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Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric


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Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 131 total)
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  • #2039317
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > Patagonia's method of molecular level deposition of DWR
    And exactly WHAT does this mean?

    To me it reeks of yet more marketing spin. Of course molecules are deposited on the surface, but that applies to any chemical treatment being applied to any surface. When companies resort to marketing spin with long unexplained technical jargon, I tend to dismiss ALL their claims.

    Cheers

    #2039318
    Dustin Short
    BPL Member

    @upalachango

    +1 Roger!

    Thanks for saying it so I didn't have to!

    #2039319
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    You know, we have quite a few articles on the performance of down gear. Read them: there has been a lot of testing done. For a start, many have noted that with a good DWR on the surface fabric, it is actually quite hard to get down gear wet.

    I guess if you cowboy camp on top of a mountain while it is snowing things may happen, but in my book that is trying for a Darwin Award. Just my opinion.

    Don Wilson wrote in an article on 'Drying Characteristics of Select Lightweight Down and Synthetic Insulated Tops":
    "A surprise discovery – the down Flash vest recovered loft as quickly as the synthetic Micropuff and after 30 minutes of drying its loft exceeded the Micropuff's."

    And there's lots more besides that.

    Always remember: it;'s a harsh commercial world out there, and the synthetics guys know their product is inferior to down, so they go for any claim they can come up with. Be cynical about them. The same thought applies to all the wonder-marvel DWR treatments being spruiked. They don't have to be any better; they just have to con you into believing.

    Cheers

    #2039326
    Woubeir (from Europe)
    BPL Member

    @woubeir

    I agree. Ones down is completely soaked, it is a problem, and you can get it soaking wet But the first thing that popa up in my mind is: how to get it soaked in the first place ? I have used down jackets, bags, … in some pretty miserable weather and I never got it soaking wet in a non-testing situation.

    BTW, nice remark about the Darwin-award.

    #2039350
    Tom Lyons
    Member

    @towaly

    Locale: Smoky Mtns.

    My practices include methods for keeping my down dry and lofted to the best extent possible, because it provides the best warmth with the least carry-weight and best compressibility. Keeping it working to its best is important to get the most results out of it with the least bulk.

    I like the regular down quite a lot.
    I might like the new water-resistant down just as much, or more, depending on just how much real-world improvement is actually seen from it.

    It concerns me that it might lead to lazy practices of not taking care to keep the down lofty, relying on "claims" which may or may not turn out as well as hoped in real world circumstances, and result in reduced performance.

    There are still a lot of unanswered questions about this stuff, although I admit that I am intrigued to find out what it can really do(and what it can't).

    #2039357
    Woubeir (from Europe)
    BPL Member

    @woubeir

    An another question: is the higher price worth it ?

    #2039361
    David Olsen
    Spectator

    @oware

    Locale: Steptoe Butte

    I have used a down bag, January on the coast trail in the Olympics. Rained pretty much all the time and when it wasn't there was fog. Part of the time I used a polarguard overbag and was very toasty. Otherwise I slept warm enough, save one night cowboy camping in a draw in a windy fog. Never got my bag sodden. I feel if I had carried a down bag with enough down to match the weight of a sythetic bag, I would have been warm even on that one foggy night.

    #2039404
    Brian Lindahl
    BPL Member

    @lindahlb

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    > It not just that down is useless when wet, it STAYS that way

    This is exactly why I don't really understand the purpose of a DWR-coated down (i.e. Downtek). DWR sheds a bit of precipitation – that is all. If you have a lining on your shell, that's shedding the moisture. If water gets through the lining, either it's wetted out, or it was pressed through (in both cases, having another DWR layer over the down won't help much – it'll wet out or be pressed into the down, just like the lining).

    As anyone who's ever played with non-waterproof DWR garments will tell you, the DWR does absolutely nothing once an item gets wet, and does absolutely nothing in humid environments. Nor does it help when moisture is pressed into the garment.

    So then… what exactly does DWR'd down buy you? In my experience, I would gather not much at all. It sounds good on the marketing brochure though. Call me skeptical.

    #2039412
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    Actually I'd really sit up and take notice if Patagonia managed to deposit their chemical protection WITHOUT involving molecules.

