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Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro
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David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 08/15/2013 12:33:22 MDT Print View

This February I'm headed to Kilimanjaro, and I'm looking for a down jacket/parka to wear on summit day. I have a Montbell Alpine Light Parka (it's my warmest upper body layer), but I wore it last month on a climb on Rainier, and I was just a bit cold on the summit.

A few considerations:

(1) Ideally, I'd prefer something made in the USA, Canada or Europe. I know this sounds a bit persnickety, but over time I've become increasingly concerned about the sourcing of gear and its labor and environmental implications.

(2) I'd also like something as light as possible but with at least 7 oz. of fill.

So far, the Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket and Ion Parka seem to fit the bill. I've also looked at the Nunatuk jackets, but that is some expensive stuff, and I would opt for the Western Mountaineering options given the price advantage.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 08/15/2013 13:25:38 MDT Print View

You may want to contact Goosefeet: . The jacket/parkas I have seen made for others look very nice.

Have a great trip and post a report when you return!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 08/15/2013 13:46:46 MDT Print View

I was there in Year 2000. Kilimanjaro is much higher than Rainier, so it might be colder. OTOH, it is much closer to the Equator, so it might be warmer. It all depends on which way the wind blows.

I had taken a medium down jacket with me, intending to use it around the summit. Then somebody else got sick and cold at 18,800', so I loaned my down jacket to her and went up without it. As long as I kept several thin warm layers on with my goretex parka shell over them, I was OK.

Part of the problem is that you are trudging upward for hours and hours at a time, so you get your body heat ventilated and managed. Then suddenly you are descending for hours and hours at a time and you get colder. Whatever you wear, keep it adjustable. Some people get exhausted from the high altitude, so they start sitting down a lot, and that tends to get bad results. It's probably better to keep moving upward, even if it is very slow.

If I had it to do again, I might substitute a light down jacket for the medium one.


(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Encapsil Down on 08/15/2013 14:39:57 MDT Print View

From the interweb: "Patagonia is using its new down in one garment this season—the Encapsil Down Belay Jacket.

Designed for alpinists who deal with the world’s worst weather and who have to count every ounce they’re carrying, this 18-ounce water-repellent Encapsil 1,000-fill-power down belay parka is the warmest jacket you can get for the weight."

Edited by RobertM2S on 08/15/2013 14:43:11 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Encapsil Down on 08/15/2013 14:49:15 MDT Print View

Hi Robert,

I thought the Encapsil Parkas where all sold out?



Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 08/15/2013 14:49:47 MDT Print View

My warmest down parka is the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Phantom and they are now making this with their Q.SHield treated down. In another thread, someone who had contacted MH said there is 6.3 oz of down and I think my Medium weighs around 17oz.
If you can read it, there is some good info in the article and comments here:

Two problems for you: it's made in China and doesn't quite meet the 7.0 oz of down that you are looking for. Still, it's an option.

David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Another contender on 08/19/2013 18:44:50 MDT Print View

I had been leaning toward the Western Mountaineering Ion Parka, when I came upon the Feathered Friends Frontpoint down jacket. The price is about the same as the Ion, and it boasts 12.7 oz. of fill. But it looks shorter than the Ion, which is a bit of positive balance in the Ion column.

I'm also concerned that the Frontpoint may be a little too much jacket for my needs. Living in Southeast Texas, I'd rarely get more than a few days use out of either, except for occasional climbing trips and winter backpacking in the mountains of West Texas. The Ion, being a bit lighter, would be a bit more likely to find its way into my winter/alpine rotation.

Has anyone had experience with either? Any thoughts?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Another contender on 08/19/2013 19:01:06 MDT Print View

I second Ben @ GooseFeet if you want custom and made local. For off the shelf, Rab will be hard to beat. My Infinity Endurance has 7.5 oz fill and weighs about 16 oz (small). You may also want to check out the Outdoor Research Maestro. Neither of those will be made in North America though. Westcomb might have something made in Canada.

Edited by simplespirit on 08/20/2013 08:27:10 MDT.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 08/19/2013 22:06:36 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 15:23:03 MDT.

David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Thanks on 08/20/2013 08:25:03 MDT Print View

David and Chris, thanks for the Goosefeet recommendation. I've contacted Ben, and I'll see what he can do.

David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Goosefeet Jacket in the Flesh on 12/26/2013 21:01:52 MST Print View

Based upon the recommendations here (for which I'm grateful), I ventured down the Goosefeet custom route. The price was quite competitive with the other warm down jacket options on the market, and the ability to customize the jacket based upon my measurements was a real plus.

