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Water Repellent Down, One Year In
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Mitchell Ebbott
(mebbott) - M

Locale: SoCal
Water Repellent Down, One Year In on 01/11/2014 16:39:16 MST Print View

DownTek and DriDown products started hitting the market en masse a little over a year ago. Now that the early adopters have gotten to take it for a spin in all four seasons, I'm sure they have some feedback for the rest of us!

Has anyone been in a situation in the field where your WR down has gotten wet? What about humid conditions? Tell your story!

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Water Repellent Down, One Year In on 01/11/2014 18:13:03 MST Print View

I have a Zpacks twin quilt with DWR down in it that I got back in August. My wife and I have only used it about 10 nights, so I can't say that I've thoroughly tested it. The only situation I've been in that saw any moisture near the quilt was cowboy camping in a meadow on a 28F night - in the morning the whole shell was covered in frost. In addition, we both pulled the quilt over our faces to stay warm and breathed quite a bit of moisture into the top few baffles. I've done this many times with a non-DWR-down quilt and the top baffle ends up being pretty flat from the moisture. With the DWR down there was no noticeable loss of loft, though you could clearly see beads of water on the inside of the fabric when held up to the light.

Other than the DWR treatment and the slight increase in weight (850 fill treated versus 900 fill untreated), I'm not sure I could tell the difference between DWR and regular down. It's very lofty, no noticeable clumping or other weird behavior, and it compresses about the same. Who knows how it will hold up 10 years from now compared to untreated down, but so far so good. I'm in the process of getting a winter quilt and I'm strongly considering getting one with DWR-treated down.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
year in on 01/12/2014 00:38:55 MST Print View

Hopefully more people will chime in. I have a pound of 850 FP water resistant down from Allied Feather sitting in its original shipping bag, waiting for me to start/finish my quilt so I can use it. Maybe in a year, I'll update my post.. Haha.

Hopefully it's as good as all the hype claims. I put off quite a bit of heat and moisture when I sleep, especially at my feet, so the WR will hopefully keep things lofty.

It's encouraging to hear a fellow Andrew give some positive feedback on it.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 01/12/2014 00:40:28 MST.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
How about washing water repellent down? on 01/12/2014 01:21:35 MST Print View

I've always wondered if you can wash water repellent down gear just like normal down, or if the treatment precludes normal washing? Or maybe the water repellency is lost once the down is washed?

Anyone have experience with this?

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Data Missing? on 01/12/2014 13:50:13 MST Print View

Wow, we're really thin on the reports at this point. As one of my professors liked to say: "When the data's missing, the data's missing."

In a previous thread I was asking about resistant down sweaters, and one of the posters posted a link to this unsettling clumping report about the Patagonia Encapsil Belay Parka:

...I found a follow-up report by this guy who said: "Yes, washing by CO2 Nexus restored loft. Through OudoorGearLab testing of many hydrophobic down bags and jackets we are seeing that treated down tends to clump up more and faster than untreated down, which is a drawback for long trips where you can't/don't wash a jacket. But even so, the Encapsil is a phenomenal parka."

It's an interesting report, because there was somewhat of a control group. I really don't see the value of reports of resistant down if there isn't a non-resistant down used as a control.

Here's another more sanguine report by a hunter (but no control):

Edited by Bolster on 01/12/2014 14:00:49 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Scientific testing needed on 01/12/2014 14:00:12 MST Print View

It sure would be nice :o) if some BPL tester would do a scientific test to see WHICH down DWR teatment is "best".

Patagonia appears to have its own method of applying DWR and maybe this is key to the best down water resistance - or not.

LL Bean uses Dri Down as do some others.

There are just too many variables of shell material, shell DWR treatment, user objectivity, and user environmental conditions to have any true estimate of which down DWRs are best from owner reports.

Would I pay more for Patagucci's DWR down if it was tested clearly superior by a wide margin? Yep!

