> (In reply to UKC Gear) nice idea, though I suspect only people doing really hardcore stuff will be forking out £600 for a down jacket
Hardcore people almost never have 600 quid to spend on a jacket. That's 40 x porter days, half of a decent peak fee, or a season's cervezas in Chalten.
I saw a display version of this jacket in the Cham Patagonia store in April. Not my taste in styling, but that's irrelevant. What I do wonder is where it will be used. If it's cold enough to require a down jacket of that size then surely it's too cold to rain? Or even be wet enough in general to warrant it? So where will this jacket be needed? As for getting wet from the inside from sweat - who climbs in a down jacket of that size? At altitude, maybe, but then you're going so slow you won't sweat that much.
In reply to UKC Gear: yeah never mind all that though, look at the numbers!
It has a whole 1,000 fill powers! that makes it 1,000 times better than normal jackets! or something!
Still, if I'd won the lottery I'd probably buy one for sitting around campsites in the Peak or Wales in March.
And on the plus side, if my boss fancies one he might let me have his current Rab, which has seen serious action walking from his car park space to the office door, for buttons.
I find this stuff fascinating (just as well since I'm doing a PhD in it!) and the general air of negativity around this release is a pity, but also somewhat inevitable. The way I see it is this:
Patagonia are using this as a way of saying they spend time developing new products - they don't expect these to sell fast; they are flagship products. Patagonia's market for this is not normal people or most hardcore climbers. It's their own sponsored climbers and loaded climbers or city-slickers. Maybe collectors (limited edition).
Analogously, you can buy a Team Sky Pinarello for £10,000+, which is neither practically-priced nor much better than your average super-expensive bike. You can buy a custom-aged Gibson covered in mother in pearl and soaked in virgin blood from a limited edition of 10 units. They are also no-better than most £3000 Les Pauls. These products are for superfans, people with silly money, or collectors. They are not normal products, but show-pieces.
The design side of it is interesting as they're again doing something pretty unusual by not allowing any stitch-through points. It's a good work-out for the designers if nothing else. Hopefully they did it properly with an infrared camera and checked for thermal bridges. Finally, fit is crucial on this sort of thing. I think going to a really top tailor who understands the outdoors and getting them to make you a custom-fit down jacket would be interesting. I reckon jackets could be way warmer than they currently are, unless you can find one that fits you perfectly.
Patagonia have spent a shedload of cash on this line of research (they bought a whole company!) and are pouring effort into 'plasma-ed' down. This, from a scientific point of view is Dead Cool, and this is the first of what will probably be many products in this area. They have a fairly solid patent on the process so can corner the market. Increased water repellence in down is an advantage in a lot of situations, and plasma is definitely the coolest way to apply it. Increased FP is a bonus.
I say bravo Patagonia for bringing something genuinely innovative to the outdoor industry. It's super-expensive, but I think gear should shoot for the moon. If you're not aiming for perfect then there's not much point, is there?
In reply to nufkin: Good point indeed. Patagonia rate by US cylinder - this is basically the same FP as PHD's EU 900+. This brings us to another thing - when will one system become accepted? It would make it simpler! Finally, there is the far more interesting idea of breading geese in a more controlled manner. If you got the very very best down off only the very very best geese, then processed it with the utmost care, I reckon you'd achieve fill powers of 1200. That would cost more still, though.
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH: Cheers Mick, I've never been called informed or balanced before!
This is certainly one future of down clothing, but it will always be expensive (though maybe cheaper than it is currently). Down has a few other ways it can improve: higher fill power from better sorting and better husbandry; better tracability (eg. ME Down Codex); hydrophobic chemical treatments (possible disadvantages??). There's a few other ways too, but I'm not allowed to say as it'd void my thesis...
The construction and the design of jackets, plus the face fabrics, can also be, almost invariably, improved. Fit is a big one too - no insulated gear is any good if the cut is rubbish.
It's nice if garments like this one really open the market to new ideas. Is the zip the best possible way to fasten a jacket? Probably not - they jam, don't bend, let loads of heat out and weigh a lot. Someone very clever will make a lot of money if they can make a better method. Are velcro cuffs really any good? No: they are often too tight to vent, too loose to be air tight, velcro snags and fills with snow. There's a better way out there somewhere.
In reply to Mr Fuller: I think what Patagonia have done is fantastic too. If there's the possibility of them refilling it with fresh down sometime in the future if/when the down degrades, it could be a great long term piece of clothing to have for a bivi in a snow hole, or other things where it'd be cold and damp.
