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Forum Index -> Gear Talk -> Down vs. fleece?
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trailjunky
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Joined: 14 Jun 2004
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:31 pm    Down vs. fleece?
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I'm looking for something to keep me warm while lounging around camp when backpacking in the winter.  I have a polartec 300 fleece but i'm wonding if a goose down jacket would be warmer.  Anybody out there have any information on this topic?  Thanks.
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Opus
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Joined: 04 Mar 2006
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:35 pm   
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I've got a MountainHardwear Phantom down jacket and a similarly weighted fleece.  The down is definitley warmer, it sneaks into my pack when I know it's going to be very cold.  But most of the time the fleece comes along.  It's not as warm but much more durable and breathable, and I can wear it while moving.  Plus it still keeps me warm if it gets wet.  The down is great for sitting around in though.

So for the poll do you mean just raw warmth, or useable warmth while moving?
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nuclear_eggset
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:52 pm   
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As a perpetually cold person (yes, I think Seattle winters - last one anyway - are *cold*; heck, I think it gets cold in the Bay Area in nothern California), my experience has been that down is absolutely warmer than fleece, no questions about it.

That's not to say that I would take my down jacket out for a day hike over a good set of layers involving fleece.  A down jacket, in my experience, runs a greater risk of overheating you, since you're less likely to have a wide set of layers to go through underneath.  I wouldn't go backpacking in winter without mine, but I'm a pansy, and wouldn't go backpacking in winter.  (I'll just be wearing that jacket when I go skiing. :P )
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solohiker
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:34 pm   
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Trailjunky, if you wear goose-down while you are hiking you will sweat like crazy and as soon as you stop to catch your breath your sweat will make you freeze. Even the best wicking underware can't take away the volume of sweat produced by hiking in a down jacket. Polartech is much better for hikihg. As Opus mentions, you can stuff a down jacket in your pack, and use it to keep you warm at your campsite, but personally I would not use it for hiking. Even worse is when the sweat soaks through at the seams, and gets the down wet - then your down jacket is worthless for keeping you warm (because wet feathers just don't do the job), while you are freezing from that layer of cold sweat trapped next to your body! It is also hard to find a down jacket that is truly waterproof. They all "shed" water well enough but if you are in a nasty downpour (common in Northwest winters) your down jacket will get soaked. You can always wear a gortex shell over the top of it, but once again you have the sweat problem. Fleece, and layers are the way to keep warm in winter. Layers are especially important because you can shed layers as you start to sweat, putting them securely in your backpack to stay dry, and then put them back on when you stop hiking to keep you warm while sitting around.
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Spotly
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:56 pm   
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I save the down for trips where I expect it to be really cold and where I will have limited activity. Otherwise, I prefer my wind stopper fleece with layers so I can regulate my temp better with stop-and-go activity. If it is super cold out though, I'll still throw the down in the bag regardless of activity level just-in-case.
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Pipsissewa
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:15 pm    down or fleece
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I agree with Solo Hiker. I only bring my down jacket to wear inside my sleeping bag when it's very cold. And in camp in the morning when it is cold and dry. Down has to be kept dry.
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jenjen
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:18 pm   
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Nothing beats a down jacket for feeling cozy in camp after a day's hiking.  However, the down stays securely in the tent or in my pack while I'm actually moving - it's just too hot to wear while hiking and too hard to keep dry.

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If life gives you melons - you might be dyslexic
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wildernessed
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:21 pm   
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Don't forget primaloft. I generally wear a zippered capilene shirt, carry fleece and a soft shell shirt and work the layers to acheive a balance (I have a MH wicked Tee long sleeve which works well in this transitioning time of year), a little warm is OK, everything dries well, it's not a bad idea to carry a down jacket along in reserve, the 900 fill weigh next to nothing and compress so small, I have a NF Nuptse, I think it's 750 fill a good just in case, for winter backup. The MH Chugach shirt and pants look toasty for camp and/or to boost heat conservation in a bag at night.
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Dante
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:25 pm   
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I voted for down, but puffy synthetic filled garments are a compromise.  I have a Wild Things Primaloft Sweater that gets a lot of use by me and my wife.  Patagucci's also gor a number of similar offerings, as do others.
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GlacierGlider
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Joined: 14 Sep 2006
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:24 pm   
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I have a down jacket but it is in the closet just collecting dust.  I wore it once on a mid winter hike/climb and sweat my tail off.  I have fleece pants and sweaters that I wear for hiking in the winter they are way more breathable and able to be layered with my gortex shell.  Someimes I even break out hthe wool which is even better in my experience for staying warm...but since that did not make the list I guress I am just rambling.

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"Those who go up the mountain must come down....except me"  AKA spylunker...."See you at the top"
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trailjunky
Backcountry Bumpkin'



Joined: 14 Jun 2004
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:36 pm   
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I should have been more specific with my question.  Yes i would only be wearing that heavy of a fleece or down jacket while lounging in camp.  Thanks for all of your help.
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Kat
Turtle Hiker



Joined: 05 Oct 2003
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:10 pm   
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I think these guys have a lot to say on the subject:

Pro Mountain Sports Layering Info

I bought a Western Mountaineering Flight down jacket from them during the 95 degree weather this summer  lol.gif My intent was not to hike with it, but to carry it along as camp/night-time wear to extend the range of my WM Highlite bag.  Used it once so far, will be using it hopefully weekend after next.

We use our fleece for dayhiking in cold temps.  The REI MTS Expedition fleece pants worked really well for me last winter in 20 degree temps (sunny day tho) XC'ing up Amabilis - wore my nylon convertible pants over them.
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nuclear_eggset
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:14 pm   
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For in camp, when not moving around, there's little chance I wouldn't wear the down, as few other things keep me warm enough, even when well layered.
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Dante
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:19 pm   
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Kat wrote:
I think these guys have a lot to say on the subject:

Pro Mountain Sports Layering Info

ditto.gif
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scm007
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Post Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:20 pm   
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Get a lightweight belay parka, like the MHW Chugach. Don't bother with fleece, there are so many alternatives that I can't ever imagine wearing another one. If you need warmth while moving, get a Driclime and a wool top/bottom. The Arcteryx Rho is the best out there, but unless you have a dealer hookup, way too expensive. All about softshells baby (and down).
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