Mar 4, 2014 at 9:19 pm #1314038Mar 4, 2014 at 9:38 pm #2079559
i really enjoy these reports full of wit and skepticism
first thing though … are you sure about the montbell plasma numbers, the down should be 33% of the total weight, not 50%+
the other thing is that en-ratings tend to be unreliable below -20C or so according to mammut … im wondering about the testint protocol for -40C temps
the point about that polish company using "normal" materials and producing light gear hits home IMO … design not fancy $$$$ shiny materials … especially the point about 750 down performing better in real world humidity
keep up the reports !!!
;)Mar 5, 2014 at 5:44 am #2079600
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Matthew, well done, again. You state my concerns with synthetic blends quite well. The "jury is out" on this one.
I agree that good design trumps new materials. But, it should never be forgotten that new materials become yesterdays news given a couple years. As often happens, manufacturors often just use a varient of an older design with new materials, not really putting them to the best possible use. For example down jackets: Nice they are using UL shells, but the shoulders might benefit from more robust material. A heavier fabric, perhaps water proof, will have more resistance to abrasion/splitting under a shell with the body made up of the newer lighter materials. Slightly more costly to manufacture, but far more durable against movement or the shoulder harness' on packs… More of a use the strengths where strength is required approach.
Microbaffles are of debatable importance. For a jacket, they make a lot of sense. For a down sweater they do not. For the items you mention, 1-3oz of fill, it seems to matter a lot what the intended use is. As a sweater, ie, under something or a light covering for colder weather, a typical non-baffled construction is fine. For stand-alone use, you want the baffles for the additional warmth over those areas normally sewn thrugh.
The debate between 750/800fp down and higher lofting down is another thing you bring up. 700fp is likely a bit higher in weight than 750, but it depends on who is doing the measurments. As far as loft goes, yes. Moisture degrades 800+ down fills faster than 700+ fills meaning colder 0100-0400 hours. Weight is likely less though. If you have enough high power fill to keep you warm all night, there likely isn't a lot of difference except the expense. Somewhere I wrote 2 litters of water, I was wrong. I should have said 1-2 pounds.Mar 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm #2079805
Another good report. Please keep your personal comments coming – there's so much smoke and mirrors in this industry, we need some humor and elbow jabs to maintain proper perspective.
My entirely random personal opinions:
* If the product you're purchasing is using a brand-name fabric, you may not be getting a good value. You're paying for a marketing budget, not a better performance spec. Meaningful patents have expired or don't exist.
* Hydrophobic down is worth it – the tests are real – the various treatments however are not all the same.
* I have not seen a test, but Synthetic/Down hybrids strike me as the worst of both worlds rather than the best.
* I have also not seen good tests for micro-baffling, but it is flagrantly counter-logical – more sewn-thru seams – but is more stylish, as the big puffy look is out even though it works.
* Super high FP downs are of questionable value – a jacket can be much warmer with less than an ounce weight penalty by simply using more down for the same total price.
* Consider UL down gear before purchase – there's often so little down in them, they just aren't going to be warm a few years down the trail – you may be buying a very expensive nylon shell. The Insulation/Total Weight ratio's provided here are very useful.
* By far the most important performance factor for gear is how one uses it. That's why design is the next most important factor.
It's winter – analyzing gear is very needed and worthwhile – but even more fun will be when spring comes and we're too busy using it to worry about it.Mar 5, 2014 at 8:01 pm #2079928
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> * If the product you're purchasing is using a brand-name fabric, you may not be
> getting a good value. You're paying for a marketing budget, not a better performance
> spec. Meaningful patents have expired or don't exist.
Um. On the other hand, if you are buying a totally unbranded no-name fabric you really have no idea of what you are getting. Tricky.
As for patents on fabric: any meaningful ones probably expired about 1785 …
> * Hydrophobic down is worth it
Um …. most manufacturers do not agree. We suspect that those who are going down that track are more motivated by perceived marketing spin advantage than real performance.
Otherwise, fair comments.
CheersMar 6, 2014 at 1:20 am #2080003
Eh! They use more insulation where the body isn't losing heat and less insulation where it is?! They've made an insulating jacket designed to keep you cool-ish! I'm baffled ;-)Mar 6, 2014 at 8:26 am #2080059
@drusillaLocale: Wild Wild West
Either they are looking at people like climbers, who need to vent off some heat while resting after a workout or they are not marketing to those of us who stop for the night and need a bit of a puffy to retain heat before eating and going to bed! Also I agree with the statement above about over baffling, Ive been very dissatisfied with all these new over baffled fashion statement thin down jackets. My Brooks Range pullover is the one I've used the most this winter. By the time I am moving down the trail I don't need a puffy.Mar 9, 2014 at 6:40 pm #2081226
Just wanted to point out that according to Pajak's website the -40C/-40F rating for that sleeping bag is actually the "Extreme" rating under the EN norm. The "limit" rating which is what most sleeping bag manufacturers quote is a fairly average -19C/-2.2F. It's definitely not a sleeping bag for use anywhere near -40C as is implied. http://www.pro.pajaksport.com/?projects=radical-h16
Unfortunately this means the premise of a few of those claims is wrong. 750FP down is definitely not a substitute for higher fill powers (not in standard tests anyway) and nothing (so far) can substitute for down mass for increasing warmth. ("No matter what criticism may be leveled at the Radical 16H, it shows one thing that is beyond question: things can be done differently." 'fraid not)
Also it might have been worth mentioning that the Pajak down is I'm assuming 750FP under the EU rating, which would equate to around 800 FP US. So it's not a hugely different from 850 or 900 fp that say Montbell or Arc are using (or even Rab, they use the US system).Mar 10, 2014 at 1:46 am #2081325
well done Eric for spotting the deliberate mistake, it is indeed 33% as you say. The main point I wanted to make was that there is room for a hell of a lot more stuffing in a 90 gram shell before you reach 170 grams. As for EN ratings, I have not had time to look through the material you linked in your post (thanks), but I will do. Fair comment as ever.
