Western Mountaineering on water resistant down and Pertex fabric
Nov 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm #2040539Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"and yet we have tales of BPLers i assume are quite experienced here getting their down wet at some point on this thread …"
The winter incident that I related took place back in the 1970's, and I was incredibly inexperienced in the mountains (tagging along with two experienced guys). Mount Rainier took its toll, and my 4-pound down sleeping bag had become a 25-pound wet sponge. It got ugly after that.
I think down sleeping bags are perfectly fine to use, but that requires the user to exercise a bit of paranoia about getting it wet. Once you get cautious with it, then there is no problem.
–B.G.–Nov 3, 2013 at 7:42 am #2040737Oliver NissenBPL Member
@olivernissenLocale: Yorkshire Dales
A quick clarification – Patagonia's Encapsil(R) down treatment involves a plasma (ionisation) process. The fanfare is that supposedly the molecular bonding of the DWR to the down due to the ionisation process is better/longerlasting than that of previous chemical bath DWR treatments. (Not some "molecular level deposition"!)
Aside from water repellency, additional (and arguably greater) benefits might come from some of the new down treatments, namely oil repellency and so-called "self-cleaning" properties. Fluoro-based DWRs can be great at this – they're oleophobic as well as hydrophobic. Being silicone chemistry, I wonder how oleophobic the Encapsil treatment is?Nov 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm #2040976Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Oliver, however can you forgive me for using the wrong terminology of "molecular level deposition" when trying to describe Patagonia's down DWR?
I seldom lash out here on BPL but your comment is at xxxx level.Nov 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm #2041001Greg MihalikSpectator
From Patagonia –
"Patagonia's down is sent through a proprietary machine and agitated with low-level radio frequency waves until the surface of the down's molecular structure begins to shift. A tiny amount of siloxane is then deposited onto each plumule of down, adhering to its changed molecular structure in a virtually permanent way. The result is down that is hydrophobic, stronger and loftier by 25%."
Jess Clayton, 805-667-4755, [email protected]
From AeonClad Coatings –
"Radio frequency pulsing (the plasma on and off times or the duty cycle) and deposition time allows for the fine control of the nature of films, such as film thickness and surface composition."
It seems like "molecular level deposition" is a pretty good description of what is accomplished with "proprietary radio frequency pulsing" to control deposition characteristics for the "changed molecular structure" of the down.
Care to clarify how "molecular level deposition" falls short?
I'm curious.Nov 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm #2041172Chris SBPL Member
@bigseaLocale: Truckee, CA
Interesting discussion. I don't have a lot of experience using a down bag in wet/humid environments for more than a night or two. For those that do, what's your lightweight shelter of choice to keep your down dry on wet & humid trips with little sunlight for several days?
Is this where you go to a double wall tent? A fully enclosed tarp, like a mid? Bivy or no bivy?Nov 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm #2041222Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> For those that do, what's your lightweight shelter of choice to keep your down
> dry on wet & humid trips with little sunlight for several days?
This is where you get to play Dirty Harry – 'do you feel lucky?'.
You might decide that you can handle (say) 3 nights of humidity and go UL with a little tarp. You might be lucky.
Or you might decide that you don't want to worry too much about it, and take a decent single-wall tent. Good shelter.
Or, if conditions are going to be a bit more severe, you might take a double-wall tunnel tent and just not worry at all :-)
Guess what? It's your choice!
PS: I am not a big fan of bivy sacks in bad weather.Nov 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm #2041225Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
"My new bag is a MH Ultralamina, which was still cheaper than a down bag. I expect to get years of service."
fwiw, my mh lamina 35 degree bag crapped out on me after about 60 nights.Nov 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm #2041228Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I was asked by PM why I don't like bivy bags, and half way through writing the answer I thought I should post it here rather than by PM. You will note that a lot of them have to do with how my wife and I travel, but they are not the sole reasons.
* Two cramped confining bivy sacks weigh as much as one comfortable tent.
* When it is cold we snuggle up together to share warmth: works in a tent.
* Changing out of wet clothing in bad weather is dead easy in a tent; it is horrible in a bivy sack.
