Reviews You Can Rely On

Feathered Friends Vireo UL Review

A lightweight, variable fill, hoodless mummy without a zipper, designed to be used for alpine climbing in conjunction with a belay parka
feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review
Credit: Feathered Friends
Price:  $389 List
Manufacturer:   Feathered Friends
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 18
  • Warmth - 30% 8.0
  • Weight - 25% 7.0
  • Comfort - 20% 8.0
  • Versatility - 15% 4.0
  • Features - 10% 4.0

Our Verdict

The Feathered Friends Vireo UL is a specialty bag that is designed for use while alpine climbing. With this goal in mind, this hoodless mummy completely cuts out the zipper to save weight and bulk, and while it has a temperature rating of 25F for the lower body, it uses less down fill on the upper body, which is rated to 45F. The idea is that you will pair it with your insulated belay jacket, which you have to carry on the climb with you anyway, to again save weight and keep you warm during your bivy. At 16.4 ounces, it is indeed very light. While it will serve one well as an alpine climbing sleeping bag, we also found it to be comfortable and enjoyable for use while backpacking as well. The 62" version we tested in our updated review weighs in at 13.9 ounces! The longer 68" version we previously tested also weighed in at less than 16 ounces. We recommend the Vireo to alpinists and cold weather adventurers who climb or hike with a very warm winter parka.
REASONS TO BUY
Super simple and light
Highest quality down
Spacious and comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
No zipper
Hard to tell the difference between variable fill zones
Must be paired with warm jacket
Feet can get hot in warmer weather
Not as versatile as other ultralight bags

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $389 List
$429.00 at Feathered Friends
$429 List
$469.00 at Feathered Friends
$450.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$320 List$200 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Super simple and light, highest quality down, spacious and comfortableHighest scoring ultralight sleeping bag, best features, and most versatileWarmth-to-weight ratio, excellent fabric, best bag with a hood, versatileVery affordable, highly customizable, versatile, lots of featuresVery inexpensive, versatile, good feature set
Cons No zipper, hard to tell the difference between variable fill zones, must be paired with warm jacket, feet can get hot in warmer weather, not as versatile as other ultralight bagsNot as warm as others (in the version we tested), neck draw cords loosen over timeTight fit, shallow hood, expensiveLong wait for product to be custom made and shipped, foot box draw cord still leaves a little hole, lots of buttons and strapsNot as warm as similar quilts, doesn't seal at the bottom very well
Bottom Line A lightweight, variable fill, hoodless mummy without a zipper, designed to be used for alpine climbing in conjunction with a belay parkaThe highest scorer because of its versatile design that allows it to be a fully opened blanket or a fully zipped hoodless mummyA stellar choice for those looking for a warm, lightweight, fully hooded mummyOffers the versatility of sleeping under it as a blanket or fully wrapped up, with a huge range of customizable optionsA quilt with good features at an unbeatable price
Rating Categories Feathered Friends V... Feathered Friends F... Western Mountaineer... Enlightened Equipme... Hammock Gear Econom...
Warmth (30%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (25%)
7.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
2.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Versatility (15%)
4.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Features (10%)
4.0
10.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Feathered Friends V... Feathered Friends F... Western Mountaineer... Enlightened Equipme... Hammock Gear Econom...
Manufacturer Stated Temperature Rating 25F lower half, 45F upper half 40F 32F 20F 20F
Measured weight, bag only (ounces) 16.4 oz 19.1 oz 19.0 oz 20.9 oz 25.0 oz
Stuffed Size 7" x 10" 7" x 10" 6" x 12" 7" x 12" 6" x 10"
Stuff Sack Weight 0.8 oz 0.8 oz 1.0 oz 0.6 oz 0.6 oz
Manufacturer Claimed Weight 16.7 oz 20.0 oz 19.0 oz 20.2 oz 22.2 oz
Fill Weight 9.4 oz 8.4 oz 10.0 oz 13.0 oz 13.2 oz
Shell Material Pertex Endurance UL Pertex Endurance UL 100% nylon ripstop 10D nylon fabric 20D nylon taffeta
Fill Power 950+ goose down 950+ goose down 850+ goose down 850 Downtek 800 fill duck down
Style Hoodless, zipperless mummy Center zip mummy bag or unzip for quilt Hooded mummy Quilt Quilt
Construction No hood, no zipper and a variable fill Continuous baffles Continuous baffle U-shaped baffled quilt Box baffle consruction
Shoulder Girth 64" 62" 59" 55" 55"
Hip Girth 48" 48" 51" 55" 50"
Foot Girth 38" 39" 38" 55" 45"
Zipper Length No zipper Full-length center zip Full-length 1/3-length at bottom 1/3-length at bottom
Sizes 62", 68", and 74" Regular, long, and wide 5'6", 6', and 6'6" Short/regular, regular/regular, regular/wide/ long/wide Short, standard, long, wide-short, wide-standard, wide-long
Temp Options (degrees Fahrenheit) 25, 45F 20, 30, 40F 32F 10, 20, 30, 40F 0, 10, 20, 30, 40F

