Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 Sleeping Bag ReviewMay 9, 2019
- Waterproof/breathable shell material
- Incredible lofty, high quality down
- Excellent compressibility
- Extra roomy fit, good for drying boot liners and g
- Low weight
- Roominess is drafty for small people
- Compression sack not included
The Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX is the perfect winter bag for mountaineers or backcountry skiers who like to overnight in the mountains. It has well thought-through features to make snowy overnights comfortable while still being light and packable enough to carry in a backpack. For someone whose primary interest is car camping, we would suggest a less expensive bag that might fit a little better, not because this bag is overkill, but because it could be a better value. After a winter of using many 0ºF sleeping bags, the Snowbunting emerged as our strong favorite. It can be purchased in Regular or Long lengths.
The Snowbunting felt to us like the warmest product in this winter sleeping bag test. When just looking at the line-up of bags, this one is the loftiest and puffiest. We slept in it through many stormy nights in Alaska and stayed plenty warm, even as we dried our storm-soaked gloves and gear inside the bag along with us. We also used it on an overnight up Mount Lassen when we brought a sub-par sleeping pad. The pad left us cold when sleeping on top of the snow, and the only thing that made the night bearable was the Snowbunting.
The warmth is enhanced by the hood and collar design. The roomy hood has a generous, puffy draft collar. This thick collar wraps around the neck and shoulders and prevents warm air from escaping out the top of the bag. The draft collar has its own snap that can be secured, and its own cinch that can tighten around the circumference of the shoulders. The hood itself can be secured with exterior snap and another pull cord tightens it around the face. This allows the sleeper to feel fully cocooned in warmth.
The one exception to this warmth is for smaller people. The Snowbunting is large and roomy, even the Regular length. It was designed to leave extra space inside for mountaineers and skiers who need to dry their boot liners and gloves overnight. This works wonderfully for that application, but for smaller people who are not stuffing gear in with them overnight, the bag can feel loose and drafty. One female tester who is about 5 feet tall complained that she felt too many cold spots in this bag and would prefer a tighter fit.
At 2 lbs, 13 oz, the Snowbunting is the second lightest bag in this test, after the Sierra Designs Nitro. The converse of this is that the Snowbunting is much warmer than the Nitro while only weighing 4.6 ounces more. We have found this to be plenty light enough for carrying in a backpack on ski or mountaineering overnights.
The Snowbunting is the only down model in this test that does not include hydrophobic treated down. This is interesting since most other manufacturers have committed fully to the hydrophobic trend. However, some companies maintain that high quality down is naturally more resistant to moisture than the down enhanced with treatments.
The other interesting detail to note here is that the Snowbunting is also the only winter bag in this test that has a waterproof/breathable shell material, Pertex EX. (Though Pertex EX is marketed as waterproof/breathable, Feathered Friends markets the bag as water resistant because the interior lining is not waterproof. A slight but notable difference.) All the other bags in this test have nylon or polyester shell materials treated with a DWR coating. The Snowbunting utilizes a material with inherent water-resistant properties, meaning that the water resistance won’t wear off like a DWR coating but will continue to perform for the lifetime of the bag. Even the draft collar is faced with Pertex EX so that the occupant’s breath won’t dampen it.
The one downside to this exterior material is that it feels crunchier and less inviting than some of the other bags, such as the silky Therm-a-Rest Questar. However, the lining material is soft and plenty comfortable against the skin, and in a winter sleeping bag, we always prefer a little more barrier against weather over superficial coziness.
As with every other Feathered Friends product we have tested, we are left marveling at the quality of the down. It is insulated with 1 lb, 9 oz of 900+ fill power Responsible Down Standard Certified down. The Snowbunting was the largest bag in terms of size in this test, and yet it packs down into the smallest package. When used with a compression sack (it does not come with one, unfortunately) it gets far smaller than when packed into its stuff sack.
The Snowbunting has an excellent blend of features for winter camping. We already discussed the hood and draft collar above and we talk about the zipper design below. The combination of these design features raises this bag’s overall performance and score above the others in this test. It does not have a stash pocket like most of the other bags in this test have, but we don’t think a pocket is required. We do think the larger size of this bag makes it more ideal for mountaineers and backcountry skiers. On winter overnights it is crucial to dry boot liners overnight and not let them freeze. Liners, socks, and gloves can all be stuffed into the bottom of the bag or laid over the occupant’s legs to dry overnight, and it all fits in there comfortably with a person.
The Snowbunting also has continuous baffles, meaning that the pockets that include the down run the full circumference of the bag, from top to bottom. This means that if it is warmer than expected, the sleeper could push the down from the top of the bag to the bottom, where it would be compressed as they slept. This would make the bag feel less warm and therefore would be more comfortable in warmer conditions. Then when the temperature drops, the down can be pushed back on top. A user could even push all the down to the top of the bag and just use a high R-value sleeping pad underneath and perhaps increase the warmth somewhat in that manner. This design gives the bag some flexibility.
Both the roominess of the fit and the continuous baffles are features that a more advanced user would appreciate. Others may find these features inconvenient. In contrast, the Sierra Designs Nitro advertises its sidewalls and lack of continuous baffles as a feature that prevents down from shifting around so that the sleeper stays warmer. Each person’s appreciation of these features will depend on experience and personal preference.
As the highest scoring and most expensive bag in this test, we are also proud to report that it is a durable bag as well. Since it is insulated with down, it will always need to be treated with some delicacy since a tear would be catastrophic, but the 15-denier shell material is reinforced in places with a tougher 40 denier material. The zipper is a beefy YKK snag-free model and the draft tube alongside the zipper is reinforced with a stiff tape to further prevent snags and rips.