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# best down jacket for cold temps

I'm looking for warm down jacket for skiing in Breckenridge. Any recomendations?

I just picked up the Marmot Shadow Jacket in Salt Lake over New Years and I love it. It kept me warm with wind chills down to -10 one day, and that was just a base layer and the jacket.

Thanks

layers. I raced 2 hours in -15F weather without getting too cold in a speedsuit. Although my toes did partially freeze secondary to race boots.

550 fill down vest I use under my Sidewinder for colder days.  Super warm and very compressible so it fits in my backpack nicely.

If you want down make sure it has a high loft number (800+).  The higher the number the lighter the feathers which will actually be warmer.  Long story short they rate the feathers by volume.  The lighter feathers have less quills and can therefore trap more warm air.  The weakness of down is that if it gets wet there is no warmth.  Wet feathers equal a cold skier.  If you compress the feather loft your warmth also goes out the door.  Now skiing in Breck the snow is pretty dry so getting wet isn't a huge deal but still a major concern.  Most high end manufacturers make down jackets with a waterproof and breathable shell. But your body's own moisture can make the feathers damp and reduce the effectiveness.

I use a lot of down products in the backcountry but I never ski in them.  As mentioned above get a decent jacket and then use good layering.  Use a base layer to wick moisture, use a mid layer to provide some insulation, then if you are still cold add an insulating layer and I'd suggest something like primaloft.  Primaloft does not lose its insulating ability if it gets wet and it can be compressed and still insulate.  Now when I climbing I use the above method for warmth at standard altitudes like we have in CO (high altitude changes things).  When I stop for a rest or for food the first thing I do is pull a down jacket out of my pack and put it over my shell.  This allows me to keep all my heat in and add warmth.  When I make camp I remove outer layers and wear a lot of down.  Down is a great insulator but only when dry and "puffy"

Canada Goose jackets are incredibly warm, you will have to check the down fill level on the particular model and some can be kind of bulky, but are they warm..! caramba they sure are..

How is this a review?

timo, I own and use the Cloudveil Patrol Jacket for sub-zero skiing in Maine. Got one for my wife too. It is stupid warm, light, not that bulky and bombproof. It can be had cheap too:

http://www.klmountainshop.com/cloudveil-down-patrol-jacket-2008-1280.html

Shop around on line. I actually got mine at TJ Max for about \$150.

I am real high on Cloudveil gear and have several pieces. Outstanding customer service. I also own several Arcteryx items. I like to think they are superior given what I have paid for them but.....

David

800+ fill down is WAY to hot to ski in.  The max a guy should need is 600.  You're skiing not standing around doing nothing, your body will produce heat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by huhh

800+ fill down is WAY to hot to ski in.  The max a guy should need is 600.  You're skiing not standing around doing nothing, your body will produce heat. ro

BTW, its going up the chair in major sub-zero wind chills where you really need it.

I would rather be a little cool on the chair up and warm on the way down then warm on the way up and sweating like a pig on the way down.  Wet down is a bad insulator.

Originally Posted by deliberate1

Quote:
Originally Posted by huhh

800+ fill down is WAY to hot to ski in.  The max a guy should need is 600.  You're skiing not standing around doing nothing, your body will produce heat. ro

BTW, its going up the chair in major sub-zero wind chills where you really need it.

Point of order: The fill power of a down jacket doesn't have a direct effect on the warmth of the jacket.  1 inch thickness (loft) of 550 down is no less warm than 1 inch of 850 fill down.  And for that matter, 1 inch of synthetic fill is just as warm as either.  Higher fill down is lighter and more compressible for a given thickness of insulation, but if you get a thinner 800 fill jacket like Patagonia's Down Sweater, it will not be warmer than a 550 fill jacket like The North Face Aconcagua that is thicker.  Loft is the most significant determinant of warmth.  Other factors are construction and shell materials.

Carry on.

For the OP, a down sweater like Patagonia's, or similar ones from The North Face, Rab, Mountain Hardwear, etc) is probably the most versatile piece for lift-served skiing.  Put a layer inderneath for brutal days.  Also, hoods add a remarkable amount of warmth for the weight/bulk.

Edited to add: Patagonia's Primo Down Jacket is and awesome down garment for skiing.  Highly recommended.

Edited by Bob Lee - 1/9/11 at 11:17am

Thanks. I have been leaning in the direction of the Patrol jacket. I purchased there ski pants last year and have been very happy.

