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Rab Xenon and Patagonia UL Down Hoody: Comparison and Long-Term Review
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Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Eric why down and not synthetic jacket underneath synthetic jacket? on 08/14/2013 18:02:41 MDT Print View


I think Dane is using Down again since he discovered the Montbell Mirage. I have both the Atom Sv and Xenon which I pair up with down.

I team up the Xenon with a Stoic Hadron hoody (total weight 600g) which works to about 25f, Atom Sv and the Hadron (800g) down to 15f and Sv with Gooses Feet Parka down to -15f (1kg)

Oliver Nissen
(olivernissen) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire Dales
Late entry into the fray... on 11/02/2013 19:06:40 MDT Print View

I somehow missed this stimulating article during a busy May.

Although the fact that this is a comparison between apples and oranges has been acknowledged, some aspects of the differences haven't been highlighted (or have been underplayed when representing the results.)

Quilting - may reduce flappage and windage.
Insulation with quilting through multiple layers is stiffer, resisting flapping that increases convective heat transfer and pumps air in and out of the garment. Winds where this issue would pose a serious problem may not have been felt by Dave during his testing.

Flatter lying surfaces - greater contact area with surface of garments beneath.
In the case of a wet t-shirt drying out under these two garments, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the main factor in the Xenon out-performing the UL Down Hoody.

(At a microscopic level these highly calendered, slick low-denier fabrics have a lower angle of contact with water than their lumpier surfaced, higher-denier but same-substrate brethren - the mere fact of a bumpier surface actually repels water droplets - that's how the lotus leaf effect works.)

The intricacies of the fabrics - hygroscopicity and air permeability.
The fabrics here superficially look to be very similar, but I've recently seen a study where a range of Nylon 6s were compared and their moisture regain varied from a fraction above 1% to a fraction under 10%. Add in a potentially greater variation in air permeability between the fabrics, and insulation aside, the variation in dry times for garments consisting of twin layers of these fabrics may conceivably vary enormously.

(Same branded membrane, but with a different face-fabric and you can see maybe about a 60% difference in breathability scores in RET and cup tests. There's huge variation and people just wrongly assume there isn't.)

And all of this is before we're really making a like-for-like comparison between the insulations; e.g. conductive heat transfer under compression, compressibility (in the wet, the dry, oil-soiled...) etc. That's another long list for another time.

Food for thought...

Sean Passanisi
(passanis) - MLife
Down fill on 12/18/2013 20:29:24 MST Print View

Nice article.

FYI, Patagonia reports using 98 Grams (3.46 ounces) of down fill in the UL hoody.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: down and fabrics on 12/20/2013 08:39:25 MST Print View

Sean, they were claiming 2 oz in the 2012 version.

Oliver, thanks for the comments. While there may be differences between Quantum GL and Patagonia's proprietary fabric, I am highly skeptical that they're significant enough to make a difference noticeable across users. Ditto on the effects of quilted down v. non quilted synthetic in a coat of modest thickness. We outdoor geeks like to think these minutia (and others, discussed above) matter in the field, but they simply do not 99% of the time.

I should also note that the Patagonia continues to impress in how well it retains loft under daily use. The Xenon, on the other hand, it ever flatter in terms of warmth. When comparing it to a Climashield quilt (which had comparably heavy use over a longer period of time) I just decommissioned, it's hard not to be a Primaloft skeptic when it comes to loft/warmth retention.