Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric
Display Avatars Sort By:
slavenya slavenya
(slavenya) - F

Locale: Israel
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 13:26:45 MDT Print View

Hey guys,

Please see below my conversation with Gary Peterson from Western Mountaineering about new water resistant down and Pertex fabric.

Me:
There is a lot of talks about DownTek and DriDown technologies. I guess you are aware of these latest development and yet you do not jump with new products.
On the paper the technology looks impressive but real life may be different. Are you going to use dry down techniques in your future products?

Gary:
There are several other name brands of what we refer to as “treated” down because they all share a similar property in that the down has been treated with some type of water repellent finish by a down processor. Each of the suppliers that currently offer a water resistant goose down to manufacturers claims to have a better product than their competitors and we accept that there are likely subtle variations in how the treatments are applied or what the chemical properties are to support a claim of any performance advantage over the other competing brands. In other words, there has been no conclusive comparison tests to really know if there is any one product that stands above the rest. Our position, however, is that we are interested in the technology but have not completed our own tests for longevity or reasonable short term performance in a broad enough range of conditions to make a decision on whether or not it is superior to the down we currently are sourcing that is not treated.
Our goose down, and all goose down really, is naturally very water resistant and it is not easy to get completely wet in any real life scenario. The marketing frenzy for this product started at one of the Outdoor Retailer trade shows with a demonstration taking place at a booth of one company that initially started selling water resistant down. They were showing people what regular “untreated” down would look like after shaking it in a water bottle vigorously for some length of time (I can’t remember how long it took but it was more than a minute of continuous shaking). Sure, eventually it became fully soaked and the once lofty clusters became limp wet lumps of plumage that had little or no lofting properties. At the same time they had a water bottle with some treated down inside shaking it for just as long to show everyone that the down still floated. It is a very compelling visual tool for selling their product but how could this situation every be replicated in the field without taking your sleeping bag, securing it to a length of webbing and suspending it into a waterfall for a couple of minutes while trying to pull it up and down or moving it from side to side while holding onto the other side of the webbing. I cannot imagine why we should purchase raw materials with those kinds of standards in mind, but even if we did the fact remains that this is relatively new technology which hasn’t been thoroughly tested from our point of view. We design our sleeping bags to last in the range of 25 to 40 years or perhaps longer if cared for properly and average amount of use (i.e. not a guide who may spend 200 nights a year in a sleeping bag, but normal people with careers and families who go out on many weekend camping trips and take two or three backpacking trips in a year). With any new technology we want to make sure it will stand the test of time before using it to manufacture our sleeping bags.

At the moment we have several jackets being tested and one sleeping bag. These items are designed to expose exactly how much and what types of performance differences there might be between untreated and treated down from the same batch of raw material. The jackets are split in the middle with one side filled with treated down while the other is filled with untreated down that was sent to us by the same supplier & indicated to be from the same batch of down as the treated side (a portion of the down was pulled out of the batch right before the rest of it was processed with the water repellent finish). The sleeping bag has alternate chambers filled with treated and untreated down. After a year or so of heavy use we will have a better idea about the performance and longevity characteristics of treated down compared to the same down that was left untreated. At that point, we will determine whether or not it is a technology that we wish to embrace.

As for the number of brands already using it, I can only say that many brands are probably not building their products to last 30 years and they are more concerned about profiting while the buzz is strong among consumers (i.e. many brands are capitalizing on the hype with a “Strike while the iron is hot” strategy). We don’t agree with that approach because it seems irresponsible to use customers as a means to field testing new technologies.

Me:
Couple of years ago you told me that you are considering to use Pertex fabric in you products - Did you decide not to?
Gary:
Before we started using Pertex Quantum many years ago I was working closely with Perserverance Mills during their development stages, providing them with insight for making a better constructed lightweight ripstop that would be ideal for down products.

Since the brand name was purchased and re-introduced by the Japanese textile company, Mitsui, we have not purchased any of the Pertex branded fabrics because they were quite different from the original materials we sourced from England.

They do make nice materials but many of the materials are too narrow for our production needs. I look at their fabrics at the trade shows and will be happy to use their materials if the construction properties meet our needs.

Me:
I absolutely agree with your cautious.

Just to add one more concern: even if using chemical gives down nice water repellent features - the same chemicals over time may lead to some nasty health hazard.

As example: lexan for years was positioned as great material for backpackers: light, tough, etc. Then it suddenly became clear that Lexan (which is about 100% BPA built) is problematic material to say least.

Do you have a plan to address this issue?

Gary:
I am also concerned about the level of chemicals used in our industry and we have been pushing for known carcinogens to be eliminated from DWR finishes, for example. The materials we purchase are not finished with chemicals that are on the list of known carcinogens or any that are listed on EPA’s “POP” list (Persistent Organic Pollutants).

I’m not sure about the health hazard of the water resistant “treated” goose down because the suppliers have been somewhat careful about discussing the exact chemical “recipe” they use, claiming that both the “formula” they use and the way it is applied are what makes their product better than other competing water resistant down products on the market. In terms of a plan we have to address these issue, we don’t have a formal policy or plan that outlines any specific course of action for tracking or reducing the environmental impact of chemicals used in our supply chain. However I make a point to research our raw materials as much as possible and personally visit our suppliers regularly (sometimes unannounced) to inspect the factories, facilities, farms or processing plants throughout the supply chain to make sure that our materials are produced in a way that is ethically responsible and with the least environmental impact possible. I am by no means an expert on the ins and outs of every raw material we use, but I have made a conscious effort to gather as much information as possible by visiting weaving mills, dyeing houses, finishing plants, down processing facilities, goose farms, etc. In fact, many of the textile sales agents who I purchase fabrics from have never taken a trip visit the weaving mills which make the fabric that they are selling. I have been to Japan four times in the past 12 years to visit multiple textile processing facilities, was in England at the Perserverance Mills factory when they were producing our Quantum ripstop fabric many years ago, and have been to Poland a couple of times to inspect the goose farms and processing facilities for our insulation. Both the owner of our company and I have had numerous meetings with IDFL in Salt Lake City (International Down and Feathers Laboratory) to learn about the various grades of down and discuss the changes that have taken place over the years for Fill Power testing standards.

I am proud of all aspects of our brand from the sourcing through the manufacturing processes and we are committed to making improvements as we learn of new issues, technologies or advances in sustainable resources.

Me:
Why don't you use you experience and quality down sources and enter market of super light down duvet for inside use?
I have one custom made for me 3 years ago by one of the cottage manufactures with 900FP down and it is absolutely wonderful.
It is baffled one which allows me to shift down from one side to side in order to create proper micro climate for us the distribution 65%-35% is about right.
And it saves money as we stopped to heat the house at night. The only problem with it that it is very hard to get out ;_)

Gary:
We have thought of this and been recommended the idea from multiple sources. I have been working on some prototypes and we may introduce something like this in the next couple of years but our company is small and slow to bring new products to market.

