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Down Jackets

3:15 p.m. on October 6, 2009 (EDT)
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133 forum posts

I'm looking for a new down jacket for very cold conditions. I have narrowed it down to two jackets, the Mountain Hardware Sub Zero Hooded Jacket and the new First Ascent Peak XV Down Jacket.

The MH has some nice reviews. It has a removable hood and a inner pocket for a water bottle. Both are features I was looking wanted. On the down side, it does not have as much down (only 650 fill) and some reviews indicat that air gets through the area where the hood is connected.

My other choice was designed by some rather well know and experienced climbers. But I know nothing about any of the First Ascent products. Yes I know the people supporting the products are the most experienced in the world, but they aren't actuly making the stuff...

Any thoughts?

5:39 p.m. on October 6, 2009 (EDT)
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This is a coincidence! I just ordered another down jacket to replace my sorry and underfilled North Face Nupste which I had for 3 or 4 years and it was my outermost layer in the worst winter temps. Last January on a 12 day trip I got hit with -10F and it stayed around zero for several days. Not so bad in Minnesota or Idaho but rough in east Tennessee. So, I've been thinking of upgrading for several years and finally took the plunge to a Feathered Friends Icefall parka. I was torn between a Marmot 8000M parka and the Icefall. This will be the first FF item in my kit.

 

Overkill? Probably, but I plan on spending many weeks at one time winter camping and like the idea of having something in camp that's once-and-for-all warm. Review forthcoming . . . in about 6 months.

10:52 p.m. on October 6, 2009 (EDT)
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311 forum posts

Feathered Friends make very good products,much better than the big brand products.Also my personel opinion is go with the 800 fill jackets.Better loft,warmth and lighter weight.I realize the cost is higher but if you buy from a company like FF or Western Mountaineering you will have not only a well designed product but one that is very well made and a company that stands behind their products.ymmv

9:36 a.m. on October 7, 2009 (EDT)
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133 forum posts

Nice... I was looking to avoid Mountain Hardware anyway. Their getting a little to big. Also, no one seems to know anything about the First Ascent products yet.

Ok, my new list is a little longer. The IceFall Parka from Feathered Friends looks great, with great reviews and all the features I have been looking for. How do you like it Tipi Walter?

Another choice that I should have included on my first list is the Belay Jacket from Wild Things. Also with all the features I have been looking for and a very good company from what I understand.

As for Western Mountaineering, I could not find an expedition weight jacket. Did I miss something?

10:27 a.m. on October 7, 2009 (EDT)
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311 forum posts

No you missed nothing.They do not make a heavy weight ,in terms of cold,jacket but do get honorable mention due to their quality products.

3:27 p.m. on October 7, 2009 (EDT)
18 reviewer rep
133 forum posts

I really do like WM products, but haven't had the chance to purchase anything from them yet. At the time I was looking for a heavy mid layer, I was told about MontBell jackets. Nice and light, but not the same quality. I own two of them, but I now think WM would have been a better choice. That was before I knew about this site.

The heavier of the two has works well, but it is time to upgrade.

3:50 p.m. on October 7, 2009 (EDT)
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311 forum posts

I have a montbell down sweater wich i use for 3 season hikes and love it.7oz and very warm for what it is.But yes a feathered friends or western mountaineering jacket are hi on my list.

4:34 p.m. on October 7, 2009 (EDT)
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133 forum posts

Thats the one, the down sweater. Nice jacket for 3 season use and great warmth to weight ratio.

3:13 a.m. on October 8, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,737 forum posts

First Ascent is the new line from Eddie Bauer, which became little more than another version of The Gap or Banana Republic years ago. There is another thread about the whole Eddie Bauer story here somewhere.

The company has major financial trouble, so who knows how long they will last. They went Ch. 11 BK in June right before the First Ascent line came out-bad timing for sure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Bauer

How cold is "very cold" to you? I have a TNF Baltoro, now called the Himalayan. The current Baltoro is a totally different jacket, so that is confusing. Mine is 700 fill, Gore Dryloft and extremely warm. The new one is 800 fill and retails for about $500. I know people knock TNF, but I have that one and a Nuptse for warmer weather and like both of them. The Nuptse isn't for really cold weather.

