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MYOG Baffled Down Vest
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/03/2009 21:02:17 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

MYOG Baffled Down Vest

darren stephens
(darren5576) - F

Locale: Down Under
Arm Holes on 03/04/2009 02:28:59 MST Print View

G'Day Brad
Top job.
When i made my minima vest i added lycra edge binding on my arm holes and it works well.
Just a thought

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/04/2009 03:20:31 MST Print View

Nice clear MYOG Instructions Brad.

Few comments I wanted to make.

Firstly the weight is a little on the high side, even the lighter 450g version, do you have any comments or thoughts now having completed it that you could use to reduce this?

Secondly how accurate did you find your measurement of the down for each baffle? Would weighing it be more more appropriate?

Cheers, and good work.


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/04/2009 10:08:53 MST Print View

Darren and Mark, thanks for the read and suggestions! If keeping it all natural fiber hadn't been key, lycra binding could be a great idea. Since completing the vest I've decided that my next iterations will simply fold the exposed edges under, then sew closed right on the edge. Western and FF seam (sorry) to do this.

The finished weight is high compared to what we're used to seeing. However, I have a plain jane Marmot down vest that weighs around a pound. Once you've gone to the lightest-option fabric, as in the 450g Momentum version, there's only two ways of cutting weight. First: Use less fabric--ie, lose the hood, the muff pocket, and the drop tail. Except those were in large part the point of making the vest for me. That said, if you just wanted a basic baffled down vest those changes would be easy (even simpler!). Second: Use less down. I designed this thinking of being completely stationary in 20*F or so weather. My personal experiences with different densities of down fill also mirror the findings of Richard Nisley (posts on this site), in that a greater density of down in a garment lends to a warmer garment. Cold spots in down bags and garments is kind of a pet peeve of mine. But if you didn't want that much warmth, just use less down!

Regarding the baffling, I think it was one of the best moves I made. Really warm. I found one cold spot in the vest this winter--the back of the neck. Although I baffled through that area, you might have noticed the baffling material separating panels and hood. There's no down in between those; I assumed loft would fill the space. Wrong! When a cold breeze blows, the back of my neck is the only cold spot now. I'm pretty well convinced all my future endeavors like this will also be baffled.

I've made a few odds and ends lately, such as a 2.65 ounce pair of down socks and a 1.45 ounce muff (to replace gloves). With the socks I did find it quite useful to mass the down going into each chamber. It's amazing how much down will compact to feel like nothing, even when you know there's plenty in there. I undoubtedly would have filled my down booties much more if I hadn't used a scale. (Which leads me to believe that using the scale probably would help minimize weight on future projects.) I will probably mass the down going into future projects; however, even down distribution and density are the ultimate guides to insulation effectiveness. It's commonly noted that chefs, for example, can pour salt into their hands within very close tolerances to the specified amount. I used the same sort of approach in this, and I think the end result works well. I could probably calculate the density of down in the vest but numbers make me shudder a bit. Given that the vest has about the same loft as my Summerlite but seemingly a much greater density of down, it would be really interesting to test the vest and see just how warm it is. I'll try to make myself sit down and calculate clo.


Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/04/2009 15:23:27 MST Print View

That bad boy looks warm!

The silk fabric looks fantastic, a silk shell down jacket just for more casual wear would make a pretty luxury piece of clothing.

Steve Parr
(srparr) - F

Locale: SE Michigan
Looks warm! on 03/04/2009 19:52:13 MST Print View

Nice job Brad!

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/04/2009 20:52:59 MST Print View

Thanks for the Reply Brad, and again good job..

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/04/2009 21:29:53 MST Print View

I had no idea silk was down proof. A silk down vest would be a luxury!

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/05/2009 09:45:46 MST Print View

Too much time and labor cost on top of the materials. Over $500 for a crude homemade looking vest??? I could find a better and lighter vest for less than the material costs of this project.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/05/2009 11:58:47 MST Print View

Ouch! What did I do to deserve that kind of flame?! I do see where you're coming from, Tom. I'll say that it didn't cost me $500, and that I had fun making it, and it was a fun project. I'll also say that this is a MYOG article--not "HAPMYG," or Have A Professional Make Your Gear. We all gotta learn to sew sometime!

You could indeed find vests better made than mine. And certainly lighter! But you couldn't find one like it anywhere. No one makes something remotely comparable in terms of materials or warmth. Nunatak's Skaha Plus Vest w/pocket is the closest. It's a beaut! You can pick up a stock one for $315. Of course, it has 8 ounces less down, etc., but then it's probably more appropriate for most 3-season backpacking use.

