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Is 950 Fill Power Goose Down Worth the Money?

The Golden Goose
The Golden Goose – 950 Fill Power Down

Several gear manufacturers now offer down coats and quilts with 950 fill power goose down insulation, It’s high-end stuff, but there’s still the lingering question whether it’s really worth paying a premium for 950 fill power goose down instead of 850 or 800 fill power down when the weight savings are so insignificant.

Let me give you an example to quantify this:

  • An Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt rated at 30 degrees (regular length, regular width) insulated with 800 fill power goose down weighs 16.98 ounces and costs $235.
  • The same quilt insulated with 950 fill power goose down weighs 15.21 ounces and costs $350.

In other words, you save 1.77 ounces in gear weight for a down quilt that costs $115 more. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s outrageous amount of money to pay to save 1.77 ounces in gear weight. That’s the weight of a snickers bar.

The only circumstance where I could see spending the $115 premium to upgrade from 800 fill power down to 950 fill power down would be if there was a cost associated with the extra weight, like the added rocket fuel required to send you to Saturn, but that’s an unlikely scenario. Carrying those extra 1.77 ounces are also unlikely to ruin your thru-hike or your vacation.

I don’t mean to pick on Enlightened Equipment. I love the 800 fill power Revo down hammock underquilt I bought from them this fall and their prices are far more reasonable than many other down quilt and custom sleeping bag manufacturers. They’re also the only ultralight quilt manufacturer that lets you choose 800, 850, 900, or 950 fill power down when you buy a quilt and will show you the weight differences in real time in their store. Check it out.

I ran this pricing analysis for my own purposes to see if upgrading from a Revelation Quilt insulated with 800 fill power down to one with 950 fill power was worth it since I plan to buy a new 30 degree quilt this year.

Next question: Is it worth getting the 850 fill power or 900 fill power versions of the Revelation Quilt instead of the 950 fill power insulation?

Price, weight in ounces, and cost comparison between 800, 850, 900, and 950 fill power versions of the Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt
Price, quilt weight in ounces, and cost comparison between 800, 850, 900, and 950 fill power versions of the Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt (based on publicly available pricing as of 12/29/15)

I don’t really think so and paying an extra $35 dollars for a 0.66 ounce gear weight reduction or an extra $70 for a 1.28 ounce gear weight reduction still doesn’t make any economic sense.

If you want to save gear weight, I think you’ll get a much better bang for your buck by buying down the weight of a tent or backpack (lower cost per ounce eliminated) than a quilt or sleeping bag.

While I understand the urge to spend down the weight of your gear list, carrying an “extra” 8 ounces or a pound isn’t going to kill you. Be sensible in where you spend your money.

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63 comments

  1. I have a EE revelation 20 degree quilt and love it . It is 800 fill.

  2. Personally,, you must know by now that I am a big voice against high prices on Backpacking equipment, clothing and gear. Must are made overseas for pennies on the dollar and then sold here for hundreds of dollars more than they cost to make.. I believe in Profit but not greed…. American made costs more because they generally have to import the Materials and here in America every one wants to make $50. an hour when they actually only produce $2 worth of goods an hour. Once you’ve lived on the Trail for a few months you eventually learn it is not about the amount of money you have which makes you happy but who you are that makes you happy so experienced Backpackers need less to live on and are happy….But demand quality Gear, especailly Sleeping Bags, cause if you do not sleep well, the world can look pretty Ugly….. Now about the Subject at hand Goose Down.. I know when I am at 12,308 feet in a Sierra’s at the end of August, the night time temperature is going to drop very quickly after the Sun goes down and I want to be as warm as possible. The average drop in temperature that I experienced went from 70 degrees to 20 degrees in less than two hours and I know I want be snug in my bag in my tent within an hour after Sundown.. I currently own 5 sleeping bags going back to the 80’s whose filling consists of both Man Made and Goose Down fillings. A well known brand of Sleeping Bag in a Man Made filling barely meets that 20 degree temperature rating and I have to wear Long Johns, thick wool Socks, and a Knit Hat to keep warm, even though that bag cost $300.00. In my famous Brand Goose Down bag I can sleep Naked and know that bag will keep me cozy warm down to at least 10 degrees which surpasses it’s 20 degree rating…. So to add an additional amount of Goose Down that will undoubtedly keep me warm to at least Zero I would enjoy, but is the price worth it? Well if you sleep Cold I would think it would be worth it on well made famous maker sleeping bag..say Western Mountaineering… The other brands, not so much. I haven’t checked in awhile but I seem to remember with Western Mountaineering you can ask to add additional goose down in almost any amount you want… Now my WM bag I bought in about 1991 and it is still as good as new and has see about 300 nights at 20 degrees… So it is a well made sleeping bag, where as the others are in not so good of shape and I bought them around the same time or within 5 years of 1991. They still keep me warm but not down to the rated 20 degrees more like 35 degrees now…. So if I know the nights are going to get down to the 20’s I bring the Goose Down bag…. and yes I would pay the extra amount to ensure being warm.. And when you get older and they put you on Blood Thinners, believe me, the extra Goose Down is well worth it….