Edited by slavenya on 10/30/2013 02:23:15 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric" on 10/29/2013 13:46:57 MDT Print View

On the down stuff, quite a similar response to a question I asked a year ago.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 13:53:35 MDT Print View

Who are you? Consumer? Journalist? employee?...

Interesting info - makes sense to me - thanks for posting

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 14:06:37 MDT Print View

Further: ok, there are quite a few brands who use it, but there are at least the same number of specialised or semi-specialised down brands who don't use it.

slavenya slavenya
(slavenya) - F

Locale: Israel
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 14:54:52 MDT Print View

To add one more concern to the equation:

Even if using chemical gives down nice water repellent features - the same chemicals over time may lead to some nasty health hazard.

As example:
Lexan for years was positioned as great material for backpackers: light, tough, etc.

Then it suddenly became clear that Lexan (which is about 100% BPA built) is problematic material to say least.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Verrrry interesting... on 10/29/2013 16:48:53 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting this. I own a WM Megalite bag and love it. My -20 F. winter bag is a HEAVY monster of a MH with Polarguard Delta.
My next winter bag will be one with a DWR treated down, absolutely.

It's good to hear that WM is in the process of testing DWR treated down against thier own high quality down. This shows that they are actively investigating the situation with real world use, always the best predictor of customer experience with new products.

From my seat-of-the-pants hunch I feel that Patagonia's method of molecular level deposition of DWR might turn out to be the best way to go, provided the DWR chemical they use is up to the task. This deposition method may be best at getting the DWR into every barbule of the down plumules.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 16:51:38 MDT Print View

Precisely the questions I've been asking! Thank you, Slavenya, (and Gary of WM) for the input!

I hope that as part of their testing, they'll launder the down occasionally.

Until I see long term results, I'm not about to ditch my current (untreated) 7-year-old Ultralight! I expect it to outlast me, unless the puppy I'm looking for gets hold of it! Applying DWR on the shell after laundering and using a vapor barrier when it's below freezing seems to keep the down dry just fine.

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/29/2013 16:54:37 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
How often and under what conditions do people get their down wet? on 10/29/2013 17:01:37 MDT Print View

How often and under what conditions do people get their regular (untreated) down wet?

I've used down bag a few times, and a down vest same thing.

Do I really need to worry about them getting wet?

I'll use bag under tarp and vest under eVent rain jacket and they haven't got wet that I've noticed.

Maybe they get a little damp and lose some of their warmth? But since down is twice as warm for the weight I'll still be ahead.

I won't submerge under a waterfall.

Rarely, I screw up and get bag in a puddle of water or something.

Bily Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: How often and under what conditions do people get their down wet? on 10/29/2013 17:06:45 MDT Print View

"I've used down bag a few times, and a down vest same thing.

Do I really need to worry about them getting wet?"

Ah... yea... if you are in very cold and wet conditions you can find yourself dead in the morning if your down gets wet.


Bill D.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
down on 10/29/2013 17:14:09 MDT Print View

Does a dri-down sleeping bag lose less loft over time from body oils?
Does a dri-down sleeping bag lose less loft from body moisture in cold conditions?
Does a dri-down jacket or sleeping bag have a lower compression life than normal?
Does dri-down have any drawabacks as the down/treatement ages?
Does a dridown garment/bag maintain its loft after 2 dozen washings? What about its heralded properties?

Does it dry faster, or slower than a regular bag in sunlight? Or a dryer?


To my knowledge, not a single one of the important questions have been answered.

"look, it dont soak up water as easy"

Edited by livingontheroad on 10/29/2013 17:15:27 MDT.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
cotton down bag on 10/29/2013 18:18:17 MDT Print View

I used a cotton covered down bag in the North Cascades for a summer of Bounding Outward. With a tarp. Lots of rain and wet bush whacking.

Choose your sites well. Put the down bag away if it is going to get wet.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 18:40:15 MDT Print View

I've said pretty much the same thing re: "water-resistant down" in multiple past threads on here.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: cotton down bag on 10/29/2013 19:06:28 MDT Print View

thanks David

I think I'll just try to be careful and see how it goes

This winter should be a good test

I do put my down sleeping bag in a waterproof bag inside my waterproof pack so I should be good

I intentionally put by down vest on the patio when it rained a few tenths of an inch of rain and there was no huge loss of loft or anything

and all this leads me to believe that treated down is un-necesary

I hate those tests where, for example, they submerge down in a bottle of water and shake. My "con" alarms are going off. Maybe it'll end up being a good product though.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 19:59:14 MDT Print View

I have to admit it's refreshing to see a company actually test a new product before they put their name behind it & tout it as the next big thing. Good for WM. One of the reasons why they are arguably the best.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 10/29/2013 19:59:47 MDT.

slavenya slavenya
(slavenya) - F

Locale: Israel
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 21:32:01 MDT Print View

Guys, I updated the first post with more answers. Please read it again.

This is actually an impressive way from the Western Mountaineering company to think about these problems. I am highly impressed.

I guess there is a better way to do it perfect but it will cost much more:

Cognac is an example of this. Very strict production regulations: grape sources, bottle type, cork that could be used, etc - and priced accordingly.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Down can get wet and useless on 10/29/2013 21:37:52 MDT Print View

Our goose down, and all goose down really, is naturally very water resistant and it is not easy to get completely wet in any real life scenario.

Long ago near a mountain top far, far away ...

The forecast was hot and windy.
I was cowboy camping in a down sleeping bag.
In the middle of the night, snow started falling.
By the time I woke up,
the down bag was soaked,
and soon I was shivering.
That was a long, cold, scary night.

I don't know if "water resistant" down would have helped.

But wet down does happen, and it's not fun.

-- Rex

Bily Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Down can get wet and useless on 10/29/2013 21:52:38 MDT Print View

I agree Rex... the most miserable night I ever spent in the mountains was wrapped up in a sopping wet down bag.

This quote:
"Our goose down, and all goose down really, is naturally very water resistant and it is not easy to get completely wet in any real life scenario."

I feel is maybe quoted out of it's original context, but the way it was presented here I feel is quite irresponsible.

My experience with down bags, clothing, etc over 40 years says down gets wet quite easily (though DWR coated shells do help some)... and once it's wet it takes quite some time to dry it out... Even exposed to only very high humidity and no direct contact with liquid water, it can lose half it's loft.

The smart choice in a wet, humid climate like the Olympic Peninsula is synthetic instead of down.


Bill D

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Down can get wet and useless and worse on 10/29/2013 21:56:58 MDT Print View

"Our goose down, and all goose down really, is naturally very water resistant and it is not easy to get completely wet in any real life scenario."

That is simply a lie.

I just about died one night due to a very wet down sleeping bag, and it took no effort at all to get it that way.

