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#88056 - 01/26/08 01:03 AM Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :(
babybunny Offline
member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 172
I've had the Montbell Alpine jacket (not the Alpine Light) for about two months now, and it's just not that warm <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> I've worn it on a month long road trip out west during this winter from Ohio to Utah to Arizona to New Mexico and back to Ohio. Temps ranged from 10-35 degrees. I've also worn it almost 24/7 here at home, where temps are around 7-20 degrees outside and only 30-45 degrees inside because I don't have the heat on in my apartment.

I used to wear a cheapo Campmor 650 fill jacket which I feel is actually warmer than my $150, Montbell 800 fill, full box construction jacket.

I'm Asian with a slender figure.

1. Despite Montbell being a Japanese comany, unfortunately for me they have wider US sizing for the US market. The Alpine doesn't hug my frame like my old Campmor does, and since there's more dead air to heat up and more room for cold air to come in, I don't stay as warm.

2. 800 fill, when compressed, offers zero insulation. And 800 fill is very very easy to compress. If I wear a shell outside the Alpine the down around my shoulders gets compressed and my shoulders get really cold. If I lay my arms on a cold table the down underneath my arms get compressed and the bottom of my arms get really cold. When I lean back into something like a cold car seat, the down along my back gets compressed and I get a very cold back that's sapping the heat from my core. My old Campmor jacket, because it used lower quality down, didn't compress as much, but this means more warmth because less compression means more thickness when compressed.

3. The box construction lets gravity shift the down. Montbell says its box construction eliminates cold spots, but in my experience it makes a lot more cold spots than a tighter sewn through construction. Imagine you are wearing the jacket and you stand up with your arms out at a T. Shake your arms a little bit and all the down in the arms will shift to and pool in the underside of your arms, leaving no down at the top of your arms. Now go ride a bike in the winter and the tops of your arms will be freezing as the wind blows along the tops of them. My old Campmor with its sewn-through construction didn't allow down to shift nearly as much.

4. The neck collar is sized for large American necks. My neck is slender so the collar doesn't go flush with it, or anywhere close. I lose a lot of heat here. My Campmor jacket would zip up flush with my neck.

5. About the only time that I feel really warm in this jacket is when I'm standing and not leaning against anything. Only in this fashion does the down not get compressed or shifted to produce cold spots.

Does anyone know of a slim fit down jacket? The Montbell Alpine Light and Thermawraps are VERY slim fit (went to the Montbell store in Boulder on a road trip), but they lack so much insulation due to trying to be lightweight that I shivered just looking at them. From the look of them there is no way they can be any warmer than a normal midweight or maybe a heavyweight fleece jacket.

I have the Alpine Light inner pants as well and they really suffer from the down compression problem. If I bend my legs the down at the top of my knees and shins and thighs compresses and essentially becomes zero insulation. They are the warmest, again, when I'm standing, and are comparable to a midweight to heavyweight fleece pant only in this standing state.

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#88057 - 01/26/08 06:48 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I have found with my Feathered Friends Volant jacket that down garments have their weak points. Probably the most significant is the armpit area where it gets compressed by the arms and moist from perspiration. It works best if I wear a good insulating mid layer under it. Merino wool under down works really well.

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#88058 - 01/26/08 07:20 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
brownwetdog Offline
member

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 116
Loc: Sawtooths, Idaho
Hi Babybunny, You might want to consider a customized Nunatak Skaha Down Sweater . I customized mine to have a full zipper. I also made sure the arms would be long enough and that the back of the jacket would be long enough to cover my backside somewhat. Tom Halpin at Nunatak is great to work with. On another website, I saw where the Skaha is supposed to be an "athletic cut". I've used Montbell products and I would say they are far more "athletic cut" than the Skaha. So I think the Skaha would need to be customized to fit you well. The down side (pun intended) is that this is not a cheap solution. I figure I'll own and use my Skaha often every hiking season for at least a decade, so I justify the expense that way. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Good luck in your search for a great fit! Carol

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#88059 - 01/26/08 08:29 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I probably should have put in a plug for Feathered Friends. Their garments can be customized and they will alter them if you aren't satisfied. I sent my jacket in to have a flap added so the zipper doesn't rub the underside of my chin, the work was first rate and charges were pretty reasonable. I have been very happy with their quality and their service.

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#88060 - 01/26/08 09:41 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Paddy_Crow]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Yup, both Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering jackets are cut quite snug, and should provide much greater warmth than a very loose down garment. Hard to try before you buy, though!
_________________________
--Rick

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#88061 - 01/26/08 09:45 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Babybunny

Its the fleece under the down jacket that makes you "WARM", not the down in the outer shell.

