Nov 25, 2009 at 11:49 am #1242480
I would like to know whether a down vest or a down jacket would keep me warmer, assuming they both have the SAME amount of fill.
In theory, focusing all the down on the torso area should keep you warmer, since that is where most of your major organs are.
However, it seems to me that if you do not insulate your arms, the blood that goes through them will cool down significantly. Being that your body will pump cooler blood into your torso because of uninsulated arms, this may mean you end up warmer in a jacket. Obviously I'm not a doctor, so I don't know if this is how the body works.
Let me hear your input.
-SidNov 25, 2009 at 11:57 am #1548061
@carazLocale: bay area
The vest would stave off death from hypothermia longer seeing as blood stops circulating to the extremities as heat retention becomes a necessity. As for being more comfortable having a warm upper body is nicer than a warm torso. Also having working blood filled arms and fingers could do more to help save you from a situation in which you were reliant on your layers for survival.Nov 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm #1548079
I don't know but I can sure tell you that I much prefer a vest over a jacket during physical activity.Nov 25, 2009 at 1:09 pm #1548082
"I don't know but I can sure tell you that I much prefer a vest over a jacket during physical activity." -Evan Szakacs
As do I Evan. However, I hardly ever need insulating garments while I'm hiking. Only in very low temperatures have I ever needed to put on a jacket while hiking. I'm more interested in knowing what will keep me warmer while not hiking.
-SidNov 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm #1548083
Presuming the arms take 1/2 as much down as the torso:
Bare arms and 3" of down vest over torso v. 2" insulation everywhere I say go for the jacket.
100 wt pile everwhere plus 3/4" down over torso v. pile + 1/2" down everwhere I say go for the vest.Nov 25, 2009 at 1:24 pm #1548087
The thing I've always noticed about wearing a puffy vest is that it's hard to prevent drafts from pumping out through the arm holes. I imagine you lose a lot of insulating efficiency.
Montbell made (or still makes) a down t-shirt or short sleeved jacket that is reported to deal with this problem. so maybe if you had a vest with short sleeves, say mid bicep, and the same weight of down as the jacket it would be more thermally efficient.Nov 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm #1548090
a jacket with full arms retains a lot more heat and you can unzip the torso to ventilate if need to cool down.Nov 25, 2009 at 2:25 pm #1548099
"The thing I've always noticed about wearing a puffy vest is that it's hard to prevent drafts from pumping out through the arm holes. I imagine you lose a lot of insulating efficiency.
Montbell made (or still makes) a down t-shirt or short sleeved jacket that is reported to deal with this problem. so maybe if you had a vest with short sleeves, say mid bicep, and the same weight of down as the jacket it would be more thermally efficient." -Joshua Gilbert
You make an excellent point Josh. I never thought of that. I will have to look into down t-shirts. It seems like a good compromise between a vest and a jacket. A down t-shirt with a half zip would probably be pretty light too. Maybe I can get the folks at Nunatak to make me one.
-SidNov 25, 2009 at 5:12 pm #1548142
@peter_panLocale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
You don't need to chose between vests and jackets…You can have it all, or not,,,
A down vest and JRB Down Sleeve makes a down jacket… Want a parka? Just add the JRB Down Hood… Wear each piece seperately or combine as desired…. hooded vest makes an ideal sleep top for quilt uses as the hood now moves with you and not the quilt or hoodless bag… Sleeves separate for use as sleep socks… Both extremities taken care of for improved sleeping…
Weightexample: Montbell Ex Lt Down Vest 4 oz, JRB Down Sleeves 5 oz (down jacket thus 9 oz)…JRB Down hood 2 oz ( Down Hoody thus 11 oz)
Remenber I'm biased.
PanNov 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm #1548190
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
A vest W/the SAME ounces of down as a jacket would be adequate IF you wore it under a shell like, say an eVent parka, etc. The body motion inside the shell would pump warm air to your arms anyway.
Also you'd be more comforable when exercising B/C the arms actually need to be less insulated than the core to prevent overheating.
