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Hands-on Gear Review

Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Review

Price:   $339 List | $339.00 at Feathered Friends
Pros:  Only bag with fully closed mummy AND fully open quilt option, water resistant shell material
Cons:  Some cold spots in the down
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Feathered Friends

Our Verdict

The Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL is one of the most interesting products in our ultralight sleeping bag review. When completely zipped up with the footbox cinched closed, it is a fully enclosed hoodless mummy bag. But the awesome feature of this bag is that the zipper completely separates, the foot box opens up, and you have a flat quilt. We found it the warmest of the 40 degree rated models we tested. While this unique combination of function (fully closed mummy or fully open flat quilt) will appeal to some, other products performed better in each use mode.

The ZPacks 20 Degree is our preferred choice for a fully closed up hoodless mummy. It is very light, and very warm for its weight. The Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 is our favorite fully-opening quilt of the models we tested. It is very warm and we like the combination of vertical and horizontal baffles, and the price is right. It won our Best Buy Award.

Product Update — February 2017
The Flicker bag has seen some updates this year! Keep reading for more information.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags of 2017

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Style Nominal Rating Weight (bag only)
84
$460
Editors' Choice Award
Quilt - Closed Foot 30F 18.8 oz
81
$375
Hoodless Mummy 20F 17.2 oz
75
$250
Best Buy Award
Quilt - Fully Opening 20F 21.9 oz
74
$309
Top Pick Award
Mummy - 3/4 Length 45F/25F 13.9 oz
71
$350
Top Pick Award
Quilt - Closed Foot 45F 20.5 oz
70
$219
Quilt - Fully Opening 40F 14.8 oz
70
$390
Hooded Mummy 32F 18.3 oz
70
$339
Quilt - Fully Opening 40F 18.7 oz
65
$480
Hooded Mummy 32F 16 oz
64
$300
Quilt - Closed Foot 30F 28.5 oz

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Brandon Lampley
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Wednesday
February 1, 2017

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Product Update — February 2017


As of early 2017, the Flicker has a new type of down filling. The bag has the same look and but the price seems to have increased slightly to $339. Additionally, the bag is offered in a new wide size, seen here:
  • Down — The new standard for the Vireo is 950 fill, RDS certified down, compared to the original bag's 850 fill down.
  • Wide Version - For the more expensive price of $369, the Flicker 40 is now offered in a wide size! Additionally, there is a long version of the wide available for $383.
  • Price - The price has increased by ten bucks to $339.

We haven't tested this bag with the new down just yet, so the rest of this review continues to reflect the original materials.

Hands-On Review


The Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL earned middle of the pack scores across the board, with the exception of versatility. If you don't expect temperatures lower than the upper 30s, and the idea of a fully closed mummy that converts into a flat blanket is appealing, this is a great ultralight bag for you.

How to Get It:
Feathered Friends bags are not sold by major commercial or online retailers.

Find it online at: FeatheredFriends.com

Performance Comparison


Testing the Flicker (left) side-by-side with the ZPacks 20 Degree hoodless mummy (right). The Flicker is a much more versatile bag  but the full-length zipper that makes it so also makes it heavier.
Testing the Flicker (left) side-by-side with the ZPacks 20 Degree hoodless mummy (right). The Flicker is a much more versatile bag, but the full-length zipper that makes it so also makes it heavier.

Warmth


With all our three-season clothing system worn inside, this bag gave us a warm night's sleep down to just above freezing. We were a bit worried that the cinched up foot of the bag would be drafty, but did not find this to be the case. Wearing only light weight base layers, we found the Flicker generally true to the 40F rating. And consistent with Feathered Friends' conservative approach to temperature ratings, our testers felt this bag was significantly warmer than the 40 degree Hammock Gear Burrow 40. The Flicker makes a great late spring to early fall bag, but if you want one ultralight bag to use through three seasons, look to the models with higher warmth scores.

If you are attracted to this bag's design, but need more warmth, it is available in 20 and 30 degree versions.

The foot sealed up well  keeping cold drafts out better than we expected. The zipper is also back by a draft tube for warmth. It is actually a continuation of the main bag's baffles  which saves weight.
The foot sealed up well, keeping cold drafts out better than we expected. The zipper is also back by a draft tube for warmth. It is actually a continuation of the main bag's baffles, which saves weight.

Weight & Packed Size


Weighing in at 18.7 ounces on our digital scale, the Flicker fell right in the middle of the pack for weight. While it is insulated with the third least amount of down, the full length #4 YKK zipper likely adds close to an ounce of weight compared to the short #3 zippers on other models. Feathered Friends products are known for their durability, including beefier zippers. In comparison, the Editors' Choice Katabatic Gear Palisade 30 weighs the same, but it's significantly warmer.

