Feathered Friends Question

Ctitus25

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I’ve been eyeballing a FF bag for hunting. However, I’m primarily hunting in the PNW and am not 100% sold since they don’t use hydrophobic down. Can anyone on here attest to the water resistant of their outer shell?
 

beefman

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Western Mountaineering and FF, arguably the two most respected sleeping bag makers, don’t use treated down. They say the benefits of treated down are greatly overstated and the natural oils from geese are hydrophobic and don’t wash away over time like the DWR treatment does.

I have two WM bags and one FF and have never wished for treated down in any of them, the shell fabric is effective at blocking out moisture in my experience. You could always get the YF fabric from feathered friends for some extra waterproofness and durability.
 

Lawnboi

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Scroll down and click on the hydrophobic down link.


More reading on hydrophobic down. This is all weatern mountaineering but is some of the interesting stuff I found when researching
 
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Ctitus25

Ctitus25

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Is there any benefits of WM over FF? I’m leaning towards the FF because I’m near Seattle and can actually go into their store.
 

jm1607

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Is there any benefits of WM over FF? I’m leaning towards the FF because I’m near Seattle and can actually go into their store.
No. They use virtually the same fill and materials. I would get whichever bag suits your needs the best. I have a FF Penguin 10 because it the lightest rect/semi-rect bag for the temp rating out of the 2 companies
 

jmden

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Years ago I had FF make me a custom -30F bag with their WPB shell. It was watertight except at the sewn seams. Pros and cons to that as the membrane can make it harder to get moisture from your body through the shell--more so than regular breathable nylon shell. So your down could be more moist from that than it would be if you just had a regular (more) breathable shell. Depends on several factors. I do still have one WPB shell down bag that has welded seams that I use for super wet conditions--thing is almost like a bivvy bag in and of itself. But any bag could be your last defense and should be kept dry at all times. When in my pack, mine are in a super lightweight compressible dry bag.
 

Spiegel

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Is basically whats in the link and the email I got from WM


"Thanks for your email. This might be a lot more info than you bargained for when you asked the question about treated down.

Currently we do not offer any bags with hydrophobic treated down because as of today we still have no compelling evidence that it provides better overall performance throughout the life of our product. We have been testing treated hydrophobic down from three of the major industry suppliers (i.e. DriDown, DownTek, and ResistDown) since December 2013 but nothing has prompted us to strongly consider using it in our products based on the collective feedback from the tests thus far. Our plan it to continue testing for long term performance comparisons but up to this point we have been underwhelmed. Comparing any of the treated down with our goose down is like comparing at the fresh powder snow in the backcountry to the slush in the parking lot of a ski resort. We currently don't have plans to use hydrophobic down in the near future.
We have done quite a bit of testing and due to multiple factors we have seen little performance difference between our down and hydrophobic down. A few of our tests have involved sending out sleeping bags and jackets that were cut in half and have one half hydrophobic one half normal down. In every case users where unsure which was which or if there was a difference at all. These samples were used for months at a time, some of them for nearly a year straight. We believe this is because of the water resistance and breathability in our shell technology.

Secondly there are numerous concerns with the fill power testing of hydrophobic down. When down is tested for fill it goes through a drying and conditioning process. This process is a standardized comparison but is not at all indicative of real world performance. Hydrophobic down artificially raises the fill count due to this drying and conditioning. For instance, we conducted a test where we got 2 samples from the same batch of down, one treated and one untreated. The supplier claimed that the batch was 850 fill. The treated came out around 860 but the untreated sample came out at ~700. In real world conditions both of these samples would perform around 700 or even lower depending on humidity. Using down that isn't as lofty as we claim it to be is misleading and leads to lower real world performance.

