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NimbleNavi
12-22-2016, 12:53
How long do you think is going to take humans to come up with synthetic insulation with better warmth-to-weight than down,and possibly competitive in price also?
So far we have stuff like Aerogel,put it is in a form not very suitable for clothing,and bags....

Tipi Walter
12-22-2016, 13:11
High quality goose down works well enough with no need for simulation or high tech solutions. Except of course for the slaughter of geese to get the down. I use goose down products on all my winter trips and so of course I'm responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of geese. Strange compromise for a lifelong vegetarian.

cmoulder
12-22-2016, 13:17
Forever

Ain't gonna happen.:o

Just Bill
12-22-2016, 13:37
How long do you think is going to take humans to come up with synthetic insulation with better warmth-to-weight than down,and possibly competitive in price also?
So far we have stuff like Aerogel,put it is in a form not very suitable for clothing,and bags....

Quantify "beat"...

Weight, pack size, cost, performance, temp rating, others?

In a relatively narrow window (summer gear, quilt) I'd make a decent argument I can "beat" down already.

NimbleNavi
12-22-2016, 13:37
Forever

Ain't gonna happen.:o

Why npt?Not that it is easy,but humans have beaten nature before.

Greenlight
12-22-2016, 14:41
I didn't realize it was a contest. The fabric holding the down in place in your quilt, or jacket, or bag, is more than likely synthetic. The hydrophobic treatment that the feathers received was a combo of natural and synthetic compounds. Nature has already perfected the feather. I see no reason to fight that. I'd rather just use it.

However, to entertain your thought, might I point you to the principles of permaculture. David Holmgren is doing more with it outside of it's original framework. "Designing from patterns to details" has already given us super-grippy synthetic fabrics based on the skin surface patterns of gecko toes. So, now they're good for more than selling insurance.

Some scientist somewhere will probably someday design synthetic feathers that outfeather real feathers.


Why npt?Not that it is easy,but humans have beaten nature before.

saltysack
12-22-2016, 15:53
Why npt?Not that it is easy,but humans have beaten nature before.

That is exactly the exact problem with society. Learn to live with nature not against it! If it ain't broke don't fix it. Nothing wrong with down it's an organic natural product.


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NimbleNavi
12-22-2016, 16:00
I have nothing against down!I LOVE it!
I was just asking,if you think synthetic will overcome it into the (near or far) future.In all practical aspects(weight,compressability,durability,etc...)

AfterParty
12-22-2016, 16:09
This will be like science creating a new element or something it may happen synthetics have came along ways.

Ktaadn
12-22-2016, 16:24
High quality goose down works well enough with no need for simulation or high tech solutions. Except of course for the slaughter of geese to get the down. I use goose down products on all my winter trips and so of course I'm responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of geese. Strange compromise for a lifelong vegetarian.
Isn't the down the byproduct of the food industry? Similar to leather?

Ktaadn
12-22-2016, 16:29
I would assume that some sort of nanotube like structure will be better than down in the future.

Wool is still pretty hard to beat as well. It is a favorite material for socks for most people as well as other garments.

Just Bill
12-22-2016, 16:44
I have nothing against down!I LOVE it!
I was just asking,if you think synthetic will overcome it into the (near or far) future.In all practical aspects(weight,compressability,durability,etc...)

Yar, this took some odd turns thus far. :rolleyes:

Pound for pound... nope not yet.
Primaloft Gold is the closest one I know of (commercially available/field tested and not just a lab fantasy in development).
The most direct comparison would be in a product like "Thermoball" which is made by Primaloft for The North Face and is a loose fill version of Primaloft Gold
It is roughly equal to 600 fill power down and works the same way.

So to an extent...
If you want the current "state of the race" the very best synthetic material is at 600 Fill power... which does beat some down blends and has better water resistance than even treated down does.
However with treated downs and better sorting/popularity we are seeing 1000 Fill power downs now so by that metric synthetic is not even close.

