Winter Sleeping Bag
Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0
$599, 2 lbs. 12 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular and long ($624)
On chilly nights of camping, nothing’s more popular than a fat sleeping bag. 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 outside a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, he was always eager to relieve me of the Snowbunting EX 0. Little wonder: It’s super warm. And it’s also an excellent value in a winter bag that crosses over to three-season camping in temps around or just below freezing.
On nights with temps as low as the teens Fahrenheit 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, praised this bag’s warmth 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, 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—though I rarely needed one in this toaster oven—as long as I wasn’t positioned too high in the bag.) The snap at the top of the zipper is more secure than a hook-and-loop strip.
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. But 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; if I tried wearing a down jacket or other, thicker layers to bed, the bag would feel more cramped.
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The waterproof-breathable Pertex Shield EX laminate shell fabric with a DWR (durable, water-repellent treatment) shakes off dripping condensation inside a tent or falling snow if you bed down outside and get surprised by overnight weather, while also breathing well enough that the bag never got clammy on milder nights. That breathability is especially important for preventing moisture from your body building up inside a bag on longer, sub-freezing trips, making the bag heavier and compromising 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.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase a Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 at featheredfriends.com.
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 stories:
“12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter”
“Review: Gear For Climbing Mount Whitney”
“Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb”
“The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun”
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 categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Get my emails about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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