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Better than PossumDown
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Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Better than PossumDown on 03/04/2014 09:52:21 MST Print View

A while back BPL used to sell PossumDown sweaters and vests. To this day, I haven't found anything that compares to their weight/warmth ratio. Has anyone found anything better since? Something more durable?

Big thanks – Gary

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Gear Forum on 03/04/2014 19:36:22 MST Print View

Gary, you might have a better chance for responses in the Gear forum with a question like this. I'd be interested in the answer. I know there are possum down sweaters out there (I Googled them) but they're pretty expensive.

Edited by arttyszka on 03/04/2014 19:38:19 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Better than PossumDown on 03/04/2014 19:43:33 MST Print View

No experience, but I hear good things.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Better than PossumDown on 03/04/2014 20:41:53 MST Print View

are possumdown sweaters warmer for their weight than fleece?

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Yes on 03/04/2014 21:36:02 MST Print View

I'm pretty sure they're quite a bit warmer. Anyone?

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: PossumDown Sweater on 03/05/2014 07:30:10 MST Print View

Never had a sweater to compare, but I've got a PossumDown beanie ... which isn't much different in performance than my merino blend beanie. They are both very close in performance. I think that the PossumDown beanie may have a greater temperature comfort range ... but that might be just a psychological difference because I spent so much money on it, I want to somehow justify in my mind that it was worth it ;-)

Just a fyi: Looks like sweaters are still available here

Edited by tr-browsing on 03/06/2014 14:02:36 MST.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Possumdown beanie on 03/06/2014 10:00:25 MST Print View

is my favorite by far. Light, warm, wicks perspiration to outside. If it gets wet (ie wearing it in the rain), can literally shake the water out and put it back on in a nearly dry condition.

The only negative of Possumdown is durability, which is not a problem for a beanie, but is definitely a problem for gloves (if using trekking poles) and might be for a sweater or vest under pack straps.

(dirtt) - F

Locale: So. California
pd on 03/19/2014 19:48:49 MDT Print View

I've had a possumdown beanie and fingerless gloves since about 2007. They both work great and are very warm, super light. The beanie is from here, the gloves from New Zealand.

The sweater I got in New Zealand did not last more than two years. It was very warm, super light and amazingly soft. It didn't fall apart, it shrunk to toddler size when someone washed and dried it hot. I paid about $100 NZD at the time, if I could find one stateside at that price I would snap it up.

I still have my 6-7 year old Patty micropuff vest and it works but not as well as the sweater.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/02/2014 23:22:59 MDT Print View

Good quality alpaca is pretty good, but since i haven't tried possum down i can't really make a comparison other than what i've researched from other's experiences etc. From that perspective, it sounds like possum down would probably be a bit warmer per weight than alpaca on average (with same fiber arrangement, etc), but alpaca more durable on average.

Warmth to weight wise, Angora rabbit fur is probably similar to, if not warmer than, possum down, but it's pretty fragile stuff. When woven or knitted, it is almost always blended with other, stronger or more durable fibers. It would be better as a loose fill sandwiched between layers of stronger material.

I have a loose knit sweater supposedly handmade in NZ of primarily mohair, with a dose of nylon, and a little sheeps wool that i bought off ebay for pretty cheap. It weighs only 7 oz and is surprisingly quite warm, especially with a wind jacket over same and thin baselayer underneath. Apparently both the weave or knit rather, along with the fibers themselves, trap a lot of air.

Mohair is also a very strong and resilient fiber for an animal fiber. But probably not as warm as possum down (mohair fibers tend to be larger and less hollow which equal less air trapped). Seems like most everything is a give and take with various ideal or sought after properties.

What would be interesting from a synthetic point of view, is near micro fiber sized, but hollow and tri-lobal shaped polypropylene fibers treated with polygiene. Would be super warm, super light, fairly durable, and very quick drying unless made thick with a lot of fiber spaces for moisture to get trapped in. But, shake it out, and much of that water would be gone quickly. Downside is that it wouldn't "wick" very well, and so wouldn't be good for a baselayer but more for a mid.

Alright, back to vacation from bpl.

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/03/2014 05:18:58 MDT Print View

A few years ago some outfit was experimenting with aerogel insulation for performance outerwear. Dunno whatever happened with that.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/03/2014 07:03:05 MDT Print View

This is great! Any chance you can post some links to your sweater and some of the rabbit and alpaca clothing?

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/03/2014 21:38:53 MDT Print View

Hi Gary,

I bought the Mohair sweater off of ebay almost a couple of years ago. I did a search for it recently and could not find it. It was either a limited lot or one time dealio.

Regarding Alpaca and Angora rabbit fur. Alpaca, i've mostly gotten through STP, but there is an alpaca co op type place i've bought a couple of things from, the website is click on products.

Re: Angora rabbit fur, most of what i've gotten of this has been at thrift stores. I did buy one sweater off ebay, from a personal, one time sell. I bought a pound of Angora rabbit fur fiber from a semi local small farm, for 28 dollars. The lady is located in Maryland. I can look around for her site if you want. I put the fiber into a quilt.

Regarding the different properties or attributes of these, just do some google searches. Just be aware that there is more than a bit of exaggeration out there regarding "specialty fibers". For example, i've seen a lot of sites say that Alpaca fiber is 5 to 7 times warmer than Sheeps wool.