Where synthetic can outperform down is when the finished goods are looked at.
When Synthetic is in batt form (like PLG or Climbashield APEX) in continuous or short staple fills it is a more or less stable piece of material.
Down (or puffball) is a loose fill; so it requires a certain shell construction to contain it. Synthetic would also need a shell material so the actual outer layer, zippers, pockets, parts pieces etc on two exact same items (like a 50* sleeping quilt) would all be equal.

What is not equal is the baffles and additional material required to stabilize the loose fill within the shell. This material has a weight which does add up.

So if I sew two identical quilts at 45* or so quilts; one in PLG synthetic and one in down (let's say 850 fill). The reason I say 45* is that it is about the break point- down is better
Let's say you don't care about all the details... and they are all finished and side by side.
The synthetic will be cheaper.
The pack size will be similar if not equal.
The weight will be similar if not equal.

Durability is debatable- though should be similar for the first 3-5 years and then down will have an edge over the life of the bag. I don't think anyone has owned one of these types of synthetic insulation long enough to really say. Apex breaks down relatively quick (1-3 years for some initial performance losses) but PLG may last longer based upon use in clothing/garments that seem to hold up well. Well Cared for Down can in theory last "forever" but that claim is debatable too. If you use your bag 10 days a year for 15 years... you haven't even put an average thru hike on it... so I do think that some of the longevity claims from "average" users could be looked at a bit skeptically.
So overall... you're probably still looking at good performance from both in the 150-250 night range, which is pretty decent.

On the flipside, a poorly cared for down bag will not even last a season. If you get any mold or mildew going it can be difficult if not impossible to correct.

Synthetics only big edge is ease of use and lack of care. So long as you don't over compress them... they can get damp and stay damp and/or take more abuse overall.
So when you are talking warm temps, frequent use, humid conditions, and a bit of "not babying" overall I think a synthetic has the edge for summertime in lower elevation trips.

Past about 35* (unless you're allergic to down) it's hard to even debate the topic unless cost is the only factor. Synthetic can easily be half the cost at about 20ish degrees... but it could be double the weight and size too.
PLG in about 25* is about as close as you get and that's about 25% (heavier, cheaper, bulkier) off an 850 fill down.

Dogwood
12-22-2016, 17:22
JB saves a lot of others tippy tapping away.:p

Down already can be beat depending on how one defines "beat."

Gambit McCrae
12-22-2016, 18:14
Syl is to Down, as Cuben is to.....?

OR if we cant beat It then..

Syl is to synthetic, as Cuben is to Down :)

cmoulder
12-22-2016, 18:56
JB saves a lot of others tippy tapping away.:p

Down already can be beat depending on how one defines "beat."

This is why I don't waste too much time tippy-tapping on this topic. ;)

I'm not "down" on synthetics, not at all. I have an EE Prodigy (40F rated, 17.7 oz) made with Climashield Apex, and I've used it down to to that temp and then some.

There are Wet-n-Cool conditions where synthetics shine; I've used the Prodigy a few times in situations where down would've been a trip-ending disaster. There's something to be said for a quilt than can be wrung out and still offer fairly good warmth.

Dogwood
12-22-2016, 19:14
Folks do like to see things back or white, on or off as if everything is a duality. What a way to limit our minds and options? We can get so caught up narrowly perceiving the world as this pertains to everything...true or false, it's a us verse them, synthetic verse natural fiber, or synthetic verse down mindsets with resulting choosing of sides...polarization. How about this?

http://www.primaloft.com/insulation

http://www.patagonia.com/product/mens-merino-lightweight-t-shirt/36352.html

rafe
12-22-2016, 19:38
Why npt?Not that it is easy,but humans have beaten nature before.

Yes and no. I think, at our best, we mimic nature and occasionally exceed it in certain ways.

I have five down bags, the oldest is from 1973. All are still usable. All have had 10-20 years of active service.