--B.G.--

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Down can get wet and useless on 10/29/2013 21:57:27 MDT Print View

I've cowboy camped when weather was supposed to be good and then it rained a bunch. I left tent back at car. It was synth so it wasn't the end of the world. Probably better not forget tarp with down.

I've cowboy camped many times when weather was supposed to be good, and it started raining, so I quickly put my tarp up and didn't get wet enough to matter

slavenya slavenya
(slavenya) - F

Locale: Israel
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 22:33:01 MDT Print View

I don't think that you will find somebody that would argue that having water-resistant down is the GREATEST feature of all.

The only question is how safe and how good is it - both are remain to be seen.

Fabric can help as well - old British made Pertex fabric helped a lot with keeping my sleeping bag dry when others in our group had some "wet" problems with theirs.

Edited by slavenya on 10/29/2013 22:35:18 MDT.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Rubbish on 10/29/2013 22:55:39 MDT Print View

Re: "... goose down really, is naturally very water resistant and it is not easy to get completely wet in any real life scenario."

Agree with Bob G. It might be more accurate to say, "and it is not easy to keep it dry in real life wet weather scenarios."

But we do go to the trouble due to its superior efficiency as an insulator.

But if I could get the same insulative value and weight from a synthetic, down would be history. Not that I like geese or anything.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/29/2013 22:55:46 MDT Print View

Yes, if down gets wet, it's not much good as insulation.

What the purveyors of synthetic insulation don't say is that wet synthetic insulation is just as cold! Been there, done that! Regardless of what kind of insulation you use, it's critical to keep it dry.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
wet synthetic insulation on 10/29/2013 22:58:47 MDT Print View

Mary D,
Must respectfully disagree. Have wrung out synthetic bags (when I was too young and stupid to keep them dry), and they kept me warm. Down? NYET.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: wet synthetic insulation on 10/29/2013 23:10:09 MDT Print View

folks ... this has all been argued before in the last BPL article on the subject

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/rab_xenon_vs_uldownhoody.html

basically synth deals with internal condensation much better and allows one to dry out damp layers underneath ...

wet synth sucks, but i find i can just wring it out and dry it decently to damp with bodyheat and a hawt nalgene

;)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Down can get wet and useless on 10/29/2013 23:54:57 MDT Print View

It not just that down is useless when wet, it STAYS that way. If you build a good fire and dry the bag, tending it closely, with it suspended on sticks, poles and/or lines, shaking it to separate the lumps and fluff it back to life. That implies hours of work, waiting, gathering firewood and assuming that it would stop raining or snowing. Ice read so many times about someone spreading out their down gear in the sun on breaks to get completely dry from simple moisture build up overnight from body and dew. Fat chance of that happening in my neck of the woods. The rain will come and even if it stops you will have 50F, 85% humidity, everything around you wet with dew and not a glimmer of direct sunlight. Whatever gets wet stays that way for the duration of the trip.

Leave the feathers on the bird!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
But what does it mean? on 10/30/2013 01:53:53 MDT Print View

> Patagonia's method of molecular level deposition of DWR
And exactly WHAT does this mean?

To me it reeks of yet more marketing spin. Of course molecules are deposited on the surface, but that applies to any chemical treatment being applied to any surface. When companies resort to marketing spin with long unexplained technical jargon, I tend to dismiss ALL their claims.

Cheers

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: But what does it mean? on 10/30/2013 01:58:44 MDT Print View

+1 Roger!

Thanks for saying it so I didn't have to!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
How easy is it to wet down? on 10/30/2013 02:07:01 MDT Print View

You know, we have quite a few articles on the performance of down gear. Read them: there has been a lot of testing done. For a start, many have noted that with a good DWR on the surface fabric, it is actually quite hard to get down gear wet.

I guess if you cowboy camp on top of a mountain while it is snowing things may happen, but in my book that is trying for a Darwin Award. Just my opinion.

Don Wilson wrote in an article on 'Drying Characteristics of Select Lightweight Down and Synthetic Insulated Tops":
"A surprise discovery - the down Flash vest recovered loft as quickly as the synthetic Micropuff and after 30 minutes of drying its loft exceeded the Micropuff's."

And there's lots more besides that.

Always remember: it;'s a harsh commercial world out there, and the synthetics guys know their product is inferior to down, so they go for any claim they can come up with. Be cynical about them. The same thought applies to all the wonder-marvel DWR treatments being spruiked. They don't have to be any better; they just have to con you into believing.

Cheers

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: How easy is it to wet down? on 10/30/2013 04:22:34 MDT Print View

I agree. Ones down is completely soaked, it is a problem, and you can get it soaking wet But the first thing that popa up in my mind is: how to get it soaked in the first place ? I have used down jackets, bags, ... in some pretty miserable weather and I never got it soaking wet in a non-testing situation.

BTW, nice remark about the Darwin-award.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
I like the old, I might like the new, too. on 10/30/2013 07:23:00 MDT Print View

My practices include methods for keeping my down dry and lofted to the best extent possible, because it provides the best warmth with the least carry-weight and best compressibility. Keeping it working to its best is important to get the most results out of it with the least bulk.

I like the regular down quite a lot.
I might like the new water-resistant down just as much, or more, depending on just how much real-world improvement is actually seen from it.

It concerns me that it might lead to lazy practices of not taking care to keep the down lofty, relying on "claims" which may or may not turn out as well as hoped in real world circumstances, and result in reduced performance.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about this stuff, although I admit that I am intrigued to find out what it can really do(and what it can't).

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: I like the old, I might like the new, too. on 10/30/2013 07:48:56 MDT Print View

An another question: is the higher price worth it ?

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Down in the Olympics on 10/30/2013 07:58:16 MDT Print View

I have used a down bag, January on the coast trail in the Olympics. Rained pretty much all the time and when it wasn't there was fog. Part of the time I used a polarguard overbag and was very toasty. Otherwise I slept warm enough, save one night cowboy camping in a draw in a windy fog. Never got my bag sodden. I feel if I had carried a down bag with enough down to match the weight of a sythetic bag, I would have been warm even on that one foggy night.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Down can get wet and useless on 10/30/2013 10:06:51 MDT Print View

> It not just that down is useless when wet, it STAYS that way

This is exactly why I don't really understand the purpose of a DWR-coated down (i.e. Downtek). DWR sheds a bit of precipitation - that is all. If you have a lining on your shell, that's shedding the moisture. If water gets through the lining, either it's wetted out, or it was pressed through (in both cases, having another DWR layer over the down won't help much - it'll wet out or be pressed into the down, just like the lining).

As anyone who's ever played with non-waterproof DWR garments will tell you, the DWR does absolutely nothing once an item gets wet, and does absolutely nothing in humid environments. Nor does it help when moisture is pressed into the garment.

