View Full Version : New type down jackets--rip-off?

01-18-2012, 10:30 PM
Have you noted how all the major manufacturers are falling in line with the production of those sleek, low-profile down jackets--you know, the ones with all the narrow, horizontal "tubes" holding the down? Often, they have high "fill-power" numbers (high-grade down)--but how much down do you get? And such garments are NOT cheap! No one can convince me that such thin jackets are going to be as warm as an old and bulky "puffy". "Thickness equals warmth" still rings true. (I don't think you'll likely see anybody summiting Everest in one of those sleek little numbers.) Isn't this one more case of clever marketing--a style trend in which the consumer actually gets less "stuff" for more $$$?

Mr. Deadpt

01-19-2012, 06:00 AM
They seem to be the hot item lately, for sure. And while there's no denying their softness, lightweight, and (dare I say it) sensual quality, they don't strike me as being especially warm or durable. I know I'd rip one open in a week thrashing around in some of the places I go.

As for filling, I recall seeing 2 ounces listed for one of these. By comparison my go-to, 30 year old-and-still-going-strong puffy has IIRC 8 -10 ounces. And 1.9 oz ripstop that feel like Cordura compared to the nylsilk of the new jackets.

01-19-2012, 07:27 AM
That's just it: "Sensual", "sexy", "trendy"--but not really any improvement. Some honest-to-goodness puffies are actually cheaper.

Mr. D

01-19-2012, 09:35 AM
Mr. D,

My partner and I carried one of those patagonia down pullovers on the Grand Teton this summer. When I got cold, that tiny thing was just enough insulation to take the chill off and let me get my sh#t together at the belay. I think that a DAS parka would have filled the enitre 18L pack I carried on that climb, besides, a jacket that big would have been overkill.

I don't think that they are a rip-off by any means when you get them on sale ; ) a local gear shop has had them at 1/2 price or so on closeout, not too bad.

3 years ago I switched from an overstuffed down north face jacket to a much lighter weight synthetic jacket and I haven't had any issues climbing in the NE. Except maybe getting a little chilly while sitting around top-rope gang banging.

Like any piece of specialized gear, the micro puffies will be a disappointment in the wrong application, but that is not the grear's fault.

01-22-2012, 10:31 PM
I agree a little bit with everybody so far. They are expensive and delicate feeling, but man is it warm. I don't think it would ever replace an over-stuffed belay jacket, but on my last three outings I've brought along both my TNF Nuptse and my patagonia hooded down jacket, and the Nuptse only leaves it's stuff sack pocket when I get home to hang it up. If things were absolutely horridly cold, I'd still take the heavier coat, but I've never worn the Nuptse since I bought it. Another benefit of the smaller downs is that you can fit them under your shell to protect them, and keep the wind and wet at bay. I like to think of it as just another option. Also, got mine on sale too. Way to expensive at full price.

01-27-2012, 12:07 AM
I agree with Alex, these jackets have their place. I use mine a lot when the weather is a bit warmer, or when you want that backup in the fall or spring when a full on puffy would be overkill. I used mine too on the Grand and it was a life saver for sure. I use my big puffy when it's cold or I know I'm going to be standing around a lot.

I don't think anyone is trying to say that these jackets are supposed to be able to replace a full belay jacket, and I don't see any companies trying to market them that way either.

01-29-2012, 11:46 AM
They weren't designed to replace bigger jackets. Their warmth to weight ratio compared to fleece is much better, which is also the reason that the face fabrics aren't a heavier weight material... because they're worn under another layer.

02-13-2012, 06:22 PM
They weren't designed to replace bigger jackets. Their warmth to weight ratio compared to fleece is much better, which is also the reason that the face fabrics aren't a heavier weight material... because they're worn under another layer.

+1 I couldn't have said it better.

02-13-2012, 10:37 PM
"Isn't this one more case of clever marketing--a style trend in which the consumer actually gets less "stuff" for more $$$?"