* In cold weather bivy sacks tend to get condensation on the inside, which of course transfers back to the quilt(/SB) shell and insulation. In a tent the condensation is MUCH less, and is on the roof, far from the shell.
* In bad weather you need to be sheltered for >12 hours. Try lying still in a bivy bag for that long! dead easy in a tent.
* Try cooking in bad weather in a bivy bag. You may set it alight. It is dead easy in a tent, even in a howling snow storm.
* It is 3 am, the weather is awful, and you need to go to the loo. Not hard to get dressed in enough gear in a tent for a brief trip outside, but try that in the dark in a bivy sack.
Enough? I am sure I can think of more.
CheersNov 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm #2041236Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I haven't used a real bivy bag before, but I wouldn't mind using one for camping in mostly dry summer weather where I most likely wouldn't need a shelter. Seems like a lightweight option for an occasional storm or shower.
Bivy camping when I know that it's going to rain? No thanks.Nov 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm #2041496Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I am PM "postee" to Roger re. bivy sacks.
Being a confirmed and baptized tenter I agreee with every point Roger made.
Personally my ONLY use for a bivy sack would be in a snow shelter, i.e. quinzhee, trench, cave, or igloo. There it would keep my bag drier.Dec 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm #3369630
Anyone speak to WM about this lately?Dec 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm #3369708TurleyBPL Member
@turleyLocale: So Cal
I haven’t talked to them……but it seems that WM, FF, and Valandre haven’t jumped on board yet (and I believe ZPacks went back to traditional down as well).Dec 9, 2015 at 7:37 pm #3369710
Neither have PHD in the UK yet, these 4 companies are the world leaders. Montbell have not jumped either.
I do remember WM were testing a jackets with normal down on one half and DWR on the other.Dec 9, 2015 at 9:27 pm #3369728AaronBPL Member
“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.”
This. Condensation and humidity is one thing, but complaining that your down bag wet out because you didn’t bring appropriate shelter is another. I’m pretty sure it isn’t the fault of the bag at that point. Darwin Award.
also, my personal experience: I have used down bags (from feathered friends and WM) in Alaska, the Olympics, and the cascades for week-plus long backpacking trips and have never had a bag wet out. I can see that happening if you’re out in the rainy season for loooonnnggg spans of time, but otherwise this argument doesn’t really apply for the average backpacker if you follow even somewhat reasonable precautions to keep the down bag dry.Dec 10, 2015 at 4:51 am #3369759
One of the things that has not been mentioned on this thread is the stiffening effect of the various treatments. In every case I have seen, the notable difference is about 40-50pts of fill power. Generally, this is like saying a treated 750 fill down sample will be the equivalent of 800fill. This is pretty clearly due to additional stiffness added, thus increasing it’s loft/fill power a bit. So they cannot sell a cheaper down, but they *CAN* sell you a coated (“It must be better”) less expensive down. I really hate these spin doctors because they never tell the whole story.Dec 10, 2015 at 5:10 am #3369761Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
In the Sierra Designs “SD Live” video about insulation with Michael Glavin and Andrew Skurka, Michael insists that the down treatment has no effect on fill power, though Andrew seems surprised by Michael’s statement.
All Things Insulation at about 29:00Dec 10, 2015 at 6:51 am #3369770
Well, I reviewed that, but again I reserve judgement. A 5% increase in down’s overall fill/stiffness (50fp/1000fp) is well within their tolerances, so he can say that. Also, he lists 20 washes reduces it by 80%. I wash mine about 4 times per year or every 2 weeks or so. This is a 5 year reduction to 80%. I keep my bags about 20-25 years.
And, no matter what fill, synthetic or natural, I am using, I have NO desire to sleep in something that is wet. There is little left of any insulation if it is wet, synthetic or down. You are still not going to be comfortable.Dec 10, 2015 at 8:59 am #3369790Woubeir (from Europe)BPL Member
I haven’t read everything in this thread again but some remarks maybe (some of them perhaps already have been raised):
Dec 10, 2015 at 7:57 pm #3369918Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
- while doing shake tests to research water repellent treatments on down, the IDFL found out that untreated down was surprisingly resilient to get soaked (took on average 22 minutes while, to be honest, some treatments worked for more than 1000 minutes).
