Okay, enough stuff sacks already! (drum-roll please) I’ve decided to attempt down-insulated vests for the wife and I. I’m hoping it ends up something along the lines of Montbell’s lightweight down vests or Patagonia’s down sweater. My final weight target is less than 8 oz. I plan to use Momenum90 nylon and no-see-um netting and 800 down from thru-hiker. I estimate the cost at $60 for each vest.
The intended use of this garment is to have a very light and compressible piece to augment my hooded Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket in camp when the temps really dip. I will wear it under the Puff jacket that is sized to allow full loft of the down vest. I use the Puff jacket insulated with Polarguard around camp so as not to worry about it getting a little wet from rubbing up against wet vegetation, tents, etc. or in the case of rain, a little water could come under my poncho while doing camp chores. The Puff jacket would protect the down vest and the vest would boost the temperature rating of the jacket significantly for little weight and volume.
My past projects have all been fairly simple including Climashield XP synthetic insulated quilts, bug head nets, modifications to commercial tents and, yes, stuff sacks. I think I can manage the cutting and sewing of all the fabrics including seams and zippers. However, the thought of working with material from the GOOSE has turned me into a CHICKEN!
First of all, I have read the excellent article describing the making of a down quilt by Jeremy Padgett on the thru-hiker site. The knowledge that I still lack is how to measure the down into the increments that I need to fill each “baffle tube.” Remember, this is just a light vest so each “baffle tube” will only hold about 2 grams. (I have an electronic scale that measures to 1 gram and has tare capability).
I have considered weighing and filling the same number of ziplock sandwich bags as I have “baffle tubes” in the vest. That sounds organized to me and separates the task of distributing the down from the actual filling of the vest. Does this sound like a reasonable idea or is there a better method out there?
The other task for which I’m groping for ideas is the actual filling of the “baffle tubes.” Again, since this is a light vest, the “tubes” are rather small. I read on this forum where Aaron Sorensen used a vacuum cleaner tube and a broom stick. I think you “load” the vacuum tube with down by cramming is in and then insert the vacuum tube into the baffle and then eject the down by inserting the broom stick into the vacuum tube using it like a plunger. This sounds like a good idea to me but there is always more ways than one to skin a cat (or goose in this case), so I’m very open to alternative ideas.
Also, if anyone has any general advice or warnings about potential pitfalls, I want to hear about it! For instance, are there any reasonable alternatives to setting up and working inside a tent? It does sound like a good way to tame errant feathers but I’d think it would require a dust mask and could get pretty stuffy in there. HEADLINE: CAMPER DIES FROM WHITE LUNG DISEASE IN HIS LIVING ROOM!
I wouldn’t even consider a project like this without the help of you knowledgeable BPL members. Hey! Come to think of it, I will need to make a stuff sack for my vest from some of the left over material!