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dumb down question may cause downageddon
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David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
dumb down question may cause downageddon on 11/15/2011 22:49:49 MST Print View

OK, to start - My knowledge of "down" related clothing and gear is minimal. I have stayed away from it because of its problems with moisture. Has anyone thought of or experimented with a dual insulated garment - both down and synthetic ? this even possible? will life cease to exist when the down and ani-down meet.

Just thinking outside the baffles,


William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
Sweet on 11/15/2011 23:14:56 MST Print View

Very good question I was just thinking about this today. I think it may be a good balance I was thinking a layer of 2.5 ounce climashield as the outer layer and 6 ounces of down on the inside. Pros I can see is 1 any vapor that condenses would condense in the synthetic. 2 some moisture could get in and the synthetic may stop it. 3 you still have some insulation if it gets wet. 4 smuggle cheaper$

Dave Marcus
(Djrez4) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: dumb down question may cause downageddon on 11/15/2011 23:21:27 MST Print View

The downpocalypse begins!

Actually, I just came across a jacket that used a down/synthetic hybrid while researching euro brands, but I can't find it now. Berghaus makes a jacket that uses both down and Primaloft, but in separate baffles over different body parts. If I track down the former, I'll post up again.

Mark Fowler
(KramRelwof) - MLife

Locale: Namadgi
It seems a nice concept but... on 11/15/2011 23:44:47 MST Print View

The problem is that you pay a premium for the down but the synthetic filling will lose its loft much faster. You end up with a heavy item with poor performance.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
dumb down question may cause downageddon on 11/16/2011 02:26:14 MST Print View

Bergans have some jackets like that.
For example the Geilo :

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: dumb down question may cause downageddon on 11/16/2011 08:06:21 MST Print View

Michael Pappas
(Mpap89) - F

Locale: bay area
death of down? on 11/16/2011 08:41:43 MST Print View

what about this? thermoball from northface. sounds interesting.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
blown insulation on 11/16/2011 08:53:17 MST Print View

Thanks for the links,

I like the thermoball Idea. Now we just need a mini insulation blowing devise to insert it into our old tired jackets and coats that we all paid megabucks for.

My original thought was to slit open my jacket and pants and overstuff it with insulation, but what kind is the question. I just can’t see disposing of a good suit, when it has lost loft. ( I still have my 1980's wing collar dress suit also)



Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: blown insulation on 11/16/2011 09:58:26 MST Print View

I think you will find it a lot easier to restore the loft in the existing garment.


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
dumb down question may cause downageddon on 11/16/2011 10:08:05 MST Print View

Wait. All my down stuff has problems with moisture?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
restoring loft on 11/16/2011 10:35:59 MST Print View

Bob, how do you restore loft? I was told that garmnet insulation degrades over time? Is this true? Am I making this too hard?



Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
"All my down stuff has problems with moisture?" on 11/16/2011 13:05:05 MST Print View

Says the guy from New Mexico :P

Edited by PorcupinePhobia on 11/16/2011 13:06:24 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: dumb down question may cause downageddon on 11/16/2011 13:24:59 MST Print View

Mountain Equipment Co-op has hybrid sleeing bags such as this.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: restoring loft on 11/16/2011 23:05:48 MST Print View

"Bob, how do you restore loft? I was told that garmnet insulation degrades over time? Is this true? Am I making this too hard?"

Yes, you are making this too hard. First, when you purchase a new down item, keep it as perfect as you can. This means keeping it unstuffed and puffed up underneath a bed or in a closet. Second, when you go to use it, stuff it, carry it, use it, stuff it, etc. ... but keep it unstuffed as much as is practical. If it is a sleeping bag, sleep in it, and then it will be a bit humid in the morning. Lay it out on a sunny rock to get the humidity dried out as much as practical before you stuff it again.

Eventually, every down item may need laundering, and there are special down cleaners that work best. But the key is rinsing it about three times as much as you think it needs, because every bit of the cleaning chemicals have to be removed. If they are not removed, then they stay on the down fluffs and make them sticky.

Drying can be critical. If done wrong, then it can damage the item pretty badly. If done slowly and thoroughly, drying will get the job done. Still, often some down has clumped or migrated, and it can be unclumped and unmigrated by manual manipulation.

I use one sleeping bag that is 34 years old, and it still has plenty of loft, probably more than 95% of what it originally had. One sleeping bag is 25 years old, and it is still perfect. One down parka is ten years old, and it seems like it belongs in the store display.


James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Sweet on 11/17/2011 05:36:18 MST Print View

"Very good question I was just thinking about this today. I think it may be a good balance I was thinking a layer of 2.5 ounce climashield as the outer layer and 6 ounces of down on the inside. Pros I can see is 1 any vapor that condenses would condense in the synthetic. 2 some moisture could get in and the synthetic may stop it. 3 you still have some insulation if it gets wet. 4 smuggle cheaper$"
I really don't think you want good down attempting to support much of anything. Even large amounts of more down will cause some compression and loss of loft. For stiffer stuff, say 600fill and below, this *might* work. For 800fill and above, it probably won't. Loft, and the interlocking feathers is what what makes down a good insulator, many say the best depending on conditions. Measuring 1" of loft is fine, but it is not additive. Like air pressure, the more you put on top, the more the bottom is compressed. An example: If I measure out exactly 1" of 800 fill down and place it on top of another layer of exactly 1" of down, it will only measure 1.75" when I am done. The insulating effect might be around the same as 1.8" of down, because the interlocking is largly uneffected at this low weight. Synthetic over down will likely cause good down to compress even more, loosing a good proportion of it's loft. You will still be warm, but loose a lot of the loft from down that could make it warmer. I might suggest going the other way, down over the Primaloft to allow maximum lofting. The breathing of down is better, too.

