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Looking for a good down jacket for temps in the low teens
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Josh Lee
Looking for a good down jacket for temps in the low teens on 10/01/2012 20:24:01 MDT Print View

I will be going on a winter hiking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park this January and will want something a bit warmer than a light weight puff and I am looking for recommendations. Average lows in the area will be in the low teens most likely, and being from Georgia, I haven't spent a lot of time outdoors in temperatures this low so am unfamiliar with exactly how much insulation I will need.

There are some good threads on here from a couple years ago that I have read already and while they are helpful they may not take into consideration some of the newer stuff that has come out more recently. From what I have gathered, I probably want something in the 6 to 12 ounce fill weight range. I tend to be pretty hot-natured and am looking for something to wear in camp at night, I will be wearing REI's midweight polartech long underwear as a base layer, some Montbell u.l. down pants and some rain/wind pants for my lower extremities. I would prefer a jacket that doesn't need an outer shell as my Marmot Nano is not likely going to fit over a big michelin man style down jacket.

Montbell's Frost Line (6.7 oz 800 down fill weight) is currently at the top of my list but unfortunately there are no retailers around me who sell Montbell and I am reluctant to purchase such an expensive jacket without first trying it on and seeing how it fits. I would also like to stay under 300 dollars if that is possible. Other jackets I had been considering are Sierra Designs Dridown TOV (5.8 oz 650 down fill weight), Marmot Ama Dablam (unknown fill weight), and Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator (unknown fill weight). Any advice would be appreciated.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Looking for a good down jacket for temps in the low teens on 10/01/2012 21:13:55 MDT Print View

Your first intuition, will probably work for you. MB makes great jackets. For sizing their charts are accurately if you're in between sizes or want a little wiggle room around your chest, size up.

Look at the rab infinity jackets in this fill weight range too, but I can't attest to their fit.

At ~7oz of high fp down you'll probably be warm enough down to the single digits with some minor camp chores. You can actually probably get by with just 5-6 oz of down though, especially if you run hot. At this weight range you get a lot more parkas/hooded jackets (make sure you're getting a hood, just to be explicit) available for less than $300. The brooks range alpini anorak can be found on a few sites now under $200 and the GoLite Bitterroot is only $240 for 5.3oz of 850fp (bitterroot is basically a MB Mirage, but $100 cheaper).

The SD is only 650 fp and you'll definitely notice the warmth difference between 650 and 750+ down. I really wouldn't bother with any of the big companies that don't quote fill weight. They're selling perCEPTION not perFORMANCE in my opinion.

Now if you want to get really creative and have a more versatile kit for your Georgia use, I have some a suggestion. Currently you can snag a Stoic Hadron from for 50% off. I know this breaks my rule about unquoted fill weight, but it's widely accepted as being around the same warmth as the MB Down Inner. This will set you back $90, leaving $210 in your budget. That happens to be the exact same price as the Montbell Alpine Light...widely touted as the gold standard for cold but not arctic temperatures. So for $300 you got two pieces of insulation weight in at around 23oz with likely 6oz or more of down (the vest version supposedly has 1.7oz of down). You could also swap the MB Alpine for the GoLite Bitterroot for a bit over budget but some more warmth in a lighter package....

As for weather protection, if you're in the low teens you'll likely not see rain so most any jacket with down proof nylon shell and DWR will shed the Rockies dry snow easily. Shouldn't be too worried about that. Of course if you are worried you could replace the inner in the two piece system above (Hadron) with a synthetic piece for greater weight but better moisture protection.

Josh Lee
Thanks for the reply Dustin on 10/02/2012 11:17:44 MDT Print View

I was considering going the 2 lighter down jacket route, but I was slightly concerned about how bulky/constricting wearing 2 down jackets would be. I am already looking at buying one of the new Sierra Designs Gnar Lites with the hydrophobic down for warmer use (3 oz 800 fill) and combining that with an Alpine Light Down Parka which would give me over 7 oz of fill which should be plenty warm. Have you tried layering multiple down jackets together and had it work out okay?

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Eddie Bauer on 10/02/2012 12:03:17 MDT Print View

Eddie Bauer's "Classic Down Jacket" sells for $99.95.

It is only 550 weight down fill but there is an advantage to that in that it will not compres as much under a pack and other clothing ans lose as much loft as a high fill weight down jacket.

That said I'd advise you to spend a bit of extra money and try to get a "Dri-Down" jacket with treated down which will resist moisture very well. I think Sierra Designs sells one but it may not be warm enough for your needs.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
LL Bean Dridown on 10/02/2012 14:45:54 MDT Print View

LL Bean Ultralight Down Jacket now has 850 FP dritek down, that could make it a good option, much nicer than the 650 FP in the Sierra Designs, but LL Bean's fabric is not very light.

Then add something thicker and hooded over the top.

If your inner layer is sized snug and has supple fabric this will work (maybe get the tall in a smaller size than normal in the LL Bean) if your outer is roomy(maybe size up).

