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anyone use the north face inferno -40 bag?

Anyone have any experience with the North Face inferno -40 bag?  I recently ordered one and it appears well made, but didn't have as much loft as I was expecting.  I measured around 9 inches of loft.  My rei brand -20 as around 8 inches.  The rei bag has a much smaller interior area.  I'm a bit concerned that since the north face bag has only slightly more loft, but more dead space inside it will not be any warmer than the bag I already have.  

I was thinking of exchanging it for a marmot CWM but thought I'd check to see if anyone has used the inferno bag.  It looks like a nice bag but by the time I'll be able to test it out I will be outside the return policy.

The north face -40 in the one on the right in the pic.  Not sure if I'm missing anything there but if the north face bag has the same loft and a bigger internal volume I'm not sure how it would end up being any warmer unless I'm missing something here?


I haven't personally but below is a link to reviews done by TS members.

Thanks, Interesting that his has 12 inches of loft where mine I can't measure any spot with more than 9

I would call TNF customer service and ask them. I've called them before and they were very helpful with my issue. I have a Marmot bag and their customer service is quite good as well, so if you did wind up with a Marmot, you'll have a good product and good service. Marmot will refill and overstuff down bags for a reasonable price.

You sure it isnt the -20f inferno, the loft and everything seem like its the -20 vice the 40. Whats the actual weight of it? That will give you the answer.

TNF doesn't post the max loft on their website, but they do post the weights of their bags. They have three bags under the Inferno name, so perhaps you got shipped the wrong bag. Check the tag, it should have the code AZHS on it somewhere.

Where did you get it? The color in your photo doesn't match the TNF photo, but that may just be the color balance in your photo.

TNF products are not made up to their specs. This is because TNF price point is more important than the actually product. I believe TNF also make an emotional appeal to the ego of the user.

You are obviously a serious backpacking enthusiast, and deserve a product intended for serious use. If at all possible return the bag. In MHO there is only one serious high-end sleeping bag company on the market — Feathered Friends of Seattle. Their sleeping bags are not cheap but everything about them is perfection. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

A Feathered Friends will last you a life time and will be something you can pass on to your heirs — they are that good!!! Feathered Friends only make down products.

I had several TNF bags back 4 or 5 years ago before I switched to hammocks and quilts. I think they are well made good quality bags for a fair price. Are they the quality of FF or WM? No, but for the average backpacker they will work just fine and if cared for will last many years. I had my TNF nebula 15f bag for like 8 years with no complaints.

It is the -40 bag as per the label.  Great Idea weighing it by the way.  The weight does check out at 4 lbs 3 oz which is two ounces less than what the specs say it is supposed to weigh.  Could be my scale or it could have been under filled by 2 ounces.  


White Pine said:

TNF products are not made up to their specs. 


In MHO there is only one serious high-end sleeping bag company on the market — Feathered Friends of Seattle. Their sleeping bags are not cheap but everything about them is perfection. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

A Feathered Friends will last you a life time and will be something you can pass on to your heirs — they are that good!!! Feathered Friends only make down products.

 Slight disagreement, White Pine. There are two US companies that make serious high-end products that are top-quality in their workmanship and give accurate comfort ratings. Both are West Coast. I have bags from both, and have been given personal tours of both factories and seen how they run their businesses and do quality control (they are actually custom shops, rather than factories in the sense that the other manufacturers run). Those two are Feathered Friends, which you name, and Western Mountaineering. Both give superb service. Both will work closely with the customer. I have used both bags on extended expeditions at altitudes over 17,000 ft campsites. One is a -40°C/F bag that has been to Antarctica and Alaska (Denali as well as dogsledding - and I do not mean the tourist rides that have their customers sitting passively in the sled). The other is a 0°F/-18°C bag that has been to the Peruvian Andes (the Andes are warmer, since they are close to the Equator). As for European bags, Valandre is up there with FF and WM.

My FF has seen about 500 nights (some of which were actually 24hour-sunlight days and a number were during weeks spent in the tent waiting out storms). The WM has only seen about 100 nights. Neither shows any significant wear, although both have been through the washer (I have an industrial washer that is intended for washing down gear and garments).

I would agree with you that TNF is lesser quality, particularly since they were sold in the '90s to VF Corp, the Vanity Fair conglomerate. I do have some gear from them that I got in the '70-80 period that has stood up well.

But it is being a bit elitist to sneer at TNF, Marmot, and several of the others which have Big Names and are favorites of the wannabe poseurs. They do have a lot of items that do stand up well in extreme conditions. You just have to pick and choose. Back in the day (when I got very involved in the expedition game in the late '50s and '60s) Eddie Bauer made excellent gear. Then they became a Yuppie clothing store. But with their new branch, First Ascent, they have gone back to their roots and are making great gear again. My EB Karakoram bag still does well, though I rarely use it because it is so heavy compared to the current bags from FF and WM.

I bought a down NF -20 bag a while back to replace a generations old down NF -25 bag that was retired due to a UV brittled shell.  The loft of both bags lived up to the catalog descriptions, and performed very similar to each other.  Twenty below is a stretch for either bag if just sleeping in a skin layer, socks and a balaclava as I do, but both bags are good to somewhere below zero in my sleepwear of choice.  I used the -25 bag during two trips high on Denali.  The weather was forgiving on one occasion, but I was wearing several layers to bed.  The other occasion I was somewhat chilled, but show me a mountaineer who hasn't been there before.  I used a FF -40 bag on two other trips there, with about the same outcome. Cold is cold.  I think your energy level, fat reserves, diet, hydration, mental state, and all sorts of other factors play a significant role in your comfort at such extreme temperature.  I'd rather have a full belly, clear urine, and a positive outlook than an additional 15 degrees on my bag at that extreme.