So then... what exactly does DWR'd down buy you? In my experience, I would gather not much at all. It sounds good on the marketing brochure though. Call me skeptical.

Edited by lindahlb on 10/30/2013 10:09:41 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex on 10/30/2013 10:17:15 MDT Print View

Actually I'd really sit up and take notice if Patagonia managed to deposit their chemical protection WITHOUT involving molecules.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
tests on 10/30/2013 10:28:10 MDT Print View

many of the BPL drying tests on down are done assuming one has proper "drying conditions" ... ie the sun

ive not seen a BPL test yet done on trying to dry down without the sun or a decent breeze ... id would love to see one ...

and of course, most of these BPL tests are on THINNER garments with a few OZ of down, not big thicker puffies or sleeping bags ...

also just because a WM flash dries quickly doesnt mean some other jacket will ...

The wet performance we observed in the MontBell Down Inner jacket supports the assertion that higher volumes of down and a less breathable shell will reduce the wet weather performance of a down garment. The Down Inner jacket has a higher volume of down than the Flash and lofts to 2.8 inches of double layer loft. Its shell material is MontBell's Ballistic nylon. Ballistic nylon threads are calendared. They are heated, then flattened and widened. This improves abrasion resistance and reduces down leakage, but also reduces breathability and slows the drying rate of the Down Inner jacket. (The calendared fabric is closer to a non-breathable/waterproof fabric). The Flash vest with non-calendared fabric reached 1.3 inches of double layer loft after 30 minutes, exceeding the loft of the synthetic Micropuff. But the MontBell Down Inner Jacket with calendared fabric took approximately 100 minutes to recover to 1.3 inches of loft.

....

Synthetic insulation is far superior to down when both are fully saturated.

....


Most other down-filled products will not recover from becoming wet as quickly as the Flash vest due to more down mass in relation to surface drying area..


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/wet_weather_performance_down_vs_synth_vests.html


here is a real life BPL description of the effects of internal condensation on down when you CANT dry it due to lack of sun even in mild conditions ....

The next several days were no better. After a half-day in the town of Packwood, we were back on the trail with dense clouds and no views. Our tents were soaked every morning from condensation, and it became harder and harder to dry our things out every day. My sleeping bag’s loft started to weaken little by little as humidity collapsed the down, and I was forced to sleep in layers even on relatively warm nights. Those warm nights, however, began to vanish soon after Packwood. With 100% humidity and temperatures dipping into the high thirties each night, my main motivation became the next stop in town.

......

In the morning, we had the now all too familiar experience of packing tents that were soaked with rain on the outside and condensation on the inside. Then, as we walked up the trail, our clothes became saturated by what Tangent began to refer to as the “car wash effect.” Even with only small amounts of rain in the night, the water collected on leaves of bushes and shrubs, which leaned into the trail and sprayed us as we pushed through the mess. Every morning started with drenched feet and pants, depending on how much rain gear we felt like wearing.





http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hiking_through_hyperbole_part4_walk_in_the_clouds.html


from another BPL article ....

On a multi-day trip, critical attention must be paid to minimize the moisture that accumulates in your sleep system as each night passes. Weather permitting, you should take the opportunity to air-dry your sleeping bag and bivy sack every morning. This technique is important even in sub-freezing winter conditions - but only in the presence of bright sunlight. Solar radiation will provide the heat energy required to drive the evaporation of moisture from your gear

....

But alas, as weather is notoriously uncooperative, you should consider your clothing and sleeping bag loft as a consumable but renewable resource and take steps to actively manage it like you would, say, your drinking water. Be opportunistic and dry gear whenever you can on an extended trek!


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/bivy_sack_techniques.html


again what i would love to know is short of having a synthetic overbag and an excess of heat (fire, hawt nalgene) how do you dry down without the sun when your sleep/clothing system is already at the limit of its temperature rating

now that would be an AMAZING BPL article

;)

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 10/30/2013 10:40:09 MDT Print View

A very reasonable and responsible answer from WM. I too have my reservations about DWR down. High quality down fill is one of those products that is already so good, there would be plenty of ways for DWR down to fall short.

I recently got a Zpacks quilt and decided to try out treated down, as a sort of experiment. I may live to regret it, but so far, it has been performing well. My testing only spans about 4 nights so far, but after an extra cold night spent with the quilt covering my face breathing lots of condensation into it, it held up much better than untreated down. There was no loss of loft on the section over my face despite visible beads of water inside, and the quilt dried out significantly faster than my untreated bags do. When I do this with my untreated down quilt I end up with two layers of wet nylon over my face with clumpy down that takes a long time to dry. Once I have more experience with it I'll report my results. Of course untreated down has many many years of useage behind it so it will take awhile to see how it stacks up.

Just a note on the testing procedure: Just because shaking down in a container with water does not mimic the exact real world useage does not mean the test is worthless. Many test standards use a somewhat unrealistic configuration simply as a basis for performance characterization. For example, UV exposure for nylon equipment: gear is artifically aged at high humidity, high heat, under a strong UV lamp that is hundreds of times stronger than the UV experienced from the sun, to accelerate the aging process. But that test is very useful for comparing UV resistance of different synthetic fibers even if it does not tell you the lifetime under real-world usage.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Humidity and Vapour on 10/30/2013 12:31:58 MDT Print View

Has there been any studies on DWR downs performance in high humidity or wetness from water vapour from sweat. To me this is the key point for the performance of DWR down. Anyone can keep there down bag dry from the outside. In the moisture sources from the inside where improvement could be made.

So I appreciate the annecdotal reports above that the bag performed better when people breath into. Is there any research or testing that has been done in this area.

I would think that putting two garmets in a room with high humidity for a few days and monitor loft loss would be a start.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: tests on 10/30/2013 16:21:26 MDT Print View

> how do you dry down without the sun when your sleep/clothing system is already at
> the limit of its temperature rating
Seems to me you might have made a bit of a mistake in choosing your gear in this case. Going SUL is all very well, provided the conditions are suitable. Sometimes they aren't.

We have had good success in drying a quilt in the snow by layering another quilt over the top. The inner quilt does dry out, but the outer quilt may get some condensation (or frost!) inside the outer shell. Then you have to deal with that. This is a good argument for using a two light layers rather than one heavy layer.

Hum ... I wonder how one would go with a single layer of fabric (to catch the condensation) over a very good DWR shell? Probably only work under a very limited temperature range. Pity.

