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Topic: debating 650 vs 850 down fill< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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leadbelly2550 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 6:03 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

so, i know that there is a difference between 650 fill and 850 fill down:

-pound for pound, the 850 has more loft.

-bags and garments with 850 tend to cost more than 650

-because 850 has more loft, it's possible to build a lighter bag or garment using it as insulation - more insulating power for the same weight than 650.

-850 may be a little better at compressing into a sack than 650.

my questions: for most people, is it worth the extra money to get the higher-loft down? are the savings in weight and space that dramatic? does the average person on the average trip really need the highest and best loft if they are starting out with winter backpacking, or can they get by quite nicely with a less-expensive option? [i concede there is no such thing as 'the average trip,' but there is a difference between hiking in Virginia and New Hampshire in the winter].  

these questions came up after i took advantage of ridiculous sale pricing to buy my first down vest in years, and to upgrade my very cold weather down jacket.  both the new garments use 850 fill, the old jacket uses 650 - but enough of the 650 that it's a very good option not only for the worst cold i have ever seen in the East, but also for mountains like Rainier and Denali.  

my thesis: people who spend a lot of time outside in the winter will notice the difference and are more likely to be willing to spend the money for higher insulating power per ounce or gram.  particularly for down winter sleeping bags, the weight difference and compressability is notable.  

But for most people, while lighter weight stuff is nice, i don't think it's necessary.  600/650 fill power down is fine and provides a great deal of insulation.  most people can fully enjoy being out in the winter without buying the latest and fluffiest and most expensive.  

discuss, disagree, criticize...interested in what people have to say.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 6:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Once I moved to down, I used 650 when I was starting out and upgraded as I could afford it.  I really like the 850 stuff I own now, and if the funds were available, I would recommend anyone buy the best they can afford.  This might eliminate a need to upgrade sooner rather than later.  That said, there is no cure, and none wanted, for a gearwhore.  :)  

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wildlifenate Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 6:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

yep, buy the best you can afford.  I agree with that.  are the differences dramatic?  meh, not really.  other things like shell fabrics tend to make a bigger difference, and 850 down items tend to use better shell fabrics because the down will poke its way out of lower quality fabric too easily.

my MH Sub Zero SL jacket has 650 down in it.  it's still a hella warm, bomber jacket.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 7:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(wildlifenate @ Dec. 05 2012, 2:55 pm)
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yep, buy the best you can afford.  I agree with that.  are the differences dramatic?  meh, not really.  other things like shell fabrics tend to make a bigger difference, and 850 down items tend to use better shell fabrics because the down will poke its way out of lower quality fabric too easily.

my MH Sub Zero SL jacket has 650 down in it.  it's still a hella warm, bomber jacket.

What's "best" depends on a lot of things .. 1 of which is usage.

My MH Chillwave is a great jacket .. but I wouldn't want it on a summertime/fall bp-ing trip. I was outside yesterday in it, at 45below, and would MUCH rather have that parka than my Montbell 900 or 850 fill jackets. Easily.

I think the shell fabrics on the lower fill jackets tend to be more durable - which IMO often makes them 'better' fabrics than the lighter weight ones .. for various situations.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 8:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If I had limited funds and had to buy both a jacket and a sleeping bag, I'd buy a 650 fill jacket and an 800+ fill sleeping bag since the compression factor/weight would be more dramatic. I've got a bit of everything and my primary jacket for winter is 650 fill. I have no immediate plans to upgrade.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 10:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Best advice is to buy what makes you happy.  I think the 850 stuff is great stuff but I don't recommend folks spend $500 on a sleeping bag - mainly because I can't even talk myself into that.  My Kelty Down 20, a 650 bag (I think, might be 600) which I picked up for $120 or so a while back, keeps me warm, doesn't weigh more than I am willing to carry and fits in my pack.  I am not an ulta-lighter.  My base weight runs between 12-18 pounds depending on what time of year I'm wandering.  I don't fool around in the snow.  Winter is for reading by the fireplace.

'Course if some well-heeled philanthropist elected to toss a WM super bag at me I'd take it.

Which will never happen and I'm pretty much totally fine with that, too.