If I was going to pay retail (got mine like new off eBay), I might look at the FF IceFall ($475) or the Rock and Ice ($725), but I am quite happy with mine. I'd look on eBay or Craigslist. I paid about half retail for mine and was the only bidder. Not that big a market for deep winter jackets like these, I suspect and I got mine in December a couple of years ago.

3:31 a.m. on October 8, 2009 (EDT)
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1,158 forum posts

Gearjunky: I haven't got the Icefall parka yet, it's in the mail, but I won't have a problem replacing my North Face Nupste with it. I'll give a full review by next spring.

4:10 a.m. on October 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Here is what Canadians wear in really cold weather. I think it will surprise a lot of you. The first link is to a profile on the site here of Kevin Kinney and Empire Canvas.

http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2009/04/02/gear-maker-profile-kevin-kinney-empire-canvas-works.html

http://wintertrekking.com/index.php?action=article_intro&sub=Clothing

6:23 a.m. on October 8, 2009 (EDT)
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1,158 forum posts

Tom D

Thanks for the link and the wintertrekking stuff, looks to be interesting reading for my next winter backpacking trip.

Backpackers might find this quote interesting: "Sitting still in spectator situations . . . well that's another story--any thick insulated synthetic parkas are great for sedentary cold situations."

For me as a backpacker, I wear minimal layers when moving and never consider wearing my down or even my fleece when hauling a pack along the trail. Too much sweat. And actually, when it is very cold, like zero, I'll wear my midlayer Icebreaker tops with bottoms and rainpants, so here again we have a natural fiber(merino wool)for the cold layers.

The reason backpackers wear down parkas is because of camp warmth and pack lightness. Pretty simple and stands the test of time, I mean, look at the Himalayan types with their $1,500 down suits.

Here's another interesting quote: "While cotton and wool will get wet from sweat, they can be dried near the fire without fear of melting, a distinct risk with synthetics." On my trips, I would never depend on a fire to dry any of my layers, wet from snow or sweat. I don't get any of them wet, except my baselayers. I suppose the Empire Canvas boys use tents with woodstoves or some type of organized heat in their frigid treks. Backpacking in the mountains of NC and TN is another can of worms.

After thinking about this, I remember the Inuit clothing, double layers of caribou hides with the hair left on and a middle layer of dead air. Excellent idea, perhaps too heavy, probably outlandishly expensive. Probably too heavy for backpacking. And their mukluks are works of art.

One more point: When I was dirt poor, I used a one piece insulated cotton suit, the kind you see water department workers using during the winter with a zipper from the neck to the crotch. Now we're talking! Problem: While worn in all winter conditions, especially backpacking, I'd get incredibly hot and sweaty and would have to dump the pack and unzip the chest and remove the top part and tie the arms around my waist. Miserable. But cheap and it kept me toasty though when I got to camp I was a sweaty mess and air/body dried the thing while shivering a bit.

1:10 p.m. on October 8, 2009 (EDT)
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133 forum posts

Nice link, but it is not that much different than what I currently use in the winter. When I'm hiking I wear a tee shirt and a light weigh wool long sleeve top under a soft shell or hard shell jacket (depending on temp and wind conditions). Quite often the jacket is in my pack. Pants are almost always soft shell. I put a hard shell on only when things get bad. Can't have fires, so keeping dry is important. Soft shells breath the best and dry very fast.

The down jacket is something to throw on over my light weight hiking gear when I stop for the night or on breaks. I've tried all sorts of layering methods, but nothing compares to down. I already have a pair of down pants, but I find my down jacket is a little too light.

How cold is "very cold" to you?

Typically I camp in the Northeast, but am planning a trip to Washington. I will be using the jacket for conditions ranging from 0 to -40deg. As part of my layering system, I would need something like those discussed above.

5:41 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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1 forum posts

I like the way you think Tipi. I wear and pack minimal when trekking but have had enough of the shivering when stopping and am looking for a durable, light, down parka that's not going to break the bank. Hoping to find something around $150. Seems impossible, any ideas..anyone?

April 16, 2014
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