My wife got me the Spyder Bromont for my birthday this fall. Just had it for five days at Solitude. I found it ridiculously warm, minimal bulk. Primaloft insulation I believe.

Have a Spyder down jacket, forerunner of the Troy, I think, that's literally too warm to ski in. Use for standing around outside with kids on cold days in the heart of the winter, wear over light clothing when going out at night in winter, stuff like that. So suspect their down products for skiing would do the job. Have the standard waterproof coating that in my experience works really well, although I'd go with GoreTex shell and down sweater if I were skiing in places like west coast. Also have had good experience with Spyder Primaloft parkas, Marmot down, and Arcteryx Primaloft+GoreTex products

Keniski, just wondering how you like the Spyder Bromont?  I was considering that jacket myself due to the breathability rating.  Do you think it is too warm?

Quote:
Originally Posted by karpiel

How is this a review?

its not but we don't seem to follow the section headers anymore...... he's new so we don't want to offend him

warmth is relative and i don't know why the OP is so set on just down. I think warmth is the goal unless he's pumping for the down industry.....

If your not set on down jackets, synthetic is good too i find: the patagonia nano puff is good for just walking around. Arcteryx atom lt is good for when you are active.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee

Point of order: The fill power of a down jacket doesn't have a direct effect on the warmth of the jacket.  1 inch thickness (loft) of 550 down is no less warm than 1 inch of 850 fill down.  And for that matter, 1 inch of synthetic fill is just as warm as either.  Higher fill down is lighter and more compressible for a given thickness of insulation, but if you get a thinner 800 fill jacket like Patagonia's Down Sweater, it will not be warmer than a 550 fill jacket like The North Face Aconcagua that is thicker.  Loft is the most significant determinant of warmth.  Other factors are construction and shell materials.

Carry on.

For the OP, a down sweater like Patagonia's, or similar ones from The North Face, Rab, Mountain Hardwear, etc) is probably the most versatile piece for lift-served skiing.  Put a layer inderneath for brutal days.  Also, hoods add a remarkable amount of warmth for the weight/bulk.

Edited to add: Patagonia's Primo Down Jacket is and awesome down garment for skiing.  Highly recommended.

Bingo. Its great when someone can cut through the marketing and branding "information" and help people find out what to really look for.

Uh, point of counter-order. Far as I know my heat exchange models, the insulation of any jacket is determined by its material as well as its loft. Why? Imagine that your down parka is simply one piece of a larger system, in which heat is lost from the skin. To keep it simple, pretend there are no other layers, just parka and skin.

The tropical microenvironment between parka and your skin allows, to varying degrees, warm moist air to move to the inner surface of the parka, heating it by direct conduction and by convective movement of the air molecules across the inner fabric of the parka. OK? This means that air molecules trapped inside the parka are being heated by contact with the parka's inner lining, being heated by your skin, and also by direct contact with warm water vapor and air molecules coming across the lining. Obviously, the more porous the lining (think Gore Tex here), the faster this exchange can happen. Which is why "breathable" shells and parkas can be noticeably cooler. They're allowing more efficient evaporative cooling at the surface of your skin by pulling the water vapor away faster.

Now inside the parka, the speed with which warmed air molecules move from heated inner surface to cooler exterior is a function of (along with some other gradients) how much insulation is there to impede their movement. So the same depth of higher fill down will create more, and smaller, pockets of "dead" warm air that moves comparatively slowly from inner to outer surface. In cold habitat animals like Yak or Musk Oxen, this is typified by coats with several types of hair, typically a canopy of coarse high "guard" hairs, and fine inner hairs that trap air and prevent it from moving quickly to the canopy. In Musk Oxen, the fine inner hair is so down-like that the Inuit prize it for weaving into insulated clothing and hats.

Or conversely, imagine a parka that had no insulation, just hollow space magically kept at its normal distance inside to outside. Obviously, the air molecules would have no resistance to movement, convective currents of water vapor and warm air would flow quickly between parka lining and parka exterior. Even radiant energy transfer from inside to outside would occur. You'd freeze. Also why fleece operates differently than down. It's artificial woven hair, does such a good job of trapping air molecules that they move very slowly from inside to outside. Unfortunately, that density (and thinness) also allows better direct conductance of heat. So it's a toss.