In reply to Mr Fuller: When I was reading up for the ME Snowline review last winter I'm sure I read that there isn't really a difference between the EU and US down rating system anymore? I thought it might have been in your UKC article, but I guess not - maybe the ME workbook? Hmmm... maybe I just dreamed it.
It's interesting the sudden emphasis on water-resistant down. RAB have stuff coming out with Nikwax; Patagonia has this; Berghaus has had their water resistant down jacket for a couple of years now I think. Obviously lots of different solutions to the same problem coming through.
> (In reply to Mr Fuller) When I was reading up for the ME Snowline review last winter I'm sure I read that there isn't really a difference between the EU and US down rating system anymore? I thought it might have been in your UKC article
Insulation Explained, part 1: Staying Warm
by Matt Fuller, Dr Matthew Morrissey and Dr Mark Taylor
I too find it strange that no one had done water repellent down earlier. Berghaus's team put it as a big priority and spent a while getting it right, and did a lot of testing. I think they proved there was a market, and people like Mick Fowler raving about it had to help that. It doesn't then take too much effort for other companies to stick a load of down in a bath of silicones or fluorochemicals and see what happens.
> What I do wonder is where it will be used. If it's cold enough to require a down jacket of that size then surely it's too cold to rain? Or even be wet enough in general to warrant it? So where will this jacket be needed?
I know you're referring to this jacket specifically, but generally speaking as far as down in wet climates goes this is a bit of a non sequitur isn't it?
Surely it's only because waterproof down hasn't existed up until now that most won't buy a down jacket for a wet climate? It's not because it's too warm, after all these could come with different fills couldn't they.
If waterproof down were available at a reasonable price, then aside from the obvious size and weight advantages, it'd also mean those people who climb in both wet and dry climates wouldn't need to buy two jackets, but rather a down would do for both.
> (In reply to Damo)
> Surely it's only because waterproof down hasn't existed up until now that most won't buy a down jacket for a wet climate? It's not because it's too warm, after all these could come with different fills couldn't they.
Yes, I could imagine it being more practical in a lighter fill.
> If waterproof down were available at a reasonable price, then aside from the obvious size and weight advantages, it'd also mean those people who climb in both wet and dry climates wouldn't need to buy two jackets, but rather a down would do for both.
Sounds good, but not really. Again, if it's *that* cold that you want a bigger jacket you don't need it waterproof. If it's *that* wet that you need something waterproof, how cold can it be? The number of situation where it is very wet and also really quite cold, and you are out and about in it for extended periods, is so small that it does not apply to most people and I can't see that it exists on a scale to justify a jacket like this. Not that it needs to be 'justified' to me or anyone else. Patagonia are their own company and can make or do what they want and their accountants will decide what is successful.
The best thing going for this jacket is that outdoor gear buyers regularly buy overkill for what they need, for whatever reason. Many wear Gore-Tex where a windshell would be better, many use fancy new tech axes where a more basic straight shaft axe would be better, check out how many expedition tents are in summer campgrounds around the world. People can do what they want with their own money.
I know what you are saying but playing devils advocate, sometimes in cold conditions, moisture can insidiously get into down .
On Denali in 2011, my -40 sleeping bag, day after day was slowly getting more and more moist. Through sweat, a spilt bottle, occasional forays of temperature above zero resulting in snow melt meant that my bag was often quite damp as I pulled it of its stuffsack. As it was -40, i never got cold and had that extra insurance but some extra down protection would have been nice. The same might go for a down jacket that even used in bitterly cold conditions might start retaining some moisture after constant use.
> If it's *that* wet that you need something waterproof, how cold can it be? The number of situation where it is very wet and also really quite cold, and you are out and about in it for extended periods, is so small that it does not apply to most people and I can't see that it exists on a scale to justify a jacket like this.
Somewhere windy fits the bill - windchill + wet clothing = Hypothermia. Think about it, someone falling in the sea at 5 degrees will be dead within 15 minutes. Water is very good at sucking heat out of things, so down jackets are actually useful above freezing if it's wet and windy.
In reply to L.A.: If they genuinely believe they have a better product, and can challenge the assertation "The Best Down Jacket Ever Made", then I think it's forgivable. I mean it's not like Patagonia is lacking in brand recognition, exposure or advertising budget is it?