Knock wood, I've never had to sleep in a wet down bag. Really not that hard to keep it dry, especially on the trail when it's highly compressed.

colorado_rob
12-22-2016, 20:05
I'm guessing yes, we will, because we're close already. But mine is only a guess.

There are plenty of precedents for natural materials still holding out over many decades or even centuries; wood, for example. It will come down (!) to economics... is our little world of down users big enough to prompt a material manufacturer to spend the $$$ to develop this product? And how much better can it really be? A really high quality down sleeping bag is maybe half/half down vs. shell materials, weight wise. Shell material weights have dropped a ton over the last couple decades, how much weight can be possibly dropped with a man made down substitute? Another ounce or two out of a 1.5-2 pound bag seems the most we could hope for. And how to possibly beat the performance, meaning insulating value per inch? This is pretty much physically impossible. Maybe a material that's even more water resistant than treated down. We'll see.

Hikes in Rain
12-22-2016, 21:45
Isn't the down the byproduct of the food industry? Similar to leather?

I think it might be the other way around. I have several down articles, but have never eaten goose. Not sure I've even seen it in the store. Admittedly, haven't really looked, though.

AfterParty
12-22-2016, 22:26
They eat a lot of birds in other parts of the world

colorado_rob
12-22-2016, 22:39
I was curious too... it's the liver that in the highest demand, $200/pound. But the rest of the bird is sold as meat as well. I assume it tastes like chicken....

MuddyWaters
12-22-2016, 23:01
I think it might be the other way around. I have several down articles, but have never eaten goose. Not sure I've even seen it in the store. Admittedly, haven't really looked, though.

Geese are nasty, at least wild are. Way worse than ducks. Gamey purple meat. Farm raised might be different, the farm raised duck is way better than wild.

Theres a reason they dont sell goose in stores Id bet.

Dogwood
12-23-2016, 01:12
Geese are nasty, at least wild are. Way worse than ducks. Gamey purple meat. Farm raised might be different, the farm raised duck is way better than wild.

Theres a reason they dont sell goose in stores Id bet.

Farm raised geese and duck are often fed an unnatural diet and lead an unnatural life making it typically higher in fat and tasting different than wild counterparts. It's the same with organic free range chicken verse caged or house grown chicken fed natural diets and leading a typical industrialized farming life. The free range wild chicken in Hi for example taste different than store bought industrialized farming raised. I once debated this with some pro organic meat eating folks until I compared the taste between unnaturally raised chicken bred to produce unnaturally sized breasts and quicker growth rates and organic chicken.

Different processing approaches/techniques also change the flavor of meat. For example , Kosher processed meats have the blood drained out of the animal where most grocery store non Kosher meat is processed to include the blood. Meat is sold by wt therefore non Kosher approved butchers/butchered meat want the blood in the meat as it adds to the wt that add therefore the potential profit.

When I used to be a omnivore I cherished wild game particularly wild mallard, which is the species most farm raised ducks come from, and wild Canada goose meat where the geese migrated and fed on their natural diets. Wild Canada Goose breast are huge and lean.

http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2012/10/23/5-myths-about-game-meat/

MuddyWaters
12-23-2016, 01:30
It greatly depends on what wild ducks eat.
Mallards living in fresh water eating farmed corn or rice (neither natural food sources btw), are far more palatable than ducks rafting on salt water and eating shrimp and minnows, and filling their gizard with rotten smelling marsh sand. The saltwater ducks stink when you cut them open, and taste like it too.

AfterParty
12-23-2016, 01:32
I know people who make goose summer sausage and jerky great stuff I should text him to save me some feathers. I always want to try hunt ducks and geese

Dogwood
12-23-2016, 02:04
It greatly depends on what wild ducks eat.
Mallards living in fresh water eating farmed corn or rice (neither natural food sources btw), are far more palatable than ducks rafting on salt water and eating shrimp and minnows, and filling their gizard with rotten smelling marsh sand. The saltwater ducks stink when you cut them open, and taste like it too.

Sea, brackish backwaters, and diving birds and birds that are consuming fish can be tastier if all the skin and as much fat as possible is removed. Interesting most are familiar with the pale yellow chicken, duck and goose skin but when sea waterfowl have been feeding on shrimp, fish, crustaceans, etc their skin can be orange from this food. Shocked when I first saw a deep orange skinned sea duck being processed. I think it's the same with flamingos and salmon. Flamingos are pink because of the food they eat...shrimp, diatoms, algae, crustaceans etc. Change their diet or not get the diet they want and they can be almost white which is why the "ink" flocks that stay in the infield at the horse racing venue Hialeah Park in FL are fed carotenoids...the same stuff in carrots that make them orange, peppers red, and papayas orange and why humans too can take on a orange "tanned" appearance if we eat much orange and yellow carotenoid containing foods. They feed carotenoids to flamingos in zoos to make then pink.

Hikes in Rain
12-23-2016, 07:37
They eat a lot of birds in other parts of the world

Good point, that's true. "Call me zero, for I am the center of my universe". :)

Engine
12-23-2016, 08:05
I think eventually improved technology will allow for a synthetic microfiber which will offer a better warmth to weight ratio than down. When will this be? Who knows, it could be next year or after we are all long dead. For now, the incentive to actively attempt to develop such a fiber for this purpose isn't really there. In this day and age, R&D costs can be very high and this cost is always passed along to the consumer. When I can purchase a killer WM bag for under $500, why would I spend twice that (total S.W.A.G.) to save a few ounces and gain water resistance, especially when I keep my down dry now?

If the "super fiber" is discovered by accident, as is often the case, it might enter the marketplace at a better price point.

So for now and the currently foreseeable future, down is the way to go, since relative to inflation I think quality down products have become very affordable over the last 20 years. Lastly, and I know this is stupid, but I gotta be me...I spent so many years using crappy synthetic bags and drooling over the good down gear, that when I could finally afford my first WM bag, I was infatuated. There's just something about pulling that one piece of gear out of the stuff sack...

NimbleNavi
12-23-2016, 10:09
Also,for those that have info on the goose industry,do you foresee down prices are going to rise in the next years?
They say goose and duck meat consumption is decreasing while demand for their down is increasing.

Just Bill
12-23-2016, 11:13
I think eventually improved technology will allow for a synthetic microfiber which will offer a better warmth to weight ratio than down. When will this be? Who knows, it could be next year or after we are all long dead. For now, the incentive to actively attempt to develop such a fiber for this purpose isn't really there. In this day and age, R&D costs can be very high and this cost is always passed along to the consumer. When I can purchase a killer WM bag for under $500, why would I spend twice that (total S.W.A.G.) to save a few ounces and gain water resistance, especially when I keep my down dry now?

If the "super fiber" is discovered by accident, as is often the case, it might enter the marketplace at a better price point.

So for now and the currently foreseeable future, down is the way to go, since relative to inflation I think quality down products have become very affordable over the last 20 years. Lastly, and I know this is stupid, but I gotta be me...I spent so many years using crappy synthetic bags and drooling over the good down gear, that when I could finally afford my first WM bag, I was infatuated. There's just something about pulling that one piece of gear out of the stuff sack...

To an extent you have identified the "problem" if you want to even call it that.

Market perception is that down, especially goose down, is THE premium product. If you believe in the "buy once, cry once" philosophy then you will drop your money on down.

Synthetics are a man-made alternative and perceived as the "budget" choice. So there is no real incentive to develop cutting edge synthetics when the market wouldn't pay for them.

That doesn't stop marketing from touting the benefits of their respective product... but money is typically the incentive that dictates development.

However... in premium clothing there are good reasons to pay good money for "all weather/all condition" insulation.
That's been the traditional application and drive to develop Primaloft Gold in dollars and cents terms as things like drape, bulk, fit, sweat resistance, ease of laundering, etc are all marketable factors that customers will pay a premium for.

