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Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL Review

The top of the line two-person sleeping bag for dedicated backcountry couples who want to really trim trail weight
Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL
Photo: Feathered Friends
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $929 List | $929.00 at Feathered Friends
Pros:  Unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, respectable packed size, roomy dimensions
Cons:  Super expensive, limited versatility, fragile zipper
Manufacturer:   Feathered Friends
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 30, 2021
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 21
  • Warmth - 20% 9
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 3
  • Features & Design - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Two-person sleeping bags theoretically provide an array of performance benefits. By facilitating the passive sharing of body heat between two people, you could potentially reduce the amount of insulation and materials needed which would translate into lower weight and smaller packed size. The Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL turns this theory into reality. With 23 oz of 950+FP goose down, it supplies staggering levels of warmth in a svelte package that weighs just two and a half pounds. Meanwhile, the generous cut means that both sleepers are left with more room to sprawl than they would get in even a large single mummy bag. Together this means that you enjoy an unrivaled warmth-to-weight ratio in a luxuriously spacious design. The primary drawbacks are an outrageous price and limited versatility. This bag might not be a great choice for beginners or occasional backpackers, but it's probably the best choice for any pair of serious backcountry travelers.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $929.00 at Feathered FriendsCheck Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$399.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$200.00 at REI$99.95 at REI
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Pros Unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, respectable packed size, roomy dimensionsSpacious dimensions, super comfortable, great loft, lightweight, made in the USASpacious, decent warmth-to-weight ratio, reasonable priceDecent weight, respectable warmth, awesome bargainGreat price, respectable weight, simple design
Cons Super expensive, limited versatility, fragile zipperExpensive, awkward hood, good but not great zipperBulky, ineffective hood closure, limited versatilityAverage materials, limited features, basic designSubpar warmth, annoying hood drawcords, no storage sack, mediocre versatility
Bottom Line The top of the line two-person sleeping bag for dedicated backcountry couples who want to really trim trail weightThe best ultra-premium bag that combines warmth, low weight, good packability, and luxurious comfortA mid-range double bag for weight-conscious and comfort-seeking adventure pairsAn exceptional deal for a capable and sturdy backpacking sleeping bag for those looking to get outside without breaking the bankAn acceptable sleeping bag at a rock bottom price
Rating Categories Feathered Friends S... Western Mountaineer... Big Agnes Sentinel... Mountain Hardwear B... REI Co-op Trailbrea...
Warmth (20%)
9.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
10.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
3.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Packed Size (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Versatility (15%)
3.0
7.0
4.0
6.0
7.0
Features & Design (10%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Feathered Friends S... Western Mountaineer... Big Agnes Sentinel... Mountain Hardwear B... REI Co-op Trailbrea...
Insulation 950+ FP Goose Down 850+ FP Down 650 FP Down 650 FP Down, RDS-certified Synthetic - Polyester
Compressed Volume (L) 11.3 L 7.2 L 11.2 L 7.5 L 9.8 L
Measured Bag Weight (Size Long) 2.54 lbs (size regular) 1.62 lbs 3.25 lbs (size regular) 1.98 lbs 2.74 lbs
Manufacturer claimed weight of size Regular (lbs) 2.63 lb 1.5 lbs 3.5 lbs 1.79 lbs 2.5 lb
Compression/Stuff Sack Weight (oz) 1.4 oz 1.6 oz 1.4 oz 1.6 oz 1.2 oz
Hydrophobic down No No Yes No N/A
Manufacturer Temp Rating (F) Not listed (20F est.) 30 F 30 F 30 F 30 F
EN Temp Rating (Lower Limit, F) Not rated Not rated Not rated 30 F 29 F
Fill Weight (oz) 23 oz 13 oz 19.5 oz 15 oz 21.1 oz
Compression or stuff sack included? Stuff sack Stuff Stuff sack Stuff sack Stuff
Shell material Pertex Endurance 10D Extremelite (12D) Polyester ripstop 20D Nylon Ripstop Polyester w/ DWR
DWR? Yes No Yes Yes No
Liner material Flite 15 denier ripstop nylon n/a Polyester taffeta 30D Plain weave nylon Polyester
Neck Baffle No No Yes No No
Small Organization Pocket No No No Yes Yes
Zipper Dual half-length Full-length / Side Dual 3/4-length 3/4-length / Left Side 3/4-Length / Left Side
Shoulder Girth (in) 105 64 105 62 62
Hip Girth (in) 90 Not stated 105 53 56
Foot Girth (in) 68 39 84 Not stated

Our Analysis and Test Results

Feathered Friends make some of the best down gear available. The Spoonbill UL represents their best effort at a top-of-the-line two-person sleeping bag and its spectacular performance did not disappoint in any of our tests.

Performance Comparison


A two-person sleeping bag, like the Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL...
A two-person sleeping bag, like the Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL, is the absolute lightest solution for backcountry overnights.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Warmth


The Spoonbill UL does not receive an EN or even a manufacturer temperature rating. Nevertheless, our testers believe it supplies similar warmth to other ultra-premium 20F sleeping bags. This warmth is achieved due to two full hoods that do an excellent job to ensure that heat stays trapped inside. The tongue of insulated fabric that separates these hoods is a welcomed design feature and unusual for most double bags that feature a large shared hood.


Although the separate hoods on the Spoonbill make it trickier to snuggle, they vastly improve the warmth on cold nights. The 950+FP down is also some of the loftiest insulation we've encountered and the baffles are thoroughly stuffed with this stuff to prevent any cold spots.

