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Feathered Friends Tanager 20 Hoodless Sleeping Bag Review

Feathered Friends Tanager 20 Sleeping Bag review

The Feather Friends Tanager 20 CFL Sleeping Bag is a hoodless, full length, and zipperless sleeping bag designed for thru-hikers, ultralight backpackers, and alpinists who want to minimize their gear weight and bulk. Weighing 18.6 oz, the Tanager is insulated with 12.6 oz of 950 fill power goose down and is best viewed as a specialized, ultralight alternative to a 20-degree backpacking quilt or mummy sleeping bag. It’s not designed to span a wide temperature range like a backpacking quilt or a hoodless sleeping bag with a zipper, although it is lighter weight than comparable quilts and hoodless sleeping bags at the same temperature rating.

Feathered Friends Tanager 20 Sleeping Bag

Warmth
Weight
Comfort
Features
Versatility

Minimalist Ultralight Sleeping Bag

The Feathered Friends Tanager 20 is a full-length ultralight 20-degree sleeping bag without a zipper. It's a great hoodless alternative to a quilt because it's so lightweight and guaranteed to be draft-free.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 18.6 oz
  • Fill weight: 12.6 oz, 950 fill power goose down
  • Type: Hoodless Sleeping bag
  • Baffles: Continuous
  • Zipper: No
  • Lengths: 68″ or 74″
  • Dimensions: 62″ / 52″ / 38″
  • Shell: 7D Pertex Quantum w/ DWR coating
  • Lining: 15D ripstop nylon

The Tanager 20’s sweet spot is for trips where you know that nighttime temperatures will range between 20 degrees and 50 degrees at night. It’s also an excellent option as an inner bag, if you want to stack a quilt on top, because it’s draft-proof. There’s no sleeping pad attachment system to fuss with and no hood, so you can roll around in it at night or side sleep, just as you would with any hoodless sleeping bag.

The Tanager 20 is cut wide so you can sleep with gear or water that you want to keep warm at night
The Tanager 20 is cut wide so you can sleep with gear, clothing, footwear or water that you want to keep warm or dry at night.

Like a quilt, the Tanager is designed to be used with an insulated hood, long underwear, and socks. The top closes with a drawstring over the top of your shoulders. There isn’t a draft collar or draft tube at the top of the bag to seal around your neck (wish there was), so you’ll want to wear an insulated hood with an extended neck like the Montbell Down Balaclava or an insulated hooded jacket in the Tanager to keep your head warm and create a good seal at the top of the bag.

I’ve taken the Tanager down to 20 degrees and the lack of a side zipper is no great loss. Getting in and out of the bag is as easy as putting on or taking off a pair of pants. In warmer temperatures, you can regulate the Tanager’s temperature by opening the drawcord and venting the bag around your neck. If you have an insulated jacket, you can also push the bag partially down your torso, so it traps less heat.

There’s a drawstring, offset to the right, to cinch the top shut
There’s a drawstring, offset to the right, to cinch the top shut, but no draft collar or draft tube around the neck.

Feathered Friends bases their sleeping bag temperature ratings on the use of a hood, long underwear, socks, and a sleeping pad with a minimum R-value=3.  The Tanager 20 has continuous baffles, so you can push its 20-degree temperature rating a few degrees lower by shaking the down from the bottom to the top and sides, which is one of the benefits of this type of baffle construction.

The Tanager 20 is a full-length sleeping bag, not a so-called elephant’s foot or partial length bag. It’s available in two lengths: 68″ and 74″, which should reach the height of your neck so that it can be cinched closed over your shoulders. The Tanager is also cut fairly wide, with a shoulder / waist / foot girth of 62″ / 52″ / 38″, which puts it on par with wide sleeping bags. This lets you can store extra gear in it at night that you want to dry or keep from freezing, like gloves, shoes and water bottles.  With these dimensions, getting in and out is not a problem and you don’t feel claustrophobic in the Tanager. The wide shoulder girth also makes it relatively easy to vent the Tanager as temperatures rise. Finally, the footbox is trapezoidal and roomy, so you can sleep with your feet straight up or on their sides.

