So I'm going w/ a group of friends into the Adirondacks in February. Last year it got down to -20 degrees F. I understand that 800 Fill is better than 650 Fill down given the same weight...but, as I view the many down jackets available I am having trouble figuring out which coats are warmer than others. For instance:
The Zeus is lighter, but higher fill down...the Sub Zero is more weight (more down?) but lower quality down (does the 85/15 mean ratio of down to feathers? Thus even less warmth for the weight?) and it ~looks~ fuller and warmer.
How am I supposed to know which is warmer? How do I know one jacket doesn't just have extremely heavy zippers (:p) as opposed to more ounces of down to keep me warm?
Please forgive my newbie knowledge...I guess I gotta learn somewhere. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
It gets even more complicated than that <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> How warm a jacket will keep you also depends on how it fits (not too much dead air space to try and warm up but not so tight that it cuts off circulation) and how the rest of your clothing fits around it (are there gaps between your down coat and your pants?) My best advice is to go someplace and try on jackets, and then with that information buy the one that fits the best for your layering system with the highest quality of down. The fill weight refers to how much down it takes to fill a given space. If you really want to technical details, check out the backpackerlight.com forum page and search for clo value. Having said that, one of my winter camping buddies bought a marmot down jacket with hood last year and was toasty just standing around at -10F.
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?
Just like sleeping bags, jacket warmth is mainly a function of loft, all other things being equal. 3" of 600 fill down/feathers will keep you warmer than 2" of 800 fill. Of course the 600 fill will be heavier per cubic inch but winter insulation when it's -20 is not a good place to be counting ounces.
Fit, as mentioned above, and construction also come into play. Both jackets appear to have sewn-through construction and are probably about equal in that regard. I would also consider how well the neck/cuffs/hem seal in the heat.
What is the loft of these jackets? Unlike sleeping bags it's rarely in the specs. You'll probably have to do a direct comparison using more than just an image on a computer monitor. Maybe you can find a B&M store that sells both, or order both online and then return one.
You're making a big investment in an important piece of gear. It may be worth your while to invest time and effort in making the right choice.
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I have a TNF Nuptse which seems comparable to these. I wouldn't be wearing it in -20F, but I get cold easily. Personally, I would go with something with more insulation, but they aren't cheap. Mine retails for about $500. Got it on eBay.
Mine is a TNF Baltoro (older version of the Himalayan) with 700 fill. That jacket is a Dryloft shell, has a big puffy hood and weighs a couple of pounds. It stuffs to about the same size as my sleeping bag.
There are some pics of me in it here somewhere-winter forum or trip reports from a couple of years ago. In this pic you can see the difference-big insulated hood for starters.
OK let me clean this up a bit...I appreciate the advice thus far, but here are some more details:
-I was linking to those two jackets to show my frustration in evaluating two similarly priced jackets but not really knowing which would be warmer when u only have fill power and weight of the jacket to go on.
-I was wondering if -20F is the temps I'll see during the day when loafing around camp or at night...to be honest I'm not really sure. I just know my friends saw -17 last year in February near Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks (Northeast). I'm fine with planning for -20 during the day, it'll give me some head room just in case.
I'll possibly be sitting around a lot, not generating a lot of heat during the day around camp, no real hiking to speak of...I want to be warm. I'm not sure if the snow will be 'wet' at those temperatures and have it soak into my gear or not, that's also a concern.
I've narrowed my search to three jackets/parkas, here are my questions:
-Which would u pick? -I read reviews of the synthetic DAS lasting many years, but down should last even longer? -Down be a PIA to clean vs. the synthetic?
Cons: Not as warm as Patagonia Down Parka (750 fill vs. 800 fill) Perhaps not as warm as Patagonia Down Parka? It's a jacket, not a parka, less coverage? Don't find many reviews on it...untested? Down sucks when wet.
That parka in the picture above looks cozy, along with the pants/mitts/hood. Looks like fairly even coverage once all zipped up for an extreme condition.
