I have recently taken a snowshoeing/backcountry skiing class, where the instructors both categorically stated that the maritime mountains in Washington and Oregon are NOT country for down outerwear, that we are too wet. Naturally, I have all down--sleeping bags, jacket and pants for insulation---and have used it in the summer and liked it. I carry my down in Cuben fiber dry bags from MLD, and have a pack cover when it's raining. We use an REI Quarterdome T2 Plus when we're backpacking. I'm a real weenie, and slap on rain gear at the drop of a hat, including my pack cover.
Now, one guest speaker disputed the No-Down policy, and said that if you use common sense, that down is perfectly usable in our climates. So far, we've gotten really lucky, and have not been out on a prolonged hike in completely pouring rain. I know that synthetic vs. down gets thrashed around a lot, and never the twain shall meet, but I wondered if the down enthusiasts could comment on how they keep their down dry, and wondered if I was using common sense enough or not. Haven't had the thrill of pitching the tent only to find ourselves in a puddle in the morning, but barring events like that, could anyone comment?
Also, does it depend on the season--down ok for summer use, but better get synthetic if we snowshoe a lot? My partner has put his foot down and refuses (so far) to camp in the snow, so we'd just be out for the day, and worrying about 10 essentials in the event that things go completely cock-eyed and can't get back.