/ Stitch through?!

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Am I the only one fed up with the boom of stitch-through synthetic jackets? A few years ago laminated insulations were becoming more and more advanced and it seems most companies have ditched this progress in the bid to produce a tonne more 'micro-baffle' jackets. They're all face fabric and virtually no insulation, you can feel the massive gaps between the baffles, and as the insulation settles this will only get worse. Supposedly they're "lightweight" but I'm not at all convinced they're warmer for their weight compared to a sheet of insulation with a lower gsm. At a pinch you might be able to claim they're more breathable, but my belay jacket would be more breathable if I stabbed it full of holes yet I don't do that. Still, at least we can all look super trendy with our Thermo-Ball 98% stitches and face fabric jacket when we're walking the dog. Has anyone ever held one of these jackets up to the light? 

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TobyA 05 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Isn't it just firms using synthetic down that needs to be held in little channels or chambers because its not sheet insulation?

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In reply to TobyA:

My point is that synthetic down which requires micro-baffles is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. 

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Donny M 06 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Can you give some examples (jacket brand / model name)

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Basemetal 06 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

In a word, "fashion". Don't buy one unless you want to. The world isn't short of functional jackets.

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In reply to Donny M:

Rab: Cirrus, Nebula, Nimbus, Altus

ME: Rampart, Superflux

Montane: Icarus, Ground Control

Marmot: Featherless

TNF: Thermoball

Patagonia: Nano/Micro/Macro Puff

Yet I could list the amount of reasonably priced and properly warm belay jackets on the back of a stamp. 

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Basemetal 06 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

When the functionality of the design is so low it's worth remembering a cheap fleece, supermarket jacket or woolly pullover can be technically equivalent and leave you change from £20.

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Toerag 06 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

The simple reason is this - fashion. Stitch-through jackets can have a cool pattern of tubes that's very marketable.

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galpinos 06 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Is it not for pack-ability/breath-ability/weight? Down is still hard to beat for a lightweight warm jacket, it just suffers with moisture so everyone is striving to create the most down like synthetic. The Micro puff is super light and from people I know who've used/tested them, very warm for it's weight. I'd imagine the macro would probably have an even better warm to weight ratio as it's the same amount of face fabric (though slightly heavier weight).

You are right, in that down micro baffle jackets are an odd thing as if it's warm enough to only need a micro baffle coat, why bother with down, why not a fleece? But people still wear them as they are nice to wear, and they are "cool".

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In reply to galpinos:

To be honest I usually find when I try on these jackets with hundreds of baffles, there is so much stitching the jacket is very stiff, rigid and doesn't conform to the body very well. I don't see how this could be more packable if it has the same amount of insulation as a jacket without micro baffles. 

Breathability - I have never heard of people struggling with breathability because of baffle design, or manufacturers using stitch through to boost breathability, otherwise why don't we see fleeces with the same design, or synthetic jackets etc? The only comparison I can think of is grid fleece/base layers (another awful design). 

The real reason for stitch through: It's cheap! And it looks puffy! When TNF/Primaloft came out with Thermoball insulation they showed everyone this clever triangular baffle design:

https://arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/PSGP3ZZRBSY7KRLJWYEQQLQUTE.jpg

Then they made this: 

https://backpackers.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/synthetic-insulated-jackets-thermoball-backlit.jpg

Which under a thermal imaging camera probably looks a lot like this:

https://dpcr19kltm61a.cloudfront.net/backpackinglight/user_uploads/1414135788_113491.jpg

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galpinos 07 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Sorry, I'm not sure I made my point quite as well. Down jackets, imho, are nicer to wear, "feel" more breathable* and pack down better than traditional sheet synthetic jackets. The market is trying to find a "synthetic down" and that requires having baffles to stop insulation migration. I was trying to say the the new insulation is more breathable and packable, not the stitch through construction, that's just the required construction for the insulation type.

Stitch through is cheaper than box wall and less effective, but there seems to be a tipping point where manufacturers move from one to the other. I'm not sure of all the factors but I guess the big ones will be cost and when it becomes beneficial enough to the performance properties.

