Advice for making my own down jacket
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J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Advice for making my own down jacket on 05/18/2013 20:35:13 MDT Print View

Hey all ULers and SULers, I need some advice about making my own down jacket.

This will be a long initial post to give enough info to receive good advice.

Now that summer is approaching, I figured I would start looking ahead to next year's gear wants. I'm trying to dial in my system for what I hope is my thru-hike of the AT in 2014. Unfortunately, due to job concerns, this could be 2015.

I'm 6'2" 175-180 pounds. I wear size large in just about every company's products I use. I live in the redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts in California and we have a pretty mild, if wet, year-round climate. However, I travel a lot and I want to take this jacket everywhere I go. I don't mind a jacket that's a little too warm, because I never hike in down anyway. I basically avoid true alpine conditions and middle of the winter snow. This will be used as a camp jacket and to augment my sleep system since I use an Enlightened Equipment Revelation 40 degree quilt.

I'm looking to create a jacket that weighs 10 ounces or less, has an adjustable hood and waist, has 4-5 ounces of fill, and uses 800-900 fp. A full zipper is nice, but not necessary. It could be a quarter to half zipper like the Nunatak Skaha, or use a few buttons like my Stoic does. Hand pockets are unnecessary, since I never use them. For a shell color, I prefer black, dark gray, or dark green, nothing flashy. I don't care about the liner color. I'm still undecided about sewn-through or baffled construction.

I've seen the Whitney kit on the thru-hiker website and that seems like a good starting point. Are there other kits out there closer to what I'm looking for? Has somebody else already created a similar jacket?

My brother works in the fashion industry in SF, and has numerous contacts in the sewing world. I'm hoping to use their experience when putting this jacket together.

Last but not least, if I can't find a finished kit, I'm wondering where I source the material such as Pertex Quantum, or M50, or 800-900 fp down? What is the best all-around shell material?

Thanks for any advice and helpful links. I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and offer insights.

Edited by Damager on 07/09/2013 13:00:08 MDT.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Poking around on the Nunatak website on 05/18/2013 21:14:50 MDT Print View

Well, I was looking at the Nunatak website again and realized I pretty much just described the Skaha Plus, which is exactly what I want to make. However, I don't want to spend 500$.

The Pertex Quantum .8 or Pertex Quantum 1.0 seem perfect for a shell material.

Also, I'm interested in making down booties similar to Goosefeet Gear in weight. And perhaps a Montbell Ex Down type lightweight jacket.

I'll be researching materials and moving forward as soon as I can.

I'll keep people posted as to results.

Edited by Damager on 05/18/2013 21:24:20 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Poking around on the Nunatak website on 05/18/2013 22:13:16 MDT Print View

titaniumgoat.com has nobul which is light and supposed to be downproof, fairly cheap, someone reported minor down leakage, maybe nobul2 would be better

maybe M50 or M90 from thru-hiker is better, but more expensive

wildernesslogics.com has 850 down

I used some Pertex Quantum that was 0.9 oz/yd2 for down vest and it worked good. Article here that might be useful, but I'm not really an expert.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
800-900 on 05/18/2013 22:26:35 MDT Print View

Just a quick thought I've heard that 900 down is much more susceptible to condensation problems. I've never worked with it so I can't comment but I might research that. I know Ryan Jordan mentioned this issue. He mentioned using a 900 fill power jacket but that was for dry conditions in Wyoming. The AT will be a lot more humid.

For a warm up project you could try a synthetic or down vest. It would be a good practice project and for summers along the AT a light vest would be plenty of insulation.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: 800-900 on 05/18/2013 22:30:40 MDT Print View

Vest much easier - sewing sleeves on is difficult

since the skin temperature of your torso is greater than arms, insulation there is more efficient

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re 800-900 down on 05/18/2013 22:37:21 MDT Print View

I don't want to discourage you from making an awesome down jacket. But my favorite system is a down vest layered under a synthetic jacket. I can take just the vest for good weather or just the jacket if I expect wet weather. But if its really cold I bring both.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re Re 800-900 down on 05/18/2013 22:49:13 MDT Print View

I have a down vest that really has too much down in it, but if it's really cold I'll use it, in which case it probably won't get wet because it's not raining.

Otherwise I have a synthetic vest.

They both weigh the same, about 8 ounces.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Vest and synthetic insulation on 05/18/2013 23:08:35 MDT Print View

Jerry,

Thanks for the info on where to source materials. I'm in the process of talking to a few of my brother's contacts this week, and if I can provide materials to them or discuss specific materials, then I'm one step closer to making this project a reality.

Luke,

Thanks for the heads up about the 900fp problems with managing condensation. I've used 850fp in my garments and sleeping bags/quilts over the years, and not had any problems. 850 fp will probably be easier and cheaper to obtain anyway.