Cheers

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
WR down on 10/30/2013 17:23:38 MDT Print View

Eric and Dale,
My experiences parallel those you relate in your posts. Thanks.
The word anecdotal is often used by folks who wish to disregard something.
Another tactic is the classic blame the victim.
So when my down bag gets soaked, it is my fault and it's anecdotal.
You can recite instances till he** freezes over, and it's all anecdotal and your own fault.
Folks whose experience is limited to no worse than an afternoon and night of rain will never take you seriously. And why should they, if they stick to sunny Cal.
Or even to the Southwest, where we have been interminably told to start early to avoid getting caught in the afternoon thunderstorms - no mention of endless days of constant pounding, drenching rain or the like.
However, global climate change is creating some bizarre weather where you wouldn't expect it.
We can't always be ready for every conceivable form of the worst nature can throw at us, but there's no reason not to use the most protective UL gear we can afford to buy or make. Makes for a much more enjoyable trek, and greatly reduces the likelihood of having to throw in the towel and bag a trip - most depressing IMO.

P.S. Am totally baffled by those who appreciate the endless blah-blah-blah of marketers. Before listening to a single word from any one of them, I want to see their trekking history (not gonna happen). Nimblewill I will listen to all night (figuratively speaking, by reading his accounts).

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
water on 10/30/2013 17:37:41 MDT Print View

Anyone that has ever washed a down bag, knows what a wet bag looks like. Its pretty pathetic, about the size of a football, MAYBE, when you take it out the washer.

Down is simply one of those things that must stay dry at all costs in cold conditions, PERIOD.

You should also not have only down as insulation with a down bag. You should use a synthetic puffy, and fleece as well. Unless you hike in the desert of course.


Dridown doesnt change the game. It just makes gross water uptake slower.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: tests on 10/31/2013 00:08:02 MDT Print View

We have had good success in drying a quilt in the snow by layering another quilt over the top. The inner quilt does dry out, but the outer quilt may get some condensation (or frost!) inside the outer shell. Then you have to deal with that. This is a good argument for using a two light layers rather than one heavy layer.

Hum ... I wonder how one would go with a single layer of fabric (to catch the condensation) over a very good DWR shell? Probably only work under a very limited temperature range. Pity.


a synth overbag is a proven system of course

the other thing that can be done is to put a synth puffy over a down bag instead of wearing it inside the bag ... this allows for a bit better moisture management

theres been stories on BPL of people having the condensation collect on the top of a bivy and it migrating back in the bag through contact ... however an easy test might be to put a windshirt or rain jacket over a bag to see if it prevents condensation as theres more ventilation than a bivy, this definitely prevents the bag from getting wet by external sources (rubbing against the walls)

the problem is that a single nylon layer doesnt really absorb the moisture ... im thinking something like a very light fleece layer which can be squeezed out in the morning ... it should be quite light and can serve as a towel as well ...

i need to do some testing once my leg is healed

;)

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: tests on 10/31/2013 02:57:02 MDT Print View

>>Seems to me you might have made a bit of a mistake in choosing your gear in this case.

What is supposed to be the wright gear because e.g. most people have only one sleeping bag ?

And for those who think now that you can keep a down sleeping bag only dry in weather with only max. a night and a day of rain, I live in a region with a maritime climate and abundanr precipation and more then enough high humidity.

Edited by Woubeir on 10/31/2013 03:05:20 MDT.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
What else could you bring? on 11/01/2013 10:40:53 MDT Print View

What is the difference in weight between a down bag and a synthetic bag for the same temp range?

Say for an example 1 pound. Would there be something that weighed one pound that would be more valuable and mitigate the chance of down being sodden?

1 pound would be a pint of white gas. That is quite a few hot cocoas and "hawt nalgenes" to warm and dry out clothing or sleep gear.

1 pound could be a pair of synthetic insulated pants or jacket that could be used over a wider range of activities than a sleeping bag and augment the down bag.

1 pound of peanut butter has about 2700 calories. Enough for a day in most conditions. How many calories in a pound of BigSkyRy's pringles?

1 pound is the weight of a SAT phone.

1 pound is the weight of a eVent bivy.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: What else could you bring? on 11/01/2013 11:09:21 MDT Print View

drying out your bag with hawt nalgenes is what you do AFTER you screw up ... and theres no guarantee you can if your down is saturated enough ... at least without an overbag/quilt for the moisture to migrate too

a thin synth layer on top PREVENTS condensation ...

to put it simply if youre sleep system is at its temperature limit ... and you get condensation or the down bag wet ... you have no margin for error ... you are going to be very uncomfortable at best

and 1 lb is the weight you can loose by not eating cheezy poofs for a week ... or taking a big one in the morning

;)

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 11/01/2013 12:49:51 MDT Print View

> My experience with down bags, clothing, etc over 40 years says down gets wet quite easily (though DWR coated shells do help some)... and once it's wet it takes quite some time to dry it out... Even exposed to only very high humidity and no direct contact with liquid water, it can lose half it's loft.
My experience is similar. I've had water flow through my shelter on a rainy night (which woke me up). Result: Very wet down. It wasn't hard at all.

Also, in humid/damp conditions, I've seen down bags get quite "limp" and lose a significant amount of loft.

That said, I appreciate the information shared here and am very interested in the "new down". I haven't jumped on board either with the new down -- it'd be pretty expensive to replace all my gear. Also, I have a WM bag (Summerlite), and it's hands down the #1 best bag I've ever used.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
The week-long-damp-bag winter problem on 11/01/2013 14:22:07 MDT Print View

Sure, good goose down from mature geese is great. Eider down even better.

But remember, sleeping in a down bag on a week-long winter trip results in a bag that collects moisture every night. There is usually not enough time to thoroughly dry the bag each day and it ACCUMULATES moisture. (See Scott polar expedition.)

This not only makes the bag heavier each day but reduces the loft and insulating ability of the down fill. THIS kind of scenario is where DWR treated down comes into its own, IMHO.


Now the problem for Western Mountaineering is WHICH down DWR is the best?

Testing one down DWR is fine to get an idea of the concept's pros and cons.

Testing all the down DWRs out there is where the best answer lies.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
DWR is not going to work for us on 11/01/2013 15:42:45 MDT Print View

For DWR to be of any use in a quilt or a jacket, it must stop the down from collapsing. There are two different cconditions it has to handle: water, and ice.

First of, note that water or ice can still collect all around the micro-fibres of a down tuft, even if the surface of the down tuft is 100% waterproof. There is nothing to stop it. A DWR-treated shell (or even a GoreTex shell) cannot stop the water vapour from getting inside the shell either. Only a vapour barrier can do that.

Ice itself around the down tufts inside a shell will cause some problems, and no amount of DWR on the down will do anything about ice forming inside your quilt if it is cold enough.

What about dampness (rather than ice)? It will soften the keratin in the down tufts and leave them limp and flat, with a loss of loft. To handle this you need to block water vapour from penetrating into the down tufts. But a DWR does not do that: it blocks liquid water from 'wetting' out the surface. So water vapour will go straight through the DWR layer into the down fibres and you will end up with a limp zero-loft mess.

This is why companies like WM are not convinced about these DWR treatments. They do not work in Real Life. They only work in gimmicked demos with the down stuffed in a bottle of water. Its 99.9% marketing spin again.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 11/01/2013 15:43:34 MDT.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: DWR is not going to work for us on 11/01/2013 15:48:35 MDT Print View

Wow. Very incisive comments, Roger.

