What shell to choose on sleeping bag

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    I’m about to order a sleeping bag from Feathered Friends soon, the “Winter Wren”, in size “long” and with the “800 fill upgrade”. So far I’ve decided, but on their options for shell garment I’d appriciate your experience and advice. I’ll use it under a tarp and in a tent. Often in wet conditions but I can probably avoid getting it soaked. So what do you reckon; Would you go for “Epic”, “Event” or “Quantum”?


    Richard Nelridge


    Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania

    First let me comment that Feathered Friends makes outstanding products. Unless you feel that you need to have the arm holes and the leg holes to use your arms and legs (as to walk around camp), you may wish to consider the Feathered Friends Vireo Sleeping Bag. This is still a lighter bag and you can add as much as about 6 oz (probably overkill in most instances) of 800 down overfill. The Vireo Sleeping bag is also part of the Feathered Friends Sleeping Bag Layering System and is cut to accept down and other high loft jackets and above the waist garments.

    Also, if you order the Vireo Sleeping Bag and a Down Jacket at the same time, Feathered Friends offers a 15% discount on the Vireo Sleeping Bag and the Down Jacket. If you order the Vireo Sleeping Bag and a Down Jacket, also order the Volant Hood. Feathered Friends can put snaps on the Vireo Sleeping Bag, the Down Jacket, and the Volant Hood so that the hood can be used separately or attached to either the jacket or the sleeping bag. I ordered this set up (all 800 down) with the Hyperion jacket and 2 oz of 800 overfill for the Vireo Sleeping Bag and thus far have been very pleased. I ordered my system in eVENT because I have been very happy with the eVENT fabric that I purchased on my first Feathered Friends Lark Sleeping Bag that I had made back in 1999.

    Additionally, I ordered my first Feathered Friends Sleeping Bag and my new system in eVENT because of my concerns for outside sources for moisture. Be aware that even though eVENT is waterproof and windproof the sewing needle holes have not been seam sealed so the products are only water resistant. You can limit the wetting of the sleeping bag and your additional clothing from the inside from perspiration and “insensible” perspiration through the use of vapor barrier clothing such as that made by Stephenson’s Warmlite ( These Vapor Barrier garments would be used in cold weather generally below about 32 degrees F; you would have to experiment to find your comfort level to determine how much clothing to wear over the Vapor Barrier Clothing but inside the Sleeping Bag.

    I know that from what Ryan Jordan has indicated, he would lean toward the Quantum fabric because it breathes so well and this would allow the down sleeping bag and garments to dry out more quickly. Also the Quantum fabric weighs less than the eVENT fabric.


    Thanks for your comments Richard.

    Feathered Friends seem to know their business, and since the US dollar is quite cheap now in relation to €/Euros, I though I’d give them a go. My current down sleeping bag is a RAB Quantum Top Bag, with some down overfill. It’s about 20 oz (560 grammes), and usable to a few degrees below freezing temp (appr -5 C) together with a down vest and two layers of thermal underwear. The shell on that one is Pertex Quantum, which I also have on the down vest and a synthetic jacket. Without doubt, the material is light and reasonable durable, but I often have to stop down from getting out by using small drops of silicone. A shell that is a tad more resistant to down penetration and a bit more water repellant would be nice I suppose. The Winter Wren may be used together (outside) the Top bag sometimes. The versitility of the Wren is what attracts me, for errands outside the tent in the evening it should be hard to beat, and for 3-season use it should be able to exclude the down vest or synthetic jacket from the pack. I’m leaning a bit towards the EPIC shell now I think, I have that material in a tent already. But I’ve read BPL’s comments about the problems with EPIC in bivy’s. Would the same condensation problem also occur in a sleeping bag?

    More feedback welcomed. /Moe

    Richard Nelridge


    Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania

    The only experience that I have with Epic is the outer fabric of my original Patagonia Zephur jacket. The fabric is thin, windproof, and seems to wet through fairly quickly. I have never been nearly as impressed with the Epic fabric as with the eVENT fabric.

    I know that Feathered Friends generally recommends Epic Fabric for outer material of their sleeping bags and garments for general use. It is lighter and windproof and water resistant. I can not comment about Epic outer sleeping bags having the condensation and frost problems that have been raised about Epic bivys.

    Feathered Friends normally recommends the eVENT outer Fabric for their sleeping bags and garments for people that want the most durable fabric and most weather resistance. From my experience, the fabric is quite durable and wind proof (perhaps a little noisy). I have never experienced a water, condensation, or frost issue with my Feathered Friends eVENT covered sleeping bags or garments. Both the Epic and the eVENT fabrics will probably be more durable and down proof than the Quantum.

    Be aware that though the 2 layer eVENT fabric that Feathered Friends uses for their sleeping bags and garments is durable, windproof, and water proof, they have not seam sealed the sewing needle holes. Therefore the eVENT Feathered Friends sleeping bags and garments can only be considered water resistant.

    Backpacker magazine did review an eVENT Feathered Friends Lark Sleeping Bag which is online. The reviewer had left the sleeping bag partially out in the rain. They found that the rain water had pooled on the eVENT fabric and the down remained dry. You may wish to run a search on the Backpacker Magazine website to find the article.

