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Hands-on Gear Review
Feathered Friends Snowbunting Review
Cons: Small hood, tight cut
Bottom line: This bag is a solid choice for alpine missions in cold and wet locales.
The Feathered Friends Snowbunting is a classic workhorse, loved by many for its durability and solid warmth to weight ratio. This former Editors' Choice award winner is thermally efficient and all business. Tough waterproof shell fabric and a narrow cut make the Snowbunting a great bag for alpine missions and ski touring - when going light matters the most. This year, the Brooks Range Drift -10 nabs the Editors' Choice Award because it has a better warmth to weight ratio and scored higher in our comfort and features metrics. If you're looking for a lighter, less expensive bag for variable winter weather conditions in temps above zero, the Snowbunting remains a worthy contender and an excellent choice.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Down Sleeping Bags of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Rated to 0 degrees and scoring at 9 out of 10 in the warmth metric, the Snowbunting is the only bag containing certified 900 fill power down - 25.3oz of it to be exact. Combined with a relatively narrow 60" shoulder cut to eliminate uninsulated air space, this makes for an extremely warm bag. We feel this bag is warmer than the Western Mountaineering Antelope and the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3, and as warm as the Brooks Range Drift -10. Its heat-trapping prowess is only surpassed by the Marmot Col -20 and The North Face Inferno -20, which took home perfect 10 out of 10s.
Weighing in at 2lbs 13.6oz, the Snowbunting is only a few ounces heavier than the Nemo Sonic (2lbs 10oz), the Western Mountaineering Antelope MF (2lbs 10oz), and the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3 (2lbs 11.6oz), while being warmer than all of the aforementioned bags. The Snowbunting is lighter than the Brooks Range -10, but it doesn't have as much down and it has a heavier materials weight. Earning a 7 out of 10, the Snowbunting is impressively warm and weather resistant for a bag under 3lbs.
This bag earns a 6 for comfort. For cold winter bivies, nestled among the rock and snow, when you're waiting for the sun to come out so you can get going, the Snowbunting is plenty comfortable. However, it has a narrower cut than similarly rated bags like the Brooks Range Drift -10, the Western Mountaineering Antelope MF, and the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3, making it less than ideal for spending days and days inside while waiting for good weather. The hood and draft collar are extremely warm. When cinched tight, the hood hugs your head and ears like a snug down hat, but the hood is too shallow to cover your whole face, and some of our testers felt claustrophobic when they tried to sleep on their sides. The narrow foot box makes is possible to warm up fast in this bag, but leaves little room to cross your legs, move around, or stash your boots.
The Snowbunting measures 7"x11" in its included bright yellow stuff sack. Using our mighty bag compacting compression sack, we found that this bag stuffs down similarly to the Western Mountaineering Antelope MF and the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3.
The shell fabric traps air so well that we found ourselves a little overworked from stuffing the bag into its sack. It takes a few minutes for the Snowbunting to achieve its fully lofted grandeur once it's unpacked. The top scorer in this metric is the Western Mountaineering Versalite 10, which scored the only 10 out of 10 in the review. The Nemo Sonic 0 was close behind, earning a 9 out of 10.
This bag only has the features absolutely necessary for cold weather survival, so you can climb in, get warm fast, and stay warm. No stash pockets, no extra room, and no vents in this stripped down, light and fast design. As mentioned before, the hood is warm and snug, but touch shallow if you want to cover up your whole face. The draft collar, delightfully swollen with down, rests comfortably beneath the chin and is secured with a single plastic snap. We felt this snap was harder to locate in the dark than the larger velcro tabs use on the Marmot Col or the Nemo Sonic. The draft tube eliminates cold spots from the zipper and has an anti-snag strip. The zipper glides well, almost snag free, second only to the Western Mountaineering zippers. The Brooks Range Drift -10, Marmot Col -20, and Big Agnes Storm King 0 earned 9 out of 10s in this metric, bringing home the features.
The Snowbunting is a real standout in weather resistance, just as bombproof as the heavier Marmot Col and The North Face Inferno -20, earning the Snowbunting a perfect 10. The Pertex Shield fabric performed flawlessly in our precip tests. Our tester detected zero moisture inside the bag as rain pelted and puddled up on the outside. Water was unable to penetrate the shell when submerged. The inside of the bag is black, and the small amount of water that entered the bag during submersion evaporated quickly when we turned the bag inside out and laid it in the warm sun.
This bag is an alpinist's dream: warm, light, and durable. The weatherproof shell is perfect for the variable conditions found in the Pacific Northwest where the Snowbunting is created. If you're looking for an efficient cocoon for alpine climbing when it's freezing at night, but the snow and ice are drip dripping in the heat of the day, check out the Snowbunting. If you're not quite as concerned about weather resistance, check out the lighter Western Mountaineering Antelope MF. For a roomier option that is still highly weather resistant and has an even better warmth to weight ratio, take a look at our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Brooks Range Drift -10.
At $599, the Feathered Friends Snowbunting is competitively priced with similar bags like the Western Mountaineering Antelope MF and the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3. Feathered Friends offers a detailed explanation of their excellent warranty policy on their website.
Feathered Friends has been constructing handcrafted, high-quality down bags like the Snowbunting in Seattle, Washington since 1972. They've been gradually improving the materials of the tried-and-true design of the Snowbunting for years. This bag is an efficient alpine insulator, at home in the mountains, like an experienced alpinist.
— Matt Bento
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