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vireo UL is unique in that it has a few different design elements not found on any other sleeping bag in this review. It is the only mummy bag to forego the use of a zipper, which we somewhat lamented. No zipper meant this bag is not easy to get in or out of (can you say wriggle?), and for a bag that is designed for climbing, creates quite a conundrum as to the best way to stay tied in. Well, there is no debate, the only way to stay tied in is to run the cord out the top of this bag, but we find this to be annoying and less than ideal.

What we did like was the unique variable fill: the bottom half of the bag is rated to 25F, and the top half to 45F. The idea is to use an insulated jacket that you must carry anyway to keep you warm at night. Because it is meant to be paired with a bulky jacket, the fit in the torso is the most spacious of any mummy bag we tested, and on warm nights you can always sleep in this bag without the belay jacket. That's what we did most of the time when using it for backpacking, and we simply loved the extra space.

Where to Find It
Feathered Friends products are not sold at major online retailers. Go directly to their website to purchase:FeatheredFriends.com.

Performance Comparison


feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - waking up to a chilly morning after sleeping out in the san juan...
Waking up to a chilly morning after sleeping out in the San Juan Mountains. The Vireo, in blue, and the HighLite in purple.

Warmth


As we have mentioned many times already, the Vireo UL has a variable fill of 25F on the lower body and 45F on the upper body. To be honest, observing from the outside, it is hard to discern the difference in lofting insulation between the two halves. To accomplish this, Feathered Friends uses 9.4 ounces of 950+ fill goose down, which is amongst the highest rated down of any bag we tested. The baffles are horizontally oriented, rather wide, and sewn through. Unfortunately, we noticed that down seems to be able to move around quite freely in these large and wide baffles, and toward the end of our testing period, we noticed that a few total dead spots had developed where the down had migrated out of a certain area, leaving it devoid of insulation.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - the vireo is designed to be paired with a warm jacket to take...
The Vireo is designed to be paired with a warm jacket to take advantage of clothing you already have with you. With this idea in mind, it uses less insulation on the upper half than on the lower half, which is rated to 25F. We liked how the torso region of this bag was super spacious to fit our extra clothes.

While it doesn't have a hood, we still found this bag to be pretty warm. We tested it primarily while backpacking and camping out on climbing trips, and found that on nights where the low temperature was in the 40's, we still felt comfortable without needing to add our puffy down jacket.

Weight


We tested a 74 inch long Vireo UL, which is the longest size that they make. Our test model weighed in at 16.4 ounces, slightly lighter than the advertised 16.7 ounces, and the included stuff sack weighed an additional 0.8 ounces. This made it one of the lighter sleeping bags in our test.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - the vireo ul packs down relatively small into its included yellow...
The Vireo UL packs down relatively small into its included yellow stuff sack. At 16.4 ounces, it was also the third lightest sleeping bag in our review.

