Oct 17, 2020 at 4:19 pm #3680115
By the way, this discussion reminds me of something I was wondering about. If you end up with a lot of water inside your down jacket or bag (whether normal or DWR down, whether absorbed by the down and/or sloshing about in the baffles), what should you do?
I’m pretty sure trying to shake water out is a good idea. I guess one can try to squeeze some out too, applying similar pressure to when compressing a sleeping bag (no)? But what about wringing it out like a wet rag? (The thought of doing so makes me nervous about the impact on the down.)
(And no, I would not expect it to insulate right away even if I wrung it out, but I would expect that the more moisture I can quickly remove, the less time/heat/air it would take to dry it enough to insulate again.)Oct 17, 2020 at 4:26 pm #3680118Rusty BeaverBPL Member
As I noted before, it would be great if the manufacturers who choose to use or not use DWR down would share their test results, or at least be more explicit about what they have found.
I would bet the reason manufactures who use it don’t share their results is because there’s no big difference in performance. If there was some real and positive difference, it would be in their benefit to show it… so there would be no question… like we’re seeing here. Don’t ya think? Follows right in line with what WM said. They said the benefits weren’t just overstated but “wildly overstated”. If this treated down really did offer some great benefit/s, I reckon WM and FF would have jumped on the bandwagon by now.Oct 17, 2020 at 5:11 pm #3680121
Well no, I wouldn’t think that’s the reason why WM and FF don’t share their test results. And I’d quite like to know what tests they did and what they found.
This might plausibly explain why others who do use DWR down don’t share results. On the other hand, maybe it’s never occurred to them to share the results because the results merely confirm what they think buyers believe – that DWR down is better.
As for the benefits being overstated, there is the test where the guy jumped into a frozen lake with his DWR down jacket and sat there, twice. He concluded that DWR down works so well that the only reason to buy synthetics is to save money. I think that’s overstated, maybe wildly so. (It’s been suggested in this forum (this thread??) that he merely tested the DWR coating of his jacket’s fabrics, and after reading the article again, I agree that there is no way to be sure any water got past the fabrics.) But even if some have wildly overstated the benefits, that doesn’t mean there is no useful benefit.
And yes, I hope FF and WM would jump on the band wagon if there is a great enough benefit. But if there’s a benefit that will be more valuable to some people than to others, and if there are also disadvantages that will impact some more than others, then what is right for FF and WM might not be right to me. Furthermore, did they do the right tests for the situations I’m concerned with (or for some other situations that customer X is concerned with). Who knows?
Really, if every reputable manufacturer said this stuff is no good, it wouldn’t make sense to second guess them. But when reputable manufacturers differ, I see no reason to be sure than WM and FF have determined and weighed the advantages and disadvantages for me better than the other manufacturers. When reputable manufacturers differ, we need better information to choose for ourselves.Oct 17, 2020 at 5:33 pm #3680125Rusty BeaverBPL Member
When reputable manufacturers differ, we need better information to choose for ourselves.
Yeah, I see what you’re saying. But, what exactly defines “reputable”? To me, a reputable company is a small company…. one that has been around for a long time and is still owned and ran by the people who started them…. a company ran by folks who use what they sell and promote, as opposed to a company ran by a suit wearing CEO who’s never slept on the ground before.
So, by that definition, WM and FF (45 & 48 yrs in biz) are reputable companies… to me. But, maybe there are other “reputable” companies I’m forgetting that are using this treated down, I don’t know.Oct 17, 2020 at 5:52 pm #3680127
there is the test where the guy jumped into a frozen lake with his DWR down jacket and sat there, twice.
What saved that guy was not the DWR-treated down but the DWR-treated shell fabric!
I have seen this myself. One night at altitude I foolishly blocked the windward vent on my tent, and the condensation overnight inside the tent was huge. There were puddles (and I mean ‘puddles’) on my quilt in the morning. I was a bit worried (we were in the middle of a long hard walk) but Sue just told me to shake it off – outside. I did so, and found that the fabric was just about dry afterwards.
CheersOct 17, 2020 at 7:06 pm #3680130Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
I would bet the reason manufactures who use it don’t share their results is because there’s no big difference in performance.
That would be my speculation as well, though I suppose it’s possible the test results are just too technical to be of any marketing benefit.
But since you almost never hear of someone having wetting-out trouble with untreated down, it’s hard to imagine that the benefit of treatment is more than minimal.Oct 17, 2020 at 7:44 pm #3680131TurleyBPL Member
@turleyLocale: So Cal
I would think that since FF and WM, for the most part, only make down products if there was a benefit to DWR treated down they would definitely use it (or at least offer the option) and with marketing spin most likely increase sales. To me this speaks volumes as they care more about building a quality long lasting product that is proven reliable…..and the last time I checked FF and WM was and probably still is, the gold standard in sleeping bags.Oct 17, 2020 at 11:01 pm #3680142Edward John MBPL Member
If you don’t think there is a real difference simply try hand washing a treated bag, it takes much longer to get a treated bag saturated when using the recommended minimum amount of down detergent, ditto for a down parka.Oct 17, 2020 at 11:28 pm #3680143Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Edward, this is true.
And therein lies sort of a conundrum here.
Also, field experience. It does actually have a noticeable difference.
Treated down bags have kept me drier for multi-day bivy-sacking/high-condensation trips than non-treated bags under similar conditions. Stuffing a damp bag early in the morning is a great way to destroy loft for the night ahead. Repeat that for a week.