Third is that most down, and especially our stuff, has good natural water resistant properties. Our down is thoroughly cleaned, but the natural fats and oils from the geese stay on the plumage. Though we know these fats and oils come off over time due to laundering and washing we have seen that they last a long time, and potentially longer than a hydrophobic treatment which also washes off. This is still unsubstantiated but our testing seems to indicate this trend especially as many hydrophobic treatments need retreating after only a handful of washes.
The natural properties of high quality goose down are amazingly resistant to water without any treatment at all. We have had samples of down floating at the top of the water in a container for over three months, even stirring it occasionally. When that level of natural resistance to water is paired with a breathable laminated shell fabric such as Gore Windstopper the result is a sleeping bag that you can float on water for a half hour or more, shake it off for a few seconds and its ready to sleep in immediately. No treated down, just quality shell materials and super nice pure goose down.

Thanks,
Ellen"
 

[email protected]

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I use a FF bag and have used WM as well. The perfect shell is about as it gets in terms of a sleeping bag shell for water resistance. I’m not a hydrophobic down fan anyway, so to me it wasn’t a big deal, and still hasn’t been. I’m in Oregon for what it’s worth so similar scenario. FF bags run a little narrow for what it’s worth.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Ctitus25

Ctitus25

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Thanks for all the input from everyone. It seems like whether if not a bag is hydrophobic down is not nearly as important as I have been led to believe.
 

CoffeeGoat

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Just for another data point - I picked up a hammock gear economy burrow quilt last year based on input from Adventure Alan, and while hammock gear does use DWR down, I don't think it's required at all. It was far better this last season than any sleep system I've ever used, I would imagine the FF or WM would be very similar. I've slept in wet synthetic insulation before and it's miserable and cold, I think a much better approach is to avoid getting your sleeping gear wet. I grew up on the Oregon coast and one of my most miserable trips ever it rained 6 inches in 48 hours, in conditions like that hydrophobic or not won't make a difference, a good water proof stuff sack, tent/tarp, and pad to keep you off the ground are going to be the only thing that helps.
 

jordan

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I’ve never slept in a WM but own a Feathered Friends 20 degree Swallow. Before that I ran a down Marmot Helium. I live in Western Wa and backpack hunt the late seasons. I’ve always been fine using a down bag, it just takes a little more care and planning then a synthetic. Don’t think you can go wrong with either company, I liked walking into Featherd Friends and being able to try the bag out as well and buy local.
 

Elkeatr

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I have a FF uL Swift and live in Washington as well. I have never experienced any insulation issues when it has come into contact with moisture, mostly just condensation build up in tents and from wet gear. High quality and am absolutely pleased with it
 
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Ctitus25

Ctitus25

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Thanks for the great information, especially from my fellow Washington hunters! Looks like I'll pull the trigger on a FF once I get paid.
 

Snowy

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Having owned a puffy with hydrophobic down and using it hard for a couple years, I probably won't own another piece that uses it.
 

Snowy

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It has not retained loft nearly as well as the other down jackets I've had, with comparable levels of use. The current loft/R per ounce is more on par with a synthetic than high quality down.
There is some pretty extensive documentation of the issue on backpackinglight.
 

huntcoop

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I’ve never slept in a WM but own a Feathered Friends 20 degree Swallow. Before that I ran a down Marmot Helium. I live in Western Wa and backpack hunt the late seasons. I’ve always been fine using a down bag, it just takes a little more care and planning then a synthetic. Don’t think you can go wrong with either company, I liked walking into Featherd Friends and being able to try the bag out as well and buy local.
What do you mean by “takes a little more care and planning then a synthetic” ?
 

jordan

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Mostly I just have to be a little more careful getting in/out of the tent or tarp when stripping off rain gear so I don’t get the bag wet. Also it can be challenging at times when moving camp and all your gears wet after being out a few days to keep it dry.
 

huntcoop

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Mostly I just have to be a little more careful getting in/out of the tent or tarp when stripping off rain gear so I don’t get the bag wet. Also it can be challenging at times when moving camp and all your gears wet after being out a few days to keep it dry.
Thanks Jordan. I’m in Western British Columbia and down has always scared me. Currently using a Mountain Hardwear synthetic but damn it’s heavy.
 
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