My Western Mountaineering Ultralite Sleeping Bag in the desert

Best American Made Sleeping Bags: The Warmest & Lightest in the World

By Matt Mullins  updated May 21, 2019
I’ve used a lot of different sleeping bags including some from Marmot, The North Face, REI, and Big Agnes and I have learned the hard way that sleeping bags made in the USA by Feathered Friends (Seattle, WA) and Western Mountaineering (San Jose, CA) are far superior. These are the best sleeping bags in the world. The design, quality of down, materials, weight, loft, comfort, accurate warmth rating, compressibility, stitching, and longevity are simply better. Unless you’re the occasional weekend car camper, I wouldn’t skimp on this essential piece of backpacking gear. I’ve learned to get the best and not have regrets later on. I have a well used Feathered Friends Merlin (pictured below) that’s 12 yrs old and practically as good as ever. I’ve slept soundly in a 3 yr old Feathered Friends Ptarmigan -25 Expedition Sleeping Bag while backcountry skiing in Canada with bitter -20 F nights. I own a Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 that I used down to -9 F (wearing layers) while trekking to Mt. Everest in Nepal this February, 2019. I also own a Western Mountaineering Ultralite for “coldish” alpine summer use and love it. All of the following bags feature premium down, water-resistant/condensation resistant shells, continuous baffles, non-catching zippers, draft collars… and responsible companies that stand by their products with excellent customer service. You can’t go wrong with either company’s sleeping bags but I have found that Feathered Friends edges out Western Mountaineering on cost to value due to their streamlined approach of selling direct from the manufacturer without retail middlemen.
 
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I know how hard it is to find honest recommendations on American made gear. That’s why I started American Gear Guide which other sites are now copying. I take my recommendations seriously and only recommend the best of the best. Of course this is my subjective opinion but I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed. Here are a few reasons to trust me:

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20 Degree F

Feathered Friends Hummingbird

The Hummingbird UL 20 is an incredible 20 F bag. The latest version sports 900+ down and a Pertex Endurance UL shell which helps it weigh slightly less than the Ultralite at only 1 lb 9 oz (reg). My good friend owns this bag and sings its praises. Read any review of the Hummingbird or Ultralite and you’ll rest assured, you won’t regret owning either bag. If needing extra space, the Swallow is a similar but roomier model and the Swift is wider still. 
Last price observed: ~ $489

Western Mountaineering Ultralite

​The Ultralite is a cozy 850+ fill down (guaranteed min. 850 fill but typically 900+) bag accurately rated to 20 degrees F and weighing in at just 1 lb 13 oz (reg). I find 20 F bags to be the most versatile 3 season bags, comfortable over a wide range of climates from alpine to desert. The Ultralite is a narrow and efficient mummy bag, if you’re shoulders are wider then I recommend the roomier but similar Alpinlite. I use an Ultralite for my personal bag and love it.
​Last price observed: $510 – $540

Feathered Friends Ultralight Tanager Sleeping Bag
The Lightest Bag Around

​Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL Sleeping Bag

When weight is your top concern, this is the bag. The Tanager exists due to requests from PCT and Appalachian Trail thru hikers. It uses the lightest 950+ down, Pertex Quantum ultralight fabric, and forgoes a zipper and hood to pare down its weight down to a crazy light 18.6 oz. Of course you’ll need to combine this with a hooded jacket in lower temps, which you’ll likely be carrying already.
Last price observed: ~ $369

30 Degree F

Feathered Friends Merlin UL 30

The Merlin Ul 30 is another ultralight wonder bag weighing practically the same as the Megalight at 1 lb 7 oz but having a slightly slimmer (and more efficient) cut. This bag is super warm with high lofting 900+ fill down. The Osprey is a relaxed fitting version while the wider Kestrel is the best choice for the stoutest builds. My 12 yr old Merlin still keeps me cozy on summer nights into the 30’s F and the new version uses improved latest tech materials.
Last price observed: ~ $409

Western Mountaineering Megalite

A super comfy 30 degree bag with premium 850+ fill down weighing in at 1 lb 8 oz. This bag has a little roomier cut that will be comfortable for a wide range of backpackers. As usual Western Mountaineering reports conservative warmth ratings; this bag could be used in even lower temps (depending on the individual).
​Last price observed: $470 – $500

0 Degree F

Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0

I own this sleeping bag and with the help of wearing layers I comfortably slept down to -22 C (-9 F) according to the weather station at Gorak Shep, Nepal while trekking to Mt. Everest this past February, 2019. The outer fabric consists of expedition worthy waterproof/breathable Pertex Shield EX fabric made with rip-stop reinforcement. The inner fabric is Pertex 30 denier nylon taffeta that withstands up to sleeping with gear stored inside your bag to keep it from freezing. These fabrics combined with 900+ fill down gives the Snowbunting a technical edge in durability over the WM Kodiak with no weight penalty. The quality of this bag is simply phenomenal. Both the FF Snowbunting EX and Megalite weigh about 2 lb 14 oz.
Last price observed: $619

Western Mountaineering Kodiak MF

The Kodiak is another top quality 0 F bag which is filled with 850+ down and covered by Microlite XP microfiber with a taffeta lining that holds up to the abrasion of storing gear inside your sleeping bag (a must in winter camping). I have only heard positive things about the Kodiak (check out the Backcountry reviews) but have not had the chance to use it. The slightly heavier WM Kodiak Gore Windstopper uses beefier Gore Windstopper fabric that prevents wind gusts from cutting through you but comes at a significant price increase. Both the FF Snowbunting EX and Megalite weigh about 2 lb 14 oz.
Last price observed: $710 – $730

Expedition -25 F Sleeping Bags

Feathered Friends Ptarmigan EX -25

In February 2018, I tested a 3yr old (well used) Ptarmigan demo sleeping bag provided by Feathered Friends while backcountry skiing in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada as well as in my home range, the Wasatch Mountains. I slept in temperatures down to -20F and this bag kept me warm and dry. This is an excellent sleeping bag that performs on cold expeditions. The specs are: 3 lb 12 oz, with a waterproof/breathable Pertex Shield EX shell, and 900+ down.
​Last price observed: $769

Western Mountaineering Puma Super MF -25

The super warm Puma should give you a good night’s rest at a chilly -25 F and comes with a wider shoulder girth to allow easy layering for truly cold nights. I haven’t tried this bag but have no doubt it performs well. The specs are: 3 lb 7 oz, with a water resistant/breathable Microlite XP shell, and 850+ down.
Last price observed: $865 – $925

Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies where I tested out the Feathered Friends Ptarmigan EX -25 Sleeping Bag while backcountry skiing.
Winter Ski Camping in Canada
Winter Ski Camp in the Wasatch

The above left photo shows my demoed Feathered Friends Ptarmigan in Kootenay National Park, Canada used at -20F in February 2018. Luckily there was no wind that night as I prefer to sleep under the stars. The photo to the right shows my ski camp in the high Wasatch Range, Utah with the FF Ptarmigan tucked inside my Tarptent Double Rainbow Tent.

XTherm Sleeping Pad in the desert
My 13 yr old FF Merlin still going strong.

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