View Full Version : Winter coat for -20F camping

2008-11-24, 22:19
So I'm going w/ a group of friends into the Adirondacks in February. Last year it got down to -20 degrees F. I understand that 800 Fill is better than 650 Fill down given the same weight...but, as I view the many down jackets available I am having trouble figuring out which coats are warmer than others. For instance:

The Marmot Zeus Jacket is 1 lb. 1 oz. w/ 800 fill down:

Then u have the Mountain Hardware Sub Zero Jack @ 1 lbs, 11 oz w/ 650-Fill Power 85/15 Goose down:

The Zeus is lighter, but higher fill down...the Sub Zero is more weight (more down?) but lower quality down (does the 85/15 mean ratio of down to feathers? Thus even less warmth for the weight?) and it ~looks~ fuller and warmer.

How am I supposed to know which is warmer? How do I know one jacket doesn't just have heavy zippers as opposed to more ounces of down to keep me warm?

2008-11-25, 13:31
OK, since you're asking, here's my personal opinion tempered by experience with New England/Adirondack cold weather, including temps to -30F. 800 fill down is fluffier under lab conditions - in the real world, the lower grade down will be just as good in a jacket. The bigger issue is making sure the jacket is big enough for multiple layers underneath, and then having a shell big enough to go over all your layers without compressing them.

2008-11-26, 01:35
OK let me clean this up a bit...I appreciate the advice thus far, but here are some more details:

-I was linking to those two jackets to show my frustration in evaluating two similarly priced jackets but not really knowing which would be warmer when u only have fill power and weight of the jacket to go on.

-I was wondering if -20F is the temps I'll see during the day when loafing around camp or at night...to be honest I'm not really sure. I just know my friends saw -17 last year in February near Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks (Northeast). I'm fine with planning for -20 during the day, it'll give me some head room just in case.

I'll possibly be sitting around a lot, not generating a lot of heat during the day around camp, no real hiking to speak of...I want to be warm. I'm not sure if the snow will be 'wet' at those temperatures and have it soak into my gear or not, that's also a concern.

I've narrowed my search to three jackets/parkas, here are my questions:

-Which would u pick?
-I read reviews of the synthetic DAS lasting many years, but down should last even longer?
-Down be a PIA to clean vs. the synthetic?

Sherpa Adventure Gear Men's Khumbuche Down Jacket

Love the green color
cheaper than others

Not as warm as Patagonia Down Parka (750 fill vs. 800 fill)
Perhaps not as warm as Patagonia Down Parka?
It's a jacket, not a parka, less coverage?
Don't find many reviews on it...untested?
Down sucks when wet.

# Length: 27-
# Weight: 22 oz.
$188 shipped

Patagonia DAS Parka

Rave reviews
Synthetic handles wetness better

Down Sherpa jacket or Patagonia Down Parka could be warmer?

Length 29 inches
Weight 780 g (27.5 oz)
$220 shipped

Patagonia Down Parka

Rave reviews
800-fill down...warmest of the three I'd assume.

Down sucks when wet.
weighs the most.

Length: dunno, but figure it is similar to DAS Parka
Weight 868 g (30.6 oz)
$227 shipped

2008-11-26, 12:11
Hrmm...a couple more thoughts.

Neither of Patagonia Jackets are your typical fashionable North Face Bubble jackets. They are bigger and warmer....most likely I would not be wearing this jacket around town down here in CT on a regular basis. With that said, the jacket only has one real purpose, keep me warm on these winter camping trips up North.

The question of Down getting wet, losing all it's insulating properties and turning me into an popsicle may not apply here for the scenario in which I'd use the jacket. If it is raining out....this Patagonia down jacket is way too warm to use. It'd be compressed in my pack and I'd have my other layers on. If it is cold enough to be wearing the jacket, any precipitation would be in the form of snow in which I'd trust the DWR coating on the shell of the jacket to keep me dry. I won't be doing snow angels for hours on end on these trips so I'm relatively confident this down jacket would be the best for me. Add to this the info I got from Patagonia hot line:

DAS Synthetic Parka:
Body insulation 5.3oz
Arm insulation 4oz

Down Parka:
insulation is 8.8oz

This down parka will be much warmer than the synthetic as it is down and there is more of it pound for pound.

2008-11-28, 16:13
I spent a night out near Keene and found out later that the temperature was minus 35F. I want to tell you I had everything I had with me on - in my sleeping bag and the night was still uncomfortable in the tent. Included in what I was wearing in the bag was a down jacket - which I've had for a while - for Expedition use - manufactured by North Face. After that experience, I concluded the following:
Some nights you just sleep cold no matter if you drink hot jello before climbing into your bag, having changed your layers from the skin (Burrrr) out to avoid the body moisture in your day clothes, in a tent (even with a frost liner) with a pad under you. (My wife wanted to pea using the cook hole in the tent floor).
Debating the finer points of fill in a jacket is the mere tip of the iceberg! Think multiple layers - like wearing a down jacket under the coat, over PolarTec with a wind shell, balaclava, etc. Get the idea?