- the danger of all this treated down is that many can think that they no longer have to try to prevent that their down stuff might get wet in the first place because “hey, the down has a waterrepellent treatment now, wright ?”. While e.g. we here know that a bag will still insulate better when it’s dry and while getting it damp or wet now and then might be not an issue with stuff with treated down, even then it’s better to try to prevent getting it wet.
Dang, James. You must be outside a lot to be washing your down gear that often. I envy you. I’m a weekend warrior and not a frequent one at that. I get about one big trip per year and 2-4 long weekends. I probably wash my down bag MAYBE every two years, my down pullover once a year, and my synthetic Patagonia Nanopuff more often.
I also agree that no matter what the insulation type, nothing is really warm when wet. Michael and Andrew in the SD video agree on that as well.
Woubeir – I guess I can’t say how the average hiking public perceives the hydrophobic down treatments. It will probably become like the adage that synthetic insulation is “warm when wet”. Some people will blindly repeat the saying without having much knowledge or experience to quantify it.Dec 10, 2015 at 9:15 pm #3369933George FBPL Member
On my thru hike the problem I had with wet down wasn’t getting it soaked. It was cowboy camping and getting condensation on it. The condensation never penetrated but there were times I had to stuff it with a damp shell, hike all day without a chance to dry it out and then make camp too late to get it in the sun, sometimes a few days in a row. This is where I lost loft. When I got my new quilt I went with treated down hoping it would help, though I haven’t repeated those conditions yet. Does anyone have personal feedback on how well damp, not soaked, treated down does in maintaining its loft?Dec 12, 2015 at 7:12 am #3370153
I could see that as an issue cowboy camping.Dec 12, 2015 at 7:45 am #3370158Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I cowboy camp a lot. Down. DWR shell
Shell sometimes gets wet from dew. Body heat evaporates it from the torso area, but the foot area will stay wetter.
The water tends to stay in the shell and not get absorbed by the down.
Eventually, I’ll find an opportunity to dry it off in the sun or whatever.Dec 12, 2015 at 7:46 am #3370159Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I have an EE enigma with downtek.
we were just so darned wet on our CT thru this summer it was amazing. I use a cuben duomid with a solo inner, so nice double wall. We cowboy camped a few times and ended up with tons of condensation…and we tried to dry things out at lunch every day.
There was a noticeable INCREASE in loft after drying in the sun over lunch.
But there were days when we didn’t get that chance, and the quilt was packed damp then not taken out of the bottom of my pack until it was time to make camp. I would set up as soon as we got to camp – throw out the quilt to fluff then go eat dinner. by the time i got to bed i did not notice any issue at all with dampness, no matter how wet things happened to be overall.
I’m a relatively cold sleeper and at no point during 36-ish days did I feel like my quilt was losing warmth.
not the best test, but certainly the wettest I’ve been on a long trip.Dec 12, 2015 at 9:11 am #3370174
Jeff, Yeah, I am out around 60 nights per year. This year I had to spend a month doing my house roof (new sheathing & shingles) and only got out about 45 days. I usually go out for a week, sometimes for two weeks. Anyway, I launder my bag every two weeks…depending. I think I washed it 5 times this year due to the sloppy spring/summer months. It got a little damp every trip (except in October) so laying on it damp means crushing the feathers then drying them with body heat…not the best for maintaining loft.
Chris S, I do a lot of tarp camping. The trick is choosing good ground. Something that doesn’t get wet in a rainstorm: a slight mound, some roots around the area to keep any run-off out, a light grade, etc. The ideal spot for me is a slight dip that lets me sleep very comfortably, but surrounded by large roots to divert water, and small enough to be totally covered by the tarp. Plenty of ventilation, and a dry surround for my stove and/or maybe a small fire. Anything to raise the temp under the tarp a couple degrees for drying.Dec 12, 2015 at 7:06 pm #3370237
If WM brought out DWR down in their bags would anyone upgrade?
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