Author Topic: How to choose a Down Jacket?  (Read 1527 times)

Steve922

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How to choose a Down Jacket?
« on: 01:31:05, 08/01/18 »
I rather fancy buying myself a Down Jacket for this nippy weather but when browsing the shops, there are so many!  I like to get good value, not necessarily cheap but really good value. Unfortunately, never every shop (and there are a lot in Derby and Nottingham!) seem to have half a million each, most of which are currently on offer!
   Help!   Some advice of how to choose one please?

Liz S

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #1 on: 08:29:13, 08/01/18 »
Go to the shop, try some on and buy the one that you like.

RogerA

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #2 on: 11:46:17, 08/01/18 »
Not wanting to disagree with the previous respondant, this is a question that has also occurred to me, I would also like something better than a fleece and think a down jacket would be just the job. I dont however know anything about them and would greatly welcome some advice beyond 'buy the one you like'.

I have looked at many in several shops and see they're a vast range of prices and weights and dont really know whether I should go for artificial or natural down. I dont know what the much more expensive ones give for the extra spend, what should I be looking for, what are the brands to avoid?

I bought a Craghoppers compresslite II which is ok (and if a mistake at least a cheap mistake at 20). It does however feel fairly lightweight and I suspect not going to hold up in the coldest weather, but perhaps what I've bought is something designed to give warmth and be lightweight and now I'm worring that its lightweight???
Wearing this on its own over a baselayer worked for me on a strenous 9 mile hike in the peak district on a dry, light wind, 1-2 degree day. Colder than that or with heavier wind or gentler walk (walking the dog/children) I'd want an extra layer (I've put a light fleece underneath on occassion).

Can anyone suggest something that might offer a bit more protection or some more general buying advice?


NeilC

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #3 on: 11:57:05, 08/01/18 »
It's a bit of broad question. Depends what you want out of it.


Mine for instance is a lightweight one, not waterproof, not massively warm but it's nice and light for carrying backpacking, fits under my waterproof without being tight and is warm enough to use at the end of a day's walking when I'm cooking near my tent out on the hills. It wouldn't be much good as my main form of insulation in winter weather, for that I'd need a thicker on and ideally something with more rain resistance.

As for artificial vs down. Only down is a down jacket. The others are merely insulated jackets. Nothing beats down for warmth to weigh ratio or compressibility so if those things are important you want down. But then down is a pain when it rains unless the shell fabric is waterproof - I see trendy school mums wearing their branded down jackets as a general outdoor jackets and they turn into a soggy mess when it rains. So if you're wearing it around town or as your outer jacket you probably want waterproofing.

Other than that it comes down to the amount of down (ultimately how warm it is), the quality of the down (higher quality fluffs up more so weighs less for the same insulation value), the type of face fabric (thin and light but weak or thick and tough etc) and general design features like zips, hood etc.
« Last Edit: 12:01:11, 08/01/18 by NeilC »

fernman

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #4 on: 12:56:44, 08/01/18 »
The shell of my down jacket is DWR treated and while I'm quite neurotic about getting it damp, I've had the odd wet spot or two on it but these have dried in minutes, with no apparent penetration or harm done. Some jackets are now made with the down treated as well as the shell, and that is what I suggest you look for, given our damp climate.

My jacket is a Haglofs LIM Essens, chosen largely for its light weight, which is 203g in XL size. I bought it specifically to add as an extra layer on top when I stop for lunch breaks and evenings / mornings while I'm wild camping in May and September. I will not wear it for walking because I don't want the down in the shoulders compressed by rucksack shoulder straps. When not in use you fold one of the sleeves halfway back and stuff the entire jacket inside it, so it ends up a long sausage shape, and I put this in a plastic bag and lay it on top of everything else in my sack, again so that it doesn't get compressed.

gunwharfman

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #5 on: 18:01:21, 08/01/18 »
I've bought two thin insulated jackets, I wear both when freezing cold but if I warm up I just take one off. I decided not to buy down, I became too worried about if I got them wet, so mine are both synthetic from Alpkit. They work well together, one blue one black.


Mel

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #7 on: 19:13:38, 08/01/18 »
...I bought a Craghoppers compresslite II which is ok (and if a mistake at least a cheap mistake at 20). It does however feel fairly lightweight and I suspect not going to hold up in the coldest weather, but perhaps what I've bought is something designed to give warmth and be lightweight and now I'm worring that its lightweight???

