The Flicker uses Pertex Endurance UL fabric for the shell. This is a soft and ultralight fabric that makes the bag more resistant to moisture—an important feature when you spend most of your time in a leaky truck topper in the Northwest, or a condensation-prone single wall tent.
The fabric is very water resistant, and even when I have had it soak through, it dried fast and allowed the down to recover loft very well.
I have also found the fabric to be very durable, even when I haven’t been especially careful with it (e.g., forgetting it’s there when tossing boats, bikes, etc. into the back of the truck.)
A number of sleeping bag manufacturers are now using “water-resistant” down. Feathered Friends does not, for these stated reasons (which are worth a read):
“We’ve tested a variety of waterproof down over the past few years and have yet to see any real world advantage to it. Some DWR treatments that we have tested make the down sticky, which leads to the down clumping together and ultimately lowers the loft and warmth of the item. The waterproof down treatments that have performed the best in lab tests have been C6 fluorocarbon based, raising environmental concerns. The non-C6 based treatments have actually under-performed or were completely indistinguishable from non-treated down in practical testing. Lab tests have shown that all of the treatments, C6-based or not, wear off after several washes. We have noticed that some manufacturers have discontinued using DWR treated down. Essentially, until we can see a measurable advantage in a real world application we’ll hold off on using a chemical treatment on what’s already a high performing natural material. We rely instead on using the best fabrics on the market to help prevent water from ever reaching the down insulation. However, the DWR technology continues to evolve and we continue to test the latest creations that emerge from the labs. Being a small manufacturer, if we see something worthwhile in the future we have the ability to introduce it into our product line rapidly.”
All Feathered Friends down is certified by the Responsible Down Standard, which ensures that the geese are never live-plucked or force-fed. The RDS has strict guidelines and monitoring of the treatment of geese, and you can even track the source of the down in your jacket or sleeping bag by the batch number that comes with it using trackmydown.com
At $389 USD, the Flicker 20 actually comes in a bit cheaper than its competitors, such as the Marmot Helium ($469), and Western Mountaineering’s 20 degree Ultralite bag (also $469). This may be in part due to the simplicity in construction and the fact that you aren’t paying for “water-resistant” down.
As a summer quilt for one person, the bag performs very well (as described above). The zipped-up mummy-style version is also good, but I do have a few complaints:
Non-locking zipper teeth: Some nights are just a little too warm to have the bag zipped all the way up, but cool enough to not want it to be unzipped into the full quilt. Unfortunately, if I leave the bag half-zipped, I usually wake up cold and fully unzipped because with any movement during the night, the bag unzips itself. There are snaps on the top draft tube that keep this from happening when the bag is fully zipped, but I’ve had poor luck with anything in between. Once again, I’m an active sleeper (or just an insomniac, depending on the night), and a good dose of Benadryl before bed might fix this problem.
On the flip side, non-locking zippers like those used on the Flicker are lighter and lower-profile, so therefore generally more comfortable when zipped.
Poor cordlocks around the draft collar: The cordlocks are lightweight and low profile (even if you’re laying on them), but they come open very easily with even the slightest movement, leaving the top of the bag open and susceptible to cold drafts. It was especially notable during a cold trip into the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River range. I was pretty cold at about 25 degrees, even completely zipped up. This could easily be fixed with sturdier cordlocks available at most outdoor retail stores.
Continuous baffles: the baffles on the Flicker 20 are continuous throughout the bag, allowing you to shake the down to one side of the bag (the side that will be on top) where it can keep you warmer (compressed down that you’re laying on does you no good). Once again, this is great for people who don’t toss and turn at night, however I sometimes wake up with cold spots because of it.
Overall, the Feathered Friends Flicker 20 has been an excellent sleeping bag for me, whether I’m living in my truck or going on extended climbing trips in the backcountry. If you’re looking for a versatile sleeping bag that covers a variety of applications with good value, check out the Flicker 20.