cold, and putting on a layer or two of dry clothing can really help add to your level of warmth
•Altitude: Altitude usually affects our bodies in many ways. When we sleep, breathing rates tend to be much lower, blood can thicken, and oxygen doesn't reach parts of our bodies as effectively as compared to lower elevations.
•Cleanliness: No, not you, the bag! If you've used your sleeping bag a lot, the down insulation can benefit from a wash. Over time, oils and dirt can decrease the loft of the down. Less loft = less insulation. Washing information can be found here
Shape - in depth
Feathered Friends offers one of the largest variety of sleeping bag shapes on the market.
How do we measure shape?
For each of our sleeping bags, we provide the dimensions (shape) as a series of three numbers. Example: 60/52/38. These measurements are for the interior circumference, measured in inches, at the shoulders, waist, and feet.
We offer the following shapes of sleeping bags:
Narrow Mummy: 58/52/38 For the slender or the extremely weight conscious. Only offered in our 30ºF Merlin and 20ºF HummingbirdStandard Mummy:60/56/38 Our most popular shape. We offer an option in every temperature step from 30ºF to -25ºF
Wide Mummy: 64/58/40 Best for people with broader shoulders, or who possibly anticipate wearing down layers.
Women's Mummy: 54/56/38 Narrower in the shoulders, but slightly wider in the hips, this has been well received by women as well as men.
Expedition Mummy: 64/60/39 Only used on our -40ºF Snow Goose and -60ºF Snowy Owl. Enough volume in case you have to wear a down parka... or down suit.
Semi-Rectangular: 64/61/48 More volume, but a slight taper to reduce on weight and bulk.
Rectangular: 64/64/64 No taper here, just room and more room. Only offered in our Condor sleeping bag models.
Length - in depth
Choosing the length of the sleeping bag is one of the less complex factors in a sleeping bag, but it isn't always cut and dry.
The proper length sleeping bag will ensure that there is enough space to feel comfortable, while not sacrificing heat retention. Remember, the longer the sleeping bag, the more surface area there is for heat to escape and the more volume there is for your body to heat.
We measure our sleeping bags on the inside - from the feet to the hood. Our length structure is pretty basic.
Men's/Unisex sleeping bags: Regular 6'-0" & Long 6'-6"
Women's: Small 5'-3" & Medium 5'9"
VIreo: 62". 68" & 74"
For most Three Season use, we recommend a sleeping bag that will offer a little bit of extra space. For example, somebody who is 5' 7" to 5' 11" tall would typically prefer to use a Regular length sleeping bag. Some folks 6' 0" tall fit fine in a Regular length sleeping bag.
For colder weather use, a sleeping bag becomes a desirable space to keep clothing & boot liners warm, or for a nice warm water bottle to add supplemental heat. In this case, somebody 5' 7" to 5' 10" tall would side with a Regular, whereas people over 5' 10" should opt for a Long sleeping bag.
If you're taller than 6'-6" or much shorter than 5'-3" we can make sleeping bags in custom lengths (working in 6 inch increments). Any custom length bag will take 4 to 6 weeks to complete and cannot be returned. Please call our Seattle store at (206) 292-2210 or email email@example.com for more information
We use the same #5 YKK zipper throughout our mummy sleeping bags. Therefore, a left side zip (Men's) sleeping bag can be zipped together with a right side zip (Women's) sleeping bag. Simply unzip both sleeping bags completely, then zip the two sleeping bags together.
Note: the zipped portion will be as long as the shortest sleeping bag. As an example, a long mummy bag has a 76” zipper while a small women’s bag uses a 58” length. The zippers will mate at the bottom but can only be zipped up to the extent of the shortest zipper, 58” in this case. If you know you intend to use two bags zipped together on a regular basis please inquire with our customer service about having a custom bag made with a zipper downsized to match the shorter of the two bags.
Penguin and Condor bags do not have a true zip side so they do not have to be ordered with opposing zips in order to mate together. Zipper length varies by size and once again, these will only zip up to the extent of the shortest zipper.
Feathered Friends uses an industry standard YKK #5 and #8 zipper but we cannot guarantee that these will mate with other manufacturers bags or older Feathered Friends models. Slight changes to the zipper construction over the years has rendered many of these variations incompatible.
We offer three different types of two-person sleeping bags:
Penguin: A semi rectangular sleeping bag that can be used a spacious single-person bag, or it can be fully unzipped and attached to the Penguin Groundsheet to create a sleeping bag for two. For colder nights, optional hoods can be zipped on to the groundsheet. The Penguin two-person system can be fully utilized with two regular, 20" wide sleeping pads.
Condor: The Condor is a fully rectangular sleeping bag that can be used as the roomiest single-person bag we make or, like the Penguin, it can be fully unzipped and attached to the Condor Groundsheet to create a sleeping bag for two. Like the Penguin, optional hoods can also be zipped on to the groundsheet. The Condor two-person system can be used with sleeping pads up to 25" in width.
Spoonbill: Our award-winning Spoonbill is the ultimate in weight savings and efficiency. This is is a sleeping bag only for two. Permanent, individual hoods help prevent airy drafts, and short zippers on each side allow for easier entry and exit. The Spoonbill is built without insulation on the bottom. Most people use the Spoonbill with two inflatable sleeping pads underneath, linked with a strap or couple kit.
Temperature ratings are complex enough with one person, but they are further complicated with two people. Therefore, we do not assign temperature ratings to our two-person sleeping bag systems.