The Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag is a 19-ounce quilt sleeping bag designed for backpackers and climbers who want to the flexibility and lightweight of an insulated sleep system that can be used in many ways, including:
- a hoodless sleeping bag for tent or cowboy camping under the stars
- an ultralight quilt in a tent, under a tarp, or in a hammock
- a down comforter in a tent or under a roof
- or a hammock underquilt
If it’s hard to imagine how a single piece of gear could perform in all of those roles, let’s look at the key features of the Flicker and how they can be used to configure it in different ways.
As a Hoodless Sleeping Bag
The Flicker 40 UL is easy to configure as a hoodless sleeping bag that ideal if you prefer wrap-around insulation and draft protection over using an open-backed quilt.
Featuring a full-length zipper, you can sleep on your back with the zipper on top or rotate the bag to your right or left if you prefer having the zipper along one side.
The zipper is covered by an offset flap (shown above), which prevents drafts from leaking into the bag while preventing zipper snags with the interior fabric. The flap contains goose down, so it also acts like a full-length draft tube that prevents heat loss.
The Flicker 40 UL has a down-filled draft collar that wraps around your neck and can be cinched tight to prevent heat from being forced out of the bag (called the bellows effect) when you move around inside your bag at night. The draft collar is a horizontal baffle filled with goose down whose function is to seal the top of the bag closed around your neck and upper chest. There’s really no comparison between it and the primitive cinch systems found at the top of other ultralight backpacking quilts and hoodless sleeping bags.
Adjustable Foot Vent
The Flicker 40 UL has an adjustable foot vent that you can open or cinch shut with a drawstring. It’s a great way to cool off your feet when you still want warmth around your core and shoulders. The down in the horizontal baffle at the foot of the bag also helps seal in warmth when the drawstring is cinched tight, much like the draft collar at the head end.
High Fill Power Goose Down
The Flicker 40 UL is filled with highly compressible, 950+ fill power goose down with a high warmth to weight ratio that is optimized for ultralight backpacking gear and apparel. Bucking the industry trend, Feathered Friends uses natural goose down instead of waterproof-treated down in their sleeping bags because they’ve found that treated down never lofts quite the same once it’s gotten wet or it’s been washed.
Continuous Horizontal Baffles
The goose down across all Feathered Friend’s Flicker Quilts (available in different temperature ratings and sizes), is held in place using continuous horizontal baffles. This gives you the ability to reposition the down for maximum comfort, shifting it to suit your specific needs. This is a feature you find in the very best backpacking and ultralight sleeping bags and quilts. I’ve taken this bag down to the low-40’s and feel that I could easily take it down to the mid-thirties, without a problem.
The exterior shell of the Flicker 40 is made with ultralight 10 denier Pertex Endurance (0.94 oz/yd² total weight), a water-resistant/breathable fabric that protects the Flicker from condensation and splashback in tents, under tarps, or when sleeping out in the open.
As an Ultralight Quilt
It’s also easy to configure the Flicker as an ultralight quilt for warmer temperatures. It doesn’t matter if you sleep in a tent or use it as a top quilt in a hammock. Simply unzip the back partway to whatever length you prefer and drape it over you. The full-length zipper is completely unobtrusive since it’s backed by the overlapping flap described above. For example, I use the Flicker like this as a top quilt in a hammock.
As a Down Comforter
Unzip the Flicker all the way so it lays completely flat to use it as a down comforter in very hot weather. The advantage of this configuration over many backpacking quilts is that your feet will be cooler because they’re not trapped in a foot box. It’s also a comfortable way to sleep in a hammock or on a bunk at a hostel.
As a Hammock Underquilt
The Flicker 40 UL is also designed to be used as a full-length hammock underquilt and is easy to rig up a simple suspension system using elastic cord and mini S-biners. Feathered Friends does not offer a suspension kit for this, but it’s easy enough to rig with 2 x 80″ packs of Gear-Aid elastic cord and a pair of Nite-ize #2 S-biners.
If you’re familiar with full-length hammock underquilts, they often have draft tubes at the head and foot end to prevent cold air from flowing between the bottom of the hammock and the underquilt. The Flicker’s adjustable foot vent and draft collar give you that same capability when they’re cinched closed. Feathered Friends rates the Flicker 40 UL to 40 degrees when used this way, and I’ll update this review when I use the underquilt capability in cooler weather this autumn.
When I first received the Feather Friends Flicker 40 UL, I wondered if it was a bit overbuilt for three-season backpacking. Was an insulated draft collar really necessary or a full-length zipper? While highly desirable, you don’t find these features on other ultralight quilts or hoodless sleeping bags.
Then I started using the Flicker UL 40 on backpacking and camping trips and became a complete convert to the design philosophy behind this bag. If you’re the kind of person who likes to switch between different tents, tarps, or hammocks as the seasons change, it’s nice to have a sleep system that can be reconfigured for different temperatures and in different ways to compliment them. Especially, if there’s no weight penalty or price premium for the added flexibility. I’d rather own one product that can be used in several different ways than buying several products that only have one purpose.
If you’re looking for a new lightweight sleep system, I’d encourage you to include the Flicker 40 in your search. Do the price and weight comparisons and consider the benefit of the added versatility that the Flicker provides. I can tell you that I’m seriously considering selling my top quilt and hammock underquilt and replacing them with a Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag. Consider me a convert.
- Can be configured in many different ways
- Sophisticated draft collar
- Adjustable foot vent
- Offset zipper with draft tube
- Fabric perimeter loops
- 950+ fill power goose down
- Low weight
- Highly compressible
- None, really
- Length: Reg 6′ 0″ / 183 cm | Long 6′ 6″ / 198 cm
- Width: 62″ / 48″ / 39″
- Weight: Reg: 1 lb 4 oz / 564 g (1 lb 3 oz on the SectionHiker Scale)
- Fill Power: 7″ x 10″ | 5L
- Fill Weight: Reg: 8.4 oz / 238 g; Long: 8.7 oz / 248 g
- External Fabric: Pertex® Endurance UL
- Liner: Flite 15 denier ripstop nylon
- Temperature Rating: 40ºF / 4.4ºC (FF is known for very conservative temperature ratings; your bag will likely be warmer)
- Zipper: Center
Disclosure: Feathered Friends loaned Philip Werner a Flicker 40 UL Quilt Sleeping Bag for this review.