It's simply amazing how warm the jacket is given its total weight; it has nine ounces of down in a 16.1 ounce total package, and the shell, while light, seems even stronger than the shells on my Montbell down jackets. As you can imagine, I'm really looking forward to giving it a whirl on Kilimanjaro this February.

Here are a couple of pictures of the jacket in the flesh (no pics in the field yet).

Goosefeet jacket #1
Goosefeet jacket #2

Mike Stromsoe
(phstudio) - F

Locale: So. Cal.
Re: Goosefeet Jacket in the Flesh on 12/26/2013 23:36:32 MST Print View

Is this jacket sewen through or is it baffled?

David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Re: Re: Goosefeet Jacket in the Flesh on 12/27/2013 08:52:37 MST Print View

It's baffled, Mike.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Your Montbell should be fine on 12/27/2013 09:04:28 MST Print View

I just returned from climbing Kilimanjaro in September and I used a Montbell UL down jacket and was fine. I still had my Precip rain jacket to add if I needed to get warmer but I was warm without it. I wouldn't go with too heavy of a down layer, otherwise you'll sweat out. I had on a SS synthetic shirt, a LS synthetic shirt, and a light fleece for my additional layers. Be sure you take a light glove and a glove outer shell. I had my outer shell gloves buried in my pack and my hands got very cold with just the liners. We hit huge winds at the first ridge and it was very cold but by the time we got to the peak 45 minutes later the winds died down, the clouds parted and the sun came out. I was very toasty then. I think the climb down is worse due to the steepness (a different trail down) and you'll generate a lot of heat then and begin shedding layers.

Awesome climb and a fun mountain. Take your time. I saw a lot of very athletic young men and women being dragged off due to their going too fast. Altitude sickness gets the quick first.

Edit: just saw you got a heavier down parka. You should be more than warm. Remember a good rain jacket and pants. You'll want gaiters for the hike down, which is very thick sand and gravel. Don't really need them for the way up.

Edited by smeier on 12/27/2013 11:51:06 MST.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 12/27/2013 14:24:10 MST Print View

What a shame I didn't see this thread sooner -- I could have saved you a LOT of money! Your outfitter (the company that will supply your guides and porters) would be happy to lend you any additional insulated clothing you might need. It's part of their normal service, and the number of porters you have will be adjusted accordingly. I think your new jacket will be serious overkill, and you'll be sweating buckets. The real enemy on the way up is the wind - 100%. You'll want "bombproof" wind protection for your whole body, and goggles or glacier glasses would be very helpful. By the time you're headed down, it'll be much warmer and if it's a sunny day, you'll feel quite hot!

It's an easy and fun hike, providing your genetics are ok for altitude, and you go slowly.

David McBride
(VintageGent) - F

Locale: Galveston TX
Re: Re: Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 12/27/2013 15:21:32 MST Print View

Valerie, thanks for your thoughts. The jacket isn't really for the hike. It's for times of inactivity on the upper mountain; those sitting around and waiting times that invariably come with any hike/climb. My experience on Rainier this summer (on what was a comparatively warm climb) let me know that my Montbell Alpine Light won't do the job. Around freezing I was cold with all my layers on, including the parka. Given that it's very possible that I'll see colder temperatures on Kilimanjaro, I need something with more warmth.

As for the guide service/outfitter, they would be happy to rent me a jacket, but I have (hopefully) at least a couple more decades of cold weather climbing/hiking experiences to come, so I think the jacket represents a reasonable investment.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Down Jacket for Kilimanjaro on 12/27/2013 17:00:33 MST Print View

David, if you were getting cold with a MB Alpine Light and all your layers at only freezing I would definitely recommend you check some other things than insulation. A similar set up will get most people who get cold easily down into the low 20s no problem.

It honestly sounds more like dehydration and poor nutrition were to blame. Those are huge culprits at altitude because your body doesn't sense hunger and thirst properly as you're acclimating. It just sounds like your internal furnace (ie metabolism) wasn't fueled well enough to pump out heat. Adding a heavier parka to the mix likely wouldn't help much since insulation KEEPS you warm, it doesn't MAKE you warm.

That said, the goosefeet parka looks amazing and for the weight is definitely a nice piece insurance piece to bring along. Just make sure you're diligent about drinking and eating properly every day and you should have a great trip!