    #2039422
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    many of the BPL drying tests on down are done assuming one has proper "drying conditions" … ie the sun

    ive not seen a BPL test yet done on trying to dry down without the sun or a decent breeze … id would love to see one …

    and of course, most of these BPL tests are on THINNER garments with a few OZ of down, not big thicker puffies or sleeping bags …

    also just because a WM flash dries quickly doesnt mean some other jacket will …

    The wet performance we observed in the MontBell Down Inner jacket supports the assertion that higher volumes of down and a less breathable shell will reduce the wet weather performance of a down garment. The Down Inner jacket has a higher volume of down than the Flash and lofts to 2.8 inches of double layer loft. Its shell material is MontBell's Ballistic nylon. Ballistic nylon threads are calendared. They are heated, then flattened and widened. This improves abrasion resistance and reduces down leakage, but also reduces breathability and slows the drying rate of the Down Inner jacket. (The calendared fabric is closer to a non-breathable/waterproof fabric). The Flash vest with non-calendared fabric reached 1.3 inches of double layer loft after 30 minutes, exceeding the loft of the synthetic Micropuff. But the MontBell Down Inner Jacket with calendared fabric took approximately 100 minutes to recover to 1.3 inches of loft.

    ….

    Synthetic insulation is far superior to down when both are fully saturated.

    ….

    Most other down-filled products will not recover from becoming wet as quickly as the Flash vest due to more down mass in relation to surface drying area..

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/wet_weather_performance_down_vs_synth_vests.html

    here is a real life BPL description of the effects of internal condensation on down when you CANT dry it due to lack of sun even in mild conditions ….

    The next several days were no better. After a half-day in the town of Packwood, we were back on the trail with dense clouds and no views. Our tents were soaked every morning from condensation, and it became harder and harder to dry our things out every day. My sleeping bag’s loft started to weaken little by little as humidity collapsed the down, and I was forced to sleep in layers even on relatively warm nights. Those warm nights, however, began to vanish soon after Packwood. With 100% humidity and temperatures dipping into the high thirties each night, my main motivation became the next stop in town.

    ……

    In the morning, we had the now all too familiar experience of packing tents that were soaked with rain on the outside and condensation on the inside. Then, as we walked up the trail, our clothes became saturated by what Tangent began to refer to as the “car wash effect.” Even with only small amounts of rain in the night, the water collected on leaves of bushes and shrubs, which leaned into the trail and sprayed us as we pushed through the mess. Every morning started with drenched feet and pants, depending on how much rain gear we felt like wearing.

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hiking_through_hyperbole_part4_walk_in_the_clouds.html

    from another BPL article ….

    On a multi-day trip, critical attention must be paid to minimize the moisture that accumulates in your sleep system as each night passes. Weather permitting, you should take the opportunity to air-dry your sleeping bag and bivy sack every morning. This technique is important even in sub-freezing winter conditions – but only in the presence of bright sunlight. Solar radiation will provide the heat energy required to drive the evaporation of moisture from your gear

    ….

    But alas, as weather is notoriously uncooperative, you should consider your clothing and sleeping bag loft as a consumable but renewable resource and take steps to actively manage it like you would, say, your drinking water. Be opportunistic and dry gear whenever you can on an extended trek!

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/bivy_sack_techniques.html

    again what i would love to know is short of having a synthetic overbag and an excess of heat (fire, hawt nalgene) how do you dry down without the sun when your sleep/clothing system is already at the limit of its temperature rating

    now that would be an AMAZING BPL article

    ;)

    #2039428
    Andrew F
    Member

    @andrew-f

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    A very reasonable and responsible answer from WM. I too have my reservations about DWR down. High quality down fill is one of those products that is already so good, there would be plenty of ways for DWR down to fall short.

    I recently got a Zpacks quilt and decided to try out treated down, as a sort of experiment. I may live to regret it, but so far, it has been performing well. My testing only spans about 4 nights so far, but after an extra cold night spent with the quilt covering my face breathing lots of condensation into it, it held up much better than untreated down. There was no loss of loft on the section over my face despite visible beads of water inside, and the quilt dried out significantly faster than my untreated bags do. When I do this with my untreated down quilt I end up with two layers of wet nylon over my face with clumpy down that takes a long time to dry. Once I have more experience with it I'll report my results. Of course untreated down has many many years of useage behind it so it will take awhile to see how it stacks up.

    Just a note on the testing procedure: Just because shaking down in a container with water does not mimic the exact real world useage does not mean the test is worthless. Many test standards use a somewhat unrealistic configuration simply as a basis for performance characterization. For example, UV exposure for nylon equipment: gear is artifically aged at high humidity, high heat, under a strong UV lamp that is hundreds of times stronger than the UV experienced from the sun, to accelerate the aging process. But that test is very useful for comparing UV resistance of different synthetic fibers even if it does not tell you the lifetime under real-world usage.

    #2039484
    Greg F
    BPL Member

    @gregf

    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    Has there been any studies on DWR downs performance in high humidity or wetness from water vapour from sweat. To me this is the key point for the performance of DWR down. Anyone can keep there down bag dry from the outside. In the moisture sources from the inside where improvement could be made.

    So I appreciate the annecdotal reports above that the bag performed better when people breath into. Is there any research or testing that has been done in this area.

    I would think that putting two garmets in a room with high humidity for a few days and monitor loft loss would be a start.

