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High Loft Synthetic Insulating (Belay) Jackets
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
High Loft Synthetic Insulating (Belay) Jackets on 02/22/2005 23:56:04 MST Print View

The purpose of this thread is to offer a forum for companion discussion to the 2005 review summary, gear guide, and individual reviews for (M) High Loft Synthetic Insulating (Belay-Style) Jackets.

Interesting points of discussion that came out during the review process included:

  • Polarguard vs. Primaloft?
  • Breathable Shell vs. Waterproof Shell?
  • Less or more quilting?
  • Sizing: oversize or keep it trim?

These and other issues are open for discussion.

Bottom line: has any of these companies truly "nailed" the winter jacket yet?

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Why avoid down? on 02/23/2005 08:30:38 MST Print View

"Although lightweight down jackets are excellent for warmth while dry and stationary in alpine environments, such as in three-season use in the western US, it is only when you get into extreme temperature environments like high altitude climbing and the frigid cold of the Arctic that down becomes the predominant choice for outdoor exercise. For four-season use, and when the weather can turn nasty, a high loft synthetic jacket is frequently your best choice."

Use down for 3-season, use down for arctic or high altitude climbing, but not for 4-season backpacking?

Edited by tlbj6142 on 02/23/2005 08:31:48 MST.

Patrick Baker
(WildMan) - F
What works for me ... on 02/23/2005 10:32:00 MST Print View

here in the SouthEast and other selected environs is the following:

Patagonia MicroPuff (XL)(12.2oz) and
Patagonia Down Sweater (XL) (11oz)

Together they weigh 23.2 oz and likely
compare favorably agaiinst the single belay jacket options reviewed here. Of course they also can be used as separates in the shoulder seasons.

Same idea with my down sleeping bags.
WM Highlite inside of a +2oz WM MegaLite.

Just putting out alternative ideas.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Combining down and synthetics on 02/23/2005 19:12:53 MST Print View

Layering down and synthetics, as described by Patrick, is sometimes a great option. You can create a combo that is warm at winterlike temps, but still offers some of the security of a synthetic system. That is exactly what I frequently do, especially in summer alpine conditions.

But this combo, while flexible, is missing some features that a good belay type jacket will offer. An insulated and integrated hood offers excellent storm, wind and cold weather protection for your most critical piece of gear, your noggin. Also, you will likely sacrafice some storm protection, which could be critical if you are exposed to a long storm at near freezing temperatures. So I think the right option really depends on your likely conditions, and a combo synthetic/down layering system can be a good choice.

Bryan Redd
(lucylab) - F
Down and synthetics on 02/23/2005 21:32:48 MST Print View

So, down on top of synthetics or vice versa?

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
re: down and synththetics on 02/24/2005 09:54:00 MST Print View

> So, down on top of synthetics or vice versa?

In ideal, dry conditions, you'll get the best loft with the down on the outside.

But, if you're in conditions where moisture accumulation is an issue, then synthetic on the outside will likely move the dewpoint into the synthetic layer instead of the down. You may even be able to dry and restore some loft to the down layer this way -- just be sure to pack the two layers separately, or the moisture will wick back into the down.

Douglas Durham
(djdurham) - MLife
Drying capacity issue on 02/27/2005 06:05:56 MST Print View

What an excellent article. I am interested in buying either the Patagonia DAS or the MEC Magma ($100 less than the DAS).

The claim is made that the Patagonia DAS allows damp clothes to dry, in part because its shell is highly breathable. How does the cheaper MEC Magma, with the less breathable shell but more protective shell do for drying?

Douglas Durham

Edited by djdurham on 02/27/2005 06:10:46 MST.

Jeroen Wesselman
(jeroenman) - F

Locale: Europe
Belay Jackets on 03/01/2005 07:12:47 MST Print View

My compliments on this excelent article. The most comprehensive test of Belay Jackets ever. I waited a long time for an article like this.
I'am from Europe and can tell you that the concept of a synthetic winter jacket still hasn't really landed here. None of the jackets from your test is available here. Most people are using down jackets as a belay style jacket.
I really like the Patagonia DAS Parka, it has everything you want and is still not too heavy. The most important things for me in a belay jacket are; warmth, protection from the elements (love the hood on the DAS), drying of your wet or damp clothing. It does all that. I almost never use it for anything active only in emergencies so I would not invest in an expensive and not so breathable shell. I also use it in my WM Ultralight as a sleep system for winter camping so I can carry a light sleeping bag instead of a winter version. For anything in winter being it climbing, backpacking etc. a belay jacket is my most important piece of gear and because it is synthetic it is idiot proof. There is no stress in keeping it dry as you would have with a down jacket (and if you rip your outer shell there is no loss of insulation).
Now I'am looking for the perfect synthetic pants, how about a article on those.

Roger Gorham
(rgorham) - F

Locale: White Mtns, NH
Quilting on 03/03/2005 11:34:47 MST Print View

I understand that Arc'Teryx laminates the Primaloft and others quilt it. Controlling for weight differences between the amounts of insulation, were there any differences in warmth due to quilting techniques? Did the Fission provide any advantage?

Gerard Michalski
(GerardM) - F
Golite Belay Parka on 04/26/2005 07:18:23 MDT Print View

$100 (half price)