- Feb 16, 2019 at 10:09 pm #3578836
Currently I own garments treated with various brands of down DWR.
1, Down Tek->LL BEAN -20 sleeping bag
2. Dri Down-> Eddie Bauer First Ascent Vest and PEAK XV expedition parka
3. HyperDRY-> loose 800 fill goose down from Ripstop by the Roll (TNF version of DWR down)
WHICH OF THESE IS MOST DURABLE? WHICH IS MOST HYDROPHOBIC? (Inquiring minds want to know. ;o)
Supposedly Down Tek is not a fluorocarbon treatment. I dunno what the rest are.
BUT… I took a pinch of the HyperDRY loose down (about 1.5″ x 1.5″ loose), put it in a highball size glass then ran a kitchen sink faucet sprayer on top of the down to fill the glass 1/3 with water. The down instantly floated on the water with no visible water on the down and has sat that way for 24 hours with no down sinking into the water. Pretty impressive.
So yeah, I hear that down DWR down not “last” long. What does that mean? Does repeated stuffing wear it off? How many washings (with proper soap) will it take to reduce the DWR effectiveness by, say, 50%? By 90%?
And really, how many of us wash our down garments more than 2 or 3 times in the garment’s lifetime?Feb 17, 2019 at 4:34 am #3578918
Actually, I rinse mine out nearly every trip. No detergent, just a wash and rinse cycle to get the ground/sweat out of them.
I am not sure about the durability of the DWR coatings. The big downer for me is that the coatings add almost 50 points to the fill power of down. This means that whenever the coating wears out, you end up with a lesser down. 800->750 for example. It is possible to see 1000fp down, that was never possible before. So, yes, I worry about it, though it is doubtful I will outlast my new quilt. Not exactly what you were saying, but along the same line.Feb 17, 2019 at 4:26 pm #3578953
That’s weird, I wash mine about once every 200 nights.
The last time I washed it I tried to determine a difference but the lowest temperature my sleeping bag was comfortable at was about the same before and after washing. .
I always wear long sleeves and pants so body oils are mostly contained, I think that’s the worst threat to down
I recently got some 850 DWR down just because that’s what was available. I also used some non DWR 850 down left from previous project. It seemed like maybe the non fluffy down was fluffier. Less feathers. But I don’t think there is any significant difference, and any difference was just between two batches, not DWR vs non DWR. Choosing between them would be arbitrary or whatever was available.
The top baffles of the vest I made are DWR. The lower baffles are non DWR. I’ll have to evaluate that over time, see if there’s ever a trip where the top baffles seem to stay loftier.Feb 17, 2019 at 10:26 pm #3579027
I agree 100% with Jerry on washing frequency.
And both of us protect our down bags by wearing long johns to keep body oils off the bag.
As for DWR treatment increasing down loft and then decreasing it as the DWR is washed off I’ve never heard of either. But I suppose it could happen.Feb 17, 2019 at 10:57 pm #3579035
Well, do what you want. I always wear a base layer, too. But I get back and the bag is always dirty, smells of dirty feet, smells of sweat from insensible perspiration, smells of musty forest floor. I just rinse it out with plain old water in a no agitator washer on delicate. For more than 20 years my other bags have been treated about the same, though I often use 1/3-1/5 down wash because I don’t use a ground cloth. I was back ordered over a month a few years ago and just used water…works about as well. Keeps the bags fresh as I hang them with the others. They always loft higher than spec, shells are in good shape…why not?Feb 18, 2019 at 12:09 am #3579053
I’m not saying washing more or less often is the correct thing to do. It’s good to get both ideas out there so people can figure out what to do. The fact that you do it so often without damage should give people confidence to at least do it sometimes. I have heard stories about people damaging their down bag by washing, so good to dispel that idea
When I recently washed my down bag, it took several dryer cycles, plus I manually fluffed it up. Maybe just additional dryer cycles would have worked. Anyway, it does take a while. I’d rather not do it.
