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GROUP TEST: Down Jackets

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Down Jackets, 5 kbIn this group review we test out a range of down jackets. Our review brief was to test 'standard mid-weight down jackets that are suitable for a range of uses for the British climber'.

What we wanted was a do-everything jacket - the kind that virtually every UK climber needs, one that keeps you warm in between routes on a cold day of cragging, one you can wear down the pub and you can take out winter climbing too.

The perfect down jacket. We've been looking for it ...but does it exist?

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 Andy Syme 16 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:
I know you cant review everything, but surprised you missed off PHD. UK manufactured (All of it) and IMHO still the best there is in down kit.
Post edited at 19:32
 ScraggyGoat 16 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:
every uk climber 'needs'..................really
Nice to have, I'd agree, but let's face it if all my clothing got burnt to a crisp in a house fire, the last thing given the uk climate, on the replacement list would be the down jacket.
Post edited at 21:38
2
In reply to Andy Syme:

PHD don't advertise; TBF, if UKC were to do a feature on PHD gear, the paying advertisers might get a bit twitchy. Such is the price of free-to-use resources.
1
In reply to Andy Syme:

> UK manufactured (All of it) and IMHO still the best there is in down kit.

Why exactly? Not saying it isn't but what makes PHD better than all the other good down gear out there? And do you know why they use removable hoods so much? I've found removable hoods to be a fundamentally bad design on jacket for serious climbing (although I've never tried a PHD jacket).
 Si dH 17 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:
Don't really agree re the infinity Endurance. I have had one for 2 years and I much preferred my previous Neutrino endurance. Infinity endurance I would classify more as a lightweight specialist jacket than an all round jacket. It simply isn't robust enough for day-to-day use over a long period of time full. The elasticated cuffs and hood are also annoying compared to the Neutrino as the hood in particular tends to blow off in high winds, and ghe gaps mean that despite higher quality down, it isnt as warm. These are all aimed at extreme weight saving rather than practicality.

I used to think the Neutrino was pretty perfect and only changed model when it died as i got the infinity half price, so to be fair I am a tough judge, but I just don't think it should sit in this review category.
Post edited at 04:14
August West 17 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

Thanks for
the article,
but I think
you need
to look
at the
formatting
of the
Overall
Summary
table at the
bottom. The
summary
section is a
bit hard to
read.
 ScraggyGoat 17 Oct 2015
In reply to Martin not maisie:

PhD advertise on UKC, well their sales anyway, so on the basis of contributing to UKC finances the other manufactures couldn't say they had a totally free ride. Other high end manufactures weren't included, it's obviously not possible to include everyone. But I do think omitting a made in Britain top end UK manufacturer that is highly respected and used by many top end UK mountaineers, even though some of them are sponsored by other manufactures is an oversight.

Perhaps they either weren't approached, or werent willing to contribute or pay towards this advertorial........which lets face it is pretty weak. It may tell you the fill -power but doesn't mention the fill weight, nor do UKC define what they mean by a jacket suitable for uk and then go out to source and find the line up.........they just reviewed what ever was sent to them. Hence such a Hobson's choice of jackets.
 Trangia 17 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

I'm surprised young didn't include beathable waterproof jackets in the brief. Keeping down dry is vital to preserve it's efficiency. I know it can be argued that these jackets are designed to be worn in sub zero temperatures, but unfortunately our fickle British weather doesn't always oblige. Some of my coldest experiences have been on snow covered Scottish hills when the falling snow has turned to sleet. You then have the added problem of worrying that your priceless down jacket is being ruined.
3
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

No disagreement; I was just populating on *why* PHD weren't in the line-up. But to be honest, I don't think they'd need the advertorial anyway: most of us have got a bit of PHD gear and, funds allowing, would buy more.
1
In reply to Trangia:

Quite. Years ago, I took a new girlfriend hillwalking in Scotland and, dressed to impress in my down jacket, we set off under cloudless skies. By the time we got to the summit, it was p*ssing down and I was wearing a T shirt and what was, essentially, a very heavy and not-remotely-waterproof caghoule; so when she wanted to stop and eat her sandwiches, I was crying like a lost child and begging to go down.