It is my own humble opinion that high number down should not be used in down jackets <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> - 650 makes for a warmer garment because the down does not compress so much. I think your experience should show others that UL down jackets are garbage and will not keep you warm. In my humble opinion any GOOD down garment should have areas insulated with thinsulite or some other synthetic - like shoulders and where your straps go around you wearing a pack.

The message here is - UL down jackets alone will not keep you warm, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />AND 800 down jackets do not have down which is strong enough to hold the shape of a garment without flapping and loosing warm air from inside it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />Its exactly the same for down bags - 800 down and gossamer fabrics = flapping and warm air being lost. Its a case of weight over function being driven by UL nuts. Yes you guys... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

I would not personally rely on a single 800 down coat weighing under 2 pounds to keep me warm when its below freezing. And frankly they don't weigh that much do they. These jackets have less down in them than the draft tube in my winter bag and people have the idea that they will be warm. WHY? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

You want to be warm and buy a garment that will last 2 decades? _ get a TNF cheapo down jacket - or Cabelas or someone who still will sell you a coat made of lower number down and use more of it because they know you are buying a coat to keep you warm, not a coat that weighs less than the other guys. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88062 - 01/26/08 12:08 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
Heintooga Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/02
Posts: 470
Loc: GSMNP
I was considering the Montbell pants but didn't get them because of the quilted construction. I have a WM Meltdown and a MH Sub0 and they are warm because of the baffled construction. I just cinch the waist and cuffs as taught as needed and I'm warm. The Sub0 is a size larger than I normally wear but when the air isn't allowed in it's great. The Meltdown fits like a glove so it needs little cinching to keep the air out. Like Jim said, wear a layer under it and you'll be good.
_________________________
...ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein... (Jeremiah)

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#88063 - 01/26/08 12:18 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Jimshaw]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Jim is right. You need to have enough fleece to keep you warm while active in the worst conditions that you expect. The base insulation needs to be noncompressable.

800 down jackets are for wearing in camp.

650 down jackets are stadium coats. Ones that get beer spilled on them by the guy behind you at football games.

I want to try JAKs system of a big heavy wool sweater. I have checked the thrift stores a couple of times and no luck so far.

IMO down of any grade is not a good choice to wear while carrying a pack.

Synthetic insulation like the Patagucci MicroPuff is good camp wear, but it loses loft when compressed.

No practical experience, but I consider the ThermARest to be my emergency insulation. Wrap it around the body, put a layer on top, then allow to inflate a bit.

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#88064 - 01/26/08 03:18 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: ringtail]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

When actively moving around in the bush in winter, don't find a down parka cuts it.
I layer and layer and layer. I'm very fond of multiple layers of wool, not necessarily
one heavy wool sweater. Typically I'm looking at poly long johns and wool pants,
then a light poly undewear top, with a merino shirt or two over it, a cashemere thrift
store sweater, maybe a fleece, (or two) and a top layer, like a homemade anorak or
a primaloft jacket - not warm enough on it's own, but a great windcutting warmth adding
outer layer.

I really like my nice 800 fill parka to climb into in camp, but it's not a moving around
outside doing things kind of parka.
_________________________
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#88065 - 01/26/08 07:42 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
Tango61 Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/05
Posts: 931
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods

Lot's of good advice from everyone.

BabyBunny, you didn't say how you plan to use your jacket although you did mention you took it on your road trip.

Btw, Cabelas has their 650 fill Women's jacket on sale from $53 - $63 dollars.
If it didn't fit just right, you could probably get Penny S. to alter it for you.

T

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#88066 - 01/26/08 07:52 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Is this that blue or green one you were asking about a month or two ago? What color did you end up getting?
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#88067 - 01/26/08 08:01 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: finallyME]
babybunny Offline
member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 172
Quote:
Is this that blue or green one you were asking about a month or two ago? What color did you end up getting?


Yup yup. I ended up with the green one. The blue one actually had something of a defect in it. I guess the sewing along the zipper wasn't tensioned correctly and the zipper kind of ripples. Purely an aesthetic defect, but I don't want any defects on a $150 product.

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#88068 - 01/26/08 09:47 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Jimshaw]
geokite Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 405
Loc: San Diego, CA
Quote:
Babybunny

Its the fleece under the down jacket that makes you "WARM", not the down in the outer shell.

It is my own humble opinion that high number down should not be used in down jackets <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> - 650 makes for a warmer garment because the down does not compress so much. I think your experience should show others that UL down jackets are garbage and will not keep you warm.


How much more do you think 800 down compresses than 650? Twice as much? 50%?

