Down Jacket for Rainier and Kilimanjaro

10:08 a.m. on May 26, 2010 (EDT)
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I am planning on climbing Rainier (first alpine climb) next year and then Kilimanjaro a couple years after that. I am looking into purchasing a down jacket that would hopefully work in both situations since these bad boys get expensive. I am leaning toward Feathered Friends but I am also considering PHD and Nunatak.

Should I go mid-weight or expedition grade for FF? Any opinions on jacket features or models?

Internal water bottle pocket sounds like a good idea.

What about detachable vs. sewn-on hood?

Thanks in advance!

1:21 p.m. on May 26, 2010 (EDT)
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Expedition grade is overkill unless you plan on doing Rainier in winter. Even then it may be a bit warm, depending on your overall layering system. For instance I use polypro skin layer, a medium fleece crewneck and a relatively thick down “sweater,” topped off with a wind shell parka. Bottom side is also polypro skin layer, cycling tights, down bib pants, topped off by wind shell pants. This and applicable foot and head wear gets me down to 0 F. If I were inclined to take it to the next level, I’d add another fleece or down sweater before going with a heavy duty parka. The only place I used expedition grade down wear was in Alaska on several high mountain trips. When you do acquire your layers, consider going with oversized items for the outer layers, so they can accommodate your inner layers without compressing the air out of them.
Ed

9:33 p.m. on May 26, 2010 (EDT)
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10:12 p.m. on May 26, 2010 (EDT)
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If you are going in summer, overheating is a bigger problem than freezing to death on Rainier. I did have a down- and I did wear it at summit, but just at summit. The rest of the time I couldn't even wear a skull hugger under my helmet. Granted the weather was good, and I didn't have to bivouac anywhere, but I don't think I have ever been hotter in my life than the descent. The problem is, you are always making maximum exersion or stopping and getting beat up by 40 mph. wind. I would look at an ultralight version like the small baffled jackets from Patagonia or such (I have seen other makers). I know Kili is not going to be much different since it may not actually have any glaciers by then. Don't forget a pair of cheap ear plugs. It felt just like when I went skydiving anywhere above 11,000 ft.- Midnight to 3:00pm with something like a tire inflator blowing in my ears!

8:24 a.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for the advice!

Also, I really hope the glaciers stick around for my kili trip. I will be celebrating my 30th birthday then.

12:13 p.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Kili is warmer than Rainier by a long shot. I only used fleece for insulation there. On summit day, starting at midnight, I wore light long johns, microfiber pants and shirt, and eVent bibs and jacket, and put a Polarfleece 200 jacket on at the summit for the 15-20 minutes we spent taking photos, then heading down. We stopped not far below the rim to shed the shells and fleece. Kili is only 3 degrees from the Equator, after all.

1:04 p.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I'm doing Rainier in August and also am in the market for a new down jacket (I already have a light Montbell down sweater that I love, an old synthetic LL Bean jacket that I don't love, and a down Mountain Hardwear vest).

I need a heavier, belay/winter camping jacket for very cold uses too, but realize that would be overkill for Rainier in August.

Anyway, I'm also looking for a midweight down jacket with hood, preferably made for women. So far I'm looking at Montbell and Feathered Friends, like Zalmen.

Here's what my gear list says:

Insulated parka with hood: This item becomes of highest importance
when we are faced with poor weather. Additionally, this oversized, insulated parka traps heat at rest breaks. The parka may be either goose down or synthetic fill and should have at least two inches of insulation thickness. It should fit over all of your clothing layers, including your wind shell. We do not recommend wind jackets with zip-in liners or down sweaters as substitutes as they are not warm enough for this climb.

7:53 p.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I found many of the same lists before going. My pack to high camp was near 70 lbs. (no joke) If the weather gets bad, its going to be between high camp and Summit, so hope for the best and plan for the worst, but honestly, if you have to stop and drop your pack to get to your insulation, you are already into more effort than it is worth. It is hard to actually describe to anyone who has never been there how steep the mountain is. If it starts to go, you will not be able to stop it! One of the guys in our team actually lost his headlamp when He stopped to adjust, We watched it slide for nearly 1000 ft. before disappearing into a cravase. Luckily we were only about 20min. before sunrise when this happened. I will say that in my experience (only once on Rainier mind you, and then it was from the Curtis-Emmons route, hence less crowds, and less sitting and waiting on other rope teams) I was burning alive with nothing more than a thin patagonia polypro ss T, a longsleeve patagonia midweight thermal, and a Gore-tex XCR shell. On my lower, I wore nothing but a pair of silk terramar bottoms, thin fleece tights, a 2 layer gore tex set of low bibs- uninsulated, and of course Croc Gaiters. I literally started with this on and was perfetly comfortable until the sun got up- we were on the East face of the mountain- then it became hot! I bought an expensive North Face down (900 fill) and wore it for the 45 minutes at the actual summit- Thats it. Then, I wish I had had nothing but my boots on going down. Other than the mountain becomes a reflector oven and I felt like my septum was actually going to fall off! Good thing I didn't go naked!

July 28, 2014
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