But, OTOH, if testing showed little difference between treatments then I'd go for the garment that suited my needs best.

With a technology this new I feel that I can safely predict even more improvements in down DWR.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Max Neale on 01/12/2014 14:08:39 MST Print View

Max Neale again:

"Our preliminary field testing has shown that treated down is not a substitute for synthetic insulation in wet conditions. Testing by one well respected company (that prefers not to be named) has shown a negligible difference between treated an untreated down in real world experiments, such as if the bag gets soaked, perhaps during a river crossing, does it dry faster and re-loft faster? Their testing suggests that it does not. Another concern is durability. Down is extremely durable: it's able to withstand hundreds of compressions, wide swings in temperatures, and proper washing restores twenty and even thirty year old down close to its original performance. We aim to test treated and untreated down side by side in sleepings bags and jackets over the long-term (and then test the down fill power) to see if treated down reduces durability. OutdoorGearLab is also in the process of developing quantitative tests through dummy skin temp probes and thermal imaging that will compare the insulation values of treated and untreated down."

Interesting photos of treated down after a spray with water, here:

Edited by Bolster on 01/12/2014 14:10:16 MST.

(bigtrout) - MLife
Sierra Designs Dri-Down Jacket - 1 year later... on 01/15/2014 21:18:21 MST Print View

I found a Gnarlite jacket on sale in late 2012. This is my first sweater type jacket; only comparison would be an old NF Nuptse jacket I inherited, some 12 years ago. The Nuptse as it happens is still doing quite well, and was never properly cared for. Got soaked in rain/snow countless times, always seemed to stay puffy.

I wore the Gnarlite for nearly 3 months, often allowing it to get wet by both rain and sweat, prior to washing it for the 1st time.

I then followed the cleaning instructions to a "T." It has never returned to the same loft as when new. I suppose failing to clean it regularly may have done it...

Prior to that 1st wash though - it didnt appear to get clumpy or otherwise lose its loft, even in that heavy wet Georgian Bay snow in February. The shell certainly lost its DWR quick.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Water Repellent Down, One Year In, ZPacks quilts. on 01/15/2014 23:35:10 MST Print View

We have 2 double quilts, a 20 degree with water-repellent down and a 40 degree with standard down. The 20 degree has 29 nights on it and the 40 degree has 16 nights.
We usually sleep with an open tent (Hexamid or Duplex). Some nights when there is a heavy dew, we wake to water on the surface of everything in the tent. The 20 degree has never suffered noticeable loss of loft but neither has the 40 degree. The moisture has never penetrated the shell DWR. So, I don't think the water repellent properties of the down have been tested and I suspect that it's the same for most users. The Water repellent down might prove useful in an emergency, but in general use, I think the DWR of the shell is much more important (in a sleeping bag/quilt).
We haven't had problems with clumping yet, but if I were buying again, I wouldn't bother with water repellent down in a bag.

hwc 1954
(wcollings) - M
tennis balls on 01/15/2014 23:41:03 MST Print View

To fluff up down, just put the garment in a dryer with three tennis balls bouncing around. The tennis balls break up any clumps and fluff up the down.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Water Repellent Down, One Year In on 01/15/2014 23:50:51 MST Print View

Though one year out is probably not long enough to say much, since nobody has brought it up yet, I will. The reason why I will not consider touching the stuff at the moment is that at least one reputable tester I read brought up questions of the effect the treatment might have on the longevity of the down. So one thing to look for over time might be breakdown of the down.

Oliver Nissen
(olivernissen) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire Dales
DWR on 01/16/2014 03:40:42 MST Print View

I think I may have written words to the same effect before on another thread, but I lacked any source material to cite, so I'll repeat this...

I wouldn't be surprised if Patagonia's DWR (and Rab's Nikwax-based treatment too) under-performs some rival technologies in regard to clumping and what you might call "interlaundering longevity."