I don't have much experience with synthetic garments or quilts. The truth is, is even in a wet climate where I live, I've never had much trouble keeping my down dry. I never hike in my insulating layers; they are strictly for camp and my sleep system.

I also find vests intriguing, but have zero experience with them. The one Black Rock Gear currently offers looks awesome, but costs 250$, and again I'm looking for the satisfaction of creating something unique for myself.

I could see a vest being much easier to sew and might be worth the effort in the near future.

Much of this will depend on my brother's response. I'm getting way too excited about this project right now.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
A hooded vest? on 05/18/2013 23:16:12 MDT Print View

The reason I'm big on hoods is because I use a quilt. Admittedly, I've done zero research on this, but I'm wondering about possibly creating a vest with an attached hood.

The idea of starting out with a more straightforward project like a vest is appealing. The hood will add difficulty. Of course, this is all pure speculation right now.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: A hooded vest? on 05/18/2013 23:31:46 MDT Print View

You don't need the hood to attach.
http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/gooosehood.shtml

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Making a vest on 05/19/2013 01:00:11 MDT Print View

Maybe I need to change the title of the thread?

I talked to my brother and we agreed that making a vest is an easier place to start. Plus I currently own a Stoic Hadron Anorak that weighs 8.38 ounces in size large, and I'm satisfied with it for the time being. I think it's one of the best off-the-shelf jackets a UL or SUL backpacker can buy.

I'm researching materials all weekend. Thanks to Jerry, I found 850fp down on Wildernesslogics.com for 6.75$ an ounce. You can also buy in bulk, but I don't need that much right now.

I like the Black Rock Gear vest, but 250$ is a lot of dough to me, and I don't want pockets. I want the vest to have a similar design.

I'm having difficulty tracking down the shell material, 7DS Ripstop nylon, .67 ounce a yard.

Also, for the inner lining, I'm thinking 10d Taffeta, .68 ounce a yard would be an excellent choice.

I've written a few e-mails to fabric companies, but I don't expect to hear back until Monday at the earliest.

Does anybody out there have experience in tracking down these materials, or know a good website I should check?

I'll also need to track down some YKK zippers as well.

BTW, my specs for a vest are 5-6 ounces total weight, with at least 3 ounces of 850fp down, 2" of loft, and a full zipper. We'll see how this all turns out.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Materials on 05/19/2013 05:32:11 MDT Print View

J Dos Antos said: "I'm having difficulty tracking down the shell material, 7DS Ripstop nylon, .67 ounce a yard.

Also, for the inner lining, I'm thinking 10d Taffeta, .68 ounce a yard would be an excellent choice.

I've written a few e-mails to fabric companies, but I don't expect to hear back until Monday at the earliest.

Does anybody out there have experience in tracking down these materials, or know a good website I should check?"


Not quite what you're looking for, but Thru-Hiker carries a 10d triple DWR treated nylon for the exterior of your vest/jacket under the brand name "M50". It comes in at a finished weight of 0.69 oz/sq yd, is very water resistant, but doesn't have the greatest hand (it feels pretty plastic-like until broken in).

Also, TI Goat carries a 10d single DWR treated fabric under the brand name of "Nobul1" for your inner lining; it comes in at 0.67 oz/sq yd. This has what's probably the nicest hand I've ever had the pleasure of working with--it feels really nice against your skin.

Hope it helps!

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Re: Materials on 05/19/2013 11:15:38 MDT Print View

John,

Thanks for the reply. I was on Thru-hiker last night and I read up on M50. I've also encountered the material on the Goosefeet website. It may be worth a try. I also poked round the TiGoat website, but it seems they are currently out of stock on Nobul1. I'll send them an e-mail on Monday morning to confirm.

Also, I figure since this is all an experiment, I might as well try 900fp down instead of 850fp. I can get 3 ounces for 29.95$ on Thru-hiker, and that's the perfect amount for the vest I want to create. They also carry YKK zippers. I'm also debating if it's worth trying to include a draw cord and mini cord lock at the waist.

Shell materials I'm interested in at this point: TiGoat carries 7DS, but they are currently out of stock. Besides, the material seems very expensive. M50 is a candidate, as is the Pertex Quantum used by Nunatak.

Liner materials: I'd like to use the 10d Taffeta. Is that the same thing as Nobul1?

Now, the last issue is sewn-through versus baffled construction. Any advice on this would be much appreciated as well. If I go the baffled route, what do you use to hold the down in place? Some kind of Nanoseeum netting?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Materials on 05/19/2013 11:40:55 MDT Print View

nobul2 may be better than nobul1, a little more expensive but not much, same weight

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Re: Making a vest on 05/19/2013 18:31:37 MDT Print View

You and I happen to be in a very similar position. I live in Georgia and do most all of my trips in NE Georgia and W North Carolina, where you will start you AT adventure.

This winter I started rethinking how I would go about handling insulation. What I have come to matches other suggestions here: light down vest with a synthetic, hooded jacket.