    • I think you may have missed the point of the post. I like goose down just fine. The question is whether the incremental cost of down with higher fill power down is really worth it when it insulates at the same warmth level.

  3. Can they really tell you the weight of their quilts to the hundredth of an ounce?

  4. Any thoughts on duck down vs. goose down? I noticed that many of the quilt makers are offering that as a lower cost alternative to goose down now. I assume it’s a similar trade off – cost vs. weight.

    • The down fill power test doesn’t care if the down being measured is duck down or goose down and the manufacturers I talk to think that 800 duck down provides the same insulating power as 800 goose down. I agree based on my experience using the products. You can’t tell the difference. Even more so if they’ve been treated with a water-proofing technology. I think there’s a lot of emotional baggage that people care when they insist there’s a difference.

      • Philip –

        I have a 20deg Kelty Cosmic Down sleeping bag . Duck down fill . It keeps me toasty warm to 30 deg, wearing long johns , socks and a beanie, and using a Neo X-Lite pad , and a silk liner . My only negative about duck down is that it has a mild wet dog like odor when it absorbs dampness in the air . I bought this bag at a very reasonable close-out price , knowing I would upgrade to a lighter bag (if my old body could handle hiking) the Cosmic weighs about 2.5 lb with compression sack . About the only way I can get a good bang for the buck would be to “upgrade ” to a 40 deg goose down , losing 1-1.5 lbs base wt . but still carrying my sleep clothes . An extra $200 for the goose down bag for a drop of 1 -1.5 in base weight is worth it to me

      • Forgot to add . Goose down compresses more densely than Duck down . An important consideration if hiking ultralight with limited pack space .

      • That’s a myth. Fill power is the same across duck and goose down.

      • I suggest you contact the manufacturer and get a replacement because it’s not supposed to.

      • I thought another part of the Duck vs Goose down is that Duck Down is generally darker and will look more dirty and unsightly when it shows through ultralight materials.

      • Ultralight materials aren’t transparent like a plastic bag….you can’t see what color the down is, even if there is a color difference which I doubt. Geese aren’t white, you know.

  5. Some people just want the lightest weight possible so for them, it’s worth it. If you switch from Silnylon tarp to cuben the price per ounce is comparable. Or a plastic spoon to titanium, or aluminum pots to titanium pots.

    Its pretty cheap to shave off those first 10 pounds. Those last 10 ounces are damned expensive.

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more. As I am transitioning to ever lighter gear, I have set up a spreadsheet to calculate the cost in dollars per ounce of the weight decrease. New 800fp EE Rev 20 for $250, 14 oz lighter than my mummy, $17.86/oz. Just pulled the trigger on that one yesterday. Should I have instead paid an additional $140 for 950fp to save another 2.17oz.? At $64.52/oz., no way. Same discussion could be had on Cuben vs Silnylon shelters, or Cuben vs Cordura packs, where I’m considering whether to replace my 50 oz. Osprey Atmos with a 21oz. $325 Cuben ZPacks Arc Blast at $11.21/oz., or a 29 oz. $245 GG Mariposa at $11.67/oz. Looks like equal value on that one, so the decision will be made on other criteria.

  7. If I’m going from a synthetic bag, to a zero degree bag, to save weight, I would probably go with the lightest weight bag I could find. That few ounces of warmth and weight I would be saving would be worth it. If im hiking a long distance trail, it is definitely worth it. My gf ended up buying a 900 fill power quilt and she posed the same question. Once I explained she would have to carry it, not me, it became very worth it, to her.

