Hands-on Gear Review

Compare backpacking sleeping bag ratings side-by-side >

Feathered Friends Hummingbird 20 Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  • Currently 4.8/5
Overall avg rating 4.8 of 5 based on 4 reviews. Most recent review: June 15, 2014
Street Price:   $449
Pros:  Best lightweight hooded bag tested, Several size options allow for best fit + comfort, 900-fill down, top-tier fabric, secure snap hood closure.
Cons:  Some other hoods can be more comfortable.
Best Uses:  3-season backpacking and camping.
User Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.7 of 5) based on 3 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (3/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Feathered Friends
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 17, 2012  
Overview
The Feathered Friends Hummingbird is the lightest and most versatile traditional style 20-degree sleeping bag we’ve tested. However, it is only available directly from the manufacturer, the wait time is 1-4 weeks, and you are unlikely to find it on sale. Our top rated bags easily available from retailers are the Western Mountaineering Versalite 10 and the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20. Both scored only a few points behind the Hummingbird and are excellent options.

If you can get past the idea of waiting for the sleeping bag, you won't be disappointed. This efficient, 25 ounce, 900-fill down stuffed cocoon is warmer than all other bags that weigh a similar amount. The Hummingbird is our favorite fully featured sleeping bag (with an attached hood and full-length zipper) for both camping AND weight conscious activities. If we were to have one single sleeping bag for all types activities it would be the Hummingbird. Every part of the bag, including the design, the fabrics, and the USA-made construction quality are the best available.

Check out our comprehensive Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review to compare the Hummingbird to other similar bags. If saving weight is your top priority consider a bag from our Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review. Similarly if you're looking for a cheap and comfortable bag primarily for general use and car camping, see our Camping Sleeping Bag Review.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Fit, Part of the Feathered Friends Advantage
As is the case with jackets and pants, fit it is a critical component of sleeping bag performance. Bags with fixed girths –all of the ones tested in this comparative review and all of those found at a typical outdoor store—are limited by their inability to adapt to changes in clothing. For example, a bag that is thermally efficient when used without much clothing will likely be too small to allow a down jacket to loft properly. Through testing more than seventy sleeping bags we’ve found that fit is one of the most important attributes of selecting a sleeping bag. Fortunately, Feathered Friends offers four sleeping bags in their 20-degree line, of which the Hummingbird is the trimmest and lightest. This review applies both to the Hummingbird and to the other bags in the line; the amount of loft and the features in the various bags remains constant while shape changes. Therefore, regardless of your build and height we believe the one of the bags in this line will work superbly for you.

Warmth
Warmth is primarily determined by the amount of loft and the fit of a sleeping bag. As mentioned above, and covered in more detail below, one can choose from four different cuts of this bag to maximize thermal efficiency and comfort.

The Hummingbird has a conservative rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Though manufacturers’ temperature ratings often overestimate warm, we believe that Feathered Friends does the opposite, both with this bag and others. The Hummingbird lies closer to the average 15-degree bag we’ve tested.

Weight
The Hummingbird’s 900-fill down and top-tier fabrics make it very warm for its 25.5 ounce weight. Many other traditional style sleeping bags are lighter, but they often save weight by reducing the amount of down (read: warmth) rather than eliminating features that might reduce weight without reducing warmth, such as is accomplished in the bags found in our Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review. In other words, if you want a solidly warm three-season bag with a hood and a full-length zipper it doesn’t get any lighter than this.

Similarly, the Hummingbird’s 900-fill down allows the bag to compress very small for its warmth. Sleeping bags that use lower fill power down need to add more down to achieve the same warmth as bags that use higher fill power down. For example, one ounce of 450-fill down occupies 450 cubic inches while one ounce of 900-fill down occupies twice that volume!! The Hummingbird uses less high-lofting down to keep you warm and allow the bag to compress small. Higher fill powers also have the advantage of being more durable than lower fill powers; there is less feather content and feathers tend to bend and break easier than the ultra tiny, super flexible clusters of the highest quality down. Also, down is many times more durable than synthetic insulation. With top-tier down, your money goes farther in many respects.