Here is a formula for clothing inches, converted to english units assuming even coverage and dry feet...
inches of clothing, I = (90-Ta)/50n - Ia
90 = Ts = skin temperature in comfortable state Ta = air temperature in degF n = metabolic rate Ia = air inches (reduced by wind chill)
n = 0.72 sleeping post digestion n = 0.80 sleeping while digesting n = 0.80 lying post digestion n = 0.90 lying while digesting n = 1.0 sitting = ~100 kcal/hr for 2m^2 surface area n = 1.2 standing n = 1.8 slow level walking 2.5 km/hr (light work) n = 2.6 level walking 5.0 km/hr n = 3.6 brisk level walking 6.5 km/hr n = 4.4 walking up 5% grade at 5.5 km/hr n = 6.8 walking up 10% grade at 5.5 km/hr
Ia = 0.2 inches in still air, 0.1 inches in 2.5 mph wind, 0.05 in 12 mph wind, 0.02 in 50 mph wind
-30F, standing in camp, 2.5 mph wind... I = [90-(-30)]/[50x1.2] - 0.1 inches = 1.9 inches of clothing needed
-40F, level walking at 5.0 km/hr into 15 km/hr wind... I = [90-(-40)]/[50x2.6] - 0.05 inches = 0.95 inches of clothing needed
0F, light camp work, still air I = [90-(0)]/[50x1.8] - 0.2 inches = 0.8 inches of clothing needed
18F, brisk level walking 6.5 km/hr I = [90-(18)]/[50x3.6] - ~0.07 inches = 0.33 inches of clothing needed
references/assumptions: http://dspace.ncaor.org:8080/dspace/bitstream/123456789/291/3/article31.pdf 75% of heat loss is conductive (i.e. non-sweating 33degC skin temperature) 4 clo per inch = 6.2 tog per inch (i.e. good insulation and thin shells) 1 MET = 100kcal/hr sitting for 2 m^2 of surface area full and consistent thickness coverage, dry feet neutral thermal radiation
Neither of Patagonia Jackets are your typical fashionable North Face Bubble jackets. They are bigger and warmer....most likely I would not be wearing this jacket around town down here in CT on a regular basis. With that said, the jacket only has one real purpose, keep me warm on these winter camping trips up North.
The question of Down getting wet, losing all it's insulating properties and turning me into an popsicle may not apply here for the scenario in which I'd use the jacket. If it is raining out....this Patagonia down jacket is way too warm to use. It'd be compressed in my pack and I'd have my other layers on. If it is cold enough to be wearing the jacket, any precipitation would be in the form of snow in which I'd trust the DWR coating on the shell of the jacket to keep me dry. I won't be doing snow angels for hours on end on these trips so I'm relatively confident this down jacket would be the best for me. Add to this the info I got from Patagonia hot line:
DAS Synthetic Parka: Body insulation 5.3oz Arm insulation 4oz
Down Parka: insulation is 8.8oz
This down parka will be much warmer than the synthetic as it is down and there is more of it pound for pound.
I would pick the campmor one. You said you would only use it in camp, if it was cold. If it is raining, you would put it in the stuff sack and wear your other layers. If you have other layers, then this extra layer isn't stand alone, and therefore doesn' t need to be the warmest one. Wear it with all your other layers.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
If you really are going to stand or sit around in -20F weather, you'll need something in the TNF Baltoro, Marmot 8000 Meter, or Feathered Friends Rock and Ice class of baffled down parka. It's that cold--I have had hot coffee in a styrofoam cup freeze sold in those temperatures in less than ten minutes. -20F is the usual summit temperature of Denali during the peak climbing season, and no one goes there (and makes it to the top) with just a down sweater.
Don't worry about down getting wet in the winter--it won't happen at the temperatures you're talking about.
I have plenty of down jackets, and some synthetic filled ones--including both a Patagonia down parka and the Patagonia DAS parka. When considering the DAS parka, it helps to understand what it was designed for: to be a belay parka that could be worn over all other layers and be relatively immune to the damp and sharp metal items found in ice climbing. Synthetic insulation is good at keeping its loft when wet and not having the insulation fly away when the shell is torn. But the DAS parka isn't as warm as even a TNF Nuptse down jacket, primarily because its loft is about half as much as the North Face jacket.
The Patagonia down parka is an excellent piece of kit, but it has its limitations--it's polyester shell and lining is quite light, so care is required to keep all that down where it belongs. It's a full-fledged parka (both baffled and with an integral hood), but not as thick or warm as the big three I mentioned in the opening sentence. I'd say it's good to about 0F when immobile. The DAS parka is pushing it at 20F.