I wish down treatments wouldn’t reduce loft (they do) but long term benefits in *wet* environments – may be ok?
We need better data :)Oct 18, 2020 at 2:24 am #3680148
At the risk of being contentious (who, me?), can I suggest that it is the use of a bivy sack which is the culprit here, not the down?
If one knows that the conditions could be ‘high condensation’ on a trip, surely it would be better to take a shelter suited for the conditions? Unless one wants to take ‘zero-days’ for drying out.
CheersOct 18, 2020 at 3:58 am #3680150
can I suggest that it is the use of a bivy sack which is the culprit here, not the down?
Why is one solution (tent vs DWR down) inherently the right one for everyone in all situations? Both have their advantages. I have never much enjoyed sleeping in a bivy sack, but I’m pretty sure there are weight savings (bivy sack & treated down vs. tent & untreated down) (or weather protection benefits (bivy sack etc. vs tarp, etc.)). And a bivy sack is rather more convenient half way up a rock face.
Furthermore, even if we bring the right gear and know what we are doing …
One night at altitude I foolishly blocked the windward vent on my tent, and the condensation overnight inside the tent was huge.
… accidents happen. I don’t have that much faith that I will never screw up and the situation will never screw me. What’s more, there are times when I would deliberately choose to bring a DWR jacket down even knowing there might be (at most) a little precipitation – provided I’m confident of the benefits. (Not for a long trip, of course, when one can never be confident of the weather, and one is far from civilization, but for hikes with the kids or a weekend in another city, yes.) Even more often, I would bring my down hat instead of a synthetic one, because an equally warm synthetic one won’t comfortably stuff in my jacket or even pants pocket.
In sum, despite benefits such as Edward and Ryan describe, I’m sure there are times when normal down and appropriate other gear are the best choice for some of us, and also times when they are the right gear for almost all of us. On the other hand, with such benefits, there will be times when DWR down would be better for some/most/all. (And without such benefits, there would be times when no down is the right choice and the solution is synthetic.)Oct 18, 2020 at 5:01 am #3680152Edward John MBPL Member
Yes I can see that in summer and in fine weather that untreated goose or duck down would be good enough or even the best product for that time and place and in winter when things are soggy and wet the treated product would be more effective. Also the time spent has a definite bearing; the longer I am out in wild wet winters the more appropriate the treated down is for me. My experience will be different to others. I pick what works for me and that choice is made as a result of 50 years of trial and error, lots of errors. Also don’t loose sight of the fact that local conditions often over-rule other factors where gear is concerned, Scotland and Australias High country are very different in winter to most of North America and that factor has coloured my own gear choices.Oct 18, 2020 at 10:10 am #3680167Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Just putting it out there, since traveling with a bivy sack is a use case where water-resistant down may be beneficial. Wasn’t meant to be an argument for bivy use.
I use a bivy quite a bit as my shelter choice, especially on alpine scrambles, or when the chance of precip is low but I still want some wind/rain/snow protection if needed.Oct 18, 2020 at 2:45 pm #3680186
The bit which really amuses me is the unstated assumption that so many people seem to make:
That just because it is labeled ‘DWR-treated’ means it is going to be totally waterproof.
I have yet to see any evidence of this, apart from marketing spin.
CheersOct 18, 2020 at 11:09 pm #3680226Jean DBPL Member
It’s interesting how the discussion keeps coming back to FF and WM (nothing against them, they’re great, and PHD in the UK also doesn’t use treated down). But let’s not forget Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Mountain Equipment, Montbell…what I personally consider the creme-de-la-creme of larger companies also don’t use this stuff. At all. Maybe it’s principally due to longevity concerns but everyone seems willing to make a lot of sacrifices for the sake of performance (tissue paper thin shell fabrics etc..) so I kind of doubt it. And maybe you hold the companies using treated down in higher esteem than I do, we can certainly disagree regarding TNF, LL bean or whoever else.
From one of the prior generation’s finest alpinists and longtime Patagonia athlete (Patagonia did try treated down in the early 2010’s):
I think so far as real-world utility unfortunately everyone is going to have to do their own experimenting to see if it’s worthwhile. I am a climber/skier in the Northeast, and I spend some time in the Cascades regularly. I backpack too but many of my biases are from my other hobbies that can be a bit harder on gear. Although I think there is a difference with treated down (easy for me to see when I put a wet down jacket in the dryer after washing it – treated ones dry faster), for me/my use/my location it is of no practical significance. I’ve managed to get every kind of down wet (treated, untreated, down/synthetic blend) in normal use without jumping in lakes or getting caught in rain. And where I live there is no hope of ever drying down in the backcountry – it’s humid and the sun isn’t out that often. I don’t have a half/half jacket or anything remotely scientific to back up these impressions, so who knows maybe treated lasts a little longer before wetting out but at the end of the day for me it doesn’t change my threshold for when I bring synthetic instead. If I were primarily a backpacker in the arid Southwestern US who knows, maybe it would prove more worthwhile.
In my purchasing I don’t have an especially strong feeling one way or the other if I like the item. It maybe makes sense to get untreated down in something like a sleeping bag that you could conceivably keep for a decade or more since there is still that underlying longevity concern. But you’re not buying your 7d jacket for life, so I wouldn’t worry as much.
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