HJ
Adventures In Stoving

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: DWR is not going to work for us on 11/01/2013 16:27:33 MDT Print View

"It will soften the keratin in the down tufts"

Couldn't the DWR treated down tufts prevent/slow this process? I'm truly asking as I have no idea myself, but would love to learn how this really works.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Re: What else could you bring? on 11/01/2013 16:43:59 MDT Print View

"drying out your bag with hawt nalgenes is what you do AFTER you screw up ... and theres no guarantee you can if your down is saturated enough ... at least without an overbag/quilt for the moisture to migrate too"

Use a hot water bottle to dry your bag before it gets sodden from days of use in humid conditions when their isn't sunshine to do the same.

Heck, I am a belt, suspenders and another belt kind of camper. I like a vbl, a down bag and a synthetic overbag if I am winter camping for a couple of weeks or more. Sometimes 2 vbls (one a jacket under my down coat). Some of my colleague's used a bivysack over all that. I also use hot nalgenes to help dry all the clothes and boot liners I stick in my sleeping bag.

I have camped for 28 days at a stretch with a -20 synthetic bag at 0 degree temps and found myself getting colder each night as
the bag lost it's loft from moisture and compression. We finally ended up adding a synthetic overbag on the next trips.

Found a +20 degree quality down bag was warmer in the long run than a cheap -20 degree synthetic for multiday winter trips. (When used with an overbag).

Haven't tried the newest primaloft or climashield in those conditions tho.

Edited by oware on 11/01/2013 17:12:30 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: DWR is not going to work for us on 11/01/2013 16:47:21 MDT Print View

AFAIK no. From what I remember from one of my biochemistry courses, I think it has something to do with alpha/beta-keratin changing in alpha/beta-keratin due to moisture vapor and a DWR does nothing to prevent that.

Edited by Woubeir on 11/01/2013 16:58:15 MDT.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Vapour vs. vapor on 11/01/2013 16:48:10 MDT Print View

Roger, is a "vapour barrier" similar to the American "vapor barrier"?

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Vapour vrs vapor on 11/01/2013 16:53:56 MDT Print View

va·pour (vpr)
n. & v. Chiefly British
Vapor.

vapour US, vapor [ˈveɪpə]
n
1. (Physics / General Physics) particles of moisture or other substance suspended in air and visible as clouds, smoke, etc.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric on 11/01/2013 16:56:40 MDT Print View

Yes in Australia we speak English.
favour, honour, labour, odour, ... rumour, saviour, splendour, tumour , vapour
However we can handle terms like stake,cookies,pavement and all of that.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Vapour vs. vapor on 11/01/2013 16:58:31 MDT Print View

"Roger, is a "vapour barrier" similar to the American "vapor barrier"?"

Yes, just with more flourish.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Re: What else could you bring? on 11/01/2013 17:59:13 MDT Print View

I have camped for 28 days at a stretch with a -20 synthetic bag at 0 degree temps and found myself getting colder each night as
the bag lost it's loft from moisture and compression. We finally ended up adding a synthetic overbag on the next trips.


which is why ive said repeatedly over the years that if you have a synth jacket put it OVER your downbag when sleeping ...

and using down under synth is the "ideal" for of moisture management

in winter youre spending the fuel anyways to melt water, might as well do it overnight and warm up your bag ... but in the shoulder seasons you generally arent going to boil water every single night ... and in those temps a synth bag is much thinner than a -20F one

to put it simply a thin down layer will actually dry FASTER than a much thicker and heavier synth one simply due to the moisture content vs drying area ... however a synth layer of roughly the same weight will handle moisture better and provide some insulation when damp ... the trick is to have the INSIDE dry, which is not hard with a hawt nalgene

again to reiterate .... its is exceptionally hard, if not impossible to dry very damp sleep system at the limit of its temp rating without the sun ... once it gets that way you better pray you have excess insulation somewhere, enough fuel for MANY hawt nalgenes, a fire, or can get out of dodge quickly

a damp synth at its limit will still degrade, but slower, and it provides some insulation when damp (not wet) ... and is MUCH easier to dry out even without the sun

ideally you would want a second over layer ... something you "sacrifice" but can dry easily enough during the day when walking, or where it doesnt matter if its a bit damp ... ie an overbag or synth jacket

if im worried about condensation ... i put my jackets over my bag ... in the morning i can wear em till the heat dries em out

;)

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
VBL on 11/01/2013 18:14:56 MDT Print View

In these conditions, a VBL is appropriate.
A VBL prevents moisture build-up in the insulation from body moisture.
But the heat still warms the insulation and bag, and drives humidity out.
If you use a VBL inside the bag, then you can also use a non-breathable VBL bag on the outside too, with impunity. This keeps moisture from condensing on the outside of the bag.

There is nothing new or revolutionary about this idea.
It works.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Re: Re: What else could you bring? on 11/01/2013 19:04:39 MDT Print View

" Found a +20 degree quality down bag was warmer in the long run than a cheap -20 degree synthetic for multiday winter trips."

oh yes. syn insulation seems to work "ok" , but then when you get to the end of it's working range .. not good.
the down on the other hand,s eems to keep getting better as things get colder. like having sombody lighting a flare down there and it gets al warm and good.
i have swam (swum? ) a river and got my down bag so drenched that water was running off it inside. whatever.. i still slept ok fully dressed (was a stinking mess anyway).
this leads me to think that down takes some long term soaking to be really nasty wet (done that too).

as far as overall weight (this being bpL), methinks that by the time you opt for a syn overbag, you're better off with a real tent and a down bag, and living with the odd colder night on occasion.
but, as said above by the time your down is quite drenched, you've got a mofo (he didn't actually say that , but ... ) of a problem to dry it sans sun and some heat.
this is where you want a tent.

v.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Vapour" and DWR on 11/02/2013 00:39:48 MDT Print View

Roger,

How do you know that the DWR is merely a surface treatment and has not penetrated the down plumule?

If it has penetrated the plumule than water vapor can't displace it.

This is where the chemical composition of the DWR as well as its method of application can make the difference.

I dunno if the curent down DWRs available can penetrate the down but we need to have a wait-and-see attitude about this.

Mountain Hardware and others need to test the DWR treated down for resistance to vapor over time.

Edited by Danepacker on 11/03/2013 19:31:31 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "Vapour" and DWR on 11/02/2013 04:49:38 MDT Print View

Hi Eric

> How do you know that the DWR is merely a surface treatment and has not penetrated
> the down plumule?

Once you go from a surface treatment to a volume treatment you are using a huge amount more chemical and the weight rockets sky high. I am assuming that the treatment does not turn 1 kg of down into 2 kg of treated down (as it were).

