Down Jackets/Vests

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BullOnParade
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Down Jackets/Vests

Post by BullOnParade » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:59 pm

Mid layer down has become a trendy fashion in the past couple of years. Does it stand up to real world use outside of urban centres?

I've always stayed away from down/synthetic shells for outdoors purposes, because the odds are if I'm in the woods, I will likely be near a fire at some point, and an ember falling on a synthetic layer will leave me pissed. But as a mid layer, down sounds appealing, especially with the compactness of some of these packable jackets and vests.

Biggest con that I can think of is down being inside of an outer layer (in my case, wool) is susceptible to accumulating moisture, which will limit it's effectiveness over longer periods outdoors.

Anyone else have any strong arguments for or against a down midlayer? Any personal experience? Any particular brands you would recommend for this purpose?
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RonnyRonin
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Re: Down Jackets/Vests

Post by RonnyRonin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:54 pm

I dislike thinner down jackets.
For one, as with thin synthetics, once the ratio of shell and liner fabric to fill passes a certain point I'd rather have a fleece and a wind shell.

Two, thinner down jackets can go one of two routes, very close quilt spacing (lots of cold spots) or wider quilt spacing (down migrates, leaving lots of cold spots). I think both suck.

Down is all that and a bag of chips, just keep it away from fire and get enough fill that the down can't shift much. Unlike synthetic, down is down (holding fill power constant of course) so brand is more about fit and features. I'm quite fond of Rab and Mont Bell down jackets, but not the price tag. I use cheap synthetic surplus jackets for backpacking and BOB use, sparks are rarely a concern anyway and even on the rare occasion they are easily replaced. Most synthetics will maintain more loft under heavy outer layers (from both moisture and the simple compression from weight) and won't migrate. I think down is best when it is cold enough that you can layer the down on the outside of your clothing without fear of liquid water.

Strictly speaking I don't ever use down or synthetic lofted insulation as a midlayer, it is nearly always the outermost layer or under a thin shell. The traditional layering scheme only really works with low output activities, when actually moving it is better to think in simply active/static clothing, typically a baselayer+shell for moving and then larger puffy layers to throw on during any break. using synthetics or down when moving is typically a good way to get a lot of moisture in your clothing system that you don't want.
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Re: Down Jackets/Vests

Post by the_alias » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:49 am

My thoughts:

Last year 16-17 I wore a down jacket skiing as my main insulation this year I wore a Melanzana Highloft hoody. Always under my outer-shell.

For me in the field my down jacket on hiking trips (where it is dry) it is what I have in my bag to put on at the summit/rest break for immediate warmth. It is a thicker one from patagonia and is very good.

I have a spare down jacket with a broken zip that my dad loved so much on his trip here when we were in the wilderness he bought himself one towards the end of the trip.

The highloft fleece though I've recently really fallen in love with - I like the feel of it better, it is quieter, and offers very comparable warmth (the integrated hood is awesome) also in the damp it will offer better warmth. It's better to sleep in when cold as well.

I do carry a pretty crappy down vest in my everday work bag if it gets cold, and has made the difference a few days of the year. Ideally I'd like to get a better lofted one.

Few pictures of the gear in action

On a cold dry day at Arches at the end of the hike in.
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moab
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Re: Down Jackets/Vests

Post by moab » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:19 pm

With most down these days being some form of dridown. I don't see the problem of moisture as much as it used to be. But I still only use my medium fill down jacket as insulation under my goretex for static positions. Fleece in the 100 or 200 range otherwise as insulation. (I'm guessing here at fleece weights. I know my military 300 is 300 weight fleece. Then I have a very thin fleece from Columbia and a thicker like 200 weight from them too.) And my 300wt military fleece for static too. But it depends on how cold it gets. I have not been in super cold in a while. Although my last week in the PNW was not warm or dry. If it's cold enough I think you can use down as an insulation layer no problem with moderate movement. I will say if I was beating the brush I would want a protective layer over the down. As my medium weight down jacket has a thin skin. already had to repair a small hole. But no biggy with a needle and thread in about 60 seconds. But it's not one of those full weight heavy outershell jackets. It's the lightweight material. which for stuffable makes it a great jacket.

The thing about down for me. Is how lightweight and compressible it is. Can it be beat? My medium weight down hooded jacket is an all around great insulation jacket under goretex or not. And compresses down into a football, weighs next to nothing and creates a great deal of heat when on. I just don't see any other jacket being that effective. And that small. I don't think I'll ever trek without it. Except maybe during summer months. When a light fleece and goretex outer will work just fine.

Fleece on the other hand takes upu a lot of room. Like three times or four maybe. Not to much heavier. But with room at a premium in my packs. I respect the down a lot. My sleeping bag is down too. Inside of a goretex usgi liner.

I spent a day last week at a Cabela's store for the first time. Picked up my 18 yr old son a new thinner goretex rain jacket and thin down jacket for insulation. He's moving back east this year. I figure a higher weight fleece or thicker down jacket for when he leaves. For the deep winter months. I got his rain jacket a size larger to allow this. I was surprised he went along. Being all fashion conscious and all. LOL! I just wish this stuff came in my sizes damnit. Both were $110 total. Not each - for both. Can't beat that. Other than that Cabela's was a bust. But then again I wasn't looking for anything else either. But no big deals I couldn't pass up. I did not look at the type of down or goretex. As this is just for school for him. But I will tonight. And offer up any interesting finds I make. I doubt it's dridown for 50 bucks. And the goretex like rain jacket was super thin and stuffable. Nothing like my ECWCS goretex jacket I wore all week in the raining PNW.

Just checked his jackets. The down is just a thin Cabelas duck down. But the rain jacket is Columbia Omni-tech. Which I think is their version of goretex. Way lighter material though.
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RonnyRonin
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Re: Down Jackets/Vests

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:36 pm

moab wrote:With most down these days being some form of dridown. I don't see the problem of moisture as much as it used to be.

There is a bit of a question about the lifespan of the treatment, due to relatively recent rules DWRs are far less effective and have far shorter lifespans then they did in the past. The treatment on the down will likely last longer then the DWR on the outside of a rain shell, but it is also much harder to reapply.
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