Anytime you read something, particularly when it is a claim of some sort, you should ask yourself "who is this person who wrote this?" Who are they? What kinds of personal or professional biases do they have? What is their job or profession? What is their education? What kinds of political or cultural views do they have? Who is their boss that editorializes their writing? And what kinds of beliefs does the boss have? Could the reviewer get fired if they write an article that sides with slightly heavier, yet more reliable gear?
Do they have any sort of financial interest in the outcome of the statement or claim? Do they get paid to write reviews and articles that touts ultra-lightweight gear in a more positive light?
Or do they just strongly believe something in particular...such as some ultra-light backpackers seem to me to be willing to sacrifice some comfort and even safety if they can keep their pack weight super, ridiculously low.
I would make the claim that most or all of the "staff" who write these BackpackingLight reviews have very strong personal biases. If they werent into ultra-light (or super ultralight as many of them seem to be), I strongly doubt they would be on staff here, writing books and reviews of gear and clothing.
Think about it. If a writer here said, "when you cut thru all the marketing crap, wool is your best best for cold wet conditions. Followed by Primaloft and Polarguard and a few other synthetics." You think theyd remain on staff here at BPL very long?
Some just do not seem to have the ability to be TOTALLY objective and face hard, cold facts.
Goose down clothing in cold wet environments is just not intelligent. A goose down sleeping bag, if extreme care is taken to keep it dry, might be able to slide. (maybe) But goose down clothing? No.
For extreme cold dry environs, sure goose down is fine. But not for cold wet environments. Many of the staff here Ive noticed seem to be out West, where the humidity is usually much lower than on the east coast. Where the winters are cold, windy, snowy but its a dry cold.
Ive read some sardonic comments on here about the AT by Ryan Jordan himself...I detect a subtle tone here at this site among many of the staff that is anti-East coast backpacking. Which means gear and clothing for cold wet winters might not get the best and most objective reviews at BPL.
Id like to see some BPL staff writers who live and do all their backpacking east of the Mississippi. I bet reviews of goose down might be a bit different then.
When someone tells someone, "here, read this article about down versus synthetic insulation for cold wet weather" and the article ends up claiming "modern down is comparable to quality synthetics," I say that is simply not true.
Ive used goose down sleeping bags for winter and summer trips. I am not totally anti-goose down, particularly for sleeping bags.
Learn to think independently...just cause someone at some website writes an article that claims something that is highly against the norm and they appear to be an authority of some sort, doesnt necessarily mean jack squat. Their opinion means jack squat. Their research means jack squat.
Wool and certain synthetic fibers such as Primaloft, Polarguard HV and Delta, polypropylene and a few others will ALWAYS be superior to the highest quality goose down. Particularly when it comes to the necessary requirement to keep you warm in cold, wet climates, where you are sweating a lot to begin with from extreme exertion.
Some people worry about *BEEP* ants, when elephants are stomping them to death. In this case, we have people obsessed with a little extra weight but the core issue is staying WARM in a cold and WET environment. Not a cold and DRY environment, a cold and WET environment.
I hate to be redundant, but if you were going backpacking on Kodiak Island, AK, a classic extreme cold wet climate if there ever was one, what kind of cold weather clothing would you want? Personally Id want to totally avoid any goose down, no matter what kind of water repellant covering it has on it. Id go with wool, Primaloft, polypro, Polarguard HV/Delta...stuff like that.
On the other hand, if I was going cross country ski touring in the low humidity of the rockies or Sierra Nevada, modern versions of goose down are probably OK.