  8. I’d have to agree that at some point it no longer makes economic sense to save a very, very small amount of weight. Personally, I would rather save my money and, as Phil suggested, forego the extra snickers bar to save the weight rather than spend a small fortune to achieve the same thing. Obviously, depending upon your economic background, each person will view the decision of money vs. weight savings differently. If was independently wealthy or happen to win the lottery the costs portion of the decision would be completely immaterial.

  9. There are a lot of things that can effect the overall “worth” of a piece of high power fill gear.

    Moisture: Dampness (nothing performs very well wet) can degrade high power down (HFP) quicker than lower fill power(LFP) downs. The point where the degradation curve meets the insulating value curve can vary a lot. Generally LFP downs (say around 500FP) have stem and feather portions. These maintain loft far better under humid conditions than HFP down. Immature feathers used in LFP are also a bit stiffer and contribute more to loft. But neither stemmed feathers, nor immature down plumes have the air trapping and insulating properties of a fully mature down plume in the HFP downs.

    Temperature Control: On a warmer night, you will be more comfortable in a down bag than a synthetic. Down is supposed to be adjustable to moisture. On the bird (be it a duck or goose,) they spend a large amount of time preening. In a bag or under a quilt, people don’t sweat much when it is cool meaning the loft of down is at it’s maximum. However, on warmish nights we perspire more. This humidity causes a loss of loft and helps cool us off. HFP downs are better at this than LFP down.

    Body Heat: Usually your body heat will force humidity into or out of your down. You are more comfortable due to better temperature regulation (not perfect by any means.) Of course, all bets are off if everything is soaking wet. This is a real emergency with synthetic or down bags at any temp <60F, roughly the minimum needed.

    Compressability: Related to the above, LFP downs do not compress as well as HFP down. ~500FP and a good, new synthetic are roughly equivalent. If you do not buy HFP down, then you loose the packing size/weight advantage. It is simply not all about direct weight. A synthetic or LFP down bag will be about 175% of the size of an equivalent HFP down bag. Speaking loosely, about 1/2 the size with HFP down.

  10. Volume is roughly equal to weight: By reducing volume, I reduce the size and WEIGHT of my pack. As an example, I can drop from about a 2500ci pack (say the Gorilla at ~26oz) to a 2200ci pack (say a Murmur Hyperlight at 12.5oz.) This saves me over 13oz in “pack” weight making the HFP choice VERY attractive.

    Economics: Continuing the previous example, since the cost of a Murmur is $147 and the cost of a Gorilla is $240 there is a $93 difference. I am technically only paying $22 to go with the 950fp down in the example you gave. Saving volume, going for the smaller choice, usually makes sense economically and is often better performing (less weight carried,) anyway. If you are really tight, you can go with the 900FP and simply break about even, overall.

  11. Anyway, examining a single item out of context with other attributes often leads to bad choices when building a pack system. Durability, longevity, maintenance, performance, comfort and economics are the key attributes. Some are simple, like Durability, some more complex, like performance. All need to be balanced for each hiker.

  12. I notice you don’t address the extra cost from higher fill power downs: 900 and above must be harvested from older geese, thus they are almost never killed during the process as they are needed for the next batch. Lower fill power down may be harvested from food animals. I’m not an animal advocate, but it is a hidden cost to be considered if you care about such things. It’s also why the higher fill powers cost more, there is more time and care invested in the production of it.

  13. How about volume savings between bags? Could possibly get away with a smaller, lighter backpack saving even more weight? Not trying to justify it, just curious if there might be another argument for paying the extra.

    • Jm tried to make that argument above, but it’s pretty vacuous in this instance since the quantity of down fill is so little and most of the bulk is the fabric. If anything, you’d be better off having a quilt made with more expensive and lighter weight fabric and not more expensive down since it will be a better bang for your buck.

      If you want to compress the size of your backpack, my advice would be to first focus on the size of other items and second, use the money you save on buying calorically denser foods.