Also, since I know more than a little about the various forms of keratin (eg wool & feathers), I have some serious reservations about the technical feasibility of a volume treatment. Frankly, I just can't see it.

Cheers

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: "Vapour" and DWR on 11/02/2013 06:45:20 MDT Print View

Indeed, it is clearly stated several times that there was maximaly a marginal increase in weight.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Dri-down .. Re: How easy is it to wet down? on 11/02/2013 10:51:51 MDT Print View

Roger said … ...For a start, many have noted that with a good DWR on the surface fabric, it is actually quite hard to get down gear wet.

I guess if you cowboy camp on top of a mountain while it is snowing things may happen, but in my book that is trying for a Darwin Award. Just my opinion.


So perhaps also for a climber belaying (having to stay stationary in freezing rain or slushy snow) or maybe a day hiker sans shelter trying to get back to the car when the temps go down on a rainy late hike. In terms of being inside a "worthy" shelter, Dri-down would seem overkill (at a premium price) vs. present DWR.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Re: Re: Down can get wet and useless and worse on 11/02/2013 11:24:45 MDT Print View

"I just about died one night due to a very wet down sleeping bag, and it took no effort at all to get it that way."

And down fanatics berate the synthetic users...

I use nothing but synthetic sleeping bags and jackets. I don't advertise it too much because it's definitely a minority opinion on BPL. However, I know myself and I know I make mistakes with weather judgements, tarp pitches, or estimations of temperatures. Synthetic gives me room to make mistakes and learn.

On top of that, in a real survival scenario, I have the assurance I'll be warm (to a certain degree). That can make a big difference in my odds of survival.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Down can get wet and useless and worse on 11/02/2013 11:49:41 MDT Print View

Ofcourse, synthetic is an option, but I have noted that those have a much shorter lifespan, sometimes only a year. And if you think your bag is enough for certain temps, but it isn't anymore ... And they aren't necessarily cheap.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Maybe if you ride them into the ground... on 11/02/2013 11:54:56 MDT Print View

My EMS Solstice 20 was $75. I took it right down to it's rating for two years and probably more than 100 nights, and then replaced it with something lighter, but by caring for it with Down Wash and restoring loft in the dryer with tennis balls, it's still warm and winter-ready. I would trust it right to 20º right now.

My new bag is a MH Ultralamina, which was still cheaper than a down bag. I expect to get years of service.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Maybe if you ride them into the ground... on 11/02/2013 12:30:48 MDT Print View

Let's not forget that this site is for everyone on the globe and that prices aren't that low everywhere. E.g. a TNF Cat's Meow costs in the US $179 while in Europe €180 (which is about $240 these days). And don't forget that stores/chains like REI, EMS, MEC, ... are very scares over here or even do not exist. I can think of only one cheap-priced chain and their low prices are only on their products (and the quality of those varies).
You thought the US is expensive ? Then certainly don't buy gear in Europe. (And do not forget that ±40 % of our income is first lost on things like taxes).

Edited by Woubeir on 11/02/2013 13:24:14 MDT.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Dri-down .. Re: How easy is it to wet down? on 11/02/2013 13:38:29 MDT Print View

"So perhaps also for a climber belaying (having to stay stationary in freezing rain or slushy snow) or maybe a day hiker sans shelter trying to get back to the car when the temps go down on a rainy late hike. In terms of being inside a "worthy" shelter, Dri-down would seem overkill (at a premium price) vs. present DWR."

That is a great point. Sitting on a ledge in the middle of a grade four slab climb with an ankle deep river pouring in your shoes and everything synthetic looks good. Even then I wouldn't get my bag out of the plastic until the river stopped. Very different than a mobile hiker.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Don't try and compare. on 11/02/2013 14:11:00 MDT Print View

Call me a skeptic but I kind of doubt that a comparison between US and UK pricing is remotely fair and unbiased. Your sleeping bag's price is influenced by a whole range of variables. it's not cookie-cutter.

U.S. minimum Wage is $7.25/hour, equating to about $15,000/yr for standard 40-hour workweeks. The UK's minimum wage is 25% higher than that at $10.00 per hour, with 38.5hr workweeks, equating to about $20,000 a year.

That's just the bottom...

I know people in the UK are taxed a lot more, but your taxes DO a lot more for you than they do for us. Much more of my tax dollars go into military spending than yours do, which means more of your tax dollars go into civic services, and on top of that, my health insurance comes out of my salary. Yours is included in your taxes.

On top of THAT, my education purchased in the UK would be tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than it was in the United States. I went to a state liberal arts college with my tuition paid for and I still owe $20,000 in student fees for my two degrees.

We can't even look at average salaries. because of the wage disparity in the United States, your lower and middle class take home substantially more of their wages than people living in the U.S. who pay for their own health insurance. Our top 2% most affluent skew our data so greatly, the United States places about ~10-15% higher overall in take-home personal income. But if you look at quality of life, property value, and access to essential services, the UK is ahead.

So, I don't have sympathy. I lived right outside of NYC for years and every single thing around the city is about 20-30% more expensive than stuff around Western Massachusetts. Right down to bottles of water. Why? Because the average wage is higher. Even the wages at the bottom were higher.

Every place is a microcosm. Every town in the world is its own economy. Comparing the two is like apples and oranges.

Edited by mdilthey on 11/02/2013 14:13:16 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Don't try and compare. on 11/02/2013 14:17:56 MDT Print View

Max,

Tom is in Belgium, I Iived their with work for 3.5 years and it is utter robbery.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Don't try and compare. on 11/02/2013 14:23:58 MDT Print View

I don't want to complain over what we pay and what we get back for it (in theory). That's a totally different discussion (political in nature while this is a backpacking forum).

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Wages be Damned on 11/02/2013 14:29:53 MDT Print View

Ah, but Tom, I posted about enjoying the quality of my synthetic bag and you brought up pricing.

I never even argued that synthetic was a better value, only that the perceived lack of value due to durability was kind of a misnomer, as the synthetic bags reach a level of quality and longevity in line with expectation based on price (in my opinion).

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
down on 11/02/2013 15:00:42 MDT Print View

The unfortunate reality, is that a down bag should never come close to getting wet. If it does, the user has screwed up. Keeping it dry, is akin to not walking over a cliff.

There are drysacks to keep them in.

There are tents that can weather cat1 hurricanes and sit in 2" water without letting a drop in.

And there are vapor barrier clothing that can be used to even avoid moisture pickup from body in cold conditions.

If it gets wet, its user error in planning, and execution , of a trip.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: down on 11/02/2013 15:51:16 MDT Print View

and yet we have tales of BPLers i assume are quite experienced here getting their down wet at some point on this thread ...

most people i suspect get it wet at least once .... then they learn not to ... and pray they dont make any mistakes

;)

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
I Disagree. on 11/02/2013 16:52:33 MDT Print View

That's akin to saying good skiers should never trigger avalanches or be in avalanche-prone areas, so carrying probes and airbags is useless.

