Winter Sleeping Bag
Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0
$619, 2 lbs. 12 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($644)
On chilly nights of camping, nothing’s more popular than a fat sleeping bag. When sleeping outside in winter—or wintry temperatures—the Snowbunting EX 0 has become my bag of choice. Most recently, I slumbered peacefully and quite comfortably through three December nights without a tent outside a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains—one of those nights dropping into the single digits Fahrenheit, and another featuring several hours of snow falling intermittently directly onto my bag, inside which I remained quite warm and dry. Super warm and well built, at a moderate weight, this bag functions well, depending on the user, for trips in temps from around its 0-degree rating to around freezing.
When my 15-year-old son and I took turns testing out this bag and another winter bag for three nights on a climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in mid-April, and for three nights in February sleeping under the stars in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, he was always eager to relieve me of the Snowbunting EX 0. Little wonder, given how warm it is.
With a low in the single digits—just barely above the Snowbunting’s rating—and no tent under a clear, starry sky, I was toasty cocooned inside this bag, wearing just one base layer top and bottoms. On nights with temps as low as the teens on Mount Whitney, this bag was more than warm enough for me; I left the hood mostly open and sometimes opened the top of the zipper a bit. I sleep warm, so it was too warm for me in temps around freezing. But my wife, who gets cold very easily, found this bag’s warmth just right on a backpacking and car camping trip in March in southeastern Utah, with lows from the 40s to below freezing.
The Snowbunting EX 0 is stuffed generously with 25 ounces of 900-fill down (in the regular), the highest quality of down produced, which explains the bag’s high warmth-to-weight ratio. Continuous horizontal baffles enwrapping the bag allow you to shift down to where you need it (although I don’t because I roll side to side, with the bag, during the night), while preventing down from migrating vertically (lengthwise) in the bag and potentially creating cold spots.
The well-insulated hood is plush and adjusts from wide open to blowhole-tight, while a fat collar and draft tube along the beefy zipper shut out drafts. (I’ve read other reviews that criticized the hood as a bit shallow, but I found it deep and spacious enough, even to wear a warm hat comfortably—as long as I wasn’t positioned too high in the bag.) The snap at the top of the zipper is more secure and possibly more durable than a hook-and-loop strip, and a second snap conveniently joins the collar draft tube ends at the top of the zipper.
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This is a true mummy bag, with a trim fit: The circumference is 60 inches at the shoulders, 56 inches at the waist, and 38 inches at the feet. That makes it more thermally efficient—it’s so warm in part because there’s less space to heat up than in a roomier bag. Still, at five feet, eight inches, and 160 pounds, I found the regular actually not as confining as some ultralight bags I’ve used: I sleep on my side and could extend my arms almost completely. I wore one base layer top and bottoms, but also experimented and found I could wear a midsize puffy jacket inside the bag without it feeling cramped.
The waterproof-breathable Pertex Shield EX laminate shell fabric with a DWR (durable, water-repellent treatment) kept me dry inside through hours of intermittently falling snow that accumulated atop the bag while I slept. The shell shakes off dripping condensation inside a tent while also breathing well enough that the bag never got clammy on “milder” nights around freezing. That breathability is especially important for preventing moisture from your body building up inside a bag on longer, sub-freezing trips, which would slowly make the bag heavier and compromise the down’s warmth. The 15-denier shell fabric is common in lightweight bags, but be careful to avoid sharp edges or points.
Does the environment matter to you? Read the sustainability story behind the down used by Feathered Friends at featheredfriends.com/down-tracker.
One drawback: The bag can only be purchased directly from Feathered Friends, meaning that unless you live within driving distance of the FF retail store in Seattle, you won’t be able to try the bag on before purchasing it online.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a 0-degree bag under three pounds at a better price or warmer than this one. And with a weight and stuffed dimensions (7.5×14 inches) that compare with many bags rated around 20 degrees, the Snowbunting EX 0 is versatile enough for winter camping and expeditions to big mountains, as well as chilly three-season backpacking trips for someone who needs extra warmth without extra weight or bulk.
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See all of my reviews of winter sleeping bags and all of my reviews of sleeping bags that I like, and all of my reviews of backpacking gear, plus my articles “Pro Tips: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “10 Pro Tips: Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”
See also my “12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.