    #2039562
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > how do you dry down without the sun when your sleep/clothing system is already at
    > the limit of its temperature rating
    Seems to me you might have made a bit of a mistake in choosing your gear in this case. Going SUL is all very well, provided the conditions are suitable. Sometimes they aren't.

    We have had good success in drying a quilt in the snow by layering another quilt over the top. The inner quilt does dry out, but the outer quilt may get some condensation (or frost!) inside the outer shell. Then you have to deal with that. This is a good argument for using a two light layers rather than one heavy layer.

    Hum … I wonder how one would go with a single layer of fabric (to catch the condensation) over a very good DWR shell? Probably only work under a very limited temperature range. Pity.

    Cheers

    #2039588
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Eric and Dale,
    My experiences parallel those you relate in your posts. Thanks.
    The word anecdotal is often used by folks who wish to disregard something.
    Another tactic is the classic blame the victim.
    So when my down bag gets soaked, it is my fault and it's anecdotal.
    You can recite instances till he** freezes over, and it's all anecdotal and your own fault.
    Folks whose experience is limited to no worse than an afternoon and night of rain will never take you seriously. And why should they, if they stick to sunny Cal.
    Or even to the Southwest, where we have been interminably told to start early to avoid getting caught in the afternoon thunderstorms – no mention of endless days of constant pounding, drenching rain or the like.
    However, global climate change is creating some bizarre weather where you wouldn't expect it.
    We can't always be ready for every conceivable form of the worst nature can throw at us, but there's no reason not to use the most protective UL gear we can afford to buy or make. Makes for a much more enjoyable trek, and greatly reduces the likelihood of having to throw in the towel and bag a trip – most depressing IMO.

    P.S. Am totally baffled by those who appreciate the endless blah-blah-blah of marketers. Before listening to a single word from any one of them, I want to see their trekking history (not gonna happen). Nimblewill I will listen to all night (figuratively speaking, by reading his accounts).

    #2039593
    M B
    BPL Member

    @livingontheroad

    Anyone that has ever washed a down bag, knows what a wet bag looks like. Its pretty pathetic, about the size of a football, MAYBE, when you take it out the washer.

    Down is simply one of those things that must stay dry at all costs in cold conditions, PERIOD.

    You should also not have only down as insulation with a down bag. You should use a synthetic puffy, and fleece as well. Unless you hike in the desert of course.

    Dridown doesnt change the game. It just makes gross water uptake slower.

    #2039720
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    We have had good success in drying a quilt in the snow by layering another quilt over the top. The inner quilt does dry out, but the outer quilt may get some condensation (or frost!) inside the outer shell. Then you have to deal with that. This is a good argument for using a two light layers rather than one heavy layer.

    Hum … I wonder how one would go with a single layer of fabric (to catch the condensation) over a very good DWR shell? Probably only work under a very limited temperature range. Pity.

    a synth overbag is a proven system of course

    the other thing that can be done is to put a synth puffy over a down bag instead of wearing it inside the bag … this allows for a bit better moisture management

    theres been stories on BPL of people having the condensation collect on the top of a bivy and it migrating back in the bag through contact … however an easy test might be to put a windshirt or rain jacket over a bag to see if it prevents condensation as theres more ventilation than a bivy, this definitely prevents the bag from getting wet by external sources (rubbing against the walls)

    the problem is that a single nylon layer doesnt really absorb the moisture … im thinking something like a very light fleece layer which can be squeezed out in the morning … it should be quite light and can serve as a towel as well …

    i need to do some testing once my leg is healed

    ;)

    #2039736
    Woubeir (from Europe)
    BPL Member

    @woubeir

    >>Seems to me you might have made a bit of a mistake in choosing your gear in this case.

    What is supposed to be the wright gear because e.g. most people have only one sleeping bag ?

    And for those who think now that you can keep a down sleeping bag only dry in weather with only max. a night and a day of rain, I live in a region with a maritime climate and abundanr precipation and more then enough high humidity.

    #2040099
    David Olsen
    Spectator

    @oware

    Locale: Steptoe Butte

    What is the difference in weight between a down bag and a synthetic bag for the same temp range?

    Say for an example 1 pound. Would there be something that weighed one pound that would be more valuable and mitigate the chance of down being sodden?

    1 pound would be a pint of white gas. That is quite a few hot cocoas and "hawt nalgenes" to warm and dry out clothing or sleep gear.

    1 pound could be a pair of synthetic insulated pants or jacket that could be used over a wider range of activities than a sleeping bag and augment the down bag.

    1 pound of peanut butter has about 2700 calories. Enough for a day in most conditions. How many calories in a pound of BigSkyRy's pringles?

    1 pound is the weight of a SAT phone.

