- Feb 11, 2020 at 10:02 am #3630817
I was kind of pumped when I saw the Flicker offerings, but I’ve kind of lost that pumped feeling.
Specifically I was looking at the 20 UL version. For me quilts start losing their mojo when it starts dipping into the 20’s, that’s when I prefer bag, but still miss the svelteness of a quilt. I’m well acquainted with FF quality (owning two of their UL bags) and when I saw the Flicker- I thought there it is!
Looking more closely however has me doubting. Obviously there is no hood which means at 20-ish degrees (or below if combined w/ a synthetic quilt) carrying something in addition to what I would normally be carrying with a hooded bag.
The bottom of the Flicker can be cinched shut, but in my experience with other quilts- something needs to be shoved into the hoe and then cinched to fully prevent cold from getting in-especially in temps below freezing. Not a huge deal, but one more thing to futz with after most likely a very long day. I guess this could be an advantage in warm weather where you could leave the foot box open to regulate temps.
There is no draft tube along the full length zipper, but evidently the offset zipper takes care of that- of course I can’t say as I’ve never tried it, just a potential concern.
The Flicker can be fully unzipped to form a traditional quilt- probably useful for some, not sure if I would use that feature or not to be honest.
Now the biggest rub, the Flicker UL is pretty (but certainly not uber) light the regular weighing in 25.2 oz in the Regular, but as I’m 6′ and there is no hood, would probably behoove me to go to the Long @ 26.2 oz. All fine and good until I look at their Swallow UL 20- it has hood, negates the need for additional headwear beyond a normal beanie and I know the Regular will fit as that’s what both my FF bags are. The weight of the Swallow UL (regular) is 27.0 oz vs 25.2 or 26.2 for the Flicker Long- so a weight savings of 1-2 oz total (not including additional headwear needed in colder weather). I should also add that the Swallow’s additional weight is in fill- 16.7 oz vs 14.7 oz for the Flicker.
I guess I’ve talked myself out of the Flicker, but thought maybe I’m missing something, hence the post?Feb 11, 2020 at 10:44 am #3630822Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
What about the FF Tanager 20? It’s quilt like in weight but wouldn’t have draft issues. Of course it could be a little claustrophobic at times.Feb 11, 2020 at 11:00 am #3630824
I’ve looked at the Tanager (and Vireo w/ additional fill) not so concerned w/ getting in/out of a no zip bag, but more worried about temp control in warmer weather.
There are definitely some discernible weight advantages going that route, not just an ounce or two- closer to a 1/2 lb, which would be nice.Feb 11, 2020 at 12:17 pm #3630827
I have the 20 degree Flicker with 2 oz of overfill and I can easily use it to that temp with just lightweight thermals and a merino beanie but I do sleep hot. I like the modular nature of it as it can be completely opened up as a blanket, partially open like a quilt, or cinched up like a bag. I absolutely hate sleeping bag hoods so this has been perfect for me.
As far as heat loss through the footbox, it can be cinched completely tight and overlaps sufficiently that I have not experienced any issues there. The design is quite good (I will have issues with my MLD quilt in that regard – it simply will not cinch completely tight).
Just my experience….Feb 11, 2020 at 12:33 pm #3630828Edward John MBPL Member
My old winter bag is wriggle in [ it is like a Tanager on steroids/66″ girth & 800 grams of 800FP down] and I usually just open it up and vent when it gets too warm overnite, maybe wriggle out a bit and put a warm jacket on but keep the bag over my legs and bum. I’ve not found it to be a real issue.
I’ve looked at getting a Vireo for a couple of decades but never been cashed up enough to afford oneFeb 11, 2020 at 12:38 pm #3630829
Hi David- that’s not helping, I’m trying to talk myself out of the Flicker :)
Good to know on the footbox! Also does the overlapping zipper work as well as a draft tube? Was one of my concerns.
I’m not a giant fan of hoods on bags, but they are definitely nice when the temps drop- other wise I’m hauling what amount to a hood with me anyways.
I can see the advantages of the modularity, I’m a little stuck on wether I would take advantage of them or not.
John-getting in/out I don’t think would be much of an issue, but I do have pretty good luck with sticking a foot/feet out to regulate my temperature- not being able to do that might be problemsome.Feb 11, 2020 at 6:07 pm #3630871
Hi Mike, it seems to work just fine. I don’t feel drafts from the zipper. Would a draft tube work better than the overlapping zipper? I don’t think so but this may come down to personal preference.
At least at the intended temps.Feb 11, 2020 at 6:13 pm #3630875
I used a zipless bag for many years in all kinds of temperatures (made for me by Rab Carrington on his kitchen table when he was just starting up his Rab business).
I used it on sub-zero Alpine bivvies and on in blazing August heat in Florence. Don’t remember having any issues. When it was hot I simply pulled it down to my waist – and by morning it was usually up round my shoulders without consciously waking up to adjust it as the temperature cooled.
Of course you still have the constriction compared to a quilt, while the Flicker offers the option of quilt and bag modes depending on conditions.
– So issue one is full-zip with cinched footbox vs partial zip with sewn footbox vs zipless.