>Microbaffles are of debatable importance. For a jacket, they make a lot of sense. For a down sweater they do not. For the items you mention, 1-3oz of fill, it seems to matter a lot what the intended use is. As a sweater, ie, under something or a light covering for colder weather, a typical non-baffled construction is fine. For stand-alone use, you want the baffles for the additional warmth over those areas normally sewn thrugh.
Perhaps I should clarify here that by 'micro-baffle' I mean small sewn through chambers used in most UL jackets, which should not be confused with a traditional baffled construction that creates a rectangular or in some cases trapezoidal down chamber. As for the importance of micro-baffles: their importance will also surely be relative their impact on the fill quantity; heat transfer is not the only factor here. What if they are actually killing the loft of the down and lowering the efficiency of what little insulation is there?
>Just wanted to point out that according to Pajak's website the -40C/-40F rating for that sleeping bag is actually the "Extreme" rating under the EN norm. The "limit" rating which is what most sleeping bag manufacturers quote is a fairly average -;19C/-2.2F. It's definitely not a sleeping bag for use anywhere near -40C
Looking at the Pajk workbook, it says the Radical 16H is 'the warmest sleeping bag in it's class', which would be false advertising if what you say is true. Moreover, I think it is quite normal for manufacturers to use the extreme rating in their advertising rather than the limit rating. I'm sorry if the article seems to imply it is a bag to be used at -40C, I took it for granted that everyone understands these ratings -and how they can be manipulated-. Is there any comparable mainstream bag you would use at -40C?
>Also it might have been worth mentioning that the Pajak down is I'm assuming 750FP under the EU rating, which would equate to around 800 FP US. So it's not a hugely different from 850 or 900 fp that say Montbell or Arc are using (or even Rab, they use the US system).
Not hugely different on paper (although lower is lower in my book). In practice the price is quite a bit lower, what if manufacturers are skimping on high fp down to save money when they could just use more of a lower fp? The point I and many others make here on the BPL site is that there is no official comparison between fill powers in 'real world' conditions. Whilst the difference may be only 50fp points in the laboratory, there is strong annecdotal evidence that this difference changes once the down is exposed to any kind of 'real world' humidity. Check the review and associated commentary on the Mont Bell Plasma Jacket for more on this issue. What matters here is the internal structure of the down, not it's volume in the laboratory.
>Unfortunately this means the premise of a few of those claims is wrong. 750FP down is definitely not a substitute for higher fill powers.
According to whose measurements? Like I said, there are simply no figures to use. I do not state it as a fact in the article, but rather leave it as an open question. When I am proven wrong by an experiment I will be the first to admit it.
>("No matter what criticism may be leveled at the Radical 16H, it shows one thing that is beyond question: things can be done differently." 'fraid not)
Perhaps it is worth bearing in mind that the Radical 16H is not made of the lightest materials available, has a highly complex internal structure, and yet still achieves ,in your own words, 'a fairly average -19C/-2.2F'. Is that not different?.
MatthewMar 10, 2014 at 4:13 am #2081333
Hardly any manufacturer uses the "extreme" rating to rate their bags (Valandre are the only ones I've seen and I've always thought it was misleading and dangerous). There's good reason for that, since the "extreme" rating is an indicator of the temperature below which you will probably die from exposure, not an indicator of having a decent night's sleep. Manufacturers almost always quote the "limit of comfort" rating, if they use the EN system, or else they quote a temperature comparable to it. This is well known. The implication of a -40C bag is that it can be used down to or near -40C, and this one can't, so I would call that misleading advertising.
Pajak's claims appear to be total nonsense. Lots of manufacturers have bags that are comparably warm at comparable weight, and many produce lighter bags that are warmer. For example the Western Mountaineering Lynx is 1410 grams (claimed weight) and rated to -23C, and in my experience WM tend to be slightly more conservative with their ratings than the EN system would indicate. Rab's Andes 800 is rated to -22C and weighs 1410 grams, and is made from Pertex Endurance and Microlight and uses US800 FP down — also not the lightest materials.
As far as things being done differently, sure I guess there are different baffle and zip configurations but if they don't result in improved performance then they aren't exactly revolutionary are they? At the end of the day the amount and quality of the down is what really makes the difference.Mar 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm #2081909
@jshefftz1Locale: Western Mass.
“Part three will focus on hardware, and just to get you salivating here is a little foretaste.
…and yes, there is a boot to go with it. [Editorial note: 75 g? Drool …]”
– Just Dynafit's graphics slapped onto this:
… which has already been around for a few years now.
– About an ounce or so lighter than "traditional" rando race bindings (which are compatible with all standard modern alpine ski touring boots, whereas the PG binding works only with the PG boot).
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