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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.

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.

Feathered Friends Tanager 20 Sleeping Bag


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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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 / ModelTypeZipperWeight
Feathered Friends Tanager 20Sleeping BagNone18.6 oz
Feathered Friends Flicker 20 ULSleeping BagFull Length26 oz
Katabatic Gear Flex 22Sleeping BagFull Length22.5 oz
Zpacks Classic 20Sleeping BagFull Length21.3 oz
Enlightened Equip. Conundrum 20 Sleeping BagFull Length25.47 oz
Enlightened Equip. Convert 20 Sleeping BagFull Length26.45 oz
Katabatic Gear Alsek 22QuiltNone21 oz
Enlightened Equip. Revelation 20QuiltNone22.54 oz
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20QuiltNone19 oz


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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  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. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.


    • 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?

    • 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?

  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. 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.

  7. 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?


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Hi Phil, Thanks for your website and all the good information. I’ve been doing backpacking since 1960, so I’ve had a chance to form a few opinions. One opinion I’ve formed over the years is that most sleeping bags are not correctly designed. Most are widest at the top (the shoulder area) and become narrower at the elbows and hips. If you lie down and put a measuring tape around your body, you will find you need maximum width at the elbows.

    Given this thought, I researched the market and decided to purchase a Western Mountaineering TerraLite, which has a inside girth of 65″, 68″, and 42″ (shoulder, hip, foot). I’m a big guy (5′ 11″ tall and 200 lbs) so I need more room than most skinny hikers.

    I have two custom made Western Mountaineering winter bags that they built for me in 1973. These are wonderful bags and still as good as new.

    Based on my experience and research, I believe Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends are the two best sleeping bags available. I highly recommend both brands. They are designed and sewn here in the US, so we are helping to support our economy when we purchase from them.

    • I totally agree with you. I have an Wmtn Ultralite which I’ve owned for over a decade and two Feathered Friends bags. I really like this Tanager bag. It has all the best attributes of a quilt, without any drafts.

  11. My quilt is great above 30F but I tend to toss and turn so it’s drafty in cooler temps. I was balking at getting zippered bag due to weight and compression. This seems like a great option for cooler temps since I already have a summer quilt, but doubt I’d want to use this year round.

  12. I suggest passing on the Tanager, I wish I had.

    I took one out for ten days. I really do love the hoodless, zipperless design as i turn all night. Unfortunately I found that the 20 degree rating was not comparable to other bags with a 20 degree rating. While ratings aren’t an exact science, there were significant cold spots in this bag that left me uncomfortable anywhere below 35 degrees. My 30 degree quilt is warmer than this (no cold spots), on the same pad.

    I contacted Feathered Friends to ask about overstuffing to get maybe 10 more degrees out of it and was quoted $200.00. I’ve decided to sell it and go with the Western Mountaineering Ultralite.

    • First off. Rainy pass will stuff it with more down for a fraction of that price.

      Second. I am shocked that you were cold in this bag. It does require the use of a hood or hat and there is no draft collar, but I’ve had this bag down to 20 without any problems whatsoever. I also own a western mountaineering UL (20*F) and haven’t used it once since getting the Tanager 20. I doubt I ever will use the WM UL 20 ever again although it’s hard to part with because I’ve owned it for so many years.

  13. Phil, I am 6′ feet even. What size bag would you recommend in the Tanager 20 bag. I really like the look and features of this bag. Your review has only convinced me more that this is the bag I want. Thanks and look forward to your reply

    • You can probably fit into the 68″ since it doesn’t have a hood. I’m 2 inches shorter than you. I’d still call FF and ask their advice. It is a fantastic bag.

      • Lawrence Constantino

        Not sure how tanager compares lengthwise to ff’s 20 degree swift UL but I’m 6’0″ and the standard size was supposed to be good for my height, but in hindsight wish I had gotten the long, of course it’s a hooded bag, so limited at top and bottom. The tanager is not really limited on the top I guess.
        I’m a bit chilly at 25 in it though, and add more than long johns at those temps.

      • His down vest wasn’t available last time we were in the low 20s because I was using it. I found a flaw in my system for taking my 30 degree bag down into the teens. My process required a couple layers of dry clothes. We’d hiked for hours in pouring rain, which morphed to sleet, which turned into driving snow with brutal winds all night. The only dry clothes I had left were a pair of long johns, socks and my down puffy. Larry’s kindly offering me his down vest kept me from freezing.

  14. When the demensions for the 3 widths are given, is that circumference or laying down flat measurements?
    I am female and sleep cold. I sleep on my side and move around. I am interested in this because at about 40 degrees I have to have a mummy bag and then a lighter, hoodless , zippered bag over the mummy bag. That is for car camping. When using my hammock I have a mummy bag and wear my long underwear and a pair of warm up pants on my legs with a down hoodie on top. I want less weight to carry when backpacking. This sounds like the thing. I can get claustiphobic in a mummy too.

  15. OK, you got me. I think I just dropped the quilt quest & will go with this, as my primary goals are weight & warmth. My evening temps range from 12 to 48 year around at the higher elevations where I like to go. I’ve got an old North Face mummy that -15 on standby if needed. If I camp warmer (unlikely) maybe then I’ll try a summer quilt. I love the weight, simplicity & ability to be a restless sleeper without worrying about quilt drafts or hoods in my face. I already have a FF Eos hoody I love, which will pair well with it. I’m thinking my big 3 might be: Notch Li, Nemo Tensor or Alpine pad & the Tanager & Seek Outside Flight – that puts be at 100 oz = 6.25 lbs. Flicker & Aeon Li/Protrail Li are considerations, but leaning Tanager/Notch Li.

    REALLY appreciate your work Philip. I read your reviews, go down my research hole & I think my kit is coming together. I will always have a bear canister. Do you see anything glaringly wrong that I’m missing?

  16. I just want to echo what Philip says about the Tanager. I’ve used mine for a couple of dozen nights. I even find it comfortable above 40 degrees if I have the right long sleeve shirt or light jacket. As Philip says, at warmer temperatures you can just push the bag down a bit. I also flip the bag in warm conditions so there’s less insulation at the top and sides. I haven’t taken it down to 20, but at 27 I was plenty warm with a light fleece, a face covering, a cap, and long underwear and socks.

  17. How do you think the Tanager would be for summer camping at 10-11k ft elevation with temps in mid 30s to mid 40s at night? I have the FF Hummingbird 20, but interested in the Tanager to drop a little weight and maybe add some warmth. Also, what head gear do you use in those temps with this bag?

  18. It’d be fine in the mid 40’s. Just don’t tighten the drawcord around your neck as much. I just wear a fleece hoodie and maybe a Montbell down hoodie.

  19. Great, thanks! Last thing I have to figure out is how to keep my Sea to Summit Aeros pillow from sliding around on my Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite pad. I know Sea to Summit has their Pillow Lock feature, but it just looks like velcro, and I’m a little hesitant to permanently alter my pad with velcro. Any tips on keeping a pillow secure with a hoodless bag?

    • The S2S pillow lock system is a slightly different form of velcro and gear friendly, unlike nasty velcro. You have to use one of their pillows to use it. Unless you sleep in a bivy bag with a hood, there is no good way to keep a pillow on a pad.

      • Thanks, Phillip. Good to know the S2S pillow lock patches are different velcro.
        Did a little searching on this issue and the best method I could find is to put your head bug net over the top end of your pad and insert the pillow inside that, I tested this out at home and it actually works pretty well. Another suggestion was to use a buff, but the ones I have are too small to fit over a pad so it would have to big a bigger buff, but the bug net works just fine!

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