– And issue two is hood vs hoodless.
Six possible permutations!
I can’t speak for David but the issue I have with hoods is waking up with it twisted over my face. The separate hood avoids this entirely if it fits well, though it’s a little less thermally efficient as there’s a gap between hood and bag. On the other hand, if it’s not going to be cold you can leave the hood at home and use your beanie, so it’s a more modular system.
Like you I nearly sprung for a Flicker. But they’ve used a heavy fabric and a heavy zip and stiffener – so you’re not getting that good a warmth-to-weight ratio, and I need a bit more warmth than the 20F they are offering.
Personally, I’d prefer to ditch the full zip as and sacrifice the flat quilt option in return for greater simplicity and lightness. But going back to zipless is a step too far. So a sewn footbox, short zip for use as a quilt, enough width to function as a bag sub-zero, and no hood. Something like the Zpacks Classic bag.
20F Regular Flicker = 715g
20F Regular Classic = 483g
10F Regular Classic = 593g
So you’re getting much better warmth for weight if you sacrifice the beefy fabric and full zip. And the Classic is more affordable too.
I enjoy making my own stuff, so it’s a MYOG project on my bucket list. But the Classic is quite well reviewed and offers an interesting alternative to the Flicker for anyone who doesn’t like a hood.Feb 11, 2020 at 7:24 pm #3630888
I did look at Zpacks Classic 1/2 zip, it was designed to put the zipper underneath you- thus no draft tube; I’d take the small weight hit to have the zipper on top in a perfect world.
I also looked at their full zip, a pretty comparable bag to the Flicker- it (Zpacks) is a little lighter, guessing due to fabric choice (and an ounce less fill). I definitely considered that as an option, but I’m a little leery on treated down and didn’t see any other option. Price is a push with the Flicker.Feb 11, 2020 at 7:33 pm #3630891
I agree about the treated down – a lot of the best suppliers like Western, FF and PHD are steering clear of it. I’ve used down for half a century in damp old Scotland and never felt the need for treatment – used with care it works just fine for me.
And I agree about the zip. They say it will stay underneath you, but it seems to me that as you toss and turn it will get exposed to the side and be a cold spot. They used to offer a baffle as an option, but that’s been dropped for some reason.
I think that the Flicker nails the zip design – on top with the overlap baffle. It just doesn’t need to be so long and heavy.
This is why I make my own gear – I rarely find commercial stuff that seems quite right…Feb 11, 2020 at 10:10 pm #3630902GarrettBPL Member
I switched from an EE Convert to FFs Lark. I, personally, find sleeping bags less finicky overall. The key for me was getting a sleeping bag that I could roll with. Too large of a sleeping bag leaves me all twisted up inside. The biggest gripe that I have with many of these cottage quilts are their weak collars (skinny shock cords) to shave weight. The weight savings is minimal at best, especially when you compare it to the hassle ime. A lot of quilts that I have used over the years have come undone in the middle of the night. Many have experienced this issue with the Ficker as well. I made my own quilt for 3 season use only, however I made the shock cord thicker to prevent slippage for the times that I actually needed to use it.Feb 12, 2020 at 6:57 am #3630929
Clearly making your own design with your choice of fabrics/materials would be ideal :)
^I did read a couple of reviews that the collar cord locks on the Flicker were weak, fortunately easily remedied with beefier cord locks.Feb 12, 2020 at 7:47 am #3630934
Useful thread – reminded me that I used an ultra-light, ultra simple zipless bag with no issues from the ’70s to the ’90s in a huge range of temperatures, as I said above.
Depending on how you sleep, maybe the Flicker concept is over-complicated. I’m thinking I might make myself a zipless, hoodless bag and see how that goes. I like the minimalism, and there’s literally nothing to go wrong.
PHD do a couple like that:
– Fill: 350g, rating -5c, weight 600g
– Fill: 550g, rating -17c, weight 840g
They’re designed for alpine bivvys so are using quite heavy fabrics. With a 10d shell they’d be even lighter. With MYOG you could bring in a -10c bag for under 600g, which is pretty good going. You’re talking around 900g for similar performance from a conventional Western ultralight. And with Karo Step baffles, not that hard a project. If it doesn’t work the down’s reusable, so not much lost. If you’re not a sewer, you probably know someone who could run it up – probably a days work for anyone skilled.
For flexiblity you could add a cinch mechanism so you could open up the footbox for venting. If you add a baffle it can be fully airtight. Though personally I’d rather use the weight to carry an ultralight liner like Ron’s at MLD:
Only 28g and you can use it as a bag when it’s too hot for the down bag. Plus it adds around 5F of warmth as a liner, protects your bag from oils and sweat, and is useful in mountain huts and hostels that require your own sheet. Plus, in Ron’s immortal words, it can be used as “a first aid arm sling, emergency tourniquet, stylish back-country scarf, warm head wrap, and marmot collection sack”. Lots of bang per gram.