*I realise it's trapped between two layers of pertex which ultimately dictate the "breathability"

> To be honest I usually find when I try on these jackets with hundreds of baffles, there is so much stitching the jacket is very stiff, rigid and doesn't conform to the body very well.

I have a Nano puff an it's neither stiff, nor rigid and is very nice to wear. However, the excessive stitching does just mean there are numerous failure points as if you actually climb in it, not just belay, the stitching breaks pretty quickly.

> The only comparison I can think of is grid fleece/base layers (another awful design). 

Ha! I think after this statement will will forever disagree as grid fleeces are my favourite base layer for winter!

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richlan 07 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

I'm not really sure i understand your rant TBH, has somebody from TNF or Rab etc. upset you ? Have you actually use used any of these jackets ?

I have a Thermoball (a couple of variations actually) i use it as a mid when skiing, a light emergency layer when fell running in winter and a belay jacket on spring/autumn days, haven't got a problem with it, in fact i would say its warmer weight for weight than any down jackets i have.

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nufkin 07 Jan 2020
In reply to galpinos:

>  The Micro puff is super light and from people I know who've used/tested them, very warm for it's weight

I now use a Micro Puff top - or it might be a Nano Puff - in place of a fleece for my sumer camping insulation; it's lighter (or as light), packs up smaller, and, I think, warmer. The wind-resistance of the material probably helps a lot with this. The only flaw I've found with it is that it's a pig to get on after getting rained on as the liner material is annoyingly clawing on wet skin

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Rigid Raider 07 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Yesterday somebody lent me one of those two-tone flouro jobsworth jackets as worn by construction workers. Flinkin' blip, in two minutes I had to take it off as it was so hot. There's a thick layer of soft insulation then a quilted lining; I can understand now why road workers and others employed by councils can actually stand around all day doing very little work and not freeze to death.

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In reply to richlan:

I'm frustrated with the lack of reasonably priced sheet style insulation pieces, especially at the warmer end of the spectrum. There is, however, a glut of cheap micro-baffle synthetic jackets, which are inferior in their insulating abilities. I'm not saying they don't work at all, but they seem to be the focus of all major brands who are putting heavy R&D into insulation designed for stitch-through baffles, which is a step backwards in engineering. 

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wercat 07 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

they are extremely ugly

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olddirtydoggy 07 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

I've noticed they have stitched the top half of the new Montane Prism jackets this season. I wonder if the top half will perform less now? All of our synthetic jackets are flat panel, who cares about what it looks like. My gold prism looks proper gangsta down at my crag.

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Basemetal 07 Jan 2020
In reply to wercat:

> they are extremely ugly


Ha ha You're not wrong... I've got a 10 yo Rab Generator Smock and it's not pretty...  But it has lived through a lot of hilly use and a dozen MTB tumbles unscathed. I thought the pertex would have been shredded on a couple of gravel landings but not a mark.

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In reply to wercat:

My partner thinks micro baffles are ugly, she says they look like sausages. I don't have a strong opinion either way. 

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pass and peak 07 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

Don't know about that, these days it's about the only way I'll get a six pack!!!!

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TeeBee 08 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

>  There is, however, a glut of cheap micro-baffle synthetic jackets, which are inferior in their insulating abilities.

How else to do it, though? I bought some raw Primaloft a while ago for a home-made clothing project, and it came as a thickness of the insulating fibres between very thin sheets of scrim. Presumably the scrim could be bonded to the outer and inner layers of pertex (or whatever), but then the fibres would start pulling apart as the garment was worn and handled, which would then surely mean the insulation fibres would start to loosen and succumb to gravity. Through-stitching keeps everything more secure and contained, I'd have thought.

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pass and peak 08 Jan 2020
In reply to TeeBee:

Could they not be stitch, along with the scrim to only one of the layers (the outer perhaps) and achieve the same insulation retention, without the perforations completely through? the best jacket I ever bought has this configuration!

M

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RobertKett 09 Jan 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

FWIW I'm with you on this. It seems to be a case of putting fashion ahead of function, plus what seems to be a strong herd/sheep mentality in the Industry.

I'm also baffled (excuse the pun) by the abandonment of adjustable hems; 'body mapping' - (give me venting that I can control); too large a jump between sizes; nauseating colourways, etc, etc

Wanders off, muttering into beard...  

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