Edit: corrected EB to LL Bean

Edited by Tjaard on 10/02/2012 20:40:28 MDT.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
temps in Jan. on 10/02/2012 15:04:54 MDT Print View

Very cool that you will be winter camping here in the Rockies! I just wanted to point out that I'm preparing for some winter camping in the Rockies too this season. I winter camped at around 11,000 feet last year and it was 7 degrees that night. I just wanted to prepare you for some lower temps....I wore lots of layers. I like the idea of getting two down layers!

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Eddie Bauer Dridown on 10/02/2012 15:14:48 MDT Print View

Hi Tjaard,

I didn't see that jacket on the Eddie Bauer website, would you have a link.



Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
multiple jackets (and or a vest) on 10/02/2012 20:32:06 MDT Print View

I find it very effective using two down jackets (a very light one and a "medium" one) in very cold conditions, obviously the garments need to be sized appropriately. A vest can be substituted in the right conditions as well.

I believe Will wrote an article (or two?) about this technique, he is also a fan.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Old school on 10/02/2012 20:38:00 MDT Print View

I was just reading 'Paradise Below Zero' by Calvin Rutstrum from ~ 1955, and in it he already recommends lightweight down 'underwear'.

RE Eddie bauer: My bad, it's LL Bean, I always mix those two up:

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Old school on 10/02/2012 21:01:55 MDT Print View

Cheers Tjaard, shame they don't mention a weight.

Babak Sakaki
(persianpunisher) - F
Patagonia Fitz Roy on 01/05/2013 00:07:49 MST Print View

I have one, use it for temps in the rockies down to the negatives with a long sleeve and light fleece layer. Awesome hood.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Some options with baffles. on 01/05/2013 11:02:27 MST Print View

In my experience you really want a big coat with a construction that eliminates cold spots (ie baffles). Two small coats with seems that don't line up might have similar effect but as someone who runs hot when moving but cools down quickly when stopped I prefer one coat I can quickly take on and off to reduce the fiddle factor at transitions. I do often also carry a thin synthetic coat/vest for occasional active use in the extremely cold and windy parts of the day (like on an exposed ridge or a long ski down).

My wife and I just went through shoping for down coats as we gearing up to camp and ski tour in the Rockies instead of the cascades and ended up with the eddie bauer peak xv's during one of the pre xmas 40% off sales. EB customer service says fill is 13.6 oz of 850+ for the men's (L is what i asked about) and 10.07 for the women's (asked about M). The women's are still on sale for $199 and is probably the best deal available if you can live with a slightly feminine cut in purple or slate grey. The cut is less feminine in real life then it looks in pictures, just a slight gathering at the waste and flare at the hip that would be fine if you have an athletic build and use the hip drawstring. My wife's women's coat also has more of an ultralight construction (less inside pockets etc and thinner shell fabric) then my men's version as an added bonus though i am not sure how the weight compares in comprable sizes.

Since x-mas we have had ours out on a few ski tours in conditions <10F hanging out on windy summits etc and they are much warmer then our old das parkas.

I also have an old montbell alpine down parks (similar bafffled construction and fill weight to the frost ine but no hood) and it just isn't in the same ball park. Mine has been much abused for years but i recently washed it for the first time restoring most of the loft and while it is a really warm coat in side by side testing on a 10-20F porch it gets more cold spots then the peak xv especially in the shoulders and isn't quite the same level of warmth.

The peak xv is not the lightest option but I am hoping they prove durable for frequent ski touring use.

I was also seriously tempted by the 9oz fill, 16 oz total, 800+ water resistant downtek $299 brooks range Mojave but didn't want to be an early adaptor. It seems to be getting good initial reviews:

and is on sale on climb high:

I can't justify another coat at the moment but may consider one as a replacement for the das for use in warmer/wetter spring and fall conditions if they get more reviews and go on spring clearance. I would like to see if the baffled chest construction leaves cold spots in the arms though.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
I have that old mb alpine too on 01/05/2013 13:11:12 MST Print View

And it's specs were 8 oz of 800 fill. Still an awe full lot of jacket, but indeed if the Peak is 13 oz, that would be about 50% thicker, assuming some of the extra fill weight is in the hood.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
parka on 01/05/2013 13:46:00 MST Print View

No specific suggestions on brands or models, just a general observation.
For really cold weather you need a down coat that has a hood and length enough to cover your rear end. In other words what you are looking for is more of a parka than a jacket.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Alpine Down = 6 oz FIll. on 01/05/2013 16:11:38 MST Print View

Tjaard the Alpine was a 6 oz fill jacket (see for example) very comprable in materials and construction to the 6.7 oz fill frostline. It achieves an impressive amount of loft in the vest regions with that but has some thin spots in the arms and it doesn't seal out cold wind well at all.

I got pretty cold in mine (+r1 hoody, nano puff, warm hat, Houdini and soft shell pants) at a windy high camp spot in the cascades in early september ( though warmer bottoms would have helped a lot and I am kind of a wimp.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Alpine Down = 6 oz FIll. on 01/05/2013 16:18:37 MST Print View

I had the same issue with Ryan with the Montbell piece, instead I pack a Gooses feet box wall Parka which has 250g down and does not weigh much more (460g) I noticed a massive warmth difference between them.

Edited by stephenm on 01/05/2013 16:19:18 MST.