It all depends how well you sleep in a more constricted bag. For me, it’s not much of an issue and a quilt may be more faff than it’s worth, especially below freezing. Others seem to really need the freedom of a quilt, so the extra weight and complexity of the Flicker or Classic may be worth it.Feb 12, 2020 at 7:53 am #3630935
“I can’t speak for David but the issue I have with hoods is waking up with it twisted over my face. ”
Exactly my issue.
Mike, no issue with my cord locks. Bag is about 4 years old.Feb 12, 2020 at 7:55 am #3630936
^ I have one of those liners from MLD- I used it as a bivy (little tight) w/ a 50 degree quilt, unfortunately the temps fell to around 32 (evidenced my a little ice in my water bottle)- not the best night’s sleep ever :) I do think it’s really useful inside a quilt as it does a good job of mitigating draftsFeb 12, 2020 at 7:57 am #3630937
good to know David- don’t think it is much of an issue, if it does happen to slip, a beefier cord lock easily fixes itFeb 12, 2020 at 11:30 am #3630963obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
This is an interesting thread with lots of good info, but… the MLD bag liner is 2.8 oz or 80 grams. Gee I wish that 28 grams was correct….
Also noticed the item specked 20F Regular Classic = 483g
is for the short and slim or IOW the very smallest version. Still that reference to the Z-Packs classic is appreciated. I’d really like at least a short zipper.
How much weight does the C6 dwr add to the down? it’s got to add some appreciable amount so 15 oz of untreated down is actually quite a bit more down than 15 oz treated down? Does the C6 add other appreciable qualities other than water repellancy? Bags stays lighter over damp weather…. or down is less compressible or maybe “springier?” so better insulation qualities?Feb 12, 2020 at 12:32 pm #3630968
good catch on the liner :)
can’t answer your questions directly, but here’s what FF says about treated down
Do you use water-resistant down?
Treated down (“dry down”) is a technology that was developed to decrease drying time for hotel comforters in commercial dryers, and we very purposefully do not use it in any of our products. Besides decreasing the longevity of the high-quality down we use by stripping the down of its natural oils, we’ve also seen little real-world benefit to the use of durable water repellency (DWR) directly on the down plume. Wet down clusters do not insulate, regardless of any coating applied to keep them dry, and we’ve found that body heat or ambient air flow — rather than a dryer– isn’t sufficient to make dry down an effective tool in keeping you dry, and therefore warm. Treated down is also more prone to clumping than untreated down, which makes it tricky to keep properly lofted within a garment or sleeping bag. The bottom line: untreated down will last longer and perform better than treated down, a view shared by some of the field’s leading manufacturers. Because of this, it’s important to keep your down sleeping bags and garments as dry as possible, which is why all of our sleeping bags and garments use a water-repellent or waterproof fabric.Feb 12, 2020 at 1:48 pm #3630976Edward John MBPL Member
It’s personal but if I was buying I would opt for the Vireo and take along a hooded down parka rather than anything with a zip if weight saving was the main object.
I rather wish I had bought the Vireo but the Red Rabbit ( Brooks Range) was on saleFeb 12, 2020 at 4:56 pm #3630997obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
@ Mike M: Yeah well when I saw that 28 grams I hopped right over to the MLD site and took a look at that liner. Seemed too good to be true and most everything that seems to be; is…… Ohhh boy. I can see how you’d see the 2.8 oz and think 28 and then grams. Innocent enough.
I then took a tour down google lane and of course had predictable stop overs at reddit and section hiker etc before equally predictably ending up back on this site. Found the best info right here on this thread from just @ Mid-April 2019 so not even a year old: DWR treated vs untreated down
One of the money quotes or links on that thread was the quote you pasted above; but there are others equally interesting. A good old highly informative BPL thread!
Anyway Thanks!Feb 12, 2020 at 6:20 pm #3631006
well- after much deliberation, I talked myself back into the Flicker :)
obviously not the lightest option out there, but I’ve never been disappointed by FF
went with the 20 in a long (only an ounce more and could be handy to pull over my head) and added two ounces of overfill to the upper half
if for some reason it doesn’t work out, FF stuff holds it’s value and can then look at a Swallow 20
thanks for everyone’s input!Feb 12, 2020 at 6:53 pm #3631008
Nice Mike. That is exactly my configuration!Feb 12, 2020 at 7:01 pm #3631012
Coolio! I figured FF is pretty conservative on their ratings (I own two of their bags) and a couple of additional ounces in the torso would let me use this all shoulder season and even milder winter outings.
I have a 50 degree Apex quilt that could be added in really cold weather too.Feb 13, 2020 at 7:43 am #3631069
Sorry about posting the wrong weight for the liner – pretty bad mistake on Ron’s site but I should have realised it was unrealistic.
Mike – hope you enjoy the Flicker. It’s very well reviewed and you can’t really go wrong with FF, by all accounts.
For what it’s worth – set up an old 5C down bag to mimic a zipless, hoodless mummy. Heated my room to 20c, opened the window above my bed (5C outside) and had a great night’s sleep, despite a 15 degree drop in temperature. Did this 2 nights running. Close to talking myself into making one. The simplicity is beguiling…Feb 13, 2020 at 8:03 am #3631070
if you ultimately build it, be sure to post it up :)
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