IMO yes. Super light down garments as mid layer insulation makes no sense to me. As a sweater weight outer garment it makes some sense for warmth to weight ratio.

With rare exceptions, it is simply clever marketing imo for the most part.

02-15-2012, 09:31 AM
down as a mid layer?
my r1 fleece might be bulkier but it still keeps me warm if i sweat in it
the only thing down is good for imo is really cold weather as an outer piece
other than that ill stick with my synthetic belay jkt

01-04-2013, 05:41 AM
To be able to have a great jacket, better purchase to a well-known brand that is proven to have good quality of jackets that can stand rough climbs.

01-04-2013, 07:31 PM
I think these jackets are great. As someone said earlier, different jackets have different purposes. I may have a problem (at least my wife thinks so), but I have a collection of about five or six "puffies" in my gear closet. Some are down and some are synthetic. But they each have their time and place and each get used.

In many ways I think that down is far superior to synthetic insulation. It lasts much longer. A down sleeping bag is supposed to hold its temperature rating for ten years while a synthetic is only supposed to last five. Down breathes fantastically, has superior warmth to weight ratio, and far better compressibility. And in my experience the whole warm when wet thing is a farce. If you're totally soaked, then you're gonna be cold. Doesn't matter what you have on. This is only really an issue if you confuse your puffy with your rain shell. Sweat is not going to compromise the warmth of a down jacket unless you're just too thick to take the damn thing off. In which case it's your own fault, don't blame the jacket.

And as far as cost goes, yeah, they're expensive, but so is any other piece of gear I own that's really nice. And if you pay attention to your pack weight at all, then you really get what you pay for.

But if you don't like them, don't buy one. What's the point of complaining about it?

01-23-2013, 09:16 AM
Nobody is "complaining". This is a discussion. (There is no debate that down is still superior to synthetic fill.)

But--an update: I now own one of the new low-profile, down jackets. Got it at a ridiculously low price ($40) at an Eddie Bauer end-of-season sale. It's almost generously stuffed with 800 fill power down and IS surprisingly warm for its weight and thickness--but, as others have said, still no substitute for a full-on thick down or synthetic puffy belay parka in serious cold.

But I still cringe when I see a price tag of over $100 on one of these very thin, barely-insulated jackets/sweaters/pull-over's.

01-28-2013, 07:12 PM
I spend most of most of my time climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park and other high country venues in Colorado, so it's hard not to love down. Although I enjoy the durability and insulating ability of synthetic jackets (idiot proof), natural down and it's compressibility, warmth, and weight make it the obvious winner for the climate where I climb. I own both the Patagonia Ultralight Down Sweater and Ultralight Down Shirt. I've found the Ultralight Down Sweater to be an excellent belay jacket / camp puffy for early / late season alpine rock excursions. Along with my Nunatak Arc AT half bag, it completes a fine sleep system for summer bivies, and it's slim-fit allows for it to be easily worn under an ultralight rain-shell. For several years I used the traditional Patagonia Down Sweater (larger baffles) and still love that jacket, but the UL version with the slim fit and tube baffles has it beat for summer alpine objectives because of it's weight, fit, and compressibility - the thing packs down to nothing (I'd say half the size of the Down Sweater) and lives un-noticed on my harness while I'm climbing.

I love the Ultralight Down Shirt even more and I feel that this nifty piece has a broader field of applications that the UL Down Sweater. The UL Down Shirt packs down to the size of a beer can, weighs nothing, and packs a bunch of heat. Excellent summer belay jacket to share with a partner on long alpine rock routes, great insulating piece beneath a shell when ski-touring and you desire a little more warmth for the ride down, great early morning layer to wear while warming up on your bouldering circuit, great emergency insulating piece for those epic above tree-line mountain runs and peak bagging forays, etc... lighter than a traditional fleece jacket and much warmer to boot! What's not to love?