Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL Review
Cons: Super expensive, limited versatility, fragile zipper
Manufacturer: Feathered Friends
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Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL
|Price||$929.00 at Feathered Friends||Check Price at Backcountry|
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|$399.95 at Backcountry|
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|$200.00 at REI||$99.95 at REI|
|Pros||Unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio, respectable packed size, roomy dimensions||Spacious dimensions, super comfortable, great loft, lightweight, made in the USA||Spacious, decent warmth-to-weight ratio, reasonable price||Decent weight, respectable warmth, awesome bargain||Great price, respectable weight, simple design|
|Cons||Super expensive, limited versatility, fragile zipper||Expensive, awkward hood, good but not great zipper||Bulky, ineffective hood closure, limited versatility||Average materials, limited features, basic design||Subpar 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 weight||The best ultra-premium bag that combines warmth, low weight, good packability, and luxurious comfort||A mid-range double bag for weight-conscious and comfort-seeking adventure pairs||An exceptional deal for a capable and sturdy backpacking sleeping bag for those looking to get outside without breaking the bank||An 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...|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Features & Design (10%)|
|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|
|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|
|Liner material||Flite 15 denier ripstop nylon||n/a||Polyester taffeta||30D Plain weave nylon||Polyester|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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