Quote:

The message here is - UL down jackets alone will not keep you warm, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />AND 800 down jackets do not have down which is strong enough to hold the shape of a garment without flapping and loosing warm air from inside it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />Its exactly the same for down bags - 800 down and gossamer fabrics = flapping and warm air being lost. Its a case of weight over function being driven by UL nuts. Yes you guys... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />


What flapping of a 800 down bag are you talking about? I've never seen my sleeping bag flap. Maybe I'm not out in strong enough wind?
_________________________
Steve

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#88069 - 01/27/08 12:22 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Jimshaw]
Damian Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/02
Posts: 324
Quote:
These jackets have less down in them than the draft tube in my winter bag and people have the idea that they will be warm. WHY? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />


Agreed, I've often wondered if there's a point past which a very light down jacket will actually be colder than an equivalent weight of fleece.

That said, I have a 800 FP Japanese sleeping bag that weighs just under 500 grams and it is WARM.

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#88070 - 01/27/08 05:22 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Jimshaw]
leadfoot Offline
member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 954
Loc: Virginia
How true. I have a cheapo Eddie Bauer down jacket that I have had for at least 10 years and it has been thru so many washings and tough stuff and still keeps me toasty warm. I need to replace it because...well..my figure isn't a size small anymore <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

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#88071 - 01/27/08 08:54 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: geokite]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
geokite
I do not know "how much" effect there is. BUT
When I was a kid and hiked over 400 miles in the Sierras one summer long ago, I had a US mountain regular down bag. It was stuffed with "waterfowl feathers" and 50% "Chicken feathers". It was warm, didn't compress too well, but always maintained its loft because the stiffer chicken feathers held the cotton shell in place. There definitely is a cost.

RE FLAPPING
Someone said they didn't notice their 800 bag flapping in wind. Ok, even if it doesn't "flap" it will be deformed by wind pressure and be thinner on the windward side. A shelter is a neccesity if using very "soft" sleeping bags. The point is that a "stiffer" fill means less deformation and requires more wind to flap or deform. In sleeping bags in shelters it doesn't matter, same as 800 jackets worn in the shelter, but in the real world 800 down is TOO compressable - its is over engineered to the point of diminishing returns. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

If manufacturers had used the same weight of 800 down as 650 down (more insulation same weight), the "pressure" inside the down would be adequate to maintain the garments virtual shape, BUT manufacturers are following consumer pressure to create " UL - less wind worthy" garments at any cost so they hit some magic weight number and they can make their sales against the other company that produces what people need. What I am saying is that this desire for UL down jackets makes no sense. A down jacket is a last resort, a safe haven, why skimp on it? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

My wifes big down coat is from REI, 20 years old and probably stuffed with 550 or 650 down. It is always puffy and warm. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

As someone said - 650 down is for stadium jackets. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />I consider my camping to be more "stadium" oriented [outside the tent] than "hide in the tent and sleeping bag" oriented. I like to play in the snow, crawl through snow drifts <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />and stuff - try that in your UL winter gear.

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88072 - 01/27/08 10:34 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Jimshaw]
geokite Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 405
Loc: San Diego, CA
I tend to think it is not the stiffness of the down itself that is different between 650 and 800, but how much down there is in the garment.

650 occupies less space, per ounce, than 800. So to get, say 2 inches of loft, you will need more 650 down than 800. Hence it is denser than 800. So you could say that the garment is "stiffer"

Garments that are denser will not allow as much moisture through them, so moisture mangagement is more of an issue. Garments that are denser will collect more moisture, so it will take longer to dry.

If an 800 down garment had as much down (weight wise) as a 650 down garment, it would be STIFFER than the 650. But unless you hang out in really strong wind, camp in a wind tunnel with no tent, fall in the snow alot, etc, the extra 800 is not needed.

But extra down can be good for how quick the garment rebounds from stuffed storage. My Helios Vest comes to mind. But I think you don't need nearly as much as a 650.

All insulation works less when compressed; this is not restricted to down. Users need to choose their garments carefully for the situation. Don't expect your lofty down jacket to keep you warm if you lean up against something. We don't expect the bottom of a sleeping bag to keep us warm, that's why we use a pad.

You are right, some garments out there now are not worth their weight for warmth. Products by Patagonia come to mind. Fleece would be a better choice.
_________________________
Steve

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#88073 - 01/27/08 12:18 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: Jimshaw]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
>"Its the fleece under the down jacket that makes you "WARM", not the down in the outer shell.

It is my own humble opinion that high number down should not be used in down jackets "
-------------------------------

Hmm?? I don't dispute that you are reporting a real phenomenon you have experienced/observed, but I'm not sure it is because of down fill power. We have WM products with high fill power. I would agree with the language used by some reviewers "lofts like a blowfish" to describe how well they maintain their loft. It takes noticeably more effort to stuff our WM Ultralight than other bags we have. Also my wife's WM Meltdown jacket is light and extremely warm and not about to "deflate" from wind pressure. IME, higher fill power means exactly that -- more "pressure" exerted by the down to "inflate" the fabric and more resistance to "deflating" pressures.
_________________________
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.