Comfort


Since this is a hoodless mummy bag that is only meant to come up over the shoulders while being worn, the size choices are a bit short compared to most that we tested. For this test, we purchased a 74-inch bag, which was the longest option (it also comes in a 62-inch option). This length easily fits our head tester's 5'11" frame, comfortably coming over the top of the shoulders. While the legs and feet of this bag are quite narrow, the torso and upper body region are the widest and most spacious of any mummy bag tested, significantly adding to how comfortable we felt. When we didn't wear an extra jacket inside, this bag felt downright palatial! Even with the down jacket on, as it is designed to be used, the upper body is not too restricting.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - we ordered a 74" version of the vireo, which was the longest that...
We ordered a 74" version of the Vireo, which was the longest that they had. It fit our 5'11" head tester nicely, easily covering his shoulders. The hood on his down jacket helped keep his head warm throughout the night.

With no zippers and only one single drawcord at the neck, there were virtually no features or cords that could annoy us while sleeping, and the score of 8 out of 10 for comfort was near the top of the ratings.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - comparing and testing mummy bags in the bighorn mountains of...
Comparing and testing mummy bags in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, we found that the Vireo had by far the most spacious fit through the torso, and was also really light!

Versatility


With no zipper or enclosure system of any sort, this bag suffers in the versatility department. Not only is it a pain to wriggle in and out of, but it is literally impossible to ventilate on a warm night to let out some of the built up heat. Used in the mountain setting as it is designed to, this shouldn't be a problem, but if you intend to stretch this bag's usage to camping at the base of a mountain, or a simple backpacking trip, then it's a tad annoying.

The variable fill of this bag does add to the versatility a bit, as you always have the option of wearing an insulated jacket on cold nights, or foregoing any extra layers on warm nights. We also liked how the outer shell fabric is made of naturally water-resistant Pertex Endurance UL fabric, lessening the chances of water being an issue in the mountains.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - chad kellog in the feathered friends vireo sleeping bag in the...
Chad Kellog in the Feathered Friends Vireo sleeping bag in the Picket Range, Washington. Our Top Pick for Alpine Climbing is designed for use with warm upper layers and works well for sleeping sitting up.
Credit: Jens Holsten

Features


With very few features, there is not a whole lot to talk about here. The only feature that hasn't already been discussed is the single drawcord and buckle on the collar. We liked how the cord is made of static cord, as opposed to stretchy bungee cord, and the buckle does a fine job of holding the cord tight. Like many of the other bags, we still had the complaint that the long cord, when fully tightened, dangles in one's face and near the neck.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - pretty much the only feature to speak of on this zipper-less mummy...
Pretty much the only feature to speak of on this zipper-less mummy bag was the single draw cord around the neck opening. It worked just fine.

Value


The Vireo UL is about average when it comes to price. While we think the craftsmanship of this bag is excellent, ensuring that you get what you pay for, we have to concede that the design is a bit quirky, and probably is not ideal for very many people. Unless you are going alpine climbing and you don't mind the inconvenience of staying tied in while in this bag, we wouldn't recommend spending this much money for the Vireo UL.

feathered friends vireo ul ultralight sleeping bag review - drying out your down sleeping bag in the morning after it gets moist...
Drying out your down sleeping bag in the morning after it gets moist from condensation inside the tent is essential on long backpacking trips to keep the down lofting as much as it can.

Conclusion


The Feathered Friends Vireo UL is a specialty bag designed with alpine climbing in mind. Its variable fill is meant to take advantage of the insulation you are already carrying with you in the form of a belay parka, thereby saving weight. With no zipper at all, entering and exiting this bag is best described as awkward, and we aren't sold on the idea of needing to run our tie-in cord down through the top of our bag while bivying. That said, the very spacious fit was among the most comfortable we tested, and it is an adequate lightweight bag for backpacking during the shoulder seasons, not just while alpine climbing.

Andy Wellman
 
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