But my idea of an insulated vest to be used when exercising would be a synthetic fill like Climashield, so it would transport sweat vapor fast and dry fast once I got to camp. Down is NOT for wearing when doing anything more than a stroll.Nov 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm #1548320
again, I hardly ever need any insulating garments while I'm hiking. I am more interested in what would keep me the warmest when around camp.
-SidNov 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm #1548322
Usually the sleeves of a down jacket are sewn on. You could always undo that stitching and sew in a seperating zipper so that you could have the best of both world. I did that for Patagonia Down Sweater and it came out okay. You could also offset the zippers so that they start at the 4 or 8 o' clock position so that you could vent the arm pits. It will only add like 1-2 ounces max. Just get the thin small zippers.Nov 26, 2009 at 7:34 pm #1548326
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Brett speaks great wisdom here. I once unstitched the arms of a synthetic jacket and sewed Velcro on them so I could use as Brett suggested. Worked great – until someone stole the arms!
BTW, my avatar shows my solution to in-camp warmth – an Eddie Bauer First AScent Down Sweater.Nov 26, 2009 at 9:50 pm #1548354
I think you guys are missing the point. My ultimate goal is not to be able to have both a vest and a jacket. I am fine with either one, I just want the warmer one. Adding sleeves with zippers would add a great deal of weight.
The whole point of me asking whether a vest or a jacket is warmer is because I want the warmest garment for the weight. This is why I said to assume they both have the same amount of down. By having the one with the most aggressive weight to warmth ratio, I save weight. Bringing sleeves along as some of you have suggested would defeat the purpose of me trying to save weight on my insulating top.
-SidNov 27, 2009 at 12:57 am #1548384
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Nov 27, 2009 at 2:25 am #1548385
"In theory, focusing all the down on the torso area should keep you warmer, since that is where all your major organs are."
Your skin is a major organ, and 90%-95% of all heat is lost through it.
This might help factor into your super-formula for the great vest versus jacket debate. It seems you want to reach that optimal mix for core warmth, and be able to shed unneeded weight.
You have stated that you will be considering the heat while you are only doing light work (tending camp, making food) and not while hiking. You will not be fully at rest, however, so this should factor into our grand equation here.
That "light work" might get tricky, though? If you are a sweaty guy, or in a moist environment, this will increase heat loss.
Your question is also tricky in that your view of heat hasn't been defined as "I am comfortable at this temperature" or "I am just about to enter hypothermia." Are you looking to see what is the optimal down vest/jacket combination to keep you alive (garment weight considered)?
It seems people have been trying to answer your question with their own empirical knowledge, which without knowing more from you, seems the best answers you will get, for now.Nov 27, 2009 at 8:04 am #1548404
I don't think people are missing the point, Sid. Rather, the point they're making is that your "ultimate" answer depends on weather conditions, etc.
In my experience, I'd much rather have the vest for warmth:weight. It does concentrate a lot more warmth on your torso. It also doesn't have all the fabric that's tied up in the arms. IIRC, when I make shells for vest vs. jacket I roughly double the shell weight between vest and jacket.
Well-designed vests won't have a significant amount of heat loss through the arm holes. I've found that wearing a down vest in conjunction w/a ~300g/m^2 wool mid and a ~150g/m^2 wool base keeps me warm into the 30s, especially if I toss a shell over it all. Of course that depends on the loft of the vest. My current favorite has a finished weight of 4.5 oz and used a little less than 3 oz of down IIRC.
The big down vest I made has kept me warm into single digits with a good wool sweater underneath, again a bit warmer/happier under a shell. But this is pushing it a bit more. In other words, if your frame of reference is "Will a jacket or vest, with equivalent mass of down, keep me the warmest at 0*F temps?" I would error toward the side of a jacket. If, however, you're looking for something for 3-season backpacking, a vest will keep you warmer for less weight.Nov 27, 2009 at 8:11 am #1548409
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Comparing a jacket and vest, with the same weight of the same fill power, the vest will better protect your core temp. This assumes the vest seals well or is worn under a shell or windshirt that seals well.
