Down insulating jacket

9:20 p.m. on June 25, 2012 (EDT)
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As I get closer to my dreams of climbing in higher altitude areas, I'm looking to make sure my gear is ready to go. Currently, according to American Alpine Institute's list of needed gear, I have everything I need for their Denali climb of the West Buttress route, except for a jacket that will be extremely insulating for maybe summit day and also for resting in camp in cold weather. I've got great layering systems now that has kept me warm in some cold cold temps. I've been in weather colder than -50F with the windchill before and was fine, but I was not resting I was actively climbing.

When in camp now, I currently have a decent down jacket from EMS that keeps me pretty warm, but I'm generally looking at temps above zero when I'm wearing that.

I need a great insulated jacket that has ripstop quality fabric and extreme warmth. I know the wealth of knowledge here could give me the info I need, because I'm frustrated with the vast number of jackets I find on sites, when most of the reviews are from people who just wear them while shoveling.

9:44 p.m. on June 25, 2012 (EDT)
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11:41 p.m. on June 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Mountain Equipment Classic Annapurna Jacket

Crux Magma Jacket

Event exterior with down insulation to keep you toasty warm in the coldest of environments. 

4:03 a.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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There are several brands out there with models that fulfill this function, but I would advise looking into a readily breathable, durable, soft shell outer fabric instead of rip stop.  You need something that will stop the wind on these trips.  Making your down parka the outer shell saves weight in very cold venues, especially on summit day, as it serves both as an insulating layer and a wind shell.  Moisture is not a problem, so don't bother with water resistant/proof.

What is your bottom cold layer and shell?


7:22 a.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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For my in-camp winter comfort at around 0F to -10F I use a Feathered Friends Icefall parka with the old eVent shell---and it's very wind resistant.  Plus, a serious jacket must have a down hood as below:


If I was in your situation I would go ahead and get the beefier FF Rock and Ice parka.  They quit making their jackets with eVent and now use Pertex in various grades which I have no experience with.

Beyond this, there are the parkas already mentioned along with the Marmot 8000M jacket, the PHD parkas, the less-beefy Western Mountaineering Meltdown jacket (very nice), and of course the regular down suits used by mountaineers.

8:46 a.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I didn't use the First Ascent down products, but I had a couple of their other things in my kit and they were top notch. The Whitikkar's are behind the re-establishment of EB into true expedition wear and will not compromise. Look into that or the Feathered Friends....those are the two I like best. :)

12:20 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I wear a down sweater under a shell for hiking and snowshoeing, but the minute you stop you need something a lot warmer. +1 on the hood - an absolute necessity. I have one of these, which is a Mountain Equipment 'Tremblant'. Compresses down to about the size of a softball and weighs very little at only 900 gms.


5:04 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Ed I've got everything else for layering. Soft Shell jackets, fleece jackets, sythetic and wool base layers, down jackets...

I just need something really beefy as my be all end all of staying warm when in an arctic camp in subzero weather on Denali above windy corner.

I don't know if the OGBO has any suggestions as he's been to Vinson Massif.

10:41 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I wouldn't fool around with Denali.  northern latitude exposes you to cold you might not see in the himalaya.  unless you run very warm, you should probably look at one of the big lofty parkas - marmot 8000 meter, mountain hardwear absolute zero, feathered friends icefall or rock & ice, valandre bering parka.  (i run hot, so i have had good luck with a slightly lighter parka, the no-longer-made mountain hardwear sub-zero SL).  most of these (not sure about valandre) have an outer shell that blocks the wind, usually eVent or an equivalent.   

i'm confident you could rent a parka like this from AAI or another guide service  if you aren't interested in buying one.    

11:22 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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iClimb said:

Ed I've got everything else for layering.

I figured so much.  My advice was for someone who already has cold gear, but is graduating to very cold, high wind, mountaineering.  Artic style down parkas often also serve as the wind shell too.  Also there is a good chance your current collection of shell garments are not spacious enough to accommodate the bulk an artic parka adds to your layering system.


1:59 p.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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true ed thanks, I will make sure the parka has wind stopping power instead of water proof capabilities for that reason.

2:55 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I have the rock and ice parka from FF's and I haven't been able to find its limits yet. Even with a thin wool base layer on I have been good in minus 30 Celsius. When you layer properly under the jacket it's almost impossible to be cold. I have a spreadsheet somewhere of most of the major down jackets made with fill weights, shell type, price etc... I can see if I can dig it up for you if that would be helpful.

8:21 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm pretty loyal to my Mtn. Hardwear Sub Zero jacket. I have a couple of insulated jackets but I always seem to reach for the ole' Sub Zero. I believe it's been re-named the "Hunker Down" jacket.

If your looking for something lighter the Patagonia Down Sweater is also a pretty good choice. For really cold weather I reach for my THF Macmurdo Parka. Although it's a bit heavy for backpacking IMO.




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