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Does anyone remember Frostline kit down packets
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Jeffrey Wong
(kayak4water) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Does anyone remember Frostline kit down packets on 03/20/2014 20:44:21 MDT Print View

Hi forumites(?)

I need some help. I found two packets of Frostline kit down leftover from a kit in the 70's, weighing 11.3 gm and 13 gm., labeled "9" or "6" A little plastic bag about the same size weighs 1.6 gm.

How much volume can I expect to get out of these two little packets?
Can I assume 500 fill power?

Frostline packets

Assuming 500 fill power, I get 171 cubes for the light packet & 201 cubes for heavier packet.

Math geeks, my small packet calculation below ( correct, yes?)
(11.3-1.6)gm x 1 oz./28.35 gm X 500 cubic inches/1 oz = 171 cubes

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Does anyone remember Frostline kit down packets on 03/20/2014 21:57:55 MDT Print View

Get a wide graduated cylinder, weigh out a small bit and fill 'er up. Then put a light weight on top and measure. Do a little dimensional analysis and you should have ball park figure. Otherwise just put it in a already light garment and not worry too much (like a down vest)!

Jeffrey Wong
(kayak4water) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
soaking down? on 03/20/2014 23:32:02 MDT Print View

I liked the last suggestion, because I doubt that I could keep dry down tamed in a graduated cylinder.

That said, has anyone here soaked their down before stuffing their projects?

Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
Frostline kits ? on 03/21/2014 06:14:33 MDT Print View

Ues, I remember them well. I made a few kits back in the early/mid
70's. 2 Down Jackets, down booties and 60/40 Mountain Jacket.
That's all I can remember now. I had a LOT more time than money
in those Student days and a real desire to get up into the Sierra
If I remember right the kits worked out to about half the cost of
buying Sierra Designs etc. retail. Retail was all there was in
those days, no discount houses.
Those down tubes worked well enough but I still had feathers
floating around the house afterword. The tubew were meant to be
sort of stuffed into the open baffle section and unrolled pushing
the down into each section.


John Klinepeter
(johnzotk) - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies, USA
Kits on 03/21/2014 08:48:03 MDT Print View

Those kits bring back memories from ~40 years ago. Like Larry I also made a 60/40 parka, a day pack, a sleeping bag, perhaps other items. The sleeping bag used 23 down packets labeled nos. 10 through 48. Unfortunately, there is no indication of the fill power in the assembly booklet. Your estimate of 500 f.p. is probably good. As I recall, down was just down back in those days and there was little talk of fill power.

Your math looks good to me.

It is possible that I have a Frostline catalog tucked away deeply in the garage. If I can find it and it has fill power specs I will get back to you.

Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
Frostline kits and other on 03/21/2014 10:26:39 MDT Print View

I made two external frame backpacks from kits that I got from
A-16 when they were out in east san diego county at an airfield.
Aluminum tube and copper plumbing connectors pop riveted together
and sew up the pack bags from nylon fabric and paper patterns.
i couldn't afford Sierra Designs stuff but found a source for cheap
but warm Down Sleeping Bags from New Zealand. Arthur Ellis and Co. IIIRC. "Fairy Down" Sleeping bags supposedly supplied to Edmund
Hillary Expeditions to Everest. The bags weighed about 5 lb but I
couldn't afford the $95-100 for a Sierra Designs bag. The NZ bags
cost about $35 ea shipped.
This was back in the Colin Fletcher days.
When my wife and I would start a week long backpack I'd be carrying
about 45 lbs and the wife would have about 35 lbs at the Trailhead.
When I start my hike at the Crazy Cook Monument in 3 weeks I'll be
carrying right at 31 lbs. including 5 qts. of water.
Things have changed a little. {:>)


Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Does anyone remember Frostline kit down packets on 03/21/2014 14:11:50 MDT Print View

Friend of mine sewed a frostline jacket and a couple other kits. Their down was advertised at the time as 550 fill power. I studied those Frostline catalogs pretty assiduously at the time, as well as Holubar, REI, EMS, Gerry, all the classics.
Anyone else remember the Holubar "Paragon Incalescent" parka?

John Klinepeter
(johnzotk) - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies, USA
1974 Catalog on 03/21/2014 17:52:33 MDT Print View

"Wow, lucky day! I found the 1974 catalog which talks about "highest quality of down" and "prime northern goose down". There is no mention of the fill power, however.

At that time you could buy pre-packaged down, packet #6 containing 3/8 ounce of down for 67 cents. There is no packet #9 so that small mystery is solved. 3/8 ounce is about 10.6 gm, not 12 gm, probably close enough.