There is such a thing as "calculated risk" in backpacking.

You can bring a tarp and run the risk of being soaked in a hurricane, but that margin of risk is so small that it is reasonable to forgo a hurricane-proof tent and stick with a tarp instead.

Even the best backpackers can make mistakes. Situations can always unravel beyond a reasonable expectation of planning. Many of the greatest climbers and alpinists in human history died on mountains.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
mistakes. on 11/02/2013 17:39:25 MDT Print View

If you make a mistake, you suffer the consequences.

But you try HARD not to make those mistakes that can kill you. At least you should.


If you dont, then you wont be long for this world.

You dont take risks that can kill you lightly. If you do your a fool.


As quite a few people learn every day.

The underlying problem with risk management, is complacency. When someone has done something 1000 times and suffered no bad effects, they become less cautious. If something bad can happen, it eventually WILL given enough chances. Guaranteed.

Edited by livingontheroad on 11/02/2013 17:44:31 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: down on 11/02/2013 17:47:48 MDT Print View

"and yet we have tales of BPLers i assume are quite experienced here getting their down wet at some point on this thread ..."

The winter incident that I related took place back in the 1970's, and I was incredibly inexperienced in the mountains (tagging along with two experienced guys). Mount Rainier took its toll, and my 4-pound down sleeping bag had become a 25-pound wet sponge. It got ugly after that.

I think down sleeping bags are perfectly fine to use, but that requires the user to exercise a bit of paranoia about getting it wet. Once you get cautious with it, then there is no problem.

--B.G.--

Oliver Nissen
(olivernissen) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire Dales
Oil resistant down on 11/03/2013 08:42:26 MST Print View

A quick clarification - Patagonia's Encapsil(R) down treatment involves a plasma (ionisation) process. The fanfare is that supposedly the molecular bonding of the DWR to the down due to the ionisation process is better/longerlasting than that of previous chemical bath DWR treatments. (Not some "molecular level deposition"!)

Aside from water repellency, additional (and arguably greater) benefits might come from some of the new down treatments, namely oil repellency and so-called "self-cleaning" properties. Fluoro-based DWRs can be great at this - they're oleophobic as well as hydrophobic. Being silicone chemistry, I wonder how oleophobic the Encapsil treatment is?

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
OOH! OOH! on 11/03/2013 19:44:28 MST Print View

Oliver, however can you forgive me for using the wrong terminology of "molecular level deposition" when trying to describe Patagonia's down DWR?

Mea culpa!

Mea culpa!

I seldom lash out here on BPL but your comment is at xxxx level.

Edited by rcaffin on 11/03/2013 20:43:56 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: OOH! OOH! on 11/03/2013 20:32:16 MST Print View

Oliver,

From Patagonia -
"Patagonia's down is sent through a proprietary machine and agitated with low-level radio frequency waves until the surface of the down's molecular structure begins to shift. A tiny amount of siloxane is then deposited onto each plumule of down, adhering to its changed molecular structure in a virtually permanent way. The result is down that is hydrophobic, stronger and loftier by 25%."

Jess Clayton, 805-667-4755, jess.clayton@patagonia.com

From AeonClad Coatings -
"Radio frequency pulsing (the plasma on and off times or the duty cycle) and deposition time allows for the fine control of the nature of films, such as film thickness and surface composition."


It seems like "molecular level deposition" is a pretty good description of what is accomplished with "proprietary radio frequency pulsing" to control deposition characteristics for the "changed molecular structure" of the down.

Care to clarify how "molecular level deposition" falls short?

I'm curious.

Edited by greg23 on 11/03/2013 20:45:40 MST.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Shelter on 11/04/2013 13:03:01 MST Print View

Interesting discussion. I don't have a lot of experience using a down bag in wet/humid environments for more than a night or two. For those that do, what's your lightweight shelter of choice to keep your down dry on wet & humid trips with little sunlight for several days?

Is this where you go to a double wall tent? A fully enclosed tarp, like a mid? Bivy or no bivy?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Shelter on 11/04/2013 16:03:34 MST Print View

> For those that do, what's your lightweight shelter of choice to keep your down
> dry on wet & humid trips with little sunlight for several days?

This is where you get to play Dirty Harry - 'do you feel lucky?'.

You might decide that you can handle (say) 3 nights of humidity and go UL with a little tarp. You might be lucky.
Or you might decide that you don't want to worry too much about it, and take a decent single-wall tent. Good shelter.
Or, if conditions are going to be a bit more severe, you might take a double-wall tunnel tent and just not worry at all :-)

Guess what? It's your choice!

Cheers
PS: I am not a big fan of bivy sacks in bad weather.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Maybe if you ride them into the ground... on 11/04/2013 16:15:02 MST Print View

"My new bag is a MH Ultralamina, which was still cheaper than a down bag. I expect to get years of service."

fwiw, my mh lamina 35 degree bag crapped out on me after about 60 nights.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Why I don't like bivy bags on 11/04/2013 16:35:08 MST Print View

I was asked by PM why I don't like bivy bags, and half way through writing the answer I thought I should post it here rather than by PM. You will note that a lot of them have to do with how my wife and I travel, but they are not the sole reasons.

* Two cramped confining bivy sacks weigh as much as one comfortable tent.
* When it is cold we snuggle up together to share warmth: works in a tent.
* Changing out of wet clothing in bad weather is dead easy in a tent; it is horrible in a bivy sack.
* In cold weather bivy sacks tend to get condensation on the inside, which of course transfers back to the quilt(/SB) shell and insulation. In a tent the condensation is MUCH less, and is on the roof, far from the shell.
* In bad weather you need to be sheltered for >12 hours. Try lying still in a bivy bag for that long! dead easy in a tent.
* Try cooking in bad weather in a bivy bag. You may set it alight. It is dead easy in a tent, even in a howling snow storm.
* It is 3 am, the weather is awful, and you need to go to the loo. Not hard to get dressed in enough gear in a tent for a brief trip outside, but try that in the dark in a bivy sack.

Enough? I am sure I can think of more.

Cheers

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Why I don't like bivy bags on 11/04/2013 16:51:56 MST Print View

I haven't used a real bivy bag before, but I wouldn't mind using one for camping in mostly dry summer weather where I most likely wouldn't need a shelter. Seems like a lightweight option for an occasional storm or shower.
Bivy camping when I know that it's going to rain? No thanks.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Bivy's "limited" use (IMHO) on 11/05/2013 14:58:41 MST Print View

I am PM "postee" to Roger re. bivy sacks.

Being a confirmed and baptized tenter I agreee with every point Roger made.

Personally my ONLY use for a bivy sack would be in a snow shelter, i.e. quinzhee, trench, cave, or igloo. There it would keep my bag drier.