Comfort
Comfort is a highly subjective topic that’s argued about both by sleeping bag designers and testers. Some say that comfort comes from being able to move around within a sleeping bag while others believe that being able to move around with the sleeping bag is sufficient. We direct people that want to the ability to move within a sleeping bag to our camping sleeping bag review, where colossal rectangular bags provide heavenly, bed-like luxuries. For those of us that want sufficient comfort and weight savings at the same time, the Hummingbird provides an exceptional middle ground. Again, you can choose from four sizes. And, yes the Hummingbird is comfortable!! Its lightweight, high lofting design makes you feel like you’re sleeping in a bubble of barely perceptible insulation. This is many times better than heavy, suffocating synthetic sleeping bags.

Features
Due the relatively small amount of down found in three-season sleeping bags fabric plays a disproportionate role in influencing weight and compressibility. Top-tier ultralight downproof fabrics are advancing rapidly and Feathered Friends offers the Hummingbird in two fabric options.

“Nano” is a high quality fabric that bests the vast majority of others we’ve tested. “Pertex UL” saves additional weight and increases breathability without significantly reducing water resistance or strength. If saving weight is a top priority consider the UL option. Feathered Friends offers the UL fabric bundled with 900-fill down and the Nano fabric with 850+ down. If you want the absolute best, and have the cash for it, then go with the UL. Otherwise, the Nano and 850+ fill down combinations performs superbly— we’ve tested numerous Feathered Friends bags with both options. Bonus: there are several color options for each fabric. Choose from the colors available in stock or pay an extra $30 to have a bag made with your favorite color.

The Hummingbird’s design is remarkably simple and effective. A passive draft collar helps to seal in warm air and a simple snap closure prevents the zipper from accidentally opening. There are no unnecessary bells and whistles to this bag—no zippered pockets, no pillow pockets, no pad attachment loops, or foot vents, or glow in the dark gizmos— the bag aims to provide as much warmth and comfort for the least amount of weight possible.

Click to enlarge
Feathered Friends fabric colors options. The Hummingbird is available in either Pertex Endurance UL (top) or Schoeller Nano (bottom).
Credit: Feathered Friends
Versatility
As mentioned above, fixed girth bags are significantly less versatile than adjustable girth quilts. For this reason, we believe that quilts offer more performance people that primarily pursue multi-day overnight trips. The Hummingbird mitigates this limitation to some extent by using continuous horizontal baffle construction that allows you to shift down from the bottom of the bag to the top, and vice versa. Continuous baffles are excellent for three-season bags because you can move down to the bottom of the bag when it’s warm out and to the top when it’s cold out. Shifting nearly all of the down from the bottom to the top, and using a sleeping bad to insulate from the ground, makes the Hummingbird very toasty- perhaps equivalent to a 10 degree bag? This feature is a very important difference that separates the Hummingbird from the vast majority of bags currently sold by major outdoor stores like REI. Bags that trap down on the top and bottom in fixed baffles “waste” the down that gets compressed underneath you. And this is a common problem with all bags that feature Insotec Flow vertical baffles (Marmot Plasma, Sierra Designs Cloud, Nemo Nocturne, etc.)

The Marmot Plasma at left has a vertical baffles, a wide cut, and larg...
The Marmot Plasma at left has a vertical baffles, a wide cut, and large toe box. The Feathered Friends Hummingbird at right has continuous horizontal baffles (more versatile) and is available in 4 cuts that maximize thermal efficiency and reduce weight.
Credit: Marmot and Feathered Friends
Limitations
Feathered Friends is a small Seattle-based outfit that has been producing top-quality down garments since 1972. After testing eight of their bags over the past three years, we are confident that they make the highest performance and most innovative down sleeping bags money can by. Although the Hummingbird is the highest scoring bag in our comparison, it is not without drawbacks. No sleeping bag is perfect.

The Hummingbird would benefit from a redesign of the hood. Bags like the Mountain Hardwear Phantom and Marmot Plasma have hoods with small openings that are warmer and more comfortable than the Hummingbird’s hood. We would prefer it if the Hummbingbird had a smaller hood like the Phantom and Plasma. But this is a very small drawback that does not significantly influence performance.

Feathered Friends bags come with moderate quality stuff sacks that are not significantly water resistant, let alone watertight. We encourage you to consider upgrading to a better sack to protect your bag from water and adventure grime. See our Best Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack Article to compare our top picks.

