If you have never heard of the brand, Feathered Friends is a small business based out of Seattle, Washington.  While a small business indeed, it is one that receives extraordinary praise from the backpacking and mountaineering communities.  As the name suggests, their manufacturing specialties are down products. Down is the soft insulating layer underneath the feathers of ducks and geese, primarily used in sleeping bags and insulated clothing like “puffy” jackets. What follows is an overview of the Feathered Friends brand and a review of their Swift UL 20 Sleeping Bag.

Specifications

Dimensions: 64″ / 58″ / 40″
Fill Power: 950+ Goose Down
Lining Fabric: Flite 15 denier ripstop nylon
Country of Origin: Made in Seattle, USA of imported materials
Packed Size: 7″ x 12″ | 9L
Sleeping Bag Shell Fabric: Pertex® Endurance UL
Temperature Rating: 20ºF / -6.67ºC
Zip Side: Left
Length

  • Reg 6′ 0″ / 183 cm
  • Long 6′ 6″ / 198 cm

Average Weight

  • Reg 1 lbs 14 oz / 859 g
  • Long 2 lbs 0 oz / 905 g

Fill Weight

  • Reg 18.8 oz / 533 g
  • Long 19.7 oz / 558 g
Swift UL sizing. Courtesy of Feathered Friends

My thoughts and review

Starting backpacking can be expensive. Quality gear can make things more expensive. Most of Feathered Friends’ down products are high-value items, but they’re also some of the best gear available. Plenty of other quality manufacturers exist and their bags are probably more suitable options, but Feathered Friends’ sleeping bags are unrivaled. They are exceptionally lightweight and compressible for the amount of insulation they provide. Their Swift UL is their wide mummy sleeping bag. I like having a little extra room in my bag; a little extra comfort goes a long way in the wilderness.

Truly Made in the USA

The term “Made in the USA” can be somewhat of a misnomer. We often like to view products “Made in the USA” as having the utmost quality while showcasing our pride for American craftsmanship. While the branding of Made in the USA is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure the product is “all or virtually all” made in the USA, the designation itself isn’t always synonymous with utmost quality. With Feathered Friends, there is no question that their “Made in the USA” designation is as stout as the claim can be. Sleeping bags like the Swift UL 20 are as high quality as a sleeping bag can get.

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Sleeping Bag Ratings

The problem with sleeping bag ratings is that there is not a standardized or universally-used method to ensure temperature ratings are similar across manufacturers.  In other words, the 20°F sleeping bag from Company A can feel warmer or colder than the 20°F bag from Company B (mildly or significantly so). To ensure an honest temperature rating for sleeping bags before purchasing, you should look at a company’s reputation, especially from the perspective of its buyers.  The trend with Feathered Friends is that their products’ specifications are generally modest, performing beyond users’ expectations. I have used my Swift UL 20 in temperatures lower than its rated 20°F and I was still comfortably warm.

Down Fill Power

Some people might be unfamiliar with “fill power.” The fill power describes the quality of down used, and in a way, the insulation capability of your sleeping bag.  Fill power is expressed by cubic inches per one ounce, how much warmth can be insulated by one ounce of down. The difference between two identical sleeping bags with differing fill powers is that the bag with the higher fill power will be the lighter bag because of its better insulating ability. For example, if two sleeping bags have an identical temperature rating of 30°F, Bag A (fill power of 800) will need less down than Bag B (fill power of 500) to achieve the same temperature rating of 30°F, this results in Bag A being physically lighter than Bag B. Feathered Friends use fill powers of 900+ and 950+ meaning their sleeping bag insulation is exceptional for its weight.

Feathered Friends Swift UL 20 in the titanium color option.

The verdict

The good
-Lightweight
-High down fill power
-Works at colder temperatures than what it’s rated for

The bad
-Expensive

Feathered Friends makes the some of the best sleeping bags available. The Swift UL 20 has an MSRP of $509. Yes, it’s expensive, but you do get what you pay for (cry once, right?) As I mentioned earlier, there are other great sleeping bags available across several manufacturers, but Feathered Friends is definitely on top. The insulating ability, its minimal weight, and compressibility are all features you want to have in your sleeping bag.

If you own any gear from Feathered Friends, let us know what you think in the comments below!