Feathered Friends Flicker 30 YF ReviewDecember 12, 2018
- Highly Compressible
- The lightest 30F bag we tested
- Warmest summer bag we tested
- Excellent ventilation
- Versatile design
- Does not come with a compression sack
Originally conceived as an ultralight product for thru-hikers, the Feathered Friends Flicker 30 YF is a non-traditional sleeping bag that we have come to love as an overall favorite. It does not have a hood and has a full-length center zipper. When unzipped, the Flicker can be used as a quilt or blanket; a completely open insulation layer on top of the sleeper. If the weather is cooler, the bag can be zipped together in a tube shape. The bottom closes with a drawcord to keep warm air inside around your feet. This versatility plus its lightweight and lofty warm down make the Flicker our favorite summer sleeping bag.
One of the great benefits of camping and backpacking in the summer is that you can carry a smaller and lighter bag. There is no point in carrying more insulation than you need. Weighing 1 lb, 7 oz, the Flicker 30 is lighter weight than any of the other 30ºF bags we tested. It weighs the same as the Sierra Designs Cloud 35, which is a zipperless bag that is not quite as warm as the Flicker. The only bag in our test that weighs less is the Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy, a light-and-fast synthetic bag that is rated for 45ºF temps (much warmer weather.) With the low weight of 1 lb, 7 oz, the Flicker manages to be versatile, comfortable, and lightweight all at once – the perfect set of attributes for a warm weather bag.
How does Feathered Friends do it? They fill their bags with higher quality down than any of their competitors, and it is obvious, even at a glance. This bag is puffier, compresses smaller, and is warmer than any other 30ºF bag we tried – all of which is a testament to the down’s quality.
Unfortunately, the Flicker does not come with a compression sack included. It does come with a large cotton storage sack and a small nylon sack that can be used for packing, however, the incredible 900-fill down (the highest quality down of any bag in our review) compresses much smaller than this nylon sack allows. When cinched down into a smaller stuff sack, we found that the Flicker was one of the most compressible bags that we tested.
There is nothing more unpleasant than being too hot at night. Our testers have a terrible time sleeping in heat, and would much prefer to be a little cool than hot when trying to sleep. For this reason, we believe that ventilation is an important feature in a summer bag. Just as it is important for a sleeping bag to keep you warm, it is important to be able to dump hot air and let in a cool breeze when you need it. The Flicker, because of its non-traditional design, does this better than all the other bags except The North Face Campforter, which similarly can transform into a quilt. The Flicker has a full-length center zipper, and if it is hot at night it can be unzipped fully and used as a blanket, which is less confining than a traditional bag and lets plenty of air in on all sides. The lack of a hood also keeps the sleeper cooler in the Flicker, even if it is zipped together into bag-mode.
Of all the summer bags we tested, most of which had a 30ºF comfort rating, the Flicker is certainly the warmest. It also feels the puffiest, as if it includes more down—or at least far more lofty down—than its competitors. We used this bag on high elevation backpacking trips in the Sierra—a situation where we would normally prefer a three-season bag because the nights can get quite cold over 10,000 feet—but we were plenty warm and comfortable in the Flicker. We are not confident that other models in our summer test would have been as warm or as comfortable in these slightly cooler temperatures.
This bag has horizontal baffles, which distribute the feathers evenly within it. If a sleeper planned to use it in bag mode, and would, therefore, be laying on top of half the feathers, they could use their hands to push all the feathers around to the top half of the bag, so that the insulation isn’t crushed and wasted underneath the body. This adds to the warmth and versatility of the Flicker.
The two detractors for warmth are side-effects of what makes the design of this bag so amazing. The bag doesn’t have a hood, which removes the ability to tuck it around the head in really cold temperatures. This requires wearing a hat or a hooded fleece to bed. Likewise, the footbox is not a solid compartment like in most sleeping bags but is pulled together with a drawstring. This is adequate for most summer camping, but it does leave the possibility of cold air sneaking in around the toes. We remedy this by sleeping in warm socks. The hoodless and cinched design is what allows this bag to transform into a flat quilt, which is a feature we love, so we are happy to manage these two features on cooler nights.
The defining feature of this bag is its versatility. To stay ultralight, this bag skimps on any extraneous features. It doesn’t have a stash pocket, a sleeping pad attachment, or even a hood. Instead, it has a full-length center zipper which gives it the ability to transform from a tube-style sleeping bag to an open quilt. It does have a small draft collar with a snap and a cinch to keep the head-opening of the bag close around your neck when it is in bag-mode and the weather is cooler. Likewise, there is a cinch around the foot-end of the bag as well, to close the bag into a more traditional shape and seal in warm air. We love the versatile design of this bag and like how the lack of extras keeps the weight down. In our opinion, the Flicker hits exactly the right note with features.
Down insulation can survive years of being stuffed and unstuffed – much longer than synthetic insulation can. So a quality bag like this model from Feathered Friends is likely to last years. Where it suffers in terms of durability is in its vulnerability to rips and wetness. If the face material was torn, the feathers would leak out and the bag would lose all insulating properties and all of its usefulness. Luckily for the Ficker YF, the YFuse Pertex Quantum material that is used is lightweight and tough. The material uses y-shaped filaments that increase the water resistance of the nylon material and also reduces the risk of having down poke through the fabric and be lost.
Another small detail that increases the durability of the Flicker is the rigid tape used underneath the fabric along the zipper. It does not snag. Other bags we have tested the claim that they have snag-free zippers, but we still struggle with getting them open and closed in one smooth motion. With this bag, there are no snags or hang-ups, which also means that the fabric is unlikely to get torn this way.
After using this bag throughout a whole summer in the High Sierra and in the Wind River Range, our opinion is that it is quality all-around, from feathers to fabric, and that it will last for years. Because of this, we think paying a little extra for the Flicker, which is the most expensive model in our test, is completely worth it because it is a high-end, long-lasting product.