Value
Despite being exceptionally well designed and constructed, the Hummingbird costs less than some other three-season bags. This is a killer deal for a top quality bag. We believe it’s worth every penny; the bag will keep you warm and comfortable for many years of adventuring.

Choosing the Right Model
There are four options to choose from. Which one is best for you? Well, unfortunately, Feathered Friends sleeping bags can only be found in their Seattle retail store. For most of us this makes it impossible to try one on. Therefore, we suggest comparing the girths of various bags at other stores and estimating which Feathered Friends bag will fit you best. If you don’t have the time or inclination for such an experiment we offer suggestions for specific models below. Girths are measured at the (shoulder/chest/ foot).

Click to enlarge
Feathered Friends 20-degree bags come in four different cut options, from left to right: Hummingbird (skinny), Swallow (average), Swift (wide), and Egret (women's specific). Choose the one that fits you best.
Credit: Feathered Friends
Hummingbird: (58" / 52 "/ 38") Excellent for trim athletic builds, though it also works well for moderately broad shouldered people- there will just be less space for extra clothing. Our top choice bag for three-season use. $449 with UL fabric and 900-fill down. Only $389 with Nano fabric and 850+ down.

Swallow: (60" / 56" / 38") A sure bet for the average person. Extra space for layering with a puffy down jacket or parka for trim people. $469 with UL fabric and 900-fill down. $409 with Nano fabric and 850+ down.

Swift: (64" / 58" / 40”) For wider people. $479 with UL fabric and 900-fill down. $419 with Nano fabric and 850+ down.

Egret: (54" / 56" / 38") Designed especially for women with a warmer footbox, more room at the elbows, and the alternative lengths of Small (5’ 3”) and Medium (5’ 9”). We know of no other bag that offers a better fit for women. This is a unique opportunity to maximize comfort and performance.

How to Get It
Feathered Friends bags are not sold by large commercial or online retailers.
Shop online at http://featheredfriends.com/ or click the model links above.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 15, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.7)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Dec 23, 2012 - 10:10pm
rockbike · Climber · Morro Bay, CA
I used the Feathered Friends Hummingbird 20 continually for five months over this last summer (2012). I used it wail working on a Backcountry Trail Crew camped at 9600' in Yosemite. The crew was working on the John Muir/Pacific Crest Trail at the 11000' Donahue Pass. During the summer i would spend the weekends hiking trout Yosemite and the Inyo National Forest. I don't think I ever used this sleeping bag lower than 6000'. The bag worked great. The inside of the bag was snug enough not to have any dead air spaces but at 6' 190lbs I never felt like it was to small. I used a sleeping bag liner to help with sanitation. The Feathered Friends bag never got any nasty smells and i did not wash it at all over the summer. On weekends that where up to four days in length I was able to fit every thing i needed in to a 38L backpack because this bag packed down small and was light. During the work week I stayed in my tent and the bag was supper warm. On weekends I would sleep out side (no tent) and the bag still kept me plenty warm. I never used it in the rain but I did spend a night out in freezing snow with no cold or moister issues.

The two problems I had with the Feathered Friends bag was with the hood and the down. The hood didn't quite fit right. I felt the hood was a little on the shallow side, as if the face opening was a little to far up. My problem with the down was it tended to clump up after a couple months of continues usage. I was able to fix this by "fluffing" the bag every night before getting into it. easy fix.

I really liked the inside spacing, the warmth, and pack ability of this bag.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jun 15, 2014 - 07:46am
andyi · Skier
Could someone explain me this - copied from review:

"Hummingbird mitigates this limitation to some extent by using continuous horizontal baffle construction that allows you to shift down from the bottom of the bag to the top, and vice versa."

I do not understand why this could be a good things since i am moving while sleeping and only means that down will also move arround?

I am looking for new bag and need some more understanding about construction.

I am 181 cm tall, 74kg , normal athletic shape body with normal sholders.

In official FF page they are offering reg and long version. Regular is 183cm buy this is external or internal measurement?
Would be regular big enought?