Dead air is really important in many biological systems, incidentally; without a lot of dead air in our lungs, called residual volume, we'd be in serious trouble at the altitudes we ski at. But that's another story.

Bottom line, actual loss of heat from an animal (even one wearing another animal's hair) has at least six determinative functions: Gradients between humidity at the surface of the skin, inside the insulation, and in the open air (which impacts how much heat can be carried off as water vapor), Gradients between temperature at the skin, in the insulative layers, and in the open air (which determines rates of evaporation and radiation), depth of insulation (loft), density of insulation (fill #), nature of insulation (some types of hair or syn are more affected by air movement, water vapor, than others), and movement of the heat producer (your skin surface) relative to your insulation, and that insulation relative to outside air (you lose more heat when you move, and some designs are better or worse at staying close to your ski as you move). So yes, you can get more warmth from four inches of down than from two. But you can also get more warmth from two inches of 850 than from two inches of 600, all else equal. One reason the 850-900 "sweaters" feel weirdly warm for their bulk.

You'll be tested on this tomorrow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond

Uh, point of counter-order. Far as I know my heat exchange models, the insulation of any jacket is determined by way more than simply its loft. Why? Imagine that your down parka is simply one piece of a larger system, in which heat is lost from the skin. To keep it simple, pretend there are no other layers, just parka and skin.

The tropical microenvironment between parka and your skin allows, to varying degrees, warm moist air to move to the inner surface of the parka, heating it by direct conduction and by convective movement of the air molecules across the inner fabric of the parka. OK? This means that air molecules trapped inside the parka are being heated by contact with the parka's inner lining, being heated by your skin, and also by direct contact with warm water vapor and air molecules coming across the lining. Obviously, the more porous the lining (think Gore Tex here), the faster this exchange can happen. Which is why "breathable" shells and parkas can be noticeably cooler. They're allowing more efficient evaporative cooling at the surface of your skin by pulling the water vapor away faster.

Now inside the parka, the speed with which warmed air molecules move from heated inner surface to cooler exterior is a function of (along with some other gradients) how much insulation is there to impede their movement. So the same depth of higher fill down will create more, and smaller, pockets of "dead" warm air that moves comparatively slowly from inner to outer surface. In cold habitat animals like Yak or Musk Oxen, this is typified by coats with several types of hair, typically a canopy of coarse high "guard" hairs, and fine inner hairs that trap air and prevent it from moving quickly to the canopy. In Musk Oxen, the fine inner hair is so down-like that the Inuit prize it for weaving into insulated clothing and hats. Or conversely, imagine a parka that had no insulation, just hollow space magically kept at its normal distance inside to outside. Obviously, the air molecules would have no resistance, convective currents of water vapor and warm air would move easily between parka lining and parka exterior. You'd freeze. Also why fleece operates differently than down. It's artificial woven hair, does such a good job of trapping air molecules that they move very slowly from inside to outside. Unfortunately, that density (and thinness) also allows better direct conductance of heat. So it's a toss.

Dead air is really important in many biological systems, incidentally; without a lot of dead air in our lungs, called residual volume, we'd be in serious trouble at the altitudes we ski at. But that's another story.

Bottom line, actual loss of heat from an animal (even one wearing another animal's hair) has at least six determinative functions: Humidity at the surface of the skin, inside the insulation, and in the open air (which impacts how much heat can be carried off as water vapor), heat differential between the skin, the insulative layers, and the open air (which determines rates of evaporation and radiation), depth of insulation (loft), density of insulation (fill #), nature of insulation (some types of hair or syn are more affected by air movement, water vapor, than others), and movement of the heat producer (your skin surface) relative to your insulation, and that insulation relative to outside air (you lose more heat when you move, and some designs are better or worse at staying close to your ski as you move). So yes, you can get more warmth from four inches of down than from two. But you can also get more warmth from two inches of 850 than from two inches of 600, all else equal. One reason the 850-900 "sweaters" feel weirdly warm for their bulk.

You'll be tested on this tomorrow.

Epicski: no topic that can't benefit/suffer from over-analysis.  (<-too late to get that one into the motto contest?)

I was tempted to just respond tl;dr, but I skimmed, and after I had a grin over your purported aim "to keep it simple," I had the thought that difference in the volume of dead air space between 600 fill down and 800 fill down would be basically negligible in something like a jacket, so I'm going to go with my previous statement that an inch of 600 fill down is no warmer than an inch of 800 fill.  If the high-quality down feels 'warmer' it's likely because it's lighter and so the warmth is unexpected.