If you're on a budget, look for TNF Baltoros on eBay: I bought one once for $125. Stay away from the ones that have the reflective liner or any of the newer iterations which have far less down than the one shown in the photo of Tom above.
Here's some other tips for staying warm in below zero weather.
First and foremost, stay well-feed and hydrated, which means having a reliable cold weather stove.
Don't forget your extremities. Wear a hat and protect your neck with either a scarf or by wearing a balaclava. Definitely get a parka with a hood, but don't drive a car with the hood of the Baltoro up (the insulated muff kills any chance for peripheral vision). Put zipper pulls on the sliders so you can manipulate the openings even with mittens on.
Wear mittens. TNF himalayan down mitts are very nice, but if you're on a budget, thick wool or fleece mitts are available. If you insist on gloves, don't have them too tight, including reefing down on the wrist closure and the gauntlet drawstring. Warm softshell gloves are very rare, but worth it (Hestra makes some). No need for GoreTex when there's no water, but many of the other WP/B gloves are far less breathable than GoreTex. And yes, there are eVent gloves. Wear thin liner gloves under everything so that your fingers don't freeze to anything metal you touch.
A common mistake is to forget about the legs. Down pants (they don't need to be baffled) are wonderful, and synthetic filled ones (such as Patagonia's micropuff pants) aren't bad. Barring that, get the thickest fleece pants you can find. For shell pants, go with something that isn't waterproof.
Don't have your boots too tight (and that includes cramming more socks on). Deep lugs on the soles are good for putting some distance between your feet and the snow. Double plastic boots have the great advantage of allowing you to warm the liners in your sleeping bag. Wear down booties around camp.
Sit and stand on a closed cell foam pad--you'll be amazed at what a difference this makes. Sorel type pac boots are hell to walk in, but wonderful for standing around.
People in the Arctic do actually wear cotton underwear, but get merino wool or polyester--I do like merino wool the best, but a Patagonia Wool 4 shirt is about the most expensive t-shirt you'll ever come across.
In general, try to keep the number of layers to a minimum--there's less binding and constriction (what you want to do is to keep your blood circulation flowing), and it's easier to do things like go to the bathroom. But make sure that everything can be closed off at the wrist, waist, face, etc.
Having said all of that, I once met an old trapper here in Montana who wouldn't go out in the winter in anything but wool and cotton. And his reasons were sound--he often was in thick brush that would shred nylon, and his means of staying warm was a fire, which meant that inevitably there would be sparks on his clothes.
But perhaps the best tip of all is to learn to do most everything while in your sleeping bag: cooking, eating, pissing, playing cards.
I have a fair bit of cold weather experience and have used various down parkas at temps. to colder than -40. I agree that, from -10*F down, a GOOD down parka is best for keeping you warm.
You DO NOT wear lots of layers, three is best, Icebreaker merino crew, Icebreaker merino Tornado midlayer and your down clothing, with IB merino boxers under Icebreaker merino longjohns. I prefer wool pants to down in most situations, but, the down are warmer for weight.
IF, -15 to -20*F, were the COLDEST I was going to encounter and this is likely what you are going to experience, with 10*F to 0 being your usual "cold" temps.; I would not bother with a down jacket at all. I have used my VERY fine and VERY, VERY costly Richard Egge down double "duvet" from Switzerland at temps. such as these and down to -40, BUT, my Integral Designs Dolomiti hooded parka with Primaloft is a MUCH better choice and my most used winter jacket of which I have quite a number....this IS BC, after all.
I found that my highend serious mountain down jackets/parkas were just too warm to use for much of anything even on long winter camps at cold temps. Try to find an ID dealer and check out some of their gear; it is made in Calgary, AB. where serious cold is a commonplace winter experience, is superb in quality and WORKS!
I now carry Primaloft gear for my emerg. camp, no down, no fleece, no synthetic baselayers, ,just merino and Pl. with an eVent bivy and Silshelter or Silwing. I use the Dolomiti parka from Oct. to April, one of my ID Rundle jackets during summer or my Montbell UL T-wrap and a Wildthings Epic halfbag I just bought. I know from experience that this is good down to colder than I will ever need it in, utterly reliable and very light.
You're right to point out leg insulation. Too many people skimp on leg insulation. I have down filled goretex bibs that weigh 32 oz, are seam sealed and are so warm that I can use a lighter coat.
It is difficult to convince people of the value in weight and warmth of down filled pants.
