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jorge99s
10-06-2015, 13:10
I'm in the market for a new packable down jacket. Does anyone have a suggestion for a quality jacket?

Uncle Joe
10-06-2015, 13:25
Interested myself. Although, I just picked up an REI CO-OP which seems to get decent reviews. And it's on sale right now for $99.

Tipi Walter
10-06-2015, 13:37
The most important component of finding a down jacket is knowing the amount of ounces of actual down in the jacket, and the quality of the fill, i.e. 800 fill, 850 fill etc.

If you find a down jacket online and they don't list the amount of down inside the jacket, BEWARE of that product.

Which takes us to Puffies vs Regular Jackets. Puffy jackets are all the rage now, but once again, find out how many ounces of down are inside the puffy. How they sew the baffles and what it looks like is of minor concern when compared to the amt of down inside.

I've had good luck with Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends down garments. The WM Flight jacket is nice to take the edge off, and the FF Icefall parka is my go-to winter survival layer when temps hit 10F or 0F or -10F.

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2015-Trips-161/On-Rocky-Flats/i-wKnXGSD/0/M/Trip%20162%20251-M.jpg
Here's my backpacking buddy in his green down puffy made by Patagonia I think. It was a butt cold morning at 5,300 feet. Check out his outstanding Mt Hardwear Nilas down mitts.


https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Cranbrook-School-Backpacking/i-kNddTKp/0/M/TRIP%20120%20080-M.jpg
When things get crazy, I prefer a beefier choice---ergo the Feathered Friends Icefall parka---the down hood makes all the difference.

colorado_rob
10-06-2015, 14:03
All depends on what temp range you're looking for.... for "warmer cold" (let's say, right around freezing for a low), I sure like Mont Bell jackets (800+ fill); I actually own three of them, the "ultralight down sweater", the "ultralight down parka" (has a hood) and the Thermawrap (synthetic). The thermawrap is very versatile for actually hiking in as you body sweat won't affect the insulation much, whereas when hiking in down you have to be very careful to not wet-out the down.

For mid-temps, I like Western mountaineering flight jacket, as Tipi says, but the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Jacket is a great lightweight jacket as well, plenty of warmth at about 16 ounces. This is the jacket I generally carry in mid-winter in Colorado for all day hikes and some overnighters.

For the really, really cold stuff.... it doesn't get much better than the Marmot 8000 meter jacket! We call it "instant July".

http://www.moontrail.com/marmot-8000-meter-parka.php

I've slept in a bivy in mid-winter on top of a 14,000 peak in Colorado in one of these staying completely warm. We also carry these jackets on our really big mountain climbs. A tad over 3 pounds.

As Tipi says, only get rated down, 700 and better, preferably 800+ (for weight savings).

Uncle Joe
10-06-2015, 14:52
:o The REI is 650. That said, I'm not considering this my "winter" jacket, per se' and I'm GA.

howlinmadman
10-06-2015, 14:57
I have been looking at the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. It's really expensive at $320 but very light at 8 oz with 800 fill insulation. Don't know how warm it is or how durable but it looks nice!

jorge99s
10-06-2015, 15:01
Most of my trips are in the Smokies and Pisgah Nat'l. I normally don't venture out in the colder months but this year I'm going to try turning over a new leaf. We are heading to Gregory Bald in early December and from what I'm told the temps can range between 20-30 degrees at night. I don't foresee needing a jacket to hike in for long periods of time, but mainly to wear while in camp at night/early morning.

Snowleopard
10-06-2015, 15:06
Check late winter sales at REI.com, EMS.com and MEC.ca As TipiWalter says Feathered Friends makes great stuff. The lighter down jackets are nice for warmer temps IF THE WEATHER IS NOT WET. When it's wet down is not good; wet down has little insulation. For the wet, synthetics are better (fleece or synthetic puffy insulation). For very cold conditions, the FF Icefall that Tipi shows or the Marmot 8000m are great. You'll rarely get to wear these while hiking because they'll be too warm, but they sure are nice at night or when you stop to rest.

I got an EMS down parka on sale in late winter two years ago (say 3/4 the loft of the Icefall or 8000m). Last winter I really didn't use it at all; at 0F it was too warm for my day hikes. I do carry it in really cold weather to keep me warm if I break a leg at 0F or colder.

capehiker
10-06-2015, 15:21
Uniqlo ultralight down parka (inexpensive). It serves me great in the PA winters. With a mid-weight pullover under, it keeps me toasty.

scrabbler
10-06-2015, 15:42
Patagonia Down Sweater. 800 fill down, very warm, and they pack small. Shop carefully and you can get them more reasonably priced.

gbolt
10-06-2015, 16:04
Montbell 850 fill UL Down jacket 8.3 oz can be found for just over $100. Uniqlo is the lowest price but not the cheapest quality and was my second choice. I like the Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer but find it hard to spend over $150 on an item that is used only at camp, at risk of embers, and has other durability issues and may be too bulky to pack, although anything under 12oz is light weight for a Jacket.

