Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
Backpacking Forums
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#134060 - 05/21/10 09:29 PM Down Jackets
UmarNZ Offline

Registered: 05/21/10
Posts: 1
Loc: New Zealand
can anyone advise me with a down jacket purchase?

i live in Auckland in New Zealand, we have 8 months of winter, 1 month of spring, 2 months of summer and 1 month of autumn. most of the year its cold (9-15C, 48-59F), almost always wet and quite windy.

i want to buy a down jacket, most of my friends told me to buy something of high quality like the north face, which is about $450nz everywhere i look. since i'm spending a chunk out of my student minimum wage savings, i'd like to get all the information i can.

so far, i have seen 3 that seem reasonable:

Mountain Hardwear Subzero Down

The North Face Nuptse Down

Marmot Zeus Down

can anyone help me? also, if you have any other recommendations (my budget is $450nz, roughly $300us)
thanks laugh

#134065 - 05/21/10 11:50 PM Re: Down Jackets [Re: UmarNZ]
ChrisFol Offline

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
The only one that I would even consider is the zeus out of those three, but to be honest they are all heavy and over priced-- brands like TNF, Marmot and MH tend to be expensive for what they are selling.

Personally, if I was going to drop $300USD on a down jacket than I would go with top quality: Nunatak or Feathered Friends.

For half the price-- look at Montbell-- not sure if they would ship to NZ, but you can score some of their down jackets for around $100USD excluding shipping from the gear swap forums and e-OMC currently has the UL Down Inner listed for $125USD excluding shipping. This is the jacket that I use in three-season colorado and combined with lightweight baselayer I am comfortable to around 32F.

Edited by ChrisFol (05/22/10 01:14 AM)

#134080 - 05/22/10 07:36 AM Re: Down Jackets [Re: ChrisFol]
bowler2 Offline

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 12
Loc: Maryland
I too am a firm believer in WM and FF down....but it seems that the North Face Nuptse is a pretty good value. You can find them pretty cheap and they have 700 fill down.....not as good as the 800 fill of the previous companies but comparable.

Plus it weighs around 20 ounces which is not too bad.

I'm not sure how the fill weight compares to similar jackets from WM and FF (meltdown and Helios)


#134085 - 05/22/10 11:45 AM Re: Down Jackets [Re: UmarNZ]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3939
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Those are very different jackets. The mountain hardware is a coat, and too warm for the stated temps. The Nuptse is a jacket, not a coat, and maybe more in line with your temp, but its way way over priced for what you get. Montebell has nice light jackts that would fit your needs, but two things - if you get a jacket with a water tight shell it will cost a lot, but then carryng a separate shell can also cost a lot and it adds to the weight. Hood - I wouldn't buy a down jacket without an insulated hood.

So if you have a suitable shell, there are many jackets in the $150 american range that would suit you.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#134091 - 05/22/10 02:16 PM Re: Down Jackets [Re: UmarNZ]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2797
Loc: California
Cold, wet, humid and windy sounds to me more like the environment for a top-quality synthetic jacket, that would cost less. The jackets you cited are more for cold-dry conditions. A friend who uses the "Puff-ball" jacket (probably not enough loft for your climate) and says the new synthetics compress quite well. If always windy, you should also consider the weave of the outer material and its wind-proof ability. Is there a reason you are not considering a synthetic?

#134096 - 05/22/10 04:16 PM Re: Down Jackets [Re: UmarNZ]
sabre11004 Offline

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
Personally, I would take the Marmot over the other two. I have had The North Face stuff before and I don't think that it is as good a quality as the Marmot brand. I also have several things made by Marmot other than a down jacket and they seem to make very good quality stuff. Never had any problem with any of it, and I can not say the same for the north face...sabre11004... goodjob
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!

#134167 - 05/24/10 02:29 PM Re: Down Jackets [Re: wandering_daisy]
Redfacery Offline

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 82
Loc: NY
With the temperature range you gave, and that it's rainy and humid in winter, I'm not sure I agree you need a down jacket at all. Personally, I'd go with a convertible jacket - one like either of these:
LL Bean 3 in 1


I know that opinion isn't in the majority here, but do that, and you'd likely save enough money to go on half a dozen extra trips, or buy a bunch of other gear, and won't be sacrificing much. Together, both layers weigh more by a large amount (I have a similar ll bean jacket, and it comes in at like 34 oz for both), but often I take only the windbreaker/rain layer, and am fine down to 32F with a few layers underneath. Or if I take both layers, I leave at least one other top layer at home, so the weight factor comes out about even.

#134180 - 05/24/10 06:44 PM Re: Down Jackets [Re: Redfacery]
OregonMouse Online   content

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6561
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I also prefer at least two thinner layers to one thicker one so I can fine-tune my body temperature better. My insulation layers are a wicking base layer, a 100-weight fleece Montbell Chameece vest and a Montbell UL Thermawrap jacket. Important accessories are my polypro fleece balaclava, thin polypro gloves (that I don't have to take off for camp chores, the problem with thick gloves) and rain mitt shells. Using these in various combinations with a lightweight windshirt and/or my rain gear keeps me warm and dry (from inside as well as out). It's really important not to sweat while actively hiking in cold weather--the moisture inside can degrade your insulation just as badly as water from the outside. I can put the whole schmear on at once and be comfy in a 10* F blizzard. I also prefer synthetic insulation layers because my sleeping bag is down and I am unwilling to put all my insulation eggs, as it were, in one basket. I have thought about switching to a down parka, but I'd still want the vest for active hiking in cold weather and I'm warm enough with what I have--why spend the $$$ to save maybe an ounce?

Your mileage, of course, may vary!

Edited by OregonMouse (05/25/10 12:43 AM)
Edit Reason: Fix typo!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#134203 - 05/25/10 12:57 AM Re: Down Jackets [Re: OregonMouse]
phat Offline

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

For me, if I were hiking in your kinda weather ( and I have - almost - spent some time hiking in Tasmania) I'd probably be layering a little more than looking for just one jacket. Also lets me pick and choose and dry layers out easier.

Now of course to me the amusing part (and it was to me in Tasmania as well) was people referring to 9 to 15 C and rainy as "cold" (you keep using that word..) Although to be fair hiking for 3 clicks through a horizontal downpour on the bottom of South Coast trek was a bit less than what I'd call "warm". I did actually get "cold" on top of the ironbound range in about an 60 - 80 km/h wind with rain 1000 meters up.
but I was warm once I put on a merino and the jacket.

What I carry in your summer was two nice merino long sleeve shirts, a 100 wt fleece and a lightweight waterproof breathable jacket/windshirt. In more like your winter conditions I would add my MEC northern lite primaloft pullover - this is a very light synthetic jacket with primaloft insulation.

Unfortunately MEC doesn't make them anymore. (well they make something of the same name but it is now heavy and sucks because they changed it) But there are other alternatives out there.

Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Pullover vs Zip Rain Jacket
by 4evrplan
09/13/18 05:12 PM
Multitool or knife scissors or dedicated scissors.
by SJS
08/29/18 09:32 AM
Katadyn Vario Water Filter...
by jbylake
10/10/12 05:44 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Donnell Fire in the Sierra
by balzaccom
09/10/18 08:51 PM
Leaving a Mark
by balzaccom
07/10/18 09:32 PM
What's your water crossing technique/method?
by willie1280
06/08/18 08:09 AM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
0 registered (), 41 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
RyannBoehm, disguisedrob, grantwiley, jullybina, Korak
12644 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Our long-time Sponsor, - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum