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  1. #1
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    Default Down jacket - why?

    Hi guys!

    I am absolutely new here, planning a thru-hike starting aroung March 8th and am currently in the phase of putting my gear together.
    It seems that there is general consensus to bring a down jacket. From what I understand this is used for evenings/mornings in camp. But I am now a big fan of down, so I was wondering if some of you have an alternative for me (I don't count going in the sleeping bag early as an alternative ). I do understand that the evenings in march are gonna be cold, but is there any way around buying a down jacket? If not, I am not totally reluctant to take a down jacket... better than to be cold every night.
    Besides that, I am planning on bringing long underwear, a shirt, a fleece sweater and obviously a wind/rain jacket.

    Would be happy for your suggestions! Thanks in advance!
    Ich will, dass ihr mich versteht.

  2. #2

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    patagonia nano puff is synthetic rather than down

  3. #3

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    I'd suggest a jacket with a synthetic insulation = a Patagonia nanopuff is just one example. Forgive me if this comes off sounding like a smart a-s, but its hard to tell from your question if your issue is with down itself (ethics, etc.) or the idea of carrying a jacket of any type. People usually start and end with a jacket, sending it home for the mid portion or bouncing it ahead to where they'll be when they think they'll need it again.

  4. #4

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    Some synthetics are very nice, like the Patagonia thermal weight hoody top coupled with a good fleece jacket. Down clothing does not have to be carried if preferred.

    March 8 is winter for the most part and so my standard load always includes a few overkill down items to get me thru some long winter nights---and around camp. Down parka, down pants, down mittens. Nothing warmer or lighter. My WM Puma sleeping bag is rated to -15F and keeps me happy and alive for however long I'm out. Would I want to carry a -15F synthetic bag? Nope.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore View Post
    Forgive me if this comes off sounding like a smart a-s, but its hard to tell from your question if your issue is with down itself (ethics, etc.) or the idea of carrying a jacket of any type.
    Sorry - should have been clearer. I'd say it's a little bit of both
    If possible I would like to avoid an extra piece "just" for camp - on the other hand I do know how cold spring evenings and mornings can be, so I guess I have to bring something. And if I have to bring something, I would prefer synthetic over down, but this is not set in stone, if down has some huge advantages. So your answer works for both my questions/issues. Thanks
    Last edited by Farr Away; 09-26-2016 at 15:44.
    Ich will, dass ihr mich versteht.

  6. #6
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    Default

    REI Revel Cloud is basically a Nano Puff knockoff, but cheaper.

  7. #7

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    Go for plan B and use your sleeping bag in camp to stay warm . . . as you won't be hiking in your down items anyway, unless they are very thin. I take overkill down clothing because I want to stay out for the duration in all conditions without bailing to a town when Miss Nature decides to kick my butt. She can surprise you. She can go from 60F down to -30F if she wants and I best be prepared.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the input.
    Ich will, dass ihr mich versteht.

  9. #9

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    Because its warm and light.

    Fleece is warm, but really bulky and heavy in thick weights
    Synthetic.....dont last. Good for a hiking layer and little warmth, it cant touch down

    Wrapping up in bag is OK, but ever try to cook while doing that?
    Walk half mile radius ound trip to get water?
    Run to privy at night?

    Yeah, give it a shot. Let us know how it worked out.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 09-25-2016 at 16:29.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by erdenscheibe View Post
    Thanks for the input.
    Since you're from Austria you may be interested in Christine Thuermer, the German Tourist. She gets out more than anyone I know.

    http://christine-on-big-trip.blogspot.com/

    Had the good luck of running into her on the BMT one cold winter day---


  11. #11
    Garlic
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    Default

    Ethical considerations aside, I would definitely trade the fleece sweater for a lighter synthetic jacket and high quality down vest.

    I packed a down vest for my April start, used it only a couple of times, but I would never repeat that hike without it. I carried it mainly as a back-up to my down bag, in case that got compromised somehow. But I was surprised at the vehemence of the late spring storms in the Southern Appalachians--do not underestimate the possible conditions there. The extra down was very welcome at times. It may keep you from spending time and money in some expensive towns, waiting out a storm, as it did me.

    The down vest was worth its cost in lodging alone. Not to mention having Smoky Mountain Park all to myself in prime thru-hiking season, an experience I'll never forget.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  12. #12

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    I'm a big proponent of the Down Vest. It was part of my usual load for over 20 years and it's amazing how warm a vest is, whether in camp or while moving. Now I've traded in the vest idea with arms---a good down jacket vs a parka (which can get heavy and expensive.) But for sitting in camp at 0F nothing beats a good overkill parka and down pants.

  13. #13

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    I did both AT thruhikes with a fleece jacket, but it was a heavier fleece (300 weight). I started around 1 April and still had snow fall (in May) and ice and a few very cold nights. As others have said, you need something warm for cooking or fetching water or just hanging out talking to people. It also helps on the really cold nights when your 20 degree bag isn't quite warm enough. Or the days when you walk in all day rain and then can't get warm once you stop moving.

  14. #14
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    Default

    If your concern is carrying extra weight for in-camp insulation and you don't want to wrap yourself in your sleeping bag, sleep in your warm jacket. In other words, don't carry extra insulation. Carry a lighter, less warm bag and think of your insulating jacket whether down, synthetic puffy or heavy fleece as part of your sleep system that you can wear round camp easier than a sleeping bag.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Walker View Post
    I did both AT thruhikes with a fleece jacket, but it was a heavier fleece (300 weight). I started around 1 April and still had snow fall (in May) and ice and a few very cold nights. As others have said, you need something warm for cooking or fetching water or just hanging out talking to people. It also helps on the really cold nights when your 20 degree bag isn't quite warm enough. Or the days when you walk in all day rain and then can't get warm once you stop moving.
    Short of falling into a river and getting submerged, all my geese stay dry no matter what and for however long I am out. Your highlighted quote really touches on the fact of winter backpacking. "Can't get warm once you stop" is a given for long-term winter backpackers. Some thoughts:

    ** Setting up camp fast in wet clothes while shaking like a leaf is never fun. Hands are numb wooden blocks and can't unzip stuff or even unclip the hipbelt.
    ** All effort MUST be made to set up the shelter no matter what.
    ** Once shelter is up THEN I remove my wet clothing and get into dry. "Deep hypothermia" stays with a person for a long time, at least two hours, so the warm dry clothing is the beginning of getting thru it.
    ** Since all goose items are dry, I know no matter how bad it is I will survive the night.

    TWO RULES
    ** If it is raining and you're numb and it's 30F, stay in your wet clothing while setting up camp. (Should be wearing your rain jacket anyway as you were hiking to conserve heat). After tent is up then peel off the wet stuff and get into dry. If you try and put on your dry clothing before the tent is up you'll get it wet in the cold rain, duh.
    ** If it is cold and snowing at 0F, dump your pack in camp and put on warmth layers (down parka) over your body before setting up the tent.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    If your concern is carrying extra weight for in-camp insulation and you don't want to wrap yourself in your sleeping bag, sleep in your warm jacket. In other words, don't carry extra insulation. Carry a lighter, less warm bag and think of your insulating jacket whether down, synthetic puffy or heavy fleece as part of your sleep system that you can wear round camp easier than a sleeping bag.
    This sounds like a good idea except for anyone who has worn a fleece or down jacket inside a zipped up mummy bag. Some people might like the cocooning effect, the constriction. Not me. (Another reason why I dislike bag liners).

    I go the other route: Carry an overkill subzero bag and it can be used as a unzipped quilt/blanket 80% of the time and zipped into a mummy on -10F nights. Once "mummified" I am in minimal baselayers tops and bottoms so I sleep much better unencumbered.

  17. #17

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    Check out some trail journals where people were getting snowed on in May. You will likely decide to bring a jacket.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  18. #18
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    Default

    I carried my down jacket for the entire trail. If I wasn't wearing it I was using it as a pillow. Most folks that I was around had their puffy for the whole trail too. In April there were at least four times when I wore my down jacket (and everything else I had) at night in my sleeping bag. Yep..it was that cold.

  19. #19

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    I used an expedition weight polypro or capilene top and a goretex jacket. Combined with the same for the bottom, and an expedition weight balaclave, and I survived a miserably cold trip.
    Before down vests and jackets were made with waterproof material, polypro was the standard (and before that, wool.) They still work.

  20. #20

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    On a recent trip, my son brought a fairly thick down parka, which traveled in and outside pack pocket. He took it out for all but the shortest rests, and enjoyed the warmth greatly. I had a thick "furry" fleece, which I used in camp. Both worked out fine for fall in the Cascades.
    For winter, I always bring a down layer. If constriction bothers you, you can drape it over your bag for extra warmth.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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