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  1. #1
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    Default Western Mountaneering Megalite vs Feathered Friends Kestrel UL 30

    I would appreciate input on the differences in these two bags. I have a WM Ponderosa for winter camping and love it. Am looking for a new bag to serve me the rest of the year. Please donít suggest a quilt as I am coming off of two years with an EE quilt and am ready to go back to a bag. I was about to purchase the megalite, and stumbled upon the Feathered Friends web site.

    Specs:

    Megalite
    30 degrees. 64/56/39. 12oz of 850 down. 24oz

    Kestrel UL
    30 degrees. 64/58/40. 15.7oz of 950 down. 27 ounces.


    The Main difference is obvious in that the FF has 3 more ounces of down. But I wonder if 3 more ounces of 950 down wouldnít change the temp rating given the bags are roughly the same size. I say that without knowing anything about the difference between 850 and 950 down. My Ponderosa has been taken below its rating, so I have no reason to doubt the Megalite rating. But I am wondering if the Kesterel is more of a 20 degree bag. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Iím a skeptic. Take note of that.
    The FF bag is slightly larger and would need a bit more down for a given loft.
    Since the testing procedures were changed, Iím not a fan of the new fill power numbers. By the time you get in the bag in the woods you wonít have 850 or 950 fill power down.
    If FF is charging extra for the 950 down, buyer beware.
    I donít have the WM catalog handy. Does the Megalite have the full draft collar? If so, that would tip the scales to the Megalite for me.
    All of that said, when I last shopped for a bag, I had the Megalite and Alpinlite side by side for a thorough going over. I picked the Alpinlite. Iíve been very happy with the Alpinlite on a few 15 degree mornings. Iím equally pleased with the 700 FP Antelope Super. Iím a biased skeptic. 👍😎
    Wayne

  3. #3
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Default

    PS:
    I remember that FF didnít quote loft figures for their bags. True?
    I donít buy sleeping bags without loft numbers.
    Wayne

  4. #4

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    WMs fill rating is underrated
    Its 900 fill
    And its always an oz or so more than they say

    Its big enough you can put a quilt inside if your slim and use it down to 0

    The megalites EN rating in europe used to be 28

    I was warm at 22 in mine in tent once. Wearing sweatpants/sweatshirt on scout campout. So warm, i couldnt believe it actually got that low.

    Should mention I always shift all the down to the top as much as possible.

    Loft ratings are misleading.
    Because it's not uniform over the bag
    Feet in a western mountaineering 30bag are like
    7 in loft. And it's higher around the chest and head as well.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-24-2018 at 00:14.

  5. #5
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Western Mountaineering measures loft at the low point. Around the shins. Very conservative. The Alpinlite is a 16 degree bag in EN speak.
    Wayne

  6. #6

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    FF too under temp rates their bags. I don't agree with Venchka's buyer beware opinion of any temp rating fudging on FF's part. Quite the opposite.

    The opinions about 850+ fp not existing but in a lab under the tightest lab controlled conditions implying some trickery or intentional misleading is another problematic assertion. At this high a level of sleeping bag design consideration there's more to using high fp downs than typically assumed.

  7. #7

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    And, FF went from 850 fp to 900 fp and 900 fp to 950 in different lines over the last couple of yrs and didn't crank up the price while maintaining previous dimensions so it wasn't done to gain a higher price pt. My meandering is one of the reasons is with a goal of keeping overall product wt in keeping with high end UL and light wt conventional sleeping bag offers towards the high end of the quality scale.

    WM I think wants to do the same. WM under temp rates their sleeping bags in general as well.

    In any discussion of this outer and inner fabric traits, baffling...should be included.

    The Rottweiler will sniff this bone out. Don't let JB 's goofy hat and user pic fool ya. Yar.

    I think he's gonna generally conclude something as I will here. Can't go wrong with either.

  8. #8
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Default

    IMHO, y'all are over analyzing two very similar and capable bags. I seriously doubt if there is very much difference between that "950" (yeah, right) and the WM 850, and it probably boils down to the slightly extra size and maybe fabric. I've owned and loved 4 different WM bags (alas, sold two, down to just two now....). I'd go with WM if the price is roughly the same, but I'm biased having owned them, but the great things I've heard about FF bags are probably true as well.

    I hear you on why you might think the FF bag is actually warmer though given the extra 3 ounces (but not the "950" thing).

    Check for a sale on the WM bags, they do happen. Go to bentgate.com and have a look, they sometimes run them on sale (not often though, alas). I bought my WM Puma on sale at Moosejaw 14 years ago, but I think it was a fluke.

  9. #9

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    I tend towards Rob 's assessment. Look at price differences. I see both coming up for resale occasionaly
    With some modicum care both these bags have outstanding longevity. What's better look to buy resale from an experienced ULer seeking to go lighter wt like to a quilt. They can be in great shape with care.

    FF has limited bargain bags just like ZP. Gotta call. They are unadvertised. Make sure you make that call knowing the details aboUT what you're seeking. This isnt FFs big thing.

  10. #10
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    Default

    I have a WM carbou 35 and got the FF Nano 20 I think its called for winter bag.... So not comparing the same temp rating but I would go with FF again next time. The WM material is so thin I had feathers poking threw right away and quite a few... I love the FF bag material and Havnt experienced that over much more use then the WM. My FF kept me warm close to 0 degrees with just a 150 merino top and bottom. I was on the ridge tenting at the Cold Spring Shelter camp area the other night, steady wind like 20mph with higher gusts, someone said they read 15 degrees by the shelter that night and my bag was a little wet from the snow the day before and I was good. The moisture all stayed on the outside and air dried quick in the hostel here.