Versatility


Versatility is where the design of the Flicker really hits it out of the park. While the beefy full length zipper does add weight, it creates the only closed mummy bag we tested that also fully opens into a flat quilt. That's pretty darn awesome. Overall, we love the versatility of all quilts, especially fully-opening ones. But they have a drawback — the open backside makes them a poor choice for bivouacs where you are sitting. True to Feathered Friends heritage of catering to alpinists, the Flicker is also functional for sitting bivies when closed and used as a mummy bag.

If you're looking for a bag truly designed with alpinism in mind, consider the Feathered Friends Vireo, which is a "half bag" designed to be used with a down parka.

Fully open this bag up into a flat blanket for summer nights. Or zip and cinch it closed for the warmest use mode (mummy style). It earned one of the highest versatility scores we awarded.
Fully open this bag up into a flat blanket for summer nights. Or zip and cinch it closed for the warmest use mode (mummy style). It earned one of the highest versatility scores we awarded.

Comfort


The Flicker earned a comfort score in the middle of the pack, based on use in the closed mummy mode. Used as a quilt with pad attachments, the adjustable girth is nice. Our favorite feature that contributes to comfort is a two-part neck cinch cord. It is more fiddly to tighten, but allows you to customize the fit around your neck in mummy mode.

Features


This mummy bag that converts into a quilt uses a full-length #4 YKK zipper that is reversed, meaning the teeth that are usually visible on the outside face inwards. The bag separates fully to make a flat quilt, has a double sided top pull with knotted strings, and is backed by a quite large draft tube. Two snaps close it at the neck (one holds the draft tube in the closed position).

The bag has bungee cord neck cinches that are sewn in at the back so the sides tighten separately (the cord locks on these are not sewn into the bag). The cinches run through a big insulated neck baffle, and the bottom of the bag cinches closed with non-stretchy flat tubular cord through a single cord lock, also not sewn into the bag. This foot cord runs through a non-insulated sleeve right at the exterior of the bag to keep all insulation inside.

Continuous horizontal baffles hold the down in the Pertex Endurance water resistant fabric. A series of 4 grosgrain loops sewn into each side of the bag, for 8 total, are evenly spaced to provide pad attachment in quilt mode.

Lots of fine details to note here. The offset zipper creates a draft tube for extra warmth. The zipper is also reversed  meaning the teeth are inside and protected from potential abrasion during rough bivies. Small grosgrain loops to allow pad attachment in quilt mode.
Lots of fine details to note here. The offset zipper creates a draft tube for extra warmth. The zipper is also reversed, meaning the teeth are inside and protected from potential abrasion during rough bivies. Small grosgrain loops to allow pad attachment in quilt mode.

Best Applications


We feel this is a great bag for summertime alpine climbing. Zip it completely up for fully enveloping insulation if you have to bivy in a sitting position and use it in more comfortable quilt mode at camp or when bivy spots are large. Our preferred bag for summer backpacking use is the Big Agnes Pitchpine UL 45 - it is roomy and comfortable when nights are in the 40s and warmer.

We also found the Flicker is sized just right to cover two thin and spooning alpinists who are pushing it so hard that they only carry one sleeping bag for two people. All this said, we feel the warmer versions of this quilt would likely provide the best use for most alpinists.

Value


At $329, the Flicker is a good deal only if it meets your unique priorities for versatility. For three-season backpacking, we feel there are better choices at a similar price.

Conclusion


The Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL is a summer weight bag with unique versatility that will appeal to alpinists, or anyone who needs or prefers a hoodless mummy for sitting bivies, but also wants the options a quilt delivers.

Because this bag fully opens into a flat quilt  you have a lot of options for wrapping up at camp to stay warm in the morning or evening.
Because this bag fully opens into a flat quilt, you have a lot of options for wrapping up at camp to stay warm in the morning or evening.

Sizing, Accessories, & Other Versions


Flicker 30
  • Cost - $360
  • 30*F version of this bag

Feathered Friends Vireo
  • Cost - $310
  • Top Pick Award Winner for alpine climbing!
  • Ultralight bag that extends to shoulder height
  • Only 13.9 ounces.

Feathered Friends Snowbunting
Feathered Friends Snowbunting
  • Cost - $600
  • Editors' Choice Award Winner winter sleeping bag!
  • 850-fill down insulation
  • Water-proof and breathable shell material


would be an excellent option for three-season use and thru-hiking long trails.
Brandon Lampley

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 1, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Apr 24, 2016 - 01:17pm
NatD · Climber · WA
I have the 20 degree version and have really enjoyed it. The versatility is what won me over. Sometimes when I'm traveling for non-climbing reasons I never know if I will be outside, in a shed or open structure, in an unheated building, bunks with no bedding, or even in a hotel from day to day. With this bag I can adapt to any of these scenarios pretty easily.

The down shift does take some deliberate thought, can't just whip it out and hop in and expect the maximum warmth. If it is near the temp limit you definitely want to think through shaking the down to your preferred up-side, and make sure there is some down by both sides of the zipper, or put the zipper on bottom.

The materials are really top notch and provide ample water resistance for condensation, while breathing very well.

Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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