      • Actually compression can save a lot more, I was just pointing out a single example. An EE regular/regular quilt was 11.08oz of 800fp down and 9.31oz of 950fp down. to make them equivalent. So, at a difference of 1.77oz. that will loft at least (using the lower fill power number of 800) of 1416cuin. At 10:1 compression (this is around normal for hand stuffing) that is around 140cuin+ because 950 is actually more compressible than 800. Far larger than a snickers bar. About an 11.5×11.4.1 space.

  14. I did this same calc almost a year ago, and back then the differences in price and weight were even more favorable to the cheaper option. See 8th comment from the top, here: http://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/99782/

    I did a thru-hike (PCT) this past summer, during which I learned a lot and was able to trim 4 or 5 lbs of base weight. I still kept my 10-degree extra long extra wide 750-fill EE Revelation quilt, 2 lbs. It was overkill but I already had it, and it was nice to just use it like a blanket. I switched to a hammock for the last third of the hike, and the quilt thus became even more of a mallet, when a hammer would do. (A hammock naturally pushes in the sides of the quilt, so… a slim version would now be appropriate. Also, I shed 35-40 lbs on the hike!)

    Now I’m looking at the AT for this summer, and see that I can get a 30-degree hammock-appropriate quilt, and save a pound. I’m torn as to whether to buy the pricier 950-fill version, to save that last snickers bar of weight. While this contradicts my views linked above, I don’t think my indecision is about number-fetishism. Maybe one snickers bar’s worth of weight isn’t worth the price of a nice new pair of Pearl Izumi trail runners, when calculated over one through hike. But what if I do the CDT with the same quilt next summer??

    Philip, isn’t there some way to use your rocket fuel analogy here? I mean, I do burn a few extra calories, carrying more weight. Over thousands and thousands of miles, it might add up to enough.

    • You can be as economically irrational as you want. :-)

      • Philip,

        That sounds like a dare!

        You say:

        The only circumstance where I could see spending the $115 premium to upgrade from 800 fill power down to 950 fill power down would be if there was a cost associated with the extra weight, like the ADDED ROCKET FUEL required to send you to Saturn, but that’s an unlikely scenario. Carrying those extra 1.77 ounces are also unlikely to ruin your thru-hike or your vacation

        (Emphasis mine.)

        “Added rocket fuel” analogy, calculated for a hiker’s calorie intake, below…

        See calories/hour burned for different weights of backpacker, here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/exercise/art-20050999?pg=2

        If you take the differences in weights and calories burned, you see that an extra 40 lbs of hiker needs an extra 126 calories per hour of hiking. (For the sake of this argument, I’m assuming that gear weight adds the same calorie load as body weight. I’m also just taking the Mayo’s clinic version of what a backpacker burns, and hoping that’s about average, even though I expect most of us exert ourselves more than “average”, meaning we burn more calories per hour, so this should be conservative. Anyway…)

        126 calories per hour per 40 lbs of hiker works out to .196 calories per hour for an extra ounce of weight. So, if you spend $115 less for 800fp vs 950fp, which adds 1.77 ounces to your quilt, you will be burning .348 more calories per hour. Seems we could stop here, but nah….

        How many hours would one hiker have to hike before the difference in calories consumed added up to a value of $115?

        Let’s do this with peanut butter. A thru-hiker staple, an economical source of calories, and thus still on the conservative side, for the purposes of this nutty (intended) calculation. Plus, I can use sectionhiker links…

        http://sectionhiker.com/10-ultralight-backpacking-foods/

        16 oz of peanut butter for $8. At 165 calories/ounce, that’s 2624 calories for $8 worth of peanut butter. $115 worth of peanut butter is 37,950 calories. Divide that by .348 calories per hour and you get… 109,051 hours. Even if you were hiking 12-hour days, that would mean over 9000 days of hiking. Roughly 90 thru-hikes. (90!)

        Kinda nuts, but let’s now be generous on the other side. Let’s say you:
        (1) eat 1/3 as economically, which is entirely reasonable to expect, especially if you want to eat varied (pricier) calories
        (2) assume that we burn more calories/hour than what the Mayo clinic assumed
        (3) take into account marginal differences in pack volume, thus needing a (minimally) larger pack (meaning at most two ounces, not 13, Marco)
        …Even after all that, I think you are still at about 10 thru-hikes. EE quilts are great, but they aren’t gonna last 10 thru-hikes.