One thing often not mentioned is whether a hood is needed or not. Remember to look at your overall gear list. I did not go with a Parka because I wanted a seperate Down hat to sleep in. I hammock so my TQ is without a mummy head covering. So that hat provides two purposes in camp versus being locked into a hood attached to the jacket. May or may not be an issue but worth considering in your decision.

chknfngrs
10-06-2015, 16:34
If you where a men's large I've got one for sale, it's a Golite Cumulus down jscket, 800 fill, 14 oz. $60

FlyFishNut
10-06-2015, 17:50
I have the Patagonia Down Sweater and love it - wear it ALL the time, but I don't view this as a FRIGID COLD weather down jacket. It is perfect for a wide range of temps, but not would I would classify as a sub zero garment. I wore it as a layer on a -12 trip, but I was either moving or in my tent hunkered down. If I'd stayed out in it I think I would have been cold.

For truly cold temps I bought this Rab and it was a steal at this price.
http://www.steepandcheap.com/rab-neutrino-endurance-down-jacket-mens-rab0040

greenmtnboy
10-06-2015, 20:57
I have always found down jackets too hot, one like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/VICTORINOX-CAMDEN-DOWN-FILLED-JACKET-SIZE-LARGE-/171715876524?hash=item27fb1056ac

Actually I saw one at the local Goodwill and it fit but I have no use for them; down vests get me through the winter fine with occasional extra outer gear but never the heavy jackets.

Studlintsean
10-06-2015, 21:03
This is what I use in the 20-30 temps. You can find it online onsale many plpaces if you do some quick searches. I paid $119 2 years ago.

http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=2001&p_id=2301176&gen_cd=1

ZenRabbit
10-06-2015, 21:42
Check out the Rab stuff. Very high quality. Microlight Alpine Jacket has 750 FP, weighs 15 Oz., infinity Endurance Jacket is 850 FP Hydrophobic.Down and very warm and water resistant Pertex. Endurance outer shell. I have the previous generation of the Infinity and I can't wear it unless I'm standing around in the snow, it's so warm. Both of these jackets are hooded.

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saltysack
10-06-2015, 21:49
+1 montbell ul down parka awesome piece....layer over cap4 hoody and OR helium 2 I'm good to above 0...


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jorge99s
10-07-2015, 21:09
If you where a men's large I've got one for sale, it's a Golite Cumulus down jscket, 800 fill, 14 oz. $60
Thanks but that's going to be too big. Thanks for offering.

jorge99s
10-07-2015, 21:16
With respect to the humidity levels on the east coast, would I be better off going with a synthetic jacket?

Tundracamper
10-08-2015, 20:29
Knowing that I usually start sweating before I remove a layer, I'm starting to think a synthetic coat might be best. I don't worry with quilts and such since I know I'll be dry climbing into bed. It seems down for quilts/sleeping and synthetic for clothes might be a robust system.


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gbolt
10-08-2015, 21:05
With respect to the humidity levels on the east coast, would I be better off going with a synthetic jacket?

I feel that with today's DWR coatings and treated Down that the impact of the humidity is greatly limited. I would suggest shakedown hikes to hone in your hiking clothes. I have been below 20 using a Base Layer, Hiking Shirt, Cap 4 1/4 Zip, and either a Windshirt or Rain Jacket. I have not found the need to hike in a down jacket as of yet. Because the Jacket is for Camp and to hopefully aid taking my 20 Burrow down to colder night time temps (hoping to test it this January/February if I get the chance); I am worried most about the pack weight. A Synthetic is heavier and for the slight increase in cost... I chose the lighter down. So like Tundracamper is stating...you have to choose the system that works and makes sense for you. I want light.

rocketsocks
10-08-2015, 21:39
If it's cold enough for me to wear a down jacket/coat, then humidity doesn't factor in much, except on a micro level underneath jacket, which I negate buy venting periodically as need be.

LIhikers
10-09-2015, 00:10
A few years back I was able to get a Patagonia Down Sweater for a fraction of what they usually go for. It was the middle of the summer and I found it on the Patagonia web site under their web specials. For the price they were only offering 1 size in 1 color. It is my size and I've gotten used to the color. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you don't need it this winter, and can shop sales, you might get a quality piece at a great price.

Ktaadn
10-09-2015, 08:59
I've had a Marmot Zeus for a few years now. I really like it. It weighs 16oz in a size large. As has been suggested, I did a ton of research before I bought it. I had a spreadsheet with every puffy jacket I could find on it with weight, price, fill, etc. I also tried on as many different brands as I could find whenever I was in a store that had them. One tip that you might not think of initially is to check the length of the back and sleeves. Some brands will list this info on their website. As someone who is tall and has pretty long arms, this was important to me. You can find a wide range of lengths and widths across different brands.

