Warmest Fabric/Insulator?

hwc1954

New member
I think it's a mistake (potentially a serious mistake) to think of the new treated down as "waterproof". Think of it like the DWR finish on a windbreaker (which is what I think it really is). DWR will keep water beading up on the jacket up to a point, but it won't make the jacket waterproof. The fabric will eventually soak through. The treated down will repel a little bit of moisture, but if you get it really wet, it's going to be wet down, with all of the problems of any wet down.

Personally, I wear down as often as I can -- anytime it's dry and cold. But, if it's raining or if I'm going to be sweating, then it's always a synthetic insulation layer. I never hike in down, but will put on a down jacket as soon as I stop.
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
I think it's a mistake (potentially a serious mistake) to think of the new treated down as "waterproof". Think of it like the DWR finish on a windbreaker (which is what I think it really is). DWR will keep water beading up on the jacket up to a point, but it won't make the jacket waterproof. The fabric will eventually soak through. The treated down will repel a little bit of moisture, but if you get it really wet, it's going to be wet down, with all of the problems of any wet down.

Personally, I wear down as often as I can -- anytime it's dry and cold. But, if it's raining or if I'm going to be sweating, then it's always a synthetic insulation layer. I never hike in down, but will put on a down jacket as soon as I stop.
It's not quite like DWR. These new downs are treated on a nano molecular level, each microscopic plume fiber coated. DWR is akin to a thick (read easily removed) layer of heavy hydrophobic coatings.

I've been using DownTek and DriDown for a couple years now. I was given an early Sierra Designs Cloud to test for a winter and as hard as it was to do, my brain didn't wanna, I actually wore it in a full on rainstorm just to test it. It took at least 30 minutes before any water started to genuinely wet the down. Maybe even more. After another 2 hours in a drizzle, it did get noticeably wet in spots, but still insulated, and bizarre as it was, the wet down stayed unusually lofted. I then threw the jacket in the corner of my tent where during the course of a 60 degree night...it dried. It retained 100% of its loft.

I also washed it about seven times just to test the durability of the treatment to the down. Every time it dried nearly instantly, again retaining all of its loft. Later a representative from Sea to Summit said they washed their DryDown test bags over 50 times before they gave up, each time the down sprang back to life good as new. I've also found the new dry downs breath far better than synthetics which are notorious for getting clammy and retaining moisture. While climbing in Alaska a client's bag gained at least 10 pounds of moisture in a week! The new dry downs radiate that moisture throughout the bag or jacket exceptionally well.

I do agree with you, that ,water-resistant down isn't waterproof, but darn close. I just picked up the Big Agnes Meaden Jacket with DownTek, the Sea to Summit Spark II with Ultra DryDown and both have shed water like a duck's butt. It takes an intense amount of water to wet these down plumes and they dry so fast, and without damage to the plumes, it's freaky.


By the way, if you put a pile of water-resistant down in a pile on a table and spray it with water, the droplets eventually end up on the table, the down almost 100% dry. It is crazy.
 
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reachdean

Observer
I work as a journalist and cover rallies in Canada. the season opener is north of Ottawa, and often is -30c in the daytime, plus windchill.

I wear a wicking baselayer (Merino), a sweater (Merino), a down sweater (thinner, meant for layering 500 fill down), goretex shell. I stay dry, warm, comfortable, even at night, when it gets colder. I don't know that there's a right single later for when it's really cold. There's too big a risk of moisture not to layer.
 

Toy-Roverlander

Adventurer
When clothing gets discussed I always see talk about sweaters, jackets, shirts etc. How about pants? Layering would be best too I assume. I just ordered a merino wool/silk long johns to wear under my jeans. I know jeans aren't exactly preferable in cold weather, especially when it gets wet, but I don't see many fabric options for pants. What else is there?
 

libarata

Expedition Leader
Pants usually come in polyester, poly/co, or wool for winter. 'Tin Pants' work as well, but that is canvas with wax. I am not familiar with companies in the Netherlands, so I would not be able to tell you there.
 

java

Expedition Leader
When clothing gets discussed I always see talk about sweaters, jackets, shirts etc. How about pants? Layering would be best too I assume. I just ordered a merino wool/silk long johns to wear under my jeans. I know jeans aren't exactly preferable in cold weather, especially when it gets wet, but I don't see many fabric options for pants. What else is there?
I have a pair of Merino blend LJ's that I wear under my jeans. Makes for warm legs 99% of the time for me. It was right about 0F all weekend and I was just right with that combo. I will say warm boots/socks really help though.
 

Toy-Roverlander

Adventurer
I haven't seen many wool pants here, the ones I see are more the fancy ones with an equally fancy pricetag (like €300 or more! ) That's just nuts. Other ones are cotton or some kind of mix. I've seen ex army pants with some kind of stuffing in the liner but I'm not into the camo print.

Good to hear the merino LJ's work well for you Java, hope it does the same for me. Stll waiting for mine to come in. I've got Meindle Arizona 3000 boots, wearing thick wool socks, so my feet are quite comfy :).

Just got some merino wool long sleeved shirts and thick wool jumpers. Awesome stuff! Wished I knew how good wool was ages ago. Gonna pick up a thick 'lammy' coat this weekend. I will not be cold this winter!
 

libarata

Expedition Leader
That is about double what the costs are here. Looks for canvas, and you can melt your own wax into the fibers. It would make them water, and wind proof, and then you would just need decent base layers. I assume you get no colder than -15/-20c, and that it stays pretty wet?
 

Toy-Roverlander

Adventurer
Those are some nice pants! I've got to search better to see if there's something like that available over here.. It doesn't get much colder than -10c here a lot. Very rarely it gets down to -20c. Canvas pants with wax you say, what kind of wax would that be? I'm not familiar with it.
 

libarata

Expedition Leader
http://www.filson.com/products/oil-finish-double-tin-pants.14004.html
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They say oil finish, but old timers in northern Wisconsin would melt whatever wax was available, or linseed oil into their denim/canvas overalls for the inter season. The stuff does not breath well, be warned. We normally see close to -25/-30c, and a few times down to -40c in a true winter.
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http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/waterproof-fabric-using-tin-cloth-zb0z1303zpit.aspx
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The link above shows to do your own. So see if you can find some canvas pants at minimum, and a jug of linseed oil/beeswax.
 

Toy-Roverlander

Adventurer
Cool, thanks!
Does it have to be canvas or can it be cotton as well? (same thing really isn't it).

EDIT: Never mind, canvas pants are more easily obtainable than wool ones :)
 

libarata

Expedition Leader
Cool, thanks!
Does it have to be canvas or can it be cotton as well? (same thing really isn't it).

EDIT: Never mind, canvas pants are more easily obtainable than wool ones :)
I have seen many a guy use cotton. Canvas is just far more dense, durable to begin with as the only difference between cotton, which I think can be names twill. http://www.differencebetween.net/language/words-language/difference-between-twill-and-duck/
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Though, going this route, you would need to invest in a winter pair that is a size or two large to accommodate base layers, as there is little insulation factor in it alone.
 

Toy-Roverlander

Adventurer
Learn something new every day! Funny that the way a cotton fabric is woven can make it either waterproof and strong or non waterproof and a bit less strong. Interesting article.

Yeah I figured, that goes for boots as well having to accomodate 2pair of socks without the boot becoming very tight fitting.
 
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