        I think there might be other ways to hedge this towards my inclination towards devil’s advocacy. Could 1.77 ounces save you a half a day on a thru-hike? Can we credit those work hours towards the expense? OK, I’m grasping…

        So, Philip, I have further made your point, and convinced myself. (Thanks.)

      • The most calorie-dense food is fat, and the most convenient place to carry it is distributed around your body, so the best strategy would be to fatten up before your next trip, like a migrating goose.

      • Rationality is an individual decision. I had a professor tell me once, “Even crazy people who think the sky is falling are behaving rationally when they run under a tree for protection.” Rationality depends on one’s preferences and budget constraint. And yes, I am an economist.

  15. I was making marginal utility curves for all sorts of commodities as part of my work a few years ago. While dozing and thinking about an upcoming John Muir Trail trek while on a long, red-eye flight one night, I realized this principle could be applied to backpacking equipment as well. As part of my JMT prep, I had good weight data on a spreadsheet from which I plotted weight savings (ounces) on the x-axis and cost ($/oz) on the y-axis. It became pretty apparent where I had good bang for buck and where the cost was – er, marginal (i.e. not justified). This helped me decide where I should prioritize my scarce funds in the pursuit of lower weight. Incremental savings on my pack, footwear and sleep system were cost justified. My Titanium poop trowel was not (although it remains a fun novelty!). Interestingly, replacing my standard Nalgene bottle (6 oz.) with a Nalgene Canteen (<2 oz.) was cost justified. (A free, surplus Gatorade bottle is even more cost effective!)

    I think the point of your article and many of the comments goes back the principle of economic scarcity and how different people will draw the line between 'justified' and 'you gotta be kidding!' at different places based on individual judgment, experience, abilities, objectives (including weight!) and budgets. Each of us will see "economically irrational" differently!

    I teach this concept as part of a BSA backpacking adult leaders training module. I tell the class that
    1) lightweight equipment can be costly! Make a budget. Consider:
    – Scout families’ budgets (not all families can afford the latest whiz-bang kit!)
    – “Bang for buck” (the marginal benefit concept)
    … but then ask them to use this thinking to
    – Increase families’ awareness of weight trade-offs.
    – Help them find less expensive sources of gear without buying junk.

  16. I love EE. I wish all companies were as open and honest about their products. I’m thinking of buying yet another quilt from them, to layer with my current quilt, for colder weather.

  17. My EE Revelation quilt has 800 fill down. Experience tells me loft, and a fair bit of down keeps me warm (I got more down with 800fp option). All the claims of the lab test are far from the hills and cold damp moors of the UK. Then I find 800 fp has always been as good as any claimed higher fill power down I have used. The tests are disputable and for a few interesting points on this subject I find the comments here worth reading:

    http://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/88298/

  18. I’ve read several places that the difference between 850 and higher down is the amount of cleaning, drying, and fluffing the down undergoes prior to the beaker test.

    But once the high fill power down gets a dust or little body oil into it, or it gets out of its artificially low-humidity environment — it’s just 850 down again.

    This makes sense to me. I don’t think anyone has improved the geese over the last few years — and yet down fill power ratings went up by 100.

  19. Costs are all relative though. For some people the cost of a high end bag or Cuben tent seems outrageous, but when you compare it to many other interests, like say boating, gaming, high end audio, the cost is relatively small.

  20. I guess if you’re going to a serious expedition in Antarctica it would be worth, but other than that, for a weekend trip in New England or even in the Rockies in the lower altitudes, is it really worth it…

  21. Correct me if I am wrong here but isn’t the difference in the two really to the loft of the product. Another way of putting it is isn’t the difference in how small it compresses to. So the weight saving isn’t as important as the pack size so that you can fit it into a smaller pack thus reducing the weight and size of what you are carrying.

  22. I agree with Mike Spaulding. I started thinking in cost per ounce shortly after I started getting back into hiking. Using that rational helped me make decisions on what to buy for what price. But each person places a different value on weight and money. It might be worth it for one person to spend many dollars to save an ounce. It may not for others. I think whats important is that people make their own standards and stick to them. Again, using the cost per ounce that Mike shows helped me compare costs vs weight savings and put a kit together that is lightweight, has all the required functionality needed and in my budget. I have even caught myself thinking “Oh that’s only $10.00 per ounce and it will save me 3 ounces. Worth it!” or “That’s going to cost $54.00 per ounce and save me 2 ounces. Not worth it.” I actually did the math on my EE quilt and ended up buying the 800 fill. However, I hope EE and other companies will continue to offer options.