Thanks

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Feb 6, 2014 - 11:13pm
Watto · Backpacker · Sydney
I have the Swallow with Nano fabric in a regular size. I weigh 64kg (141lb) and am 178cm tall (5’10” and a bit). This makes me a lean/athletic build.
I could very easily fit in the Hummingbird, but after long deliberation I decided that the Swallow would give me more versatility, and it does. When it is very warm I open it up completely and put my feet in the toe box and the rest over me like a quilt. When it is moderate in temperature I zip up the required amount and have lots of additional room because of the relaxed fit (wider in the hip area) of the Feathered Friends bags, and because I got the Swallow instead of the Hummingbird. When it is cold I can fit in the bag with layers, up to a large puffy jacket, which will extend the range.
I say ‘will’ as I have only tested that my puffy jacket lofts within the bag and I am comfortable. I have not actually slept in the bag at such a low temperate to require layering.
The final thing that makes the bag versatile is the ability to move the down around the baffles, but this seems to be standard with top of the line bags.
This was a big investment, so I wanted it to cover me for 80% plus of my applications. With the same motivation I thought long and hard about whether to get it in the Nano fabric or the Pertex Endurance UL. I disregarded price at this point, yet still chose the Nano. I had trouble finding definitive feedback about these fabrics, so in the end I took a stab. I was worried about the durability of the Pertex Endurance UL. From the Feathered Friends website:
“We have carefully chosen fabrics throughout our product line to complement the intended use, and while we always strive to maintain the balance between durability and weight, some fabrics such as the Pertex Endurance® UL at less than an ounce per square yard, tip that scale in favor of superior weight savings. “
For 74grams penalty I was thinking that I would appreciate the extra strength of the Nano fabric. I decided to do some Googling, and came back with very little info comparing the fabrics. It does appear the Nano has been around longer than the Pertex, and therefore would have been more field tested. I could not find any bad feedback about either of the fabrics but given the Nano had been around longer I thought this was more significant. I wondered if the Pertex would start dropping down over time, or become even less durable. The OGL review indicates that Pertex is lighter and more breathable, but less durable and less water resistant……..I guess it depends on what you want, and it would have been great to feel both the fabrics.
Now that I have the Nano I am glad I got it, because I am comfortable with the strength of the fabric and would not want it to be any less durable. In the end it was advice I found in a Feathered Friends QA archive that convinced me, I don’t know if this is still the company line:
“If you put a priority on having the lightest shell material available: go with Pertex Endurance UL or Schoeller NanoSphere.
If you need a blend of durability, weight saving, soft hand, and water-resistance: go with Shcoeller NanoSphere..”
Without touching the Pertex, ‘soft hand’, seemed to imply that the Nano fabric feels a bit better to the touch, and it does feel nice, a lot nicer than the Extemelite fabric used on the WM bags (which I could touch at my local shop!)
I also noted that the liner on the Nano bag is Pertex® 30 denier nylon taffeta, and on the Pertex it is Flite 15 denier ripstop nylon. I am not sure of the difference of these fabrics, but again I think it would come down to weight saving over strength and ‘soft hand’ or feel. There is just as much liner as shell material and it is against your skin, so this is worth considering.
And my feedback…..
Love the bag. As advertised and reviewed by OGL. Such a simple no fuss design. Love the roomy cut compared to other mummies I tried on in the shops. Love the feel of the fabric inside and out. It is a massive step up on my previous bag and I hope will serve me in a wide array of scenarios. I have used it on lots of overnighters and on the Tasmanian South Coast Track down to 0 degrees Celsius (30 degrees Fahrenheit) without layering and have been warm.
Being able to pick your girth is a huge benefit unless something off the rack fits your requirement. This really lets you think about how you are going to use the bag and buy the one which suites you. I would say that the OGL “Choosing the Right Model” guide above was spot on for me.
Only issue, there was a seam section 2cm (1 inch) long which had not been sewn. It was not a pulled seam, it had just never been sewn in properly (literally no holes in the fabric in that section where the needle would have gone). Thankfully I found it on the first use and taped it in the field. My wife hand sewed it since, rather than sending it back. I have read the odd review about FF and quality assurance, so I hope they are not getting too busy to maintain quality. I also read that quality issues are being resolved with fantastic customer support, so perhaps this is overstated. I have no doubt if I had raised this with FF they would have addressed it, and I definitely plan to buy more of their products in future.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the Feathered Friends Hummingbird 20?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Click to enlarge
Feathered Friends Hummingbird.
Related Best-in-Class Review
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review

We tested 34 of the best quality lightweight backpacking bags in a head-to-head competition that assessed the following categories: fit, weight, warmth, packed size, and features.
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter