Western Mountaineering makes both the Bison GWS (rated -40) and the Cypress GWS (rated -30) sleeping bags. But the Bison has a lower fill weight (42 oz) and is cheaper ($1095) vs the Cypress (50 oz fill weight for $1130).

How could the supposedly warmer Bison have less down in it and cost less? This makes no sense to me.

Bison GWS

Cypress GWS

5 Answers 5


I think it is easiest to see the difference here: Specification Chart

The heavier one is a semi rectangular bag while the lighter one is a mummy bag. Both bags have the same amount of loft, which is usually the key to warmth, but in this case the difference in cut matters.


Your looking at the wrong value. Fill Weight is not a measure of warmth. It's a measure of the weight of the down. Weight does not equal warmth. The difference in fill weight here is likely (as strong bad says) the cut. The cut of the bison is more generous (more space inside) and it has thicker insulation (11" vs 10"), so its fill weight is slightly higher (the total weight of the down used is greater).

So because the cut is more generous it has a greater surface area; greater surface area means more heat lost. Also there is more air inside the bag that will need heating, so it takes more energy (heat from your body) to heat this air. They've compensated (to some extent at least) by increasing the thickness of the down but it's still isn't as warm as the bag with a smaller surface area (Mummy).

They real measure of the effectiveness of the down is the fill power, these both have a fill power of 850+. So the quality of the down is equal.

It's a bit odd that you're paying more for essentially less down, but the manufacturing of the mummy style bag is likely more complex and the company has also decided that you should pay extra for the extra warmth rating.

I've also just noticed the the more expensive one has a more complicated internal structure. According to the links on the web site the more expensive bag is:

V-Block Baffle w/two (offset) draft tubes & full down collar...etc.

Where as the cheaper one is:

Side Block Baffle w/draft tube and full collar

So the more expensive one is designed to prevent gaps in the loft on the sides.


This is what the Western Mountaineering said:

The Bison is a considerably narrower bag so even though it has less down/less insulation than the Cypress it has more loft. The design of the Bison is also quite different. Both bags take roughly similar amount of production time to build (a little over 8 hours per bag in terms of manufacturing time/labor) but the Cypress uses quite a bit more fabric and down which bumps its production costs (and subsequently its retail price) up above that of the Bison. I can see how the rating and fill weight specifications might appear to stand in contrast to the retail price difference between the two bags. Hopefully this additional information helps clarify the reason why our Cypress is more expensive than our Bison.

The Cypress is just a much wider bag. Its for people who are large framed and have a tough time fitting (or sleeping comfortably) in a Bison. We designed it after receiving requests from big guys who are not mountain climbers but hunters in places like Alaska and northern Canada, Montana, etc. We have sold these bags to people who are the animal doctors along the Iditarod who are stationed at checkpoints. They are not climbers, but just people with a bigger build. Not everyone is a fit climber who uses our products so we created this design for those people to use at cold temperatures.


On reason why the Bison costs less is simply because it has less down. At 8oz for 35$, that's not a big difference though.

The bison is warmer because it is more snug. The semi-rect shape of the Cypress loses a lot of heat that way, because it exposes a larger outside area.


I own the Cypress. I purchased it overfilled through Hermit's Hut. My son owns the Bison. Also purchased overfilled through Hermit's Hut.

What has been said is spot on. "The Bison is designed the keep you warm at -40 by using extensive amounts of design with minimal amounts of down."

Whereas, "The Cypress is designed to keep you warm at -30 by using a minimal amount of design with massive amounts of down."

We are both roughly 6', 160lbs.

I fill my Cypress with Nalgenes, electronics and down blankets which improves its efficiency.

These are the 2 biggest, baddest bags on the planet, but when it's -30, having one is just part of the equation of a successful night's rest.

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