This is because of these DWR's silicone chemistry. Silicone DWR may be more environmentally friendly than any fluorine based DWR, but they don't provide the wide benefits of their Fluorinated rivals, especially in oleophobic and self-cleaning effects. With down this is especially important, as it's oils and dirt that severely contribute to clumping effects.

This was mentioned in presentation I attended - see the PDF link:

The issue in question is highlighted on the chart on page 14 of the PDF.

Fluorinated DWRs on linings will help avoid oil contamination from sweat (you could apply this yourself), as would the light coatings that are used on many of the super-light nylon rip-stops and taffetas.


Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: DWR on 01/16/2014 05:39:54 MST Print View

"I wouldn't be surprised if Patagonia's DWR (and Rab's Nikwax-based treatment too) under-performs some rival technologies in regard to clumping and what you might call "interlaundering longevity."

This is because of these DWR's silicone chemistry."
Euh, Nixwax is wax-based, not silicone.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
longevity on 01/16/2014 08:14:48 MST Print View

Just as a note, I had called DownTek in the early fall of last year asking about the longevity of their product. I was told that the DWR coating on the down only lasts about 10-20 washes depending.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Best Case on 01/16/2014 09:09:04 MST Print View

And that's from the manufacturer...which usually means, best case scenario.

Oliver is correct about Nikwax underperformance all the same: "Niwax has a DWR (wax-elastomer base) that is sprayed on and doesn't need to be heat set. It is more environmental friendly but it will only last about 1/2 as long a fluorocarbon-based DWR at the same concentration....Wax is the least durable, then silicone, then fluorocarbons. Fluorcarbons have the added benefit of repelling both oils and water." (R Nisley)

Edited by Bolster on 01/16/2014 09:15:54 MST.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
hmm on 01/16/2014 10:10:01 MST Print View

This makes me think twice about buying the Ghost Whisperer I was about purchase.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: longevity on 01/16/2014 10:22:45 MST Print View

"Just as a note, I had called DownTek in the early fall of last year asking about the longevity of their product. I was told that the DWR coating on the down only lasts about 10-20 washes depending."

'only' 10 - 20 washes !!??

I've used down bags and jackets in the outdoors for about 40 years... I can't recall ever washing any item even 5 times.

I suppose if you sweat a lot and wear your down next to your skin it may be necessary to wash often.

In my case down is mostly only used in camp in the evening. And I hike in cool mountain climates. I always have other layers under the down and sweat/stink just does not get to the down. In my bag I wear clothing at night so again, the sweat and stink does not get to the down. I also wash up every evening in camp before putting on the down or getting into the bag... at least in summer.
My bag did need cleaning after 3 weeks on McKinley though... with not one bath!


Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: longevity on 01/16/2014 10:39:47 MST Print View

Assuming 10 washes is the max life, that means the DWR would last 10 to 15 years for my bags and jackets. I can't complain much about that timeframe. Even after it washes out, in theory you still have a high quality down bag....All this assumes the DWR does what it claims and is worth having in the first place.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
One more thing... on 01/16/2014 14:34:26 MST Print View

As of now I will only buy down garments that are factory DWR treated.

It doesn't make sense to me to buy untreated down garments any more.

I have done my best to protect my WM Megalite bag and EB down jacket with Revivex spray-on DWR but that only goes so far. Having both shell DWR AND down DWR makes the most sense.

stephen korpi
( - M

Locale: Portland Oregon
Down DWR on 01/16/2014 15:38:22 MST Print View

I also have concerns about long term use of DWR down. The good news is that almost everybody have a long term test of untreated down. In my experience, untreated down has preformed perfectly. My understanding is that treated down has had the natural oils stripped from them to apply the DWR treatment. So, if untreated down lasts decades, and treated down only lasts several washings, you won't find me buying any treated down if there is an untreated option. Nothing man has done has surpassed down yet, and I don't expect it will any time soon.