    1 pound is the weight of a eVent bivy.

    #2040114
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    drying out your bag with hawt nalgenes is what you do AFTER you screw up … and theres no guarantee you can if your down is saturated enough … at least without an overbag/quilt for the moisture to migrate too

    a thin synth layer on top PREVENTS condensation …

    to put it simply if youre sleep system is at its temperature limit … and you get condensation or the down bag wet … you have no margin for error … you are going to be very uncomfortable at best

    and 1 lb is the weight you can loose by not eating cheezy poofs for a week … or taking a big one in the morning

    ;)

    #2040136
    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member

    @hikin_jim

    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    > My experience with down bags, clothing, etc over 40 years says down gets wet quite easily (though DWR coated shells do help some)… and once it's wet it takes quite some time to dry it out… Even exposed to only very high humidity and no direct contact with liquid water, it can lose half it's loft.

    My experience is similar. I've had water flow through my shelter on a rainy night (which woke me up). Result: Very wet down. It wasn't hard at all.

    Also, in humid/damp conditions, I've seen down bags get quite "limp" and lose a significant amount of loft.

    That said, I appreciate the information shared here and am very interested in the "new down". I haven't jumped on board either with the new down — it'd be pretty expensive to replace all my gear. Also, I have a WM bag (Summerlite), and it's hands down the #1 best bag I've ever used.

    HJ
    Adventures In Stoving

    #2040162
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Sure, good goose down from mature geese is great. Eider down even better.

    But remember, sleeping in a down bag on a week-long winter trip results in a bag that collects moisture every night. There is usually not enough time to thoroughly dry the bag each day and it ACCUMULATES moisture. (See Scott polar expedition.)

    This not only makes the bag heavier each day but reduces the loft and insulating ability of the down fill. THIS kind of scenario is where DWR treated down comes into its own, IMHO.

    Now the problem for Western Mountaineering is WHICH down DWR is the best?

    Testing one down DWR is fine to get an idea of the concept's pros and cons.

    Testing all the down DWRs out there is where the best answer lies.

    #2040194
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    For DWR to be of any use in a quilt or a jacket, it must stop the down from collapsing. There are two different cconditions it has to handle: water, and ice.

    First of, note that water or ice can still collect all around the micro-fibres of a down tuft, even if the surface of the down tuft is 100% waterproof. There is nothing to stop it. A DWR-treated shell (or even a GoreTex shell) cannot stop the water vapour from getting inside the shell either. Only a vapour barrier can do that.

    Ice itself around the down tufts inside a shell will cause some problems, and no amount of DWR on the down will do anything about ice forming inside your quilt if it is cold enough.

    What about dampness (rather than ice)? It will soften the keratin in the down tufts and leave them limp and flat, with a loss of loft. To handle this you need to block water vapour from penetrating into the down tufts. But a DWR does not do that: it blocks liquid water from 'wetting' out the surface. So water vapour will go straight through the DWR layer into the down fibres and you will end up with a limp zero-loft mess.

    This is why companies like WM are not convinced about these DWR treatments. They do not work in Real Life. They only work in gimmicked demos with the down stuffed in a bottle of water. Its 99.9% marketing spin again.

    Cheers

    #2040196
    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member

    @hikin_jim

    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    Wow. Very incisive comments, Roger.

    HJ
    Adventures In Stoving

    #2040212
    Larry De La Briandais
    BPL Member

    @hitech

    Locale: SF Bay Area

    "It will soften the keratin in the down tufts"

    Couldn't the DWR treated down tufts prevent/slow this process? I'm truly asking as I have no idea myself, but would love to learn how this really works.

    #2040221
    David Olsen
    Spectator

    @oware

    Locale: Steptoe Butte

    "drying out your bag with hawt nalgenes is what you do AFTER you screw up … and theres no guarantee you can if your down is saturated enough … at least without an overbag/quilt for the moisture to migrate too"

    Use a hot water bottle to dry your bag before it gets sodden from days of use in humid conditions when their isn't sunshine to do the same.

    Heck, I am a belt, suspenders and another belt kind of camper. I like a vbl, a down bag and a synthetic overbag if I am winter camping for a couple of weeks or more. Sometimes 2 vbls (one a jacket under my down coat). Some of my colleague's used a bivysack over all that. I also use hot nalgenes to help dry all the clothes and boot liners I stick in my sleeping bag.

    I have camped for 28 days at a stretch with a -20 synthetic bag at 0 degree temps and found myself getting colder each night as
    the bag lost it's loft from moisture and compression. We finally ended up adding a synthetic overbag on the next trips.

    Found a +20 degree quality down bag was warmer in the long run than a cheap -20 degree synthetic for multiday winter trips. (When used with an overbag).

    Haven't tried the newest primaloft or climashield in those conditions tho.

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