Grinch
10-17-2015, 23:44
I have been looking at the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. It's really expensive at $320 but very light at 8 oz with 800 fill insulation. Don't know how warm it is or how durable but it looks nice!
I found the ghost whisperer for 160. Put soft shell on top and you are gonna be ready cold temps. I will say my beard stubble picks the material on collar. Already talked to mh and they will see a piece on collar to stop. I guess that might add an ounce. Very light and comfy. I checked some pata jackets and north face but was really impressed with whisperer. Also works great as an infant sleeping bag! Little man stays snug as a bug in a rug!

saltysack
10-18-2015, 08:47
I found the ghost whisperer for 160. Put soft shell on top and you are gonna be ready cold temps. I will say my beard stubble picks the material on collar. Already talked to mh and they will see a piece on collar to stop. I guess that might add an ounce. Very light and comfy. I checked some pata jackets and north face but was really impressed with whisperer. Also works great as an infant sleeping bag! Little man stays snug as a bug in a rug!

Yea until his diaper leaks!!! That's why I bought my hiking buddy his own bag....$20 pack able down vest from Costco...sewed waist and arm holes shut...perfect bag for the mut or kid..add a home made fleece liner good below freezing...[emoji2]


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pauly_j
10-18-2015, 16:20
I'd be interested to know how vital a puffy is for a thru. Everyone seems to rave about them so I picked one up (a cheap Uniqlo one) but the couple of times I have been out with it I've not been blown away by the practicality. Yes, they're super light for the warmth but I'm taking my fleece regardless (for reasons I don't want to get into a debate about) and I found the warmth pretty comparable between the two. Is there any point in taking 2 insulating layers when they do pretty much the same thing? I figure if I'm going to get caught out with the cold in camp, it's only going to be for the first and last couple of weeks anyway and I can just get in my bag. I have a warm smartwool top and a midweight fleece and I've found them to be pretty warm in most shoulder season weather.

Mags
10-18-2015, 17:55
A nice compromise for three-season backpacking conditions, esp out East, is a 100 wt fleece as the go to layer and a down vest to supplement it. More than a few people carry a down vest to roughly when Trail Days happens (mid-May) then pick it up again around Glencliff, NH.

MuddyWaters
10-18-2015, 18:50
ls baselayer, light 100 wt fleece, UL light wt puffy, and rainshell is a pretty good combination to cover you down to freezing in all conditions.

Below freezing I substitute heavier baselayer, and heavier puffy.

lightwt fleece is breatheable and comfortable to hike in in cool wind. I prefer it to windshirt. I only bring windshirt if I dont bring fleece.

Grinch
10-19-2015, 07:23
The ghost whisperer also packs down to about 4"x8", a perfect pillow! A leaky diaper ain't nuthin' but a thang. This jacket is easy to care for, washes and dries well,(tennis balls). It's bout the lightest choice out there and I know we want to shave ounces!

wormer
10-19-2015, 08:09
I saw a black Marmont down jacket 800 fill yesterday at TJ Maxx for $99.

colorado_rob
10-19-2015, 09:07
ls baselayer, light 100 wt fleece, UL light wt puffy, and rainshell is a pretty good combination to cover you down to freezing in all conditions.

Below freezing I substitute heavier baselayer, and heavier puffy.

lightwt fleece is breatheable and comfortable to hike in in cool wind. I prefer it to windshirt. I only bring windshirt if I dont bring fleece.Agree, all of this, exactly my upper body kit, except I always have a fleece (of varying weight) for a second layer.

shakey_snake
10-19-2015, 09:53
A nice compromise for three-season backpacking conditions, esp out East, is a 100 wt fleece as the go to layer and a down vest to supplement it.
Just wore this combo weekend in KY. Worked great.

I honestly probably would have been fine with just wind jacket instead of the fleece, as I carried my rain jacket for 30 miles and never once put it on.

Casey & Gina
10-19-2015, 12:24
The most important component of finding a down jacket is knowing the amount of ounces of actual down in the jacket, and the quality of the fill, i.e. 800 fill, 850 fill etc.

Also consider the number of sewn-through points, or if the jacket has baffles. We bought Patagonia down sweater jackets initially - I didn't really know anything and they seemed to get good reviews and were available at a local REI so we could try them out. They do have an excellent fit for our torso sizes! Later, I also bought a more minimal down jacket made by Borah Gear (a small 4-person company), and though it doesn't fit me as well and I have thus advertised it for sale (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/114782-Borah-Gear-Ultralight-Down-Jacket-size-Medium), I have observed some notable differences that are worth considering when shopping for a down jacket.