Comparable Hoodless Sleeping Bags and Quilts

Make / ModelTypeZipperWeightPrice
Feathered Friends Tanager 20Sleeping BagNone18.6 oz$369
Feathered Friends Flicker 20 ULSleeping BagFull Length26 oz$424
NEMO Banshee 22Sleeping BagFull Length27 oz$370
Katabatic Gear Flex 20Sleeping BagFull Length22.5 oz$370
Zpacks Classic 20Sleeping BagFull Length21.3 oz$399
Enlightened Equip. Conundrum 20 Sleeping BagFull Length25.47 oz$360
Enlightened Equip. Convert 20 Sleeping BagFull Length26.45 oz$375
Nunatak 3D Zippered Quilt 15Sleeping BagFull Length27 oz$490
Katabatic Gear Alsek 22QuiltNone21 oz$450
Enlightened Equip. Revelation 20QuiltNone22.54 oz$300
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20QuiltNone19 oz$370

Recommendation

The Feathered Friends Tanager 20 is a hoodless and zipper-less full-length sleeping bag that weighs 18.6 oz. While it is lighter weight than many comparable quilts and hoodless sleeping bags, it isn’t as versatile, since it is harder to regulate your temperature in warmer weather. Still, hoodless sleeping bags, including the Tanager 20, are simpler to use than quilts in colder weather because they don’t rely on a pad attachment system and they’re far more draft resistant. If you use a mummy bag today for spring and autumn camping but are hesitant to switch to a quilt, the Tanager 20 sleeping bag might be a great alternative.

Personally, I’ve decided to switch from a 29 0z, mummy bag to the Tanager, chopping 10 oz off my spring gear list, with no loss of comfort since I carry a hooded insulated jacket already. That said, the Feathered Friends Tanager 20 is a specialized bag and it’s not going to suit everyone’s tastes. But colder weather quilts are not the slam dunk that warm weather quilts are, and the Tanager 20 and hoodless sleeping bags can be an attractive option if you want to combine the weight benefits of a quilt with the draft resistance of a sleeping bag.

Disclosure: Feathered Friends provided the author with a Tanager 20 for this review.

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27 comments

  1. Interesting alternative to a quilt and guaranteed draft free. Love the weight. Thanks for reviewing this! Sound like it will be perfect for this spring.

  2. Is this tent able to withstand the pressure of additional rain?

    • I’m sorry, I meant to say sleeping bag. Is this sleeping bag able to withstand rain soaking it (i.e. will it remain dry and warm)? Curious because I often camp outside in the elements.

      Thanks.

      • No. it’s just a sleeping bag. The fine weave of the exterior fabric is really intended to keep internal tent condensation from making it to the down interior, but that’s about it.

      • I’m curious then if there are other sleeping bags on the market that can withstand a soaking rain. Typically, I just cover my bag with plastic sheeting on the outside and crawl inside the bag, and that keeps the bag mostly dry (although there is the issue of keeping my head dry, so often my head is soaked and chilled on the ground). But it would be much easier to just have a bag that would stay dry on it’s own in the elements. Any suggestions?

      • No. You need to buy a bivy sack or a tarp.

      • The thing is bivy sacks and tarps are so bulky and hard to carry on backpacking trips. I’m looking for a lighter, but rainproof sleeping bag that will not get cold or wet with downpours. Or at least a better workaround than plastic sheeting because it is very uncomfortable to have a cold and wet head when sleeping. Are there any more effective makeshift solutions you can think of?

    • One thought I had was to line the sleeping back I have with leaves (or whatever brush I can find where I am sleeping) to provide extra insulation and waterproofing. Would that make sense?

      There is still the issue of a cold, wet head. Would it be feasible to stick a pillow of some sort on to the edge of the sleeping bag and then add a zipper with holes to breathe through? The primary concern is keeping dry in a downpour.

      Thanks in advance for your help.

  3. Sleeping bag is cool and all but how about that tent?

    • It’s a Tarptent Stratospire 1 and it is extremely weather worthy, for both wind and rain. It’s actually about twice as waterproof as the mainstream tents that you can buy at REI with a hydrostatic head of 3000mm. Dual vestibules too, for a one-person tent, so you can hunker down in it if you need to wait out a storm. This one is made with silnylon but the 2 person version is also available in DCF.
      https://www.tarptent.com/product/stratospire-1/

      • Now that you mention it – yeah…Stratospire. I didn’t look closely at the top. From that angle I was thinking Aeon, and that’s a long term review I’m looking forward too.

  4. It seems like they’ve gor the fabrics on this bag backwards. Wouldn’t it be better to put the 15d on the outside and use the 7d as the liner?