Down is fairly immune to dampness, as long as it isn't outright, wet. It is really no worse, or better than synthetic. A plume will have it's natural curvature, often helped along by static electricity charges. The static *can* be dependent on the moisture. So, loss of loft due to moisture is true to some degree, but really, it is not that bad, and, lofting can change on a daily basis. It is also naturally hydrophobic. "Water off a ducks back" has real meaning. Each plume incorporates a lanolin like oil into it's structure. This is why strong soaps and detergents will destroy down, it washes these natural oils out of the structure, leaving the plume brittle and subject to breakage and "dusting," and, soaking up water. The shape of a plume is easily restored by a heat then drying. They use steam heat at the factories to "sterilize" down before use. I regularly steam fishing flies to restore them. Heat and moisture does not hurt down. *But*, on a bag or other synthetic shelled garmet, you can melt the plastics, use extreme caution. Between the static and the propensity of down to remain unclumped(due to the static), it is important that it be kept very clean and undamaged for maximum loft. Knowing the limits of your down stuff will put you in a much better position for dealing with it.

Compressing down does *not* destroy it if it is dry. A "static" test will often help me determine if I need to launder my bags. If I do not get a proper ammount of static after a low heat drying(usually done after every trip, before I store them,) it probably needs laundering. Shaking it out well in use, will also help me determine if they are dirty, though, relative humidity can also effect static.

The fact that down seems to be colder than synthetics when wet is mostly due to the ammount of fill they use. If you take 1/2" of wet down and 1/2" of wet synthetic material, I am betting that they are roughly equivalent in insulating power, perhaps down may be better. Never tried it, though. But dry, a 1/2" of wet down will loft to maybe 3", wet synthetic will loft to only 1". Soo, proportionally, you loose more insulating value. But, in 40F weather, carrying a 40F synthetic bag or a 10F down bag kind'a defeats the purpose of buying the down in the first place.

Down, at least everything I have purchased so far, has a long, long life time. I was reading a couple years ago where some nice feathers were found in an old grave over 4000 years old in Peru. Never store it wet or damp. I would also suggest hanging, or laying an item, as Bob says. It will easily last a single lifetime. Some of the shell material is another story. . . Anyway, looking at well maintained down gear, you find that it is generally far cheaper per year than synthetics. For my kids, I bought four sets of cheaper synthetic bags over the course of 12 years. Between bedwetting, growth, etc, it didn't make sense to buy down. At about 17 years of age we got them down bags. They still have and use them about 16 years later. Still in good shape and perfectly usable(though one was torn and repaired.) The initial price was about 5 times of a synthetic. But, they are still going for roughly the same cost per year. The cost per year will reduce as long as they maintain their down well. Which would you call cheaper?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
I'm down with that on 11/17/2011 13:53:11 MST Print View

Thanks for all of the information about down. It makes sence to me now - loft and choice of where you wear the garment in relation to your layering system.

Can old and tired synthetic jackets be refreshed or re-lofted also? This is what I was contemplating overstuffing. Since down is very dependent on loft, it seems that it would be counterproductive to add it to a synthetically filled garment. The heavy synthetic fibers would compress the down and make it a less effective insulator.

Yes, It may cause a downageddon.



Edited by dmgoody on 11/17/2011 13:55:57 MST.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: I'm down with that on 11/17/2011 15:09:19 MST Print View

Synthetics do go flat and there isn't much to do for that aspect of them. It has been noted though that loft is not an important factor in the warmth of synthetic materials. Flattened synthetics maintain a high percent of their warmth even when they lose significant loft. A thread from years ago mentioned around 90% warmth retained after 40% loft loss with a particular insulation. It's been ages, so I don't remember the exact numbers.

Concerning the TNF jacket, I am curious as to how much if at all their balls are better than down or current synthetics. The Popsci article says its warmth to weight ratio is 15% better than the 'best synthetic insulation' but still not as warm as down. That puts it at .94 clo/oz if CS Apex is 'the best' or 1.06 clo/oz if Primaloft One is 'the best'. Could be of interest if compressibility is improved. The added cost/weight of baffles makes it sounds like you will just end up with a more expensive synthetic jacket of the same weight until you reach expedition amounts of insulation. It will be interesting when out resident scientists get hold of some.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: I'm down with that on 11/17/2011 15:30:41 MST Print View

"Can old and tired synthetic jackets be refreshed or re-lofted also?"

A definite maybe.
1) Synthetic is normally sold in self supporting bats. It needs a lot more baffling to hold down in place. It may, or may not be amenable to down fill.
2) Unstitching and restitching old down garmets is not for the faint hearted. Wet the down before working with it. It is *much* easier to work with. Weigh it out as carfully as possible first, of course, calculating what each pocket needs...your choice on overstuffing, etc.
3) Check the fabric carfully. It needs to be down proof. A very tight knit is needed.
If it is down already, it is likely, OK. If not, be carfull with the fabric, it may not be.
4) On baffled bags, DO NOT break the seams between baffles, rather, break the seams between the zipper and a baffled pocket. Baffling is hard to repair once damaged or unseamed. But changing out EN-550 fill down with EN-800 down is certainly doable.
6) Make sure any fabric is not already streached and weakened. It will leak or may fail soon after all the work.

In many ways, it is easier to simply go for new fabric for cloths. It is *rare* for down to go bad unless it has been mislaundered.

Tyson Marshall
(sheepNgeese) - MLife

Locale: Ventura County (formerly PNW)
thinking on 11/17/2011 16:15:29 MST Print View

A little off subject, but I may have a dumber question:

Has anyone ever tried, or has anyone ever seen, wool being used as loft insulation? I don't even know if this would make sense in a clothing application, but I've been reading more and more about wool insulation being used as an alternative in housing applications...

Am I just a sheep? Bahhh....