Besides being way over exaggerated, you have to give some kind of parameters for comparison. An important one is fiber size. Generally the smaller the fiber size, the more air a fiber traps all other things being equal. The only really major difference between alapca and sheeps wool fiber as that goes, is that alapca can (often does have) have pockets of trapped bubbles of air more as a trend. This could account for a greater insulation than the usually more solid sheeps fiber. However, if you're comparing say a sweater with a lot of 30 to 40 micron sized alpaca fiber vs a sweater with a lot of say 16 micron sized Merino fibers--well i would be willing to bet that the Merino sweater will be warmer all other things being equal. The Merino market is also far better regulated and scrutinized and it's easier to find higher quality stuff, whereas with Alpaca and buying online you run the risk of buying lesser quality stuff at higher prices than even the Merino often. Best bet is to go with a seller who very specifically labels their Alpaca stuff as at least "baby" Alpaca. You will pay more for it, but it should be the finer micron and softer, warmer stuff.

I once bought an alpaca throw, which was made with some rather large and coarse fibers, and therefore of course it felt rather scratchy (any larger fibers will).

Angora tends to be both very fine/small diameter fibers and more truly hollow. In that sense, it's akin to possum down, but again maybe even a bit more so.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 04/03/2014 22:42:00 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/03/2014 22:10:32 MDT Print View

If you want an insulating fiber that is warm, try the wool of a musk ox. It is sold in Alaska. Expensive.


just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/03/2014 22:34:12 MDT Print View

"If you want an insulating fiber that is warm, try the wool of a musk ox. It is sold in Alaska. Expensive."

I think Qiviut is over hyped and WAY over priced. It gets it's warmness for tending to have a rather fine/small fiber size. It does have some nice properties in that it's fairly strong and durable even when it the fiber is so fine.

But purely on a warmth to weight basis, good quality Angora Rabbit fur is definitely warmer than Qiviut, because it's also often fairly hollow or medullated and very fine/small size, whereas Qiviut is more solid.

Even super fine and very high quality Alpaca fibers will be near as warm as Qiviut, at a fraction of the cost, because of the air bubbles oft trapped in same, which can make up for the slightly thicker/courser fiber size.

Same with high quality silk. High quality, super fine micron silk, is a bit finer than even Qiviut, and has the interesting property of having a tri-lobal shape which traps more air than the more round fibers of Qiviut and most other animal fibers.

None of the above alternatives are particularly cheap or inexpensive, but compared to Qiviut, they are dirt cheap!

For Gary, regarding the trapped air bubbles as a trend in Alpaca fibers, here is a link to an independent lab which measures the micron size of different fibers. They also take pictures of different fibers. Scroll down to see a sample which represents a trend in alpca fiber.

But again, fiber size is extremely important in understanding the overall warmth of knit or woven garments. A super fine Merino fiber will be more insulating than a coarse Alpaca fiber trapped air bubble or no.

However, as much as i like specialty natural fibers, i've begun to think of Polartec PowerDry High efficiency fabric treated with polygiene as perhaps the most efficient and overall practical garment insulators to date. The kind of fabric that Patagonia uses for their Capilene 4 garments. It's fairly durable (especially compared to most specialty natural fibers, especially Angora, Possum down, and thinner, non felted Merino), traps a lot of air, doesn't weigh much, dries super fast, wicks awesomely, and doesn't stink. It does require an outer wind jacket or the like to get the full insulation, but since most of us carry a wind or rain jacket anyways, not a big deal.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/04/2014 07:20:02 MDT Print View

Justin - first of all, thanks for the fantastic response. It's funny, as I learned about this stuff, I looked into the same spots as you - Alpaca, musk ox and other natural fibers.

Eventually, I got to Patagonia Capilene 4 as well. I still use possumdown for the sweaters and the vests, but for base layers I switched to Patagonia. It's superlight and very warm. But they really really really stink. Even after were insured once when you come back from a trip it reeks. I still think possum down is warmer then Capilene 4 per weight.


just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/04/2014 10:01:54 MDT Print View

It's very possible that possum down is warmer than Cap 4/PPDHE per weight. Same with Angora Rabbit fur. But i think that the overall characteristics of the former, especially the durability, very quick drying, well wicking, etc more than make up for the difference in warmth to weight ratio.

Re: stink, i can see that with the first iterations of Cap 4, which used Gladiodor instead of the latest ones which use Polygiene. Patagonia didn't start using Polygiene until fall of this last year--so it's still pretty new. And stores often spend awhile in trying to get rid of their old stock, which is often where you see the sales, clearance, etc. I still see the old gladiodor stuff being sold at some places (especially the discount stores).

So far everything i have with polygiene works really well for minimizing odor, but then again i rarely get to do longer trips--so it might be different. However, there are people here who have attested to the effectiveness of polygiene even on longer trips.

Dunno, so far i think polygiene for synthetics is the bees knees. I still like the feel and overall greater comfort range of more natural fibers more.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 04/05/2014 21:09:42 MDT.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Better than PossumDown on 04/04/2014 10:36:20 MDT Print View

That's great. Polygiene looks like that one final missing piece. If there's no smell it's a near perfect base layer piece. Is there a way to tell which is the newest fleece with Poligiene? I think I have the older models. Got it late fall 2013

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
HA! on 04/04/2014 15:40:07 MDT Print View

"...someone washed it and dried it hot."

THAT is why my wife, who has ruined many of my clothes, will never, ever wash of dry (or iron) my clothes. I've been doing my own laundry for the last 35 years.