So to tie it back... one could make a decent argument that in certain technical clothing pieces that synthetic has passed down already.
While not available to anyone else at this time... Patagonia's Nano-Air and Primaloft's proprietary insulation for that line may be the generation of product that makes that next leap.

Just Bill
12-23-2016, 11:15
Also,for those that have info on the goose industry,do you foresee down prices are going to rise in the next years?
They say goose and duck meat consumption is decreasing while demand for their down is increasing.

My understanding- the recent spike in prices was due to the Asian Bird Flu.

But as you saw above- western cultures look down on goose meat while in many other cultures it is a perfectly acceptable protein.
It's possible that as China and India attempt to aspire to more western lives there may be a change but that's beyond anyone to really say.

FrogLevel
12-23-2016, 21:14
That is exactly the exact problem with society. Learn to live with nature not against it! If it ain't broke don't fix it. Nothing wrong with down it's an organic natural product.


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Do you hike barefoot? ;)

Feral Bill
12-23-2016, 21:56
Geese are tasty.

rocketsocks
12-23-2016, 22:05
Shyte birds! :D

saltysack
12-23-2016, 22:28
Damn remembered wrong.....it's a duck!!!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=izsVhm_vs2I


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saltysack
12-23-2016, 22:30
Do you hike barefoot? ;)

As nasty as my feet are my wife would swear I did!


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Rmcpeak
12-28-2016, 22:01
Quantify "beat"...

Weight, pack size, cost, performance, temp rating, others?

In a relatively narrow window (summer gear, quilt) I'd make a decent argument I can "beat" down already.

I'm in search of of a summer blanket -- can I do better than a 50 deg EE climashield (Prodigy)? Suggestions?

Five Tango
12-29-2016, 10:21
Personally speaking,I would never hunt or eat a goose because they mate for life.Yeah,I'm a hopeless romantic!:D
(and I have always heard it's tuff and stringy anyway)

swisscross
12-29-2016, 12:24
I have never hunted a mammal.
But I do love to watch the feathers fly.
Goose, duck, quail, pheasants, etc. dove are fine meats as long as you don't over cook them.
Grilled to medium is my preferred method and doneness.

As for down, I too think a valid alternative will be discovered relatively soon.
Most likely by accident as mentioned in a previous comment.

Rex Clifton
01-05-2017, 20:41
This conversation has been ongoing since I started backpacking in the 1970's. The simple answer is, never!

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George
01-05-2017, 20:59
If there was the profit potential of say iPhone/ iPad etc - performance wise - it could have happened 10 yrs ago

the market is small, so there is little economy of scale / return on R+D

4eyedbuzzard
01-05-2017, 22:15
My bet would be on carbon nanotubes POSSIBLY, with the big caveat being that it would have to be economically viable, which at this point it isn't. ANd that is likely many years out. We are pushing the envelope on weight already (1 oz/yd nylon, 0.5 oz/yd cuben fiber, 900+ fill power down, etc), and the costs go up exponentially to remove the next fraction of an ounce per yard of cloth or per cubic inch of fill power while maintaining R values, etc.

Hiking gear has become a pretty mature technology. It was easy to cut weight when you could get rid of 4 oz/yd pack cloth and replace it with 1 oz ripstop, trade steel pots for Aluminum or Titanium, etc. Nowadays, fabrics are thinned to the extreme, as are pot walls, water bottle weights, etc. Materials and product engineering has reached a point where there isn't a lot left that can be cut as there once was. A 3 lb sleeping bag from 1975 is now a 1 lb bag. To get the same % reduction is not technically possible. We are down to trimming grams and looking at entire systems, not ounces or pounds on sigle components. Hence, gram weenies.

Alligator
01-06-2017, 00:15
You sure you want a beat down?

Another Kevin
01-06-2017, 11:04
You sure you want a beat down?

Depends on who the drummer is. I know some who have that beat down.