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LuckyMike

Valandre vs. Western Mountaineering

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I have been looking at both of these brands(sleeping bags)as well as Feathered friends and wanted to know if anyone has used both and what the public thinks about each brand, is one better than the other?

Edited by LuckyMike

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I like the Valandres better. I've never been in a sleeping bag that fit as well as a Valandre.

 

That said, my main bag is a FF, made just for me right here in Seattle.

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I have bags from both companies (Valandre and Western) and like both. They fit quite differently, so I would recommend trying before buying. Workmanship on both bags is great. I don't own any Feathered Friends products, but the stuff I've seen and played with is in the same class as the two others. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, get a FF bag to support a local company.

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I have both a WM and a FF bag. They are both very nice bags, you can't go wrong with either. If in Seattle you can try out a WM bag at Pro Mountain Sports. And of course FF is right in downtown Seattle. Go get in them and check out the fit before buying.

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All three are very nice, high quality bags. I would go for the WM (ultralight series bags) myself as I think they have the best combo of high fill weights and low total weight. Be sure to compare fill weights and not just total weights for similar rated bags. Based on comparisons between some of my WM bags and my friends Valandres I think Valandre overstates their temp ratings. That’s just what I gather from looking at fill and loft as I have not slept in the Valandre. Below is a snippet from something I posted a while back on the same topic. Regardless of weight and fill the bag has to fit you so buy with that in mind over all else IMO. Both WM and FF are made in the USA which is nice.

 

 

Valandre does indeed make an incredibly well made bag. Just consider that though nice, not all ratings are the same. If you take the Valandre Mirage for instance +20 degree 1lb 7ounces. It's the lightest 20 degree bag you'll find. It's 3 ounces lighter than then the Western Mountaineering ultralight, also a 20 degree bag. Where is the 3 ounces of difference? If you compare material weights and dimensions the bags are quite similar. The only real difference is the zipper. The Valandre has a zipper that's like 10 inches long compared with a full zipper on the WM. Still, zippers don't weight that much and don't account for 3 ounces. I know, since I have a lot of these raw materials sitting around at home. (I make my own gear for myself and some friends) The difference is that it appears the Valandre is short an ounce or two of down compared to the WM (or a similar FF). 2 ounces is a huge difference when it comes to down. My point being that watch out when buying an ultralight bag as some manufacturers really cut things to the wire in order to have the lowest weight listed on their hang tag at the store. A buddy has the Valandre and though it's an awesome bag it isn't a 20 in my book. At least not for an average sleeper or compared to FF or WM.

 

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I haven't slept in a Valandre bag. I own a WM bag, and I'm buying a FF jacket right now.

 

I will say that Valandre's tailoring is exceptional. They really have a great set of patterns and an impeccable design. I wouldn't mind buying one of their bags down the line. A friend of mine has one of their super cold weather bags and swears by it, but I haven't slept in one and I can't really comment in that regard.

 

On the other hand, I was intrigued by Hydroman's perspective, so I just pulled some stuff out of the supply closet and weighed it. I just weighed 72" of the type of zipper that's a bit lighter than I think is used on a sleeping bag of this type --YKK #5 coil. 18" of #5 coil and a single double tabbed slider weighs 15 grams. 72" of #5 coil and two double tabbed sliders weigh 51 grams. That's 1.7 ounces. It would be 2 ounces when it's sewn in easily.

 

I'd also remember that while Valandre and WM is a totally stock operation, FF affords a decent amount of customization.

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Nunatak in Twisp Washington

 

I have Nunataks Skaha Plus and the Arc Specialist bag. I just ordered the Arc Alpinist 20 degree bag with overfill to be my 0 degree winter bag. Usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to get the goodies. I will layer with Patagonia Micropuff pants and DAS or the Skaha.

 

There is even a Arc Edge 5 degree quilt. Anything he has can be tailored to you with choices in fabric.

 

After sleeping in a quilt instead of a bag I can't go back to a bag.

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. Where is the 3 ounces of difference? If you compare material weights and dimensions the bags are quite similar. The only real difference is the zipper. The Valandre has a zipper that's like 10 inches long compared with a full zipper on the WM. Still, zippers don't weight that much and don't account for 3 ounces.

 

Not to throw a wrench in your gears here but on sleeping bags, the added zipper length must also take into account the added material and down of a draft tube. So, a full length zipper can certainly add a couple of ounces.

 

I've got to say I'm not a huge fan of short zippers. Good idea on paper, but seems to lead to bad real world results, at least for me.

 

Fit cannot be overstated for sure, so crawl inside each one before buying.

 

If you're not getting a restful, recharging night's sleep for one reason or another (too cold, too hot, too tight) then your bag/pad are not getting the job done. That may be through no fault of the bag, but rather due to misuse/improper selection. A few ounces of heavier bag will quickly pay for itself if you sleep well without waking up often. Oh and go piss again, even though you already went like fifteen minutes ago. That always seems to help in the wee hours before dawn.

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Yeah, that's a good point on the draft tube, hadn't thought of that. Still, based on my comparisons I'd say the Volandre bag is still 1 - 1.5 ounces less fill than the WM bag. Also just putting them side by side it's obvious that the WM bag is well stuffed and that the volandre bag is just not as lofty and is compresses much easier making is seem like there is much less down giving and substance to the bag. For a similar rating I would expect them to look/act similar in terms of loft. Plus that 10-12 inch zipper sucks to deal with. I nearly pissed myself laughing one night at the string of curses coming from my friend in the middle of a cold night when he was trying to get out of and back into his new Valandre bag to take a leak.

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I own a Valandre Mirage and I also own a Western Mountaineering (Dakota Super DL - not an ultralight model). I have used a Western Mountaineering MegaLite on a weeklong trip and liked it. A lot. Mostly, it's warm, roomy, has a full-zipper, and it has a fabric that is not so easily permeated by the slightest bit of moisture as the Valandre. There are a couple of complaints I have about the Valandre: my first complaint is that the fabric (Pertex Quantum) is very fragile - my hood ripped in a front-load wash machine on the first wash. The fabric is also easily permeated by moisture (like from the side of your tent). Not so with the WM Megalite. Another complaint I have is with the zipper. Not only is it hard to get in and out of, the short zipper takes away some of the bag's versatility. Sometimes in the summer I like to have the bag just draped over me. You can't do that with the Valandre. Valandre's big claim is that the short zipper keeps you warmer, which makes sense. But in reality, you have to have the hood on, and everything completely cinched up tight to your face. The Western Mountaineering Megalite is rated at 30 degrees, but sleeps noticeably warmer than the Valandre Mirage, even without everything cinched up tight. The Valandre fits me like a glove, and I picked it up for a screaming deal. Those are about the only things going for it in my honest opinion. My next ultralight bag will be a WM Megalite.

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The Shocking Blue Valandre I received has a long zip, so maybe it's a bit different. The fabric is noticably soft, and light, which feels great on the skin but probably is way more likely to tear. I really like how it fits, it has a lot of shoulder room and I am able to move just enough that it's not constricting my normal night time movements. The Western bag I was looking at was the Kodiak SMF, which looks great, but I haven't had a chance to get into one:(

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