This question is addressed by William F Forgey MD in his book, “Hypothermia”. He explains that the body’s vasoconstriction mechanism (to prevent heat loss) is activated much earlier and effectively from your body sensing your arms are cool. This results in the core temp not dropping as fast as it will with a jacket.Nov 27, 2009 at 8:50 am #1548412
I realize that skin is a major organ. Hence, I said "most" of the major organs are in the torso. Obviously most body heat has to go through the skin. However, out of all the major organs, I presume your skin would be your last priority as it can handle much lower temperatures than any other organ. I suppose I neglected to mention that I want to know what is best for backpacking, not a dangerous survival situation. Either way, I don't see how that variable would factor into my question, as the garment that is warmest for the weight would still be the best choice for either scenario. I do appreciate your input and everyone else's, I was only trying to make it clearer what my original question was.
So it seems that a vest is best for 3 season backpacking, while a jacket would serve me better in the winter months. I suppose when temperatures get in the single digits, leaving any part of your body uninsulated becomes a risk.
You make a good point. I should probably read that book myself to get a better understanding of the human body and heat loss.
-SidNov 27, 2009 at 11:54 am #1548437
"Either way, I don't see how that variable would factor into my question, as the garment that is warmest for the weight would still be the best choice for either scenario."
My apologies. I think your avatar of a fox in the snow makes me see you tromping through some winter wonderland, in some crazy warmth-to-weight optimal outfit, like the scout from "Conan the Barbarian," hehe.
Best of luck in your hunt, Senor!Nov 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm #1548523
Well, the fox is my favorite animal because of its ability to adapt to nearly any environment. They have the largest geographical range of any land carnivore on earth. I suppose I hope to be able to survive as many environments as a fox can.
-SidFeb 1, 2013 at 9:38 am #1949672
@biasbrianLocale: West Tennessee
Your question was which would be warmer, vest or jacket, if made of the same materials. The answer has to be the jacket, the same way pants would be warmer than shorts even if both were made of the same material. The vest might be "warm enough" and the jacket might restrict arm movement. But which is warmer? The one that covers the larger area of your body with a protective layer of down. I don't see how it could be otherwise, but I am not a scientist by trade.Feb 1, 2013 at 10:21 am #1949681
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
If you compare equal weight vest vs jacket, that is the insulation is thicker on the vest – you take the arm insulation and put it to your torso, then the vest would be warmer, because your torso is a higher temperature than your armsFeb 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm #1949707
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
A vest provides more warmth for the weight, and you get some gains as far as volume, but it depends on how it is used. If you are already packing long sleeve base and mid layers and a windshirt, then your arms have good coverage and the vest is taking care of core warmth.
Jackets are certainly easy and practical. I use vests a lot for summer and warmer shoulder seasons, but if I know it is going to be cold (like below freezing), I'm going to reach for a jacket.
I do like a vest for my day hiking CYA extra layer. In midsummer that might be a Power Stretch vest or a light Primaloft puffy. That would be coupled with a long sleeve button down shirt and/or base layer and I always have a windshirt. If it is a little cooler, I would be wearing a long sleeve base layer like Cap2 or medium weight Power Dry and would add a Power Stretch hoodie. The base layer/hoodie/vest combo coupled with windshirt or rain shell will handle some pretty nasty weather. Vests allow better arm movement and help avoid feeling like the Michelin Man. A fleecy vest will keep a cold rain shell off your shoulders which I think adds a lot of comfort and the combo has good moisture transfer/breathability properties. I found an MEC Dry Power pullover 1/2 zip vest (like Patagonia R1) that I find really handy.Feb 2, 2013 at 8:37 am #1950004
the arguement of the vest being just as good b/c of the extra insulation over the torso sounds great online and makes sense when reading a forum. however, i don't share that when it comes to real life application, for me personally. i can wear a vest down into the 30's, even a little into the 20's and be ok. however, once the temps get into the teens (or lower) the cold really just becomes biting on my arms. to the point where i find vest useless and i'm trying to tuck my arms into my vest.
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