Borah Gear normally sells their jacket with 2.3oz of 850+ down, whereas Patagonia uses 3.0oz of 800 down. Before buying the jacket, I wrote and asked about comparable warmth, and they assured me that it would be about the same. I had doubts, so I got the jacket overfilled with 3.0oz of down. Once it was in my possession, I tried it on and in wearing it in a cold house for the same amount of time as the Patagonia, it seems markedly warmer, despite having the same amount of down, although I must disclaim that I have not compared them in significantly cold temperatures. I did notice some obvious differences:

1. There are more than twice as many sewn-through seams on the Patagonia. If you think about it, each of these seams is a line of zero insulation as there is no down between the inner and outer layers of the jacket. The insulating effect is provided only by the puffy areas between the seams. So the more seams, the colder the jacket will be.

2. The Patagonia, when being taken out of a compressed state, resumes it's "poofy" state very quickly without any sagging. Again I believe this is due to the increased number of switched-through seams, since the internal volume area for the down is significantly reduced - the closer two seams are together, the less wide that the down can expand. That also means less insulation. The Borah Gear jacket, on the other hand, did not poof up right away, and lofted up more as I wore it. The amount of loft allowed by the less-frequent seams was significantly greater. I am not sure that I would like the jacket as much with only 2.3oz of down, but with 3.0oz it definitely lofts to fill a wider dimension than the Patagonia, which is probably a big part of why it insulates better.

3. The Borah Gear jacket is very minimal - no pockets, a half-length zipper, and a single adjustment for the waist draw string at one side. The Patagonia features 2 external zippered pockets, an internal zippered pocket that doubles as a stuff sack for the Jacket, a full-length zipper, and two adjustments for the waist draw string which can be pulled tighter from inside the pockets. These features add a significant amount of weight (it is almost double the Borah Gear), but also impact the insulation properties. The zipper is a weak point in the insulation - and a full-length zipper means more heat loss than a half-length. On the other hand a full-length zipper makes the jacket easier to don and remove. The zippers on the pockets are probably also a source of heat loss, and if you have the pockets open, this is obviously worse. To be fair, I am speculating here more than in the former two points, but I believe that a simpler design may be of benefit when considering cold-weather gear.

The Patagonia certainly looks fancier on a reseller display. When I as an uneducated customer walked into REI to look at winter jackets, I liked the way the increased seam count looked over some competition, thinking "more is better". I also liked the pockets thinking that would be useful for keeping my hands warm, before thinking it through and realizing that I'd want to be doing something with my hands most of the time, and opt for some warm gloves and/or mitts instead. The internal pocket for stuffing the jacket inside of itself seemed amazingly convenient, before I thought things through and realized that I will throw all my down clothing into a single compression sack anyways. The ability to tighten up the waste by pulling strings through the pockets wasn't something I particularly cared for, but again this is a clear tactic to appeal to the masses rather than practicality.

Don't get me wrong, I think Patagonia makes a great quality product too, and it is the one I am keeping (for now) due to better fit. The finishing is also a little more polished as a large industrial process enables. 800 and 850 down are pretty darn close so that's probably not a significant comparison (somebody with more familiarity with down can probably offer a better input on this). I just feel that the design of a jacket with less seams really allows the same amount of down to provide more warmth. If you have one already use it and figure out for yourself what it's limits are! If you don't have one yet, consider which if any features you really need, and consider looking for a product with less stitched-through seams. It just seems like a no-brainer in hindsight.


I've had good luck with Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends down garments. The WM Flight jacket is nice to take the edge off, and the FF Icefall parka is my go-to winter survival layer when temps hit 10F or 0F or -10F.

The Feathered Friends jacket Tipi is wearing takes things to a whole new level, as it has actual baffles sewn in (pieces of fabric between the inner and outer fabrics rather than them being stitched directly together), the same as good cold-weather sleeping bags. Depending on how cold of weather you expect to be out in, such a design may be worth consideration!

If I were to make my own perfect jacket (for me), it would have only a half-length zipper, a single waist drawcord cinch, and no pockets. It would use 800 fill power or better down, and use fewer seams. If I wanted maximum insulation, I'd opt for baffles rather than sewn-through seams. It would also fit me snugly, not being too lose on my slender torso. Another possibility in my mind is using two lighter jackets instead of one heavier one, sized appropriately such that the inner one fit snugly, and the outer one fit over that one without being so tight as to compromise it's loft. That would be heavier due to the additional layers of fabric, but may be a more versatile setup if you need to be prepared for more diverse conditions.

As it is, we are sticking with the Patagonia jackets for now as they fit great, but are considering working with Borah Gear to make us some custom jackets with a tighter-fitting torso, or with Feathered Friends to make a simplified version of one of their jackets (the Volant looks like a good starting point).