My plan on the vest is to stick around 5 oz total weight, having 2 oz of 800FP down, with closer to a half zip instead of full. I am using M90 instead of a more expensive fabric, so this weight can be dropped to closer to 4oz by just changing out to a fabric like M55 or NoBul. I'm about halfway done with this project. At this point I am stuffing the down, so getting close to complete.

One suggestion I would make is to find some sort of pattern to use. Making clothing can be a difficult process for a novice gear maker, so using a proven pattern will make the process much happier in my experience.

What I did, since I wanted a down vest and synthetic jacket, was go to thru-hiker and picked up the Kinsman kit, plus a few extra supplies. With the help of another BPL member, Jamie Shortt, I have been able to very easily take my Kinsman pattern and make a down vest from it. Jamie also sent me a draft of some instructions he is working on for steps to complete the project. His instructions are actually for a down jacket not vest, but I just left off the sleeves. They have worked very well for me. I only wish I had taken the time to take more photos of the build process, however, the steps are pretty straight forward.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Re: Re: Making a vest on 05/19/2013 23:32:30 MDT Print View

Chris,

Wow, thanks for your response. This entire thread is the reason I'm constantly impressed with BPL.

I'm lucky in several regards with this project because my brother is a fashion designer in San Francisco and has many contacts in the design/construction world. Basically, he knows a lot of people who sew. He has an extra sewing machine in storage and I'm going to pick it up soon. He's talking to one of his main contacts at work for me on Tuesday, and I'll find out if she can assist me with this project. My brother is excited to help as well because he's interested in fabrics used by the UL and SUL cottage companies. The reason I'm only taking advantage of this now is that I recently moved from SoCal to Santa Cruz Mts, so I'm about an hour away from the city.

I agree a pattern would definitely be a great place to start. I'm somewhat intimidated trying to think of all the supplies I need. What my brother did say, is we should take the baffled route in regards to construction. That should make the project more interesting.

So far, my list of supplies is as follows:
1) 3 ounces 900 fp down
2) Shell material, perhaps M50, Pertex Quantum, or 7DS if I can find it/justify the cost.
3) Liner material, most likely nobul 1 or 2.
3) YKK #3 zipper
4) Elastic for around the arms, and perhaps cord around the waist with a mini cord lock.
5) 100% polyester thread

I'm curious what additional supplies I might need. I want to order everything in the same time span so I can bring it all with me when I visit my brother's contacts.

My goal is a vest weighing less than 6 ounces, with 3 ounces of fill and 2" of loft if possible. No pockets. I should find out more info this week.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Making a vest on 05/20/2013 08:26:06 MDT Print View

baffle material?

I would just use the same material as liner. You will probably have some scrap pieces that will be big enough.

I've used elastic around waist. I sleep in it and don't like laying on a cord lock.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Re: Re: Materials on 05/20/2013 18:25:39 MDT Print View

J Dos Antos said: "John,

Thanks for the reply. I was on Thru-hiker last night and I read up on M50. I've also encountered the material on the Goosefeet website. It may be worth a try. I also poked round the TiGoat website, but it seems they are currently out of stock on Nobul1. I'll send them an e-mail on Monday morning to confirm.

Also, I figure since this is all an experiment, I might as well try 900fp down instead of 850fp. I can get 3 ounces for 29.95$ on Thru-hiker, and that's the perfect amount for the vest I want to create. They also carry YKK zippers. I'm also debating if it's worth trying to include a draw cord and mini cord lock at the waist.

Shell materials I'm interested in at this point: TiGoat carries 7DS, but they are currently out of stock. Besides, the material seems very expensive. M50 is a candidate, as is the Pertex Quantum used by Nunatak.

Liner materials: I'd like to use the 10d Taffeta. Is that the same thing as Nobul1?

Now, the last issue is sewn-through versus baffled construction. Any advice on this would be much appreciated as well. If I go the baffled route, what do you use to hold the down in place? Some kind of Nanoseeum netting?"


Sorry to hear that about the Nobul1; it's an extremely nice liner fabric (I got to use it on a synthetic quilt I was prototyping, and it felt great). Hopefully, they'll be able to get it back into stock for you. It does seem to be a taffeta weave; at least, it has the same sort of feel to it that the taffeta nylons I've had the chance to look at seem to.

Regarding the mini 'lock and draw cord, elastic will probably do you better at the waist. You want this to conform to your body, for sure; drafts are killer at stealing warmth. Either way, find some way to gather it at the waist.

I've got very limited experience working with down. I've head that baffled construction is easier than sewn-through, but that may be due to the slipperiness of the fabric. I can say that a piece of masking tape will help hold the baffle in place as you sew...but that it's still very tricky. If you do baffles, yes, no-see-um (or Thru-Hiker's nanoseeum) netting will keep the clusters in place.

Hope it helps!