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#88074 - 01/27/08 03:27 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: leadfoot]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Quote:
How true. I have a cheapo Eddie Bauer down jacket that I have had for at least 10 years and it has been thru so many washings and tough stuff and still keeps me toasty warm. I need to replace it because...well..my figure isn't a size small anymore <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />


Say it ain't so <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

Lower volume down is necessarily denser because of the bulkiness of the down plumes not being the lightest 800+ stuff. It makes for better stand in the wind clothes to have 550-650 fill IME too <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#88075 - 01/27/08 05:31 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
retrotramp Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/04
Posts: 103
Loc: Christchurch, New Zealand
Fill Power: This is a liteweight discussion board, so a jacket (or bag) that will be lighter for the same amount of warmth is gonna be sought after. As mentioned earlier, many of today's top lightweight down manufacturers (WM, Nunatak, Feathered Friends etc...) now use very high fill power down. They also use lighter fabrics, and I wonder if this isn't where the 'flapping in the wind' confusion comes from. The down itself is warmer for the same weight, but the fabric is lighter and therefore less windproof. Lighter fabrics also have less intrinsic insulation to them.

For me I either sleep in a shelter or use a bivy bag for my bag, and windlayer on top of my other layers. This still works out to be lighter (for the same warmth) then using lower fill power down and heavier more windproof fabrics. If babybunny is not gonna use her Montbell jacket as part of a layered system for UL hiking, then it really is wasted money and she should get a heavier, lesser fill jacket. If lightening up is her goal, then she may need to master the art of layering. For three season use I go with polypro layer (180g), fleece layer (220g), Montbell UL down layer (240g), then wind layer (70g) for a total of 700g. For the forth season I use a Nunatak Skaha hoody with pocket (310g) instead of the Montbell for a total of 780. For this weight I have ultimate flexibility and warmth in all conditions compared to carrying just a single, heavier cheap down jacket. This kind of versatility and weight management may not be justified for someone who just goes car camping or wears it around the house...

Put another way, my first 3-season down/feather mummy bag (600fp) weighed 1.3kg. It kept me warm to around freezing, had a robust nylon shell, and a full zipper. When I finally upgraded, I went with a WM Ultralite that weighed 740g. It kept me warm well below freezing, used 850+ fp down and Quantum shell. The only difference I can find is in the weight, and at almost half the weight as the old-style bag, I would be silly NOT to change.

Actually, the bag I use now is a WM POD at 450g, but that would not be comparing apples to apples as the change in design is a big factor in the weight savings rather than just material and fill changes

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#88076 - 01/27/08 07:46 PM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
You are probably even a bit smaller than me. I buy the largest child size and I find these fit pretty good. I have a girl's size 14 North Face down jacket. Boy's size 14 or 16 Columbia shirts fit me well. The Patagonia girls size 14 zip-top underware fits too. The best fitting jacket I have is a ArcTerex x-small men's jacket. I have a friend who is taller but very skiny and she has really good luck with men's x-small sizes. Sleeves are often too short in girl's sizes, but boys sizes seem to have longer arms. Another thing I like about kids clothes (mostly REI) is that to keep them cheaper, they are very basic - no bells and whistles - and I really like that.

But anyway, thanks for the evaluation of the jacket. I will remind myself not to get one.

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#88077 - 01/28/08 09:28 AM Re: Montbell Alpine Jacket - not warm :( [Re: babybunny]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
Hello Babybunny,
It sounds like a bummer. Looking at last year’s models, I can see how the down would ‘fall’.
It appears the ’08 models have fixed your problems. They made their baffles smaller. Now your down won’t shift as much.

Geokite’s remark caught my eye “Garments that are denser will not allow as much moisture through them, so moisture mangagement is more of an issue. Garments that are denser will collect more moisture, so it will take longer to dry.”

I’m definitely a proponent of the 850 down jacket (sorry Jim). I’ve been backpacking in my WM Flight for 4 years. It keeps its loft in high wind. When I have my backpack on, the shoulders and back definitely get compressed but I don’t feel a cold spot there. As I feel my back sweat, it always amazes me that when I take off my flight jacket, there is no sweat collecting on the inside of the jacket. For best warmth the down jacket should be just slightly, barely snug with all the layers you are expecting.

As others have noted, UL layering ends up being less weight, better moisture management, and can handle wider temperature ranges. However, if you bushwack through the raspberry patch, then an UL outershell may not be the way to go.

-Barry

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