Between that and crashing the car on the way home, it wasn't much surprise to find myself available and on the market yet again.
 Damo 17 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

I see no mention anywhere there of sewn-through vs. baffled, which has always been a major construction feature, or not, of down jackets. Baffled is warmer but more complicated and expensive to manufacture.

The Patagonia Fitzroy and MH Nilas (and Millet?) are baffled, the others are sewn-through.

Not really comparing apples with apples, is it? Couldn't you at least mention that major difference?
 Darron 17 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

These: http://www.decathlon.fr/x-light-homme-kaki-id_8344413.html

are terrific value if you can get to a Decathalon. 40 Euros!
 andrewmc 17 Oct 2015
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

I assume the 'warmth' measurement is entirely an (educated) guess and not based on an objective measurement?

I would like to know the fill weight, in grams, of down. It would still be hard to compare down of different qualities but at least you would have some objective measure and you would know what the down-to-jacket weight ratio was. It's easy to make a jacket lightweight if you don't put any (or very much) down in it...
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

The price the article has put on the Arcteryx jacket is out by -£140
In reply to Darron:

This is a bit better, since it avoids the synthetic side panels:

https://www.decathlon.co.uk/forclaz-300-mens-down-jacket-blue-id_8317908.html

The shoulder baffle design is about as good as you'll get.

Has moved from Wed'ze to Quechua to Forclaz branding over the last three years...
In reply to UKC/UKH Gear:

Would be good to tell us about the ethical angle. Some companies give careful attention to the working conditions in the factories where they are made and how the down is produced - others less so. For more and more of us, this is part of what constitutes a great product and whether we would want to buy it.
1
 galpinos 19 Oct 2015
In reply to steve.aisthorpe:

I agree with this. I'd also like to see something mentioned about Hyrdophobic down, more than a yes/no. Not all hydrophobic down is equal but it's quite hard to find out which down is used by which customers.
 redscotti 19 Oct 2015
In reply to captain paranoia:

I'm mystified. The Decathlon jacket says "Tested for optimum comfort between -5°C and 0°C", in other words, near the operating temperature of the PHD Minimus which costs over 5x more. It's 110 g lighter too - must use miracle down and feathers!
 Lucy Wallace 19 Oct 2015
In reply to andrewmcleod:

To be fair to the UKC review team, most brands don't advertise the weight of down that they put in their jackets and this info can be awkward to track down. Rab are one of the few who are open about this. There's a difference between folk buying a pub/font jacket, for whom "medium warm" will probably do, and those that are taking them to extremes, who really do want to know about that extra 10g down in the hood. I suspect a lot of brands write up their garment specs to impress the former category of wearer.

(I've been known to do a bit of gear reviewing myself elsewhere, and getting product that meets your brief, then all the relevent information about it out of the PR agent, then testing it in a dry sunny autumn when its a winter garment- all tricky esp in a big comparative test like this.)

In reply to redscotti:

> I'm mystified. The Decathlon jacket says "Tested for optimum comfort between -5£C and 0£C", in other words, near the operating temperature of the PHD Minimus which costs over 5x more. It's 110 g lighter too - must use miracle down and feathers!

Who's optimum comfort though? My optimum comfort when working on site is a tee shirt until the temperature hits the - range and for sitting in my office doing the dreaded paperwork the max I would have it would be 15c
Conversly my administration assistant likes to keep her office at 24c and often wears a jumper too.
In reply to redscotti:

Always look at the fill weight and fill power; temperature ratings are always subjective (ah: as noted by andrewmcleod above). At least the Decathlon jacket specifies fill weight on the label.

As for your observation, I'd suggest that's explained by the difference between active and static use; I'll guess the PhD spec is for static use.

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