Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $319
Pros: Doubles as an oversized hooded vest/ sleeveless skirt, very fun to wear, highly versatile, no need to bring an insulated jacket!
Cons: Not as warm for its weight as other bags.
Best Uses: 3-season backpacking and camping.
The Feathered Friends Rock Wren is the funnest sleeping bag we've ever tested. However, ordering it is not very convenient, since it is not available from major retailers, and only directly from the small manufacturer in Seattle (often custom-made, involving long delays in delivery). But, if you can get past the idea of ordering a custom-made bag, you won't be disappointed. It's both a bag and a gigantic hooded vest, and it only weighs 25 ounces. Backpackers, climbers, and bicycle tourists will be warm and happy in this bag. We used it for hiking trips, a bike tour and slept in it, with a jacket, down to 10 degrees.
See how the Rock Wren compares to other hooded bags tested in our Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review. If weight is a top concern also consider a hoodless or quilt style sleeping bag found in the Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Rock Wren is a 25-ounce wearable down sleeping bag. It's shaped like a thin rectangular bag with a jacket-like hood and a bottom that opens and closes with a drawcord (no, your feet don't get cold). Two zippers open for your arms and a center half-length zipper lets you get in and out. The bag works surprisingly well as both a jacket and a sleeping bag. It's roughly as warm as the average 30-degree bag we've tested but isn't as warmth as other bags that weigh the same amount. For example, the Feathered Friends Hummingbird weighs the nearly same amount but adds roughly 10 degrees of warmth.
The Rock Wren's advantage, however, is its versatility. Wearing the bag as a jacket, or a super-sized hooded down vest, lets you save weight by not bringing a dedicated jacket or by bringing a lighter jacket. This is particularly useful for three-season backpacking and bicycle touring. Reading in your sleeping bag has never been easier or warmer. On that note, the Rock Wren is a marvelous addition to any house in the winter. It's the ultimate snuggie for curling up on the couch or wearing around a cold house. Buy a Rock Wren, turn down the thermostat, and you could both be more comfortable and save money. Beyond its performance attributes, this is the funnest sleeping bag we've ever used. In the green color we tested the bag looks ridiculous – like a puke colored gumdrop, but our testers loved wearing it!!
The is one of two Feathered Feathered Friends product we've tested that doesn't receive five stars. The Rock Wren is great, but it's not top-notch like most of the company's other products. We believe the bag would benefit from: (1) lighter zippers; (2) a slightly tapered cut toward the bottom, which would reduce dead air space in the legs and save weight; (3) A substantial amount of heat is lost through the bottom of the hood opening and the hood isn't comfortable when it's fully cinched. Adding a passive draft collar similar to the one on the company's Hummingbird would increase warmth and comfort; and (4) a top tier fabric option. This writer would like to see a redesign that shaves a bit of weight and adds warmth. Again, the company's Hummingbird offers more warmth for nearly the same weight (and it costs $120 more). Even with these drawbacks, however, the bag is very good, and is a great choice for anyone looking for a lightweight bag for multi-day trips or around the house. If you're really picky, you can ask Feathered Friends to build a custom bag to suit your specific needs.
Feathered Friends ships their sleeping bags 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 favorite sacks.
The Rock Wren competes with the Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Sniveller ($300), a wearable down quilt, on price and performance. Both bags are similarly warm but the Rock Wren is better as a jacket. Other sleeping bags like the ZPacks 20 Degree, cost slightly more, provide more warmth, and save five or more ounces. In other words, combining a dedicated lightweight bag and a jacket can be lighter and warmer than the Rock Wren, it just costs twice as much.
The Winter Wren is a slightly warmer version of the Rock Wren.
How to Get It
Feathered Friends bags are not sold by major commercial or online retailers.
Shop online at http://featheredfriends.com/
— Max Neale
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Most recent review: February 7, 2013
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