    • The larger 15d yarns create bigger air gaps where they intersect which allows for better vapor transfer, while the 7d yarns provide greater water resistance because the holes are narrower.

  5. Very nice bag, and the color rocks. I wish it had a small zip on the footbox for ventilation. That would expand the temperature zone quite a bit for maybe a 1/2 ounce penalty. BTW, when I use my EE Convert, I never use the zip. It’s faster and easier to get in-n-out with the zip always closed. I even asked EE to make me another Convert, just like this one, without a zip. But they shot me down. Are the width dimensions for the long really the same as the short version ?

    • You could probably pay someone to put one in. FF might do it or Rainy Pass.

      I’d call FF about the long’s dimensions just to check.

      I think we’ll see the hoodless bag category grow in terms of options over the next few years. They really are an attractive option over sleeping pad attachment systems. Note how they’re all offered by EE, KB, and Zpacks. I think there’s a reason for that.

  6. Interested in what size bag did you are switching to (Lengths: 68? or 74? ) and how tall are you?
    Where does the top end of the Tanager lie on you when you lay flat feet extended?

    Thank

  7. Thanks for reviewing this! I just ordered one immediately after getting the notification that it is back in stock in the 68” length. I’ve tried quilts (Katabatic Alsek 22 and UGQ 10 Deg) and just can’t ward off the drafts with all the tossing and turning I do. I’ve had mummy bags in the past, but I fight the hood and zipper as I thrash throughout the night! The Tanager is what I’m hoping is the perfect solution for a thrasher, but mostly side sleeper. My only concern with the Tanager is the length. I am only 5’ 4.5”, so this hoodless bag may be too long/roomy for me. I’m especially nervous since you are 5’10” and find the 68” bag to be sufficient for you. It will most definitely come up over my head. FF’s lengths are not ideal for women who are at or between 5’4” and 5’7”. Their women’s bags are only offered in 5’3” and 5’9” and many of their unisex bags are 6’ long or more. Wish they would offer a 5’6” option like Western Mountaineering. I have also ordered a Western Mountaineering Versalite (in the 5’6” length) as a much heavier alternative (30 oz.) in case the Tanager is just too long to be heat efficient for me.

    • I really like mine. I hope it works for you. Since they sew their own bags, you might want to inquire about a custom length.

      • Surprisingly, it does work. It doesn’t feel too long at all. I crawled into it and cinched it around my shoulders…I about roasted after a whole 10 seconds in this bag! It will probably be a perfect replacement for my quilts.

  8. I was one of Rab Carrington’s first customers and he made me a zipless bag way back in the ’70s.

    I used it for decades in all kinds of temperatures without any issues – I would simply pull it down to my waist if it was hot. I did like the simplicity but the hood was a pain and I’d routinely wake up with it over my face.

    So a hoodless, zipless bag looks quite attractive, and the idea of adding venting to the footbox with a zip or drawcord as suggested above would add a bit more versatility.

    I was just about to make myself a Flicker style bag but with a lighter fabric and a bit more down. But now I’m having a dither. As someone who has used both, what do you think of the pros and cons for thru-hikes with a wide range of conditions from 10f up?

    PS: My old bag is now in the Rab museum!

    • I have a 40-degree Flicker and this 20-degree Tanager. For versatility across a wide range of conditions and shelter types (including hammocks), you really can’t beat the Flicker, and it has a draft collar. If I had a 20 degree Flicker I’d probably use it instead of the Tanager. For cold weather, you just want to make sure the foot box seals up well with a down plug of some sort. The Tanger is a nice bag too and I love the weight of the thing, but I wouldn’t really want to use it in warm 40+ weather. Does that help?

      • Philip – many thanks for your input. I always find your views interesting and well thought through.

        I think on balance I’ll go with a Flicker style design. Overall the added versatility is probably worth the extra weight and complexity for long hikes. I find that as I get older I’m more sensitive to sleeping conditions, and you can really fine tune things with the Flicker.

        Do you find that the crossover zip design is easy to use, without catching on the fabric? I haven’t had the chance to try it, but it does look like a smart design feature…

      • It has stiffener sewn-in along the zipper, so it rarely snags. It’s a very high-quality bag. There’s also no reason why the zipper has to be on top. You can easily rotate it to the side and still use the dual cords to tighten the draft collar.

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