    Feathered Friends has been making eVENT sleeping bags and garments probably longer than anyone else and probably has more experience with the 2 layer eVENT fabric than any other manufacturer. I had Feathered Friends make up my original Lark sleeping bag in 1999 in what was then called PTFE Lite. At the time, BHA Technologies (designer and manufacturer of eVENT) had yet to develop the trademark of eVENT and Feathered Friends had been looking for a fabric as a replacement for Gore Dryloft and Gortex. Feathered Friends is without a dought one of the first companies to be licensed by BHA Technologies to use their 2 layer PTFE material (eVENT) for the making of down sleeping bags and garments.

    eVENT can be overwhelmed by perspiration however, but for over 5 years it has been the best product available as a waterproof/breathable hardshell material. Unfortunately not enough of the big players in the industry use it. To show how much I believe in this material I have the following items in Feathered Friends 800 down, 2 layer eVENT outer fabric: Lark Sleeping Bag, Vireo Sleeping Bag, Hyperion Jacket, and Volant Hood. Additionally, I have the following 3 layer, seam sealed eVENT products: Lowe Alpine Elite Jacket, Lowe Alpine Evolution Pants, Integral Designs Rain Jacket, Integral Designs low gaiters. I will be purchasing either the Integral Designs or another makers eVENT Pants later in the year. eVENT has all but replaced all my Goretex Products.

    Unfortunately GE who recently purchased BHA Technologies and eVENT has made a decision that due to the lack of flame retardancy eVENT fabric would longer be licensed for the purposes of making eVENT tents. As a result you will find discussions regarding this and Integral Designs eVENT tents on forums here on Backpacking Light. With a lot of reluctance I just purchased one of the few remaining eVENT Integral Designs MK1 tents from Pro Mountain Sports. I had intended to purchase the tent later in the year.

    As to the durability of the Feathered Friends eVENT outer fabric for their sleeping bags and garments, my 5 1/2 year old Feathered Friends Lark Sleeping Bag is in great condition.

    Bryan Redd



    Thanks for your insights. Like you, I’ve not been at all impressed with EPIC as an outerwear fabric, as regards its water repellancy. I have a GoLite EPIC jacket that wets out very quickly.

    I also have a Feathered Friends EPIC covered bag I purchased last summer. I’ve not yet used it enough to know if there is a condensation problem with it, but I do know that my EPIC jacket does not breathe well.

    I too am considering eVent for another FF bag. There is some (not sure how much) weight penalty. It is encouraging to read your generally positive review.

    As for hardshells, I’m on the verge of buying a Patagonia H2NO HB wading jacket (for the rainy fly fishing I do in late fall, winter and spring here in Oregon). I’ve searched for an eVent fishing jacket (I need a jacket with 2 large chest pockets for my fly boxes and other stuff) and found nothing. My only options appear to jackets made of Gore XCR or Patagonia’s H2NO HB.

    Have you used H2NO HB? If so, can you compare it to e-Vent? As you may have read in a post a couple of weeks ago, Patagonia’s testing gave its product a slight edge over e-Vent in overall moisture management and comfort.

    BTW, have you seen any fishing jackets made with eVent?


    Strong arguments for eVent so far, very interesting to read.

    On breathability; surely Epic must breathe better than eVent? I understand the advantages of using a vapor barrier in the winter, but to me it sounds horribly uncomfortable so I’d rather make sure I get as much moist out as possible with a breathable shell.

    I found that article Richard; it ends “For soggy wet camping, I’d go for the PTFE; for extended cold or merely damp, I’d take the Nextec.” (I assume that Nextec is the same thing as Epic)

    Extended cold / merely damp sound a lot like like my expectations of usage, so I’m still leaning toward the Epic choice.

    Do you guys know how much extra it costs to order a FF sleeping bag with down overfill? How many $ per ounce extra 800 down? (I’ve emailed their CS but no reply yet)

    TC, /Moe

    David Olsen


    Locale: Steptoe Butte

    Disclaimer- I make bivys and other stuff from
    Goretex, Epic, eVent, Ultrex and some stuff for

    I think the condensation issue is a bit hard to pin down. Here are some of my observations.

    I have a 1980’s version REI Goretex tent that I have never experianced condensation in, winter, summer, rain, snow or fog.
    Perhaps it was made before the PU coating was added. If it wasn’t so heavy and if I didn’t like
    tarps so much, I would use it all the time.

    I have used gaiters made of Epic and eVent on many winter ski trips and felt a lot sweatier in the eVent than the Epic.

    I have add great success with 2 layer Goretex for
    clothes and bivys, not so great with the 3 layer
    where I’ve occasionally had condensation that took awhile to

    I haven’t noticed the difference between pants
    made of Gore 2 layer and eVent made of 3 layer in
    terms of waterproofness or condensation. I can note a considerable increase in condensation when
    I wear pants made by Red Ledge of a PU WPB coating.

    One of my buddies works at Patagonia, I gave him
    a pair of eVent gaiters to try out. He told me that
    Patagonia had done testing on the fabric and found
    that like origional Goretex, it soiled and lost its
    waterproofness to the point they couldn’t trust it for use in their product line.

    I even made a bivy of Bion II (remember that?) which was condensation free more than 9 times out of ten in continuous use one summer in the Cascades.

    Richard Nelridge


    Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania

    Feathered Friends charges $8.00 per ounce for 800 goose down overfill.

    Tim Cheek
    BPL Member


    Who makes epic gaiters? I was thinking of getting ID’s eVent gaiters until I read your post!

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