Realistically I think you'd be quite hard-pressed to find a vest remotely comparable in warmth for ~$150. Western's Flight vest isn't comparable, but is great for the vast majority of purposes, only 7 ounces (I think about half the weight is fill) and $175. But then, if you're looking to buy commercially you probably wouldn't be interested in making your own to start.

Cheers, all-

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/05/2009 12:34:14 MST Print View

The article is a nice intro into the benefits and pitfalls of MYOG, and should be of interest to all MYOGers even if the concept of the vest is not everyone's cuppa tea. I must say it's VERY adventurous, and it's also good to know that Habotai silk is not down-proof enough for general use. I seem to remember this was why Bill Fornshell ended up just using the silk as a shell around his cuben down quilt.

For those that aren't into MYOG, then people like Tom at Nunatak would almost certainly be happy to make you a sleeveless Skaha hoody with pockets and overfill. But it won't be silk ;)

Brad, did you also notice the vest shrunk in length after you filled it? I had this problem with my quilt. I wanted it X inches long, so cut the shell X inches long, only to find it shrink by a few inches after adding the down :(

Ronald Gaulden
(ch1cote) - F
Machine and Thread? on 03/05/2009 14:27:21 MST Print View

I enjoyed the article as well. I've made a down quilt by sabotaging a Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag for the down with Conduit SL shell fabric – oohhh my wallet hurt – but the bag was too short and I saved the shell – possibly mitts and other goodies to come out of that fabric.

I really like the material choice and your willingness to go for it! What kind of machine do you have and what kind of thread did you use?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/05/2009 14:42:07 MST Print View

> Too much time and labor cost on top of the materials. Over $500 for a crude homemade looking vest?

Another way of looking at it might be to point out the huge amount of fun Brad had. And he ended up with warm down vest as well. In this light, you would have to say the cost of his fun was maybe ($150 - $350 = -$200): in effect he made a profit of $200 out of his fun. That PoV is just as defensible.

Oh - and I don't think it is at all 'crude homemade looking' either.


Edited by rcaffin on 03/05/2009 14:42:49 MST.

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
I want one on 03/05/2009 17:45:38 MST Print View

A silk down vest? That's just badass.
I want a thin one when you come out with the UL version!
Nice job.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Re: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/06/2009 12:14:18 MST Print View

Hi, Lynn-
Now that you mention it, yeah, the vest did shrink in length, too. I mocked up the pattern so that it hung freely about an inch or two below the lowest part of my butt cheeks. When done, I have to rely on the hem drawcord being quite snug to almost cover my rear :(

Thanks for all the positive feedback, guys!

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
RE: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/07/2009 23:37:42 MST Print View

Nothing crude looking about it in my opinion. Great job. Very educational.

I have been toying with the idea of sewing some insulated pieces myself. I can definitely say that I was underestimating the task based upon your account.

First question - Did you insulate behind the muff pocket? I have a couple commercial jackets where the back of the pocket is just nylon. Might be some potential weight and volume savings there.

Second question (and please don't take this as any sort of criticism) - How do you deal with your arms being exposed? I mean, by comparison, 2 inches of loft is a lot, especially with a hood.

I do notice that my arms and head can take more cold than my body or hands. In fact, if I were to spec a custom down jacket, I would go with less loft in the hood and sleeves, and more in the body. You know - the Michelin Man version!

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 03/10/2009 01:33:04 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: RE: MYOG Baffled Down Vest on 03/14/2009 11:34:04 MDT Print View

Hi, Jason-
Definitely insulated behind the muff pocket. I could have done it with less in the body, but I wanted to maximize warmth for my hands (I usually only use thin wool gloves) and any drafts coming through the pocket. I could probably thin both layers a bit for the next version...

As long as my core is warm, the rest of me is happy. At rest my metabolism shuts down dramatically; slight movement really cranks it up. The vest allows me to get some good ventilation under my arms so I don't overheat when I start moving around camp, and also allows me an unimpeded range of movement. If I'm wearing this vest, I'm wearing the Icebreaker hoody (in pics) under it, and probably a patagonia wool 2 baselayer. If my arms do get cold, I've found that throwing on a hardshell over top is all the warmth my arms really need.

Ronald- Sorry it took a while... My machine is a Singer CG 590, and I used Guterman (gulp) 100% polyester thread. It was just too much to try finding color-matched silk thread!