  23. Time or useful life is an important factor that must be part of any cost per ounce analysis. $70 to save an ounce one time (one day, one trip, whatever) is a bit crazier than $70 to save an ounce on a piece of gear that will be used 100 times. So the analysis really needs to be cost per ounce per use.

    This only matters when comparing weight savings on pieces of gear with significantly different lives. For example a titanium mug on the high end (many years of use), and a plastic water pouch on the lower end (maybe a dozen trips). Or even more on the low end of useful life – food. Food is definitely used only once.

  24. Your best weight savings, could be around your waist. Speaking from personal experience.

  25. The cost differential for 950 fill varies among the cottage manufactures. I opted for 950 fill in both a down quilt and underquilt from Loco Libre. I plan to use a hammock for an AT and PCT thru hike. The cost difference for 950 over 800 fill was $124 ($80 & $44 respectively) and the total weight savings is 4.35 ounces. Assuming I complete all 5000 miles of hiking the weight/calorie savings is significant. The cost is equivalent to skipping a night or two stay in town somewhere during the two trips. Phillip, still think this is an unwise decision?

    • What models and sizes did you get? I just checked the ghost peppers specs and couldn’t replicate your savings. Not saying it’s not possible, but I just want to fact check.

      BTW, if you buy your own down, the cost does come out to about $30 an ounce. So it’s perfectly plausible to get the unit cost down.

  26. The weight differences on the LLG website are easier to follow than on the EE site so not sure why you can’t fact check? For reference look at the 20* GP 19.9oz vs. 17.65oz. (2.25 oz. lighter – 950 fill vs 800 ) For the UQ I have 55″ length and it’s 2.1oz lighter than 800 fill. As I mentioned, the weight saving is 4.35 oz for both and the add’l cost for both was $124. The weight savings scale upward for 10* and 0* quilts and underquilts. You couldn’t see this trend when you checked? Do you still stand by the conclusion in this article as it seems to based on the price & weight saving differential of only one company?

    • If you only have to pay $30 an ounce for weight savings that puts it on par with other UL gear purchases. Whether it’s worth it is a matter of personal opinion.

      I was looking for a savings of 4.35 oz when I checked Georges specs this morning which is why I didn’t see it. I’m backpacking at the moment, so I don’t have the tools to do a spreadsheet analysis. Do your savings depend on the volume discount that George gives people who buy two quilts or does it apply if you only buy one quilt?

      • Ok – just did the cost comparison analysis for a single 30 degree quilt (regular size, stock fabric) and upgrading from 800 fill power to 950 fill power saves 1 ounce of weight and costs $70 at Loco Libre. I consider that an insane amount of money to pay for a single ounce weight savings.

        I suggest you compare that to the EE pricing I listed in the post. You get more weight reduction for $70 with them for your money than Loco Libre.

      • I bought a *20 degree quilt. Here are the numbers from the LLG website. For a 20* top quilt I saved 2.25 oz and paid $80 for the 950 fill upgrade. On the 20* underquilt I saved 2.1 oz and paid $44 for the 950 fill upgrade. So in total I paid $124 for 950 fill over 800 and save 4.35 oz. which works out to $28.50 per oz. The weight and cost savings scale similarly going doing the temp range ( 10* & 0*) Apparently it doesn’t work as well for 30*
        I think the premise of you article is somewhat flawed given that you only checked pricing from one manufacturer.

      • I’m the first to admit that my analysis was limited to one manufacturer and for 30 degree top quilts (only) which are the most popular quilt temperature rating that people purchase. I even published my analysis so other could use it as a basis for their own price comparisons, which I hope they do.

        But the vast majority of people don’t buy two twenty degree quilts at once, or a top quilt and an underquilt. Those two facts seems to be the premise of your argument, which I find puzzling.

      • Actually I believe 20* sleeping bags / quilts are very common but I don’t have any data to say whether 20* or 30* is more popular. I guess that would be a question for REI. I bought 2 quilts because hammock campers need both a top quilt and an underquilt, unless you live in the tropics. The underquilt is insulation just like a themorest would be for a tent camper. If you’re going to backback with a hammock you need both, hope that clears up the puzzle for anyone unfamiliar with hammock camping.