I'm also going to give my own unsupportable statement and say that if one was to put identically constructed jackets with the same loft but different fill qualities of down into a blind test that people couldn't tell the difference in insulation value. Now clearly the difference in an inch of down and an inch of leaves or sticks (with a huge difference in the amount of trapped air space) then you could tell the difference.

Yeah, I'm prone to geek out on details. But sometimes "parsimony" has little connection to reality. Truth is, It was simplified. Military got very interested in this stuff along about the Korean War. Still is, actually, so decent amount of funded research for bright people checking out why camels' coats like the heat, musk oxen the cold, and our Marine's uniforms neither.

Since you see the model - in terms of leaves and sticks versus down - that insulation is more than loft, guess we'll have to agree to disagree over what negligible means. All good.

loft, or the amount of duff, is the biggest determinate of how warm the jacket is.

all things being equal, high fill count will be warmer.  That is to say, if you have two down sweaters (patagonia), the original is 800, a year-long special edition one was 900, the 900 fill will be warmer.  The 700 fill, older model "down jacket" (think typical, puffy down jacket from years back) is warmer however, because it has more duff.

the high fill has a more efficient heat retention rate, giving slightly more warmth in thin jackets then something with a lower fill count.  The other, arguably, main benefit is the compressibility and lightness.

In regards to synthetic vs. down, nothing has the same warmth to weight as down.  Synthetics are nice as they are cheaper and can get wet but they are actually less "durable" then down if the down is treated correctly (i.e. not getting wet)

A good down jacket will have a longer life then a synthetic jacket will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter

...the high fill has a more efficient heat retention rate, giving slightly more warmth in thin jackets then something with a lower fill count...

Do you have a figure for that, like a percentage for one fill value over another?  As I mentioned above I have my doubts about the "more efficient heat retention rate."  I'm not all that interested in manufacturers' claims, looking for something kind of scientific.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee

Do you have a figure for that, like a percentage for one fill value over another?  As I mentioned above I have my doubts about the "more efficient heat retention rate."  I'm not all that interested in manufacturers' claims, looking for something kind of scientific.

Actually, the R value for thermal reistance is:

R = L /K

where L is thickness and K is thermal conductivity of the material.

Your rule just makes the assumption is that the difference in K between one insulation layer and another is pretty much negligable.  Which is probably a pretty good assumption for things that could be reasonably described as insulation layers.

Tromano, all for simplified models, but not sure the conduction formula is relevant here. Isn't it primarily for calculating transfer of energy across solid, uniform non-living objects, like heating one side of a piece of aluminum and seeing what the other side's temp gets to? Living systems and their boundaries are all about convection, not conduction. Particles moving through fluids, whether air or water or something else. Think about how massive and dynamic the space is between skin and parka, then between inside and outside of parka, relative to the molecules that are carrying heat away from the body. Not a lot of direct conductance.

IMO, the convection diffusion formula is more what this needs: $\frac{\partial c}{\partial t} = \nabla \cdot (D \nabla c) - \nabla \cdot (\vec{v} c) + R$  As you know, that's stochastic differential calc if I dimly recall where my college math slewed to a halt. But it's used a lot in fields where heat transfer and convection are the issues. Here's an example from architecture: http://www.bse.polyu.edu.hk/researchCentre/Fire_Engineering/summary_of_output/journal/IJAS/V1/p.68-79.pdf, and here's an example from exercise physiology: http://ehakem.com/index.php/IJoT/article/viewFile/231/254

Bob, I suspect research groups at companies that make down/syn fills/vapor barriors routinely do computer models that use the above. I doubt that North Face et al. think about it when they actually make a parka. They just follow the simplified guidelines that filter down from the research groups. But this stuff is real; when I'm wearing a parka, its performance is all about convection, not conductance. That's probably the reason that loft doesn't fully explain why one parka feels different than another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond

Bob, I suspect research groups at companies that make down/syn fills/vapor barriors routinely do computer models that use the above.

Maybe. I'd sure like to see the results of 550 fill down vs. 850. I suspect the difference would be less than significant.

Perhaps you could run the numbers for us? Brush up those math skills and take it on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee

Brush up those math skills and take it on.

Will get back to you on that, right after I finish skiing the west face of Everest...

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond

Will get back to you on that, right after I finish skiing the west face of Everest...

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