    That said my WM Caribou 35 kept me warm in the teens with some layers so not putting them down at all, its a great bag and ill be swapping for summer. The thin material and feathers poking through turned me off though, I don't know if all there bags have material that thin but the FF material on my winter bag is 10 times better.... Like an idiot I put a couple pieces of window tape instead of contacting them for warranty issues but that's another story.

    On an unrelated note, I laugh at anyone that said I'm bringing too many clothes/layers for a march 9th start, I used everything by day 3. I saw more unprepared people getting off trail or buying more stuff then people sending stuff home.

  11. #11
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    Default

    I appreciate everyone’s comments. Just to clarify my reason for asking, I was a little worried about the FF being too warm. Given the similar costs ($460 WM and ($450 FF). I was interested in the FF. But I am looking for a 30 degree bag at most. This bag will be used most of the summer, so temps will be well above that. I don’t know if the WM has a draft collar, the web site does not list it. I can touch and buy the WM bags in Colorado, but FF is online order only.

  12. #12
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    I have a FF UL Hummingbird in the mail. It is my 5 th FF bag, so I am biased, but WM also has a good reputation. Down has a tremendous temperature range and either 30 deg. bag should be good for summer. And summer in CO is a 30 deg bag at highest. Many use a 20 deg all summer. I can see going with 30 when you are getting a wide bag. The 30 deg bags definitely dry faster when you wash them.

  13. #13
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    Relying on a “loft” measurement is both suspect for accuracy and repeatability. Humidity, temperature, measurement methods and construction techniques have a large influence.

    Whether you think “950” fill is the result of better sorting techniques meeting growing market demand or fairy dust, the measurement process is far more repeatable, controlled and reliable. You might think it is inaccurate, but it is consistent. Kinda like an odometer on a bicycle, the 1 mile indicator happens at the same place on your route consistently, but it’s probably wrong.

  14. #14
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Flip a coin.
    I agonized for a long time. FF or WM. My decision came down to hands on evaluation and price.
    Iíve been using 3Ē+ top loft down bags in the Rockies between the last week in August to the first week of October from The Window in Colorado to Berg Lake, B. C. since the mid 1960s. Iíve never felt that I needed less. But thatís just me.
    In side by side comparison at home, mid 1970s 550 & mid 1990s 700-750 down lofts by itself. The 2014 850+ down needs extra fluffing and extra time to loft up.
    Sometime after the mid 1990s the testing process was drastically changed. The difference is noticeable to my eyes.
    Another down fact based on my collection of old bags and catalogs: WM bags filled with 700, 750 & 850+ down have the same temperature ratings and the same weight of down. Explain that.
    Both WM and FF have been around for about the same length of time. They must be doing something right. I donít think that you can go wrong with either brand.
    Wayne

  15. #15

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    Theoretically, the kestrel will likely be warmer in CO environments. The 2" hip and 1" girth increases dont entirely account for the extra 3.7 ozs of down. Plus the higher fp rating rating. Its a primary factor in the 3 oz extra overall wt. These are both larger cut bags though so more interior space to heat up with the kestrel slightly more. With a whopping 58" hip spec I see it as a very roomy in the hips bag for one with more girth around the belly or a side to side sleeper.

    The megalite has a collar option. I'm with ATRambler. Don't skimp on warmth for CO use even in summer. If it's warm open up the zip. That's one of the reasons it there, to vent.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosh View Post
    Relying on a “loft” measurement is both suspect for accuracy and repeatability. Humidity, temperature, measurement methods and construction techniques have a large influence. ...

    If that is accurate, which I agree it is, than it should apply to quilt loft measurments as well. Loft measurment of a quilt is no absolute determiner of quilt wamth either! Yet, it regularly is to assign so called wamth ratings. It's even more problematic in quilt apps.

  17. #17
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    I have owned my Megalite now for several years. Mine does not have a collar. Wish it did. I tend to sleep very cold but was comfortable one night when it got down to freezing with a very stiff wind at Walnut Mountain Shelter. I absolutely love WM products. I also owned a Caribou and an Alpenlite before selling both and going with my Megalite. Good luck in your decision making.

  18. #18
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    IMO, quilt comfort or temp rating is more a function of the pad. Even though sleeping bag’s bottom insulation is compromised, it still provides some r-value. Not worth the weight or cost of the material, but it does contribute

  19. #19

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    It provides more than r value. It captures and contains heat much less problematicay than a zipperless quilt. Give me a 30* conventional bag and 30* zipperless quilt with everthing else being equal I'll sleep warmer in the bag. Dropping the temp ratings down further and further the more this becomes noticeable. Larger fudge factors and recognition of a quilt being a component in a sleep system is required verse a bag.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosh View Post
    IMO, quilt comfort or temp rating is more a function of the pad. Even though sleeping bag’s bottom insulation is compromised, it still provides some r-value. Not worth the weight or cost of the material, but it does contribute
    This is the reason I am switching back to a bag. I have several lightweight insulated pads including neoair trekker and big Agnes slx. But many nights I was chilly in my EE 20 degree quilt, when the temps were in the low 40’s. The cold seemed to be coming from the ground, not around the edges. So that meant if temps were below 45, I had to bring my big Agnes q core which weighs two pounds! Sure the quilt is only 20 ounces, but the pad is 33oz. I would feel better with a 24-27oz bag, a 16oz pad, and no fuss of quilt straps.

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