My winter coat is an old Marmot. 700 down, high pockets and thinsulate around the waist for wearing a harness. Integral massive hood and it weighs 39 oz. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
I prefer 2 to 3 layers. 4 is constricting, 2 is generally not enough, but 3 works well. Like - long underwear, light weight fleece shirt, down bibs, gore tex down coat. The overlap of the bibs and coat over your kidneys makes you much warmer and keeps in a lot of warmth otherwise around the waist.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Kutenay's comments and JAK's chart made me think to add a disclaimer: all of my recommendations above are based on being outside and immobile in -20F weather. And I'll bet that once you experience this type of cold, you won't be doing much standing or sitting for any period of time.
If you're moving fast or wearing a pack and walking slow, you can get by with much less. I've gone cross-country skiing in -25F (but sunny) weather with only long johns, German army wool pants, a wool sweater, fleece hat, light wind parka (Patagonia Krushell) and Swix racing gloves and was quite comfortable. But expose a bare hand at that temperature for very long and you'll have a hard time ever getting it warm again without something very thick to wrap around it.
And here's another story: three of us went cross country skiing in -5F weather. We all wore long johns and wool pants, but one of us was afraid of falling down and getting wet from snow clinging to the wool. So he wore moderately breathable waterproof pants as his outer leg layer--even though I said the snow was too dry to stick to anything. After two hours of some average speed skiing, he was horrified to find a layer of ice totally encasing the inner of his shell pants.
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
A Baltoro for $125?? I thought I got a deal on mine at twice that much.
On that note, a Baltoro isn't necessarily a Baltoro. TNF renamed their jackets a couple of years ago. The latest version of my Baltoro is now the Himalayan. Then there was a Baltoro that had some kind of fake fur collar, if I remember right, but that seems to be gone. There is supposed to be a lot of counterfeit TNF stuff on eBay, but I really don't know. The knockoffs, if they are out there would be Nuptses or something like them. The Baltoro is too specialized to be worth knocking off.
In any event, a big jacket like mine, as Carter suggests is good for sitting around. I wouldn't be going anywhere in it unless I was actually in the Himalaya at altitude or maybe on Denali. And yes, once the hood is up, you can't see Jack except straight ahead because it sticks out so far.
As far as pants go, I have a pair from GoLite, but don't think they make them anymore. Got mine on a closeout a while back. If you get a pair, get full zips. Way easier to put on and no need to take off your boots. I would say side zips are a must. I have a pair of fleece pants wtihout them, but I prefer the other ones.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
I have to agree that 4 layers can get constricting, but might be ok for a long slow trudge as a contingency plan if you get hit with a rare extreme. We don't get -30F that often, but on a long trip in December/January/February it can happen. If you have a loose enough silk layer you can slip it in between your wool underwear and 200wt fleece pants or heavy wool sweater, then your shell layers, and that can work well, for the rare extreme. The silk can help trap air and keep things sliding. No layers should compress other layers though. That's just wrong. I tried the silk top over my medium wool sweater and it really didn't work. Maybe if it was XXXL. Blousing can help also, but doesn't work unless stuff is loose and well matched. I don't even think the skin layer needs to be stretched on. Just a little slack and clingy is better for winter, I think. That's really just 3 layers though, unless you count the shell layer. I've done 200wt fleece over my medium or heavy wool sweater, but that would be too much with 2 layers under. I've used a knit wool vest as a 4th, and flannel boxers as a 4th, and that can work for a long slow trudge but its all gotta fit loose, and it has to be only as a contingency plan for the rare extreme, and then you delayer from there for expected conditions. One of the top layers and the top shell should overlap also, at least to below the butt. I have an XXL 4oz wind layer for winter.
I would have to agree however, based as much on my lack of experience as my experiece in such prolonged extremes, that if you are planning on -10F to -40F for the better part of a several day trip then you really want to think about down parka and pants with 2 wool layers underneath, one thicker and looser than the other so that you could wear either one or the other or both. But for the stuff I do, mostly above 0F, and very often wet, so I don't carry any down clothing, but I have all my layers matched to fit loose but airtight if I do get hit hard with a cold air outbreak. I just love a good long trudge home in the cold.
I'll have to post again when I get a chance to try all these layers out. I just got my silk this year and haven't tried it in really cold stuff yet. I think getting the sizes and spaces and blousing just right is critical.