I haven’t heard that DWR increases fill power by 50, interesting.Feb 18, 2019 at 2:06 am #3579083
Mostly, it gets treated like other camping cloths. Wool long johns, shirts, sweaters, pants, underwear, etc all need cleaning when I get back. So does my bag. Sort’a like doing your bedding at home once a week or so. Just don’t use a lot of detergent and light or delicate wash cycles to prevent material wear.
Yeah, drying is a problem.We have an extra large capacity dryer, so I toss it in with a few balls, set it on low, and let her spin. There is some sort of humidity sensor on the exhaust so it knows when to turn off, usually mostly dry. (There is also a timer, but ignore that.) I take it out and hang it to finish drying/storage. I keep all my gear in a spare room in the house, so it will dry completely overnight. Been doing that for a long time. We do the same with the down quilt on the bed, ‘cept it gets hung over the bed posts for several hours. That too is well over 20 years old and in good shape. Again, very little down wash, and an extra couple rinses. Like any other blanket except for the special soap and rinsing.
There was a reference to dri-down treatments adding about 50fp to down in my research about 10 years ago. I don’t remember which company I was looking at though, sorry. DownTek or DriDown, or one of those. It might actually be more than 50FP now that I am comparing it. It looks like EE is using DownTek and they only do up to 850FP down, yet EE is marketing 950FP stuff. Doesn’t add up.Feb 18, 2019 at 5:21 am #3579106
Axel JBPL Member
My mantra is the nylon shell absorbs most of the dirt so most of the feathers actually stay pretty clean except certain areas of the bag, for the life of the bag, but that’s assuming that I never eat in my bag our lounge around in it all day long, inside and out of a tent.
As most do, I sleep with garments to reduce direct skin contact so the only areas that seems to get dirty are around the opening where my face and hands are contacting the nylon. I will concentrate on cleaning those areas only, usually just trying to clean the nylon and not worry too much about the feathers.
For the rest of the bag, I hang it up by the foot box from the eave of. the house then lightly spray it with a garden hose with a mist attachment to get the surface dust off the nylon, let it dry, then turn it in side out and do the same thing again to wash out more dust and dried skin.
Washing something so big like a sleeping bag is a little nerve racking, it seems to never loft back to the original prewash loft without a lot of drying and shaking which can’t be that good for any kind of down if repeated frequently.
I have no experience with Dri-Tek, not yet at least.Feb 18, 2019 at 11:23 am #3579123
Downtek is C6 fluorocarbon. “PFC-free” apparently means C8-free, which goes without saying cuz C8 has been phased out. No way I’m sleeping in that.
I’d really like to see a fluorocarbon free quilt appear on the market.Feb 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm #3579152
Ben SmithBPL Member
We use DownTek exclusively on all of our products, both 850fp and 950fp. The stuff we buy now is labelled ZERO-PFC, which was a new product release for 2018.Feb 18, 2019 at 3:38 pm #3579154
“Downtek is C6 fluorocarbon. “PFC-free” apparently means C8-free, which goes without saying cuz C8 has been phased out. No way I’m sleeping in that.”
They could also say gluten free and GMO free : )Feb 18, 2019 at 4:10 pm #3579166
Hiya Ben. I have a question. What is the original FP rating of the down before you treat it? Or do you just buy the already treated stuff?Feb 18, 2019 at 4:12 pm #3579168
Ben, I was ignorant of that product when writing the post above. Do you know what the Zero PFC Down Tec product uses as the DWR agent? And do you have any plans to use shell fabrics that are also PFC free?Feb 18, 2019 at 4:45 pm #3579178
Ben SmithBPL Member
I buy DownTek, which is treated at the factory in Ohio.
I don’t know what the DWR agent is – but I believe they told me that it is proprietary. The companies that I work with on fabrics haven’t offered a PFC free option, and I haven’t pursued other options in that regard.Feb 18, 2019 at 11:30 pm #3579241
Here in the Las Vegas valley I do the following to my WM Megalite bag:
- fully open the bag with inside facing the sun
- lay on my synthetic grass back “lawn”
- let the sun hit it for 3 to 4 hours
- spray with Fabreeze extra strength
- zip up and store in the WM storage bag
->The Fabreeze dries fairly fast but it has time while drying in the cloth storage bag to kill any smell.