As long as I get to touch and inspect a prospective purchase beforehand - I mean the article I will be taking home - then I am fine with NF and other similar brands, as I can avoid the "Friday" bag.  In any case these bags are probably better performance wise than the top of the line bags available when I first got into mountaineering in the seventies.  The state of the art has made some strides in sleeping gear designs.  (But I will always take at least one 3/8" blue foam pad on every snow trip - some designs are hard to improve on).


Out of curiosity Bill, what would you guess the average thickness of the FF -40 bag is?  

The Inferno seems like a decent quality bag, I'm just a bit concerned that it doesn't seem to be any thicker than my -20 bag.  It may be fine, but by the time I'm able to test its temperature rating I'll be well outside the return policy.  

For what is worth, both the FF and WM -40 6' bags have 42 oz of 850 fill.

The WM is listed as having a 10" (total) of loft.

In comparison the WM -25 version is 9" thick.

Yes, I should have mentioned Western Mountaineering bags. Nonetheless, the Feathered Friends bags are without peer. Only FF offers bags in several different dimensions and two different fabrics for each temp rating. So you kinda' get a customized bag according to your needs and your physical size.

I've used bags from both companies. So here's a fair comparison of two 10 deg bags. WM Versalite and FF Lark. Both have 20 oz of down but the circumference of the WM bag is larger, so the down gets spread kinda' thin (cold spots). I took a Versalite on a week long fall trip in the Adirondacks. The fabric near my face wet out from my breath condensation. I've never had this experience with my FF bags.

Someone here suggested I'm elitist - untrue! I'm pragmatic - A good sleeping bag is expensive, so it has to do exactly what it advertises.

WM has the WindStopper series that has a more waterproof fabric . You can get the 19oz of fill Apache that is 3" narrower than the Versalite (1" narrower than the Lark).

The Apache is rated by WM at 15f however it has the same loft as the Versalite because of the narrower cut.  At 2 lbs 6 oz it is listed at 6 oz heavier than the FF Lark.

i don't usually measure the loft of the bags i use.  i tend to focus more on:

-how does it fit my hips/shoulders/feet

-do i like the hood, collar, etc. in terms of keeping the cold out and being easy to adjust

-does the zipper tend to snag or not

-what is the fill weight, is it more on the top than the bottom, and is it reasonably good quality down

-do i think the manufacturer makes high quality gear

my winter bag the past couple of years has been the Mountain Hardwear Ghost, a -40 degree bag.  I always use a long bag for winter; i think the bag has 44 ounces of 800 fill power down and weighs about 5 pounds. it's warm to the point of being absurd. 

The North Face Inferno, the -40 version, weighs about 3/4 of a pound less than the bag I use; the Marmot CWM is comparable in weight to what i'm using.  i haven't looked at or tried the inferno -40, but i did try out the Marmot CWM when i was shopping a few years ago.  i don't know how much down The North Face puts in that bag, but i think the Marmot has the same or a little more down than my bag.  I'm sure the bag you found is fine; all things equal, I would go with the Marmot instead, because i suspect it packs more down in, and because i really like the marmot 3 season down bag i have. 

western mountaineering and feathered friends make great sleeping bags, i'm sure.  (valandre, same deal).  attention to detail, high quality down, etc.  the only reasonable options? I disagree.  the comparable bags, the WM Bison and the FF Snow Goose, have about 42-46 ounces of high quality down in them - no different than other -40 bags.  they generally never go on sale and sell for full retail.  on the other hand, you can get a very good, very warm bag for hundreds less.  no, you may not be getting the super-premium construction or the fluffiest of the fluffy down, but they clearly aren't the only game in town. 

@ White Pine: Bill did not suggest you were an elitist. If you're sensitive to being identified as an elitist, let us know; do you think you were sneering at North Face gear?

Maybe we should start a new thread so we don't further crap on Sam's...

Hi Sam, I’m the one with the lofty TNF Inferno described in the review. I purchased that bag back in the 1980’s; maybe ‘87 or ’88. So, it has served me very well for almost 30 very cold Arctic winters. I guess that says something about the quality of construction back in those days when people used to sign their work, but also in my care for it. I only dry cleaned it once, but never again preferring to hand wash whenever I come off a long expedition. Not having much money in those days I was careful with my gear.

If I remember correctly, the Inferno replaced the North Face Expedition bag also rated to minus 40C which had a Gore-Tex shell. The Inferno was the first truly winter bag I owned; prior to this I combined various summer bags. I rank the Inferno as my single most important piece of equipment, even above a tent. In the depth of winter I know I can depend upon it in any extreme temperature. Although it is a great bag, I don’t think there is anything uniquely “North Face” about it as there were a couple manufacturers at the time making similar bags. Obviously, I have never bought in to brand loyalty much and the only reason I purchased a North Face bag was its availability; the 80’s being the pre-internet shopping days, there was not a big selection found in Canada.

As for the loft; I would say, after sleeping many nights outside at minus 40C, that at least 10 inches of loft is necessary for a bag to earn that rating and eleven is better by my reckoning. When it comes to a winter sleeping bag I would rather ere on the side of warmth. If I had to start all over again today, what with all the vast array of options out there for people to depart with their money, I would probably opt for a Feathered Friends Snowy Owl. The winters are very long out here.

North1 where are u measuring the loft of the bag? Is that when the bag is stretched out as long as it can get or is it scrunched a but shorter than it can stretch out to.

September 24, 2020
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