      • You are completely missing the point in paying for premium fill down…..it isn’t about the weight savings that is secondary……you are paying for ability to be warm in colder temps. The higher the down fill the colder you can go!

      • They give you less down (in ounces) when you get the higher fill power, so there’s no increase in the temperature rating. You’re not paying for more warmth.

  27. Sorry to be jumping on a thread that’s been dormant for a while. I really believe that size of sleep system components is too often overlooked. I realized after some experimentation that being 5’8 and fairly skinny, and never sleeping with my legs all the way extended, I get the most savings from getting something smaller that fits me. A three quarter bag like the Feathered Friends Vireo, the now defunct Thermarest Navis, or even my wonky little hot weather Chinese sized Aegismax bag all fit me like a regular bag would. Similarly, my sea to summit ultralight insulated pad is the size small, and it costs and weighs less than the regular and large.

    I know that probably all seems self evident, but I think there are a ton of people 5’8 and under who just buy the regular size of gear because they only think about fit for movement or clothes. The cost / weight and size savings to be had in through this route are far better than 800 vs 900 fill etc.

    The only negative I’ve watched out for in this strategy is a potential bag combo, where the tightness will restrict loft. My Marmot hydrogen is a 30 degree bag, I have a regular, but I wouldn’t get this bag as a small (I don’t think they make one anyways) because I sometimes use my el cheapo aegismax mini as a liner to push this bag way beyond it’s EN. If I had an outerbag that was too tight the combo would be useless.

  28. You are not merely paying for point something ounce difference in weight as you continue to hammer and question in this forum and to serious hikers weight is important but with higher price and increased down fill you are paying for warmth! So for that $115 you seem to complain about you are getting much colder temps you can be out comfortable in. Compromise on price and when you need it you will have also sacrificed your comfort!

    • They give you less down (in ounces) when you get the higher fill power, so there’s no increase in the temperature rating. You’re not paying for more warmth.

      • Yeah, most people choose a temp rating first, and then compare weights and features. I don’t know of many people who choose a 20-ounce 20-degree bag (for example), and then are like, whoa, I can jump up to 900-down, have them overfill the bag, and then get a 16-degree bag for the same weight!

      • 950fp performance is overrated. Lab conditions are far removed from being outdoors. Plus the biggest bit people forget is loft is capped by the baffle design/height. This will determine how much warmth is trapped. But the loft is subject the baffle height of the bag/quilt design, box wall Vs stitched through etc. 800 down is I find robust in any conditions and for me: 3 season use a 2.5 to 3in baffle height and 400 – 500g of down are what matters and 700 to 800fp does fine (the amount of down not the highest fp is key). Double the down for the depths of winter and have a 20d material outer to help fend of damp. My EE quilt has 3in baffles and 530g of 800 fill down. Better than anything I have used including Marmot bags with 950 fill power down which I have used and got cold in.

  29. I don’t hike but I do long distance bicycling and motorcycling, and thus I don’t care about weight, but I do care about volume, and oddly it is the largest factor for me on my motorcycle where space is extremely tight. I have three sleeping bags; a 650 fill, a 700 fill and a 800 fill. What impressed my from my four years of experience thus far is how much I like the change to the 800 fp from the coarser bags. I thought it was over-hyped as an attribute but due to the moderate but significant compressibility of the Montbell with 800 fp, now that I am looking for an under-quilt I am aiming for 900 or 950. Now part of that is the experimentation, but if the pack size decreases by 20% – I will find the price premium of little concern. I am on a pretty limited budget, but I have infinite patience and can simply eat ramen noodles for longer. :) I do find it a bit odd that hikers would balk at 100 or so dollars on something that one will have for many years, and yet at the same time experiment with ultra-light, ultra-pricey packs. To each his own I guess, we all have our own lines in the sand.

    Since this post was published a rather remarkable thing has happened. Enlightened Equipment has radically changed the pricing structure. dropping the upgrade premium dramatically. Now on a regular 30 degree under-quilt the premium from 800 all the way to 950 fp is $45. Less time to spend munching nothing but ramen. :)

  30. having 900 fill down also compacts smaller/better by about 10 square inches

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