->I always sleep inside my tent so there’s little chance of getting any forest floor smell
->As mentioned I always wear at least a T shirt, over-the-thigh sleep pants and sleep socks. Cooler weather means full long john top and bottom. Very little of my smell gets into the bag.
->Weather permitting I open up my bag and air it out on top of my tent or over a limb depending on wind and location.
With these precautions in 6 years I have never needed to wash my WM Megalite.
I have washed my light down Eddie Bauer 1st Ascent jacket two times in 5 years. Otherwise it gets the “sun and Fabreeze” treatment.
BUT AS THIS THREAD BEGAN ABOUT DOWN DWR I SENSE A BIT IF THREAD DRIFT. ;o)Feb 19, 2019 at 2:23 pm #3579314
Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Dartmoor, Devon
To get back on track, here’s the view of Feathered Friends. They make a pretty strong case that the current treatments aren’t worthwhile:
“We’ve tested a variety of waterproof down over the past few years and have yet to see any real world advantage to it. Some DWR treatments that we have tested make the down sticky, which leads to the down clumping together and ultimately lowers the loft and warmth of the item. The waterproof down treatments that have performed the best in lab tests have been C6 fluorocarbon based, raising environmental concerns. The non-C6 based treatments have actually under-performed or were completely indistinguishable from non-treated down in practical testing. Lab tests have shown that all of the treatments, C6-based or not, wear off after several washes. We have noticed that some manufacturers have discontinued using DWR treated down. Essentially, until we can see a measurable advantage in a real world application we’ll hold off on using a chemical treatment on what’s already a high performing natural material. We rely instead on using the best fabrics on the market to help prevent water from ever reaching the down insulation. However, the DWR technology continues to evolve and we continue to test the latest creations that emerge from the labs. Being a small manufacturer, if we see something worthwhile in the future we have the ability to introduce it into our product line rapidly.”
Also this for UGQ:
UltimaDOWN is not a hydrophobic treated down. Although we have offered hydrophobic treated down in the past, we have weighed the benefits vs. drawbacks carefully, and have recently stopped offering WR down. The benefits, which are marginal at best in real world scenarios, are offset by lower loft, intra laundering clumping, and the need for more down to offset the lower lofting and possible clumping. Effective April 11, 2016, we will no longer use hydrophobic down in our products.Feb 19, 2019 at 4:46 pm #3579354
Another statement from Western Mountaneering:
“Why isn’t Western Mountaineering using hydrophobic down in any products?
We have found in our own testing that the performance enhancements of hydrophobic treatments on high quality down are widely overstated. High quality untreated down already has naturally water repellant oils on it left by the geese (makes sense since geese spend a lot of time in water). These oils help repel water and keep down lofted. More importantly is that these oils last indefinitely. Hydrophobic treatments wash out like a DWR and remove the natural oils during the application process. Because of this, and the water resistant capability of our shell fabrics, we feel that hydrophobic down does not provide a considerable impact on performance and could actually inhibit performance over the lifetime of our products.”Feb 19, 2019 at 8:25 pm #3579404
Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Dartmoor, Devon
This from Nunatak:
Our in-house testing shows that Dry Down exhibit a little less lofting ability than regular down with the same fill power. Nunatak products built with Dry Down will therefore contain up to 10% more fill, and as such exceed the weight expectations to some degree.
If it doesn’t work any better in the field, this extra 10% is simply wasted weight and expense.
When it comes to bags, I’ve never had an issue with down despite spending most of my time in the wet British hills. The folks at Nunatak agree:
While the almost hygroscopic quality of down is consistently brought up negatively in pro/con discussions, in real life it seems much less of an issue. In several decades of quite advanced outdoor activities I have yet to have a ‘down disaster’ involving my sleeping bag, nor do I remember any partner recounting serious loss of loft due to moisture. We have lived and climbed out of snow caves in arctic Norway for 10 days without seeing the sun. Packrafted coastal British Columbia. Stuck on the side of El Capitan in deluges. Our down sleeping bags often were the least of our concerns.
And when it comes to clothing, I can’t imagine that any treatment would be effective enough to make down viable as an active layer in the wet.
Personally, I’m sticking to good old untreated down.
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