Some trivia about their down packaging: "in use until last year" (1973 apparently)they packaged the down in Pellon packets "a porous paper-like material stitched together and stitched closed at each end". They moved on to experimenting with(not sure if they actually used in production) "a soluble plastic called polyvinyl alcohol film...(which) worked well when proper washing techniques were followed (but) we found that the residue which was left behind coated some of the down pods, reducing their loft..." "Finally, we arrived back where we started: With a new plastic packet...It has a flip-top closure..."

More than you ever wanted to know about Frostline down. It will probably give you nightmares.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Fairy were the best on 03/22/2014 20:36:51 MDT Print View

my friend's kit had the pellon packets, I think.

Me and three buddies all had Fairy bags, various models. I had the cheapest; cotton shell and lining, no zip, duck down. Nice bag. Those bags were stuffed with down - serious overfill. Pretty exciting as a 12-year old to get a package from New Zealand with my first down bag.

Jeffrey Wong
(kayak4water) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Wow on 03/26/2014 01:08:39 MDT Print View

John K, finding that catalog must have aroused a few memories. Thanks for the information.

Paul, thanks for your fine recollection of their advertised fill power.

FWIW, I made a bunch of stuff from their catalog, including a couple sleeping bags for my sister and I, a Skyline tent (a modified a-frame with a fly sheet that rolled up to attach to a fin atop the peak of the mesh tent body. I still wear my bulky Frostline synthetic fill vest. The front loading external frame pack has disappeared (faded memories of an Alpenlite frame and all the creaking/clicking cotterpins and rings). I seared the edges of many yards of uncoated ripstop. The things I pushed on our sewing machine back in the day amaze me now--back then we could never have imagined a Hello Kitty sewing machine.

All that gear performed for us in the Kings Canyon, Zion, Death Valley, Yosemite, Pine Valley Mtns (UT). The coated nylon stuff sacks and pack cloth went stinky long ago. Things have changed for the better for wheezing, gassy old wannabees like me.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Memories on 03/26/2014 02:00:25 MDT Print View

Wow, this thread brings back memories of my parents ordering various kits from Frostline back in the 70s. My sister in law used to work there. Many nights my mom spent on the sewing machine putting all of that together.

Rebecca Audette

Locale: Wicked northern, Massachusetts
Frostline on 03/26/2014 18:03:19 MDT Print View

I made front and rear bike panniers with their kits in the mid-90's. I wish they were still around!

Thomas Conly
(conly) - F

Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow
Re: Does anyone remember Frostline kit down packets on 03/26/2014 19:12:52 MDT Print View

I don't suppose anyone still has any of the patterns still kicking around?


Locale: Western Michigan
Sure Do and MORE on 03/27/2014 06:18:29 MDT Print View

O yes memories.......

Frost Line#1

Frost Line#2

When the family XC skied across Michigan from Kalkaska to Empire back in the 70's, to keep us warm at night were the Frost Line down jackets we had made prior to this adventure. The wife and I made four jackets, one sleeping bag liner/summer bag and two pairs of down mitts. Cold winter as I remember in our Gerry Tents, REI cable binding ski's & the home made pulk. At night before "slumbering off" hearing the sap in the conifers snapping was a first indication it was cold outside. A great adventure that all of us remember and did in great style!

When I looked in our "sewing archives" after getting into this thread I found no patterns, but scraps of jacket fabric and two packages of down, grade unknown, because back then down, was down and equated to warmth and Backpacking Light had not been invented.

Jeffery, thanks for taking us back in time......

Edited by KENLARSON on 03/27/2014 06:20:18 MDT.

Jon Lannom
(jla956) - F - MLife

Locale: Texas
Frostline Booties on 01/17/2015 13:19:14 MST Print View

Used mine just this past weekend - they helped make sure my feet stayed warm since the temps dropped below the capability of my bag. Thanks to Frostline I learned how to sew back in the 70s. I had a vest at one time but it's long gone. If someone still made kits like these I would probably buy them.
Frostline Booties

Edited by jla956 on 01/17/2015 13:19:46 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Frostline Booties on 01/17/2015 14:20:56 MST Print View

Frostline kits were great back around 1980.

Goose down, for some items. Polarguard for other items.


scott Nelson
(nlsscott) - MLife

Locale: So. Calif.
Made a Frostline Sleeping bag on 01/17/2015 22:20:24 MST Print View

I was a college student and my Mom and I made a sleeping bag from Frostline working together. I would read the directions get the pieces pined together or whatever and then she would sew it up. I learned how to sew then and have been enjoying it ever since. Unfortunately, the bag didn't last long. I was a camp counselor and kids from a rival cabin trashed our cabin. My down bag ended up on top of the floor furnace and caught fire! Somebody found it and put the fire out before any damage was done to the rest of the cabin. But my bag was toast. This was a Winter camp in Southern California mountains and pretty cold at night. I found out how useless a Space Blanket was that night. After a while, I grabed everyone's jackets and made a nest for the night. Ah good times! - Scott