The separate hoods on the Spoonbill both feature serious neck...
The separate hoods on the Spoonbill both feature serious neck baffles to really seal the heat in on cold nights.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weight


Our size Regular Spoonbill tipped our scale at 2.54 lbs. Although that equates to being a little heavier than two ultralight single-person sleeping bags, the Spoonbill supplies vastly more warmth. To achieve the same warmth, for example, you could use two Feathered Friends Swallows, but at 1.79 lbs each that would add more than a pound to a pair's overall kit.


In our extensive testing the Spoonbill has supplied the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any imaginable two-person sleeping system. That's probably why this bag is a favorite among serious winter climbers and ounce-obsessed ultralight couples.

The best warmth-to-weight ratios are achieved with two-person...
The best warmth-to-weight ratios are achieved with two-person sleeping bags. Non-romantic partners might be hesitant, but the weight savings is substantial.
Photo: Drew Smith

Comfort


Traditional mummy sleeping bags can feel tight and restrictive, especially from the waist to the foot of the bag. The Spoonbill avoids this annoyance with a 90-inch waist and 64-inch foot. This space is of course shared by two people, but the extra room compared to a single bag, particularly in the vertical direction, greatly reduced our tester's feelings of claustrophobia.


The Spoonbill moniker is actually a bit of a misnomer as well because this bag is big enough that spooning is entirely unnecessary. There's actually enough space that you don't need to worry about touching your sleeping partner at all. Our testers also love the combination of 15-denier nylon lining and 950+FP down. Together they create an extremely cozy space that supplies enough luxury to match this bag's exorbitant price tag.

We're not big fans of the included stuff sack because it doesn't...
We're not big fans of the included stuff sack because it doesn't keep the sleeping bag compressed very well.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Packed Size


There is no way around it--any double bag is going to take up a lot of space. Using a third-party compression sack we measured the minimum volume of the Spoonbill UL at 11.3 liters. That is sure to take up a lot of space in anyone's backpack, but it's noticeably smaller than the combined volume of two single-person sleeping bags. If you and your partner are willing to integrate a Spoonbill into the group gear that you share carrying, it can result in smaller overall packs for everyone involved.


One complaint we have, however, is that the simple stuff sack included with this bag is ineffective at compression. So if you want to get it packed down as small as possible, you will need to spring for a sturdy after-market compression sack.

Although the two-person Spoonbill is large on its own (right), it's...
Although the two-person Spoonbill is large on its own (right), it's considerably smaller than the combined size of the two single-person bags on the left that offer similar warmth.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Versatility


The Spoonbill UL has several factors working against it in the versatility department. First, it relies on down insulation. This insulation is susceptible to clumping if it gets wet. The zippers located on either side of the bag are also short and ineffective for shedding excess heat. The same is true for the separate hoods because they can't be opened fully on warm nights.


Probably the biggest versatility issue though is this bag's inherent two-person design. Although this creates huge warmth and weight advantages, it means you need to have two willing sleepers for this bag to be usable.

The black underside of the Spoonbill UL is completely uninsulated...
The black underside of the Spoonbill UL is completely uninsulated, so it must be paired with a set of good sleeping pads.
Photo: Jack Cramer

That might not be an issue for couples that always enjoy adventuring together, but more casual friends may balk at the prospect of sharing a bag with their stinky trail partner. Another thing to keep in mind is that the underside of this bag is uninsulated so it must be used with a pair of good sleeping pads.

We detest the closed ends on this zipper because they make it nearly...
We detest the closed ends on this zipper because they make it nearly impossible to fix the zipper if it becomes misaligned.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Features & Design


We love several features on the Spoonbill UL, but we hate at least one. The separate hoods and cozy and well thought out. They are also more effective at sealing heat in than any of the designs we've seen on other double bags. The drawstrings and snaps used to adjust these hoods are also effective and easy to operate.


We like the feel of the zippers and their ability to avoid snagging. However, we harbor a huge durability concern about how the bases of the zippers are stopped off and sewn into the bag. Most sleeping bag zippers include a pair of separating pins that can be utilized for restarting the zipper slide if the teeth become misaligned. With the zipper ends sewn into the Spoonbill, a quick realignment is not possible. Fixing misaligned teeth would likely require removing the zipper completely from the bag and sewing it back on. Fortunately, we didn't have any misalignments occur in the backcountry with this bag, but we have with other similarly flawed designs and the frigid night that followed was extremely unpleasant.

At the end of our testing period, this plastic stopper broke off the...
At the end of our testing period, this plastic stopper broke off the stuff sack drawcord. It was easy to fix, but a disappointment on such an expensive sleeping bag.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


The Spoonbill UL is a top-of-the-line sleeping bag, and it ain't cheap. In fact, its price is outrageous. But for all that loot you do get the absolute best double sleeping bag and the highest warmth-to-weight ratio that we're aware of. This isn't necessarily a great model for beginners or casual backpackers, but it's ideal for anyone that always needs to have the best gear and also has a regular backcountry partner who's willing to share a sleeping bag.

The Spoonbill is light, but it only makes sense as a backpacking...
The Spoonbill is light, but it only makes sense as a backpacking sleeping bag when you have two eager sleeping partners.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


Double sleeping bags have been around for a while without gaining broad acceptance. The Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL aims to change that with a combination of premium materials and thoughtful design that supplies unmatched performance. It has long been a favorite among hardcore alpine climbers, but there's no reason it shouldn't be popular among devoted backpackers. Sure, the price is steep, but this bag provides the maximum warmth-to-weight ratio of any two-person sleeping system out there while still offering excellent comfort and an impressive feature set.

Jack Cramer