Wearing this on its own over a baselayer worked for me on a strenous 9 mile hike in the peak district on a dry, light wind, 1-2 degree day. Colder than that or with heavier wind or gentler walk (walking the dog/children) I'd want an extra layer (I've put a light fleece underneath on occassion).



Layering - That's exactly what you're supposed to do  O0


Don't get suckered into the concept that more expensive = warmer/better.  It's only a mistake if it doesn't keep you warm.


My only thoughts on "choosing a down jacket" would be to check that the down is ethically sourced (ie. not plucked from live birds).



No expense spared in pursuit of a bargain ;)
https://snailspacewalks.blogspot.co.uk/

Wurz

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #8 on: 19:44:17, 08/01/18 »
What do you want the jacket for?  And how warm do you want it?  Are probably the 2 main questions I'd be asking.  I have a down jacket which is very light and pretty warm which compresses to a very small size.  It's ideal for camping if you have to carry it.  I also have a synthetic belay jacket which is heavier, warmer and doesn't compress anywhere near as small.  Generally they are both too warm to walk in with a pack on.  The synthetic one is great for when you are stopped or stood around for a while and is better in the rain.  It also has a hood.  Synthetic is probably the more versatile of the two and definitely cheaper.  Down is more comfortable to wear for similar levels of insulation.

Steve922

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #9 on: 20:42:32, 08/01/18 »
Thanks guys, but I'm no wiser now.  A couple of direct questions :-
   What is this 'treated' down and does it make it waterproof? I'm now worried that a down jacket might absorb any perspiration and become less warm?
  How can I tell if the down has been plucked from live birds?
    I'm kind of thinking now that a synthetic jacket might be better but the same difficulties arise when trying to choose one of those!

Wurz

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #10 on: 21:19:45, 08/01/18 »
I can't comment on the efficacy of hydrophobic down.  If you are sweating then you need to be wearing something less warm anyway.


The live bird question is a matter of researching the different manufacturers.


Synthetic is much more straightforward.  Talk to some people in a shop about what the different fillings are and try the jackets on.  It becomes a matter of how many pockets, fit, etc.

NeilC

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #11 on: 21:39:01, 08/01/18 »
Hydrophobic down has a treatment on it that slows down the absorption of water. Nikwax do a wash-in treatment for down that wasn't factory treated that's pretty effective.


Even the best hydrophobic down is not waterproof. It's just better than untreated down. After a while it too gets wet. If you want the jacket to be your outer shell in UK weather then you need a fully waterproof one.

gunwharfman

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #12 on: 09:17:02, 09/01/18 »
I know a bloke who bought a North Face Thermoball, he thinks it's fantastic.

zero

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #13 on: 17:22:25, 09/01/18 »
Steve it really depends on what you want to spend and how much warmth you need. If you're worried about it getting too hot, buy a fleece or two (or a winter baselayer!) and then adapt what you're wearing - probably cheaper than a decent insulated jacket.


If it's just nipping between shops I'd just get something from Go Outdoors (Hi-Gear or something cheap) as this will likely be fine for you. As mentioned, I'd personally avoid any down jacket that doesn't say it's been ethically sourced. The manufacturer will say if it's been sourced ethically - I know that Mountain Equipment, Alpkit, Montane and Rab are all ethical in this way for example. I found the (synthetic) Compresslite 2 jacket from Craghoppers not too bad but not hugely warm. Decathlon do some reasonably priced jackets.


You'll pretty much get what you pay for. Basically the more 'fill' in the jacket the warmer it will be and generally the higher quality the fill, the warmer it will be. Some jackets may come with features you won't need on the high street but still be good - e.g. Montane Flux jacket (synthetic fill, 98 ultralightoutdoorgear). Pay a bit more and get the mentioned TNF Thermoball (108 Gaynors) or Montane Hi Luxe (108 Gaynors and with a hood). I've got the Hi-Luxe and it's great as a warm and 'around town' jacket as well as on the hills.

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: How to choose a Down Jacket?
« Reply #14 on: 18:03:42, 09/01/18 »
Its best to stick with the respected names, Berghaus, The North Face, Rab, Montane, and you can pick one up for realistic money.

Not that the cheaper names are poorer quality, usually that's  not the case, but i simply cannot fault the design and adjustment of the hood, on my Montane jacket.

Its the design and facilities offered on the more expensive jackets that single them out, from a simple fashion garment.

My Montane lightweight down only cost me 60, a saving of 120 on the identical jacket elsewhere.

2017 appeared to have a fashion trend , whereby virtually every manufacturer, brought out a lightweight padded down jacket.

Shop around, and your bound to find a keenly priced item, especially as most retailers still have their sales on.