Drake
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 10:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

funny that two of you mention the mountain hardwear sub zero parka and its update, the chillwave.  it happens that the sub zero parka is what i 'replaced' (i will keep it and still wear it sometimes), with the first ascent down jacket, the xv.  forget about the fill weight - those mountain hardwear jackets are great.  

one thing that attracted me to the first ascent jacket, aside from the sale price, is that like the sub zero (recent clearance sales of the chillwave make me think mountain hardwear is planning to discontinue it), it is made with something other than saving weight in mind.  the sub zero has an outer shell that can take a beating, and the first ascent appears similar.  spend enough time around rocks, ice, crampons, snowshoes and axes, your parka is bound to get scraped and clawed some.  ditto for pockets inside & out - thoughtfully designed for someone who is actually going to use them on a trip.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 06 2012, 5:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(leadbelly2550 @ Dec. 05 2012, 9:48 pm)
QUOTE
funny that two of you mention the mountain hardwear sub zero parka and its update, the chillwave.  it happens that the sub zero parka is what i 'replaced' (i will keep it and still wear it sometimes), with the first ascent down jacket, the xv.  forget about the fill weight - those mountain hardwear jackets are great.  

one thing that attracted me to the first ascent jacket, aside from the sale price, is that like the sub zero (recent clearance sales of the chillwave make me think mountain hardwear is planning to discontinue it), it is made with something other than saving weight in mind.  the sub zero has an outer shell that can take a beating, and the first ascent appears similar.  spend enough time around rocks, ice, crampons, snowshoes and axes, your parka is bound to get scraped and clawed some.  ditto for pockets inside & out - thoughtfully designed for someone who is actually going to use them on a trip.

while I don't climb, the functionality of the jacket is one of the things that sold me on it.  I bought it when I lived in MI and had quite a few -20F days where I was perfectly comfortable going for a hike in that jacket, and didn't have to worry about bushwacking (hunting the occasional geocache or playing with the dog or something) and ripping it open.

I can't say I've had much need for it in recent years (in TX) but it fills a niche in winter gear that needs filling on occasion.  nice water bottle pocket for avoiding frozen water dehydration issues, fleecy pockets for comfort when I need to use bare hands for things occasionally.  a functional warm hood.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 06 2012, 6:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's pretty easy to calculate the weight difference per unit volume of loft.  How much you value that weight difference is a personal decision, but it's worth noting that saving weight in a sleeping bag is generally costlier than saving it in a tent, sleeping pad, or pack.  Even so, count me among those who quickly reached the point where any significant weight savings is hard to pass up.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 12:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd suggest just waiting on the 800+ fill stuff to go on sale & then jumping on a great deal.
While I've lusted after 800+ fill sleeping bags for the past couple years, I just haven't been able to justify spending that kind of $ for a slight increase in compression/decrease in weight compared to my 650 fill Marmot Sawtooth. It's been a great bag & I don't have any complaints with it at all. A lighter, more compressible bag would be nice, but it's not important enough (for me) to justify the cost  since I don't get out as much as I used to.
That being said, I did pick up a First Ascent 800 fill down sweater when they went on sale for $100 & I'm extremely glad I did. I really can tell the difference in weight, packability and warmth over 600 fill garments.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 1:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hike Your Own Hike.  Trying to come up with a final answer about whether high quality down is worth the added cost or not kinda misses the whole point.  What's "worth it" to some folks clearly isn't to others.  It'll always be that way.

So, yeah, my answer kinda stops at HYOH.  Not much else to say.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 2:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't do enough winter camping to justify high end down products.  My 650 bag has kept me comfy down to 17F.  I'm not going if it will be colder than that.  But, ditto GBH

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 3:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here is a different way of asking that question :
If you could choose for the same price between a 650 and 850 down filled ,otherwise identical piece , witch one would  you would pick ?

The original question was first asked (with the premise that 850 is really just a gimmick) in a forum where a certain resident gang specialise in nostalgia comments and false analogies.
A common one there  is to equate expensive with bad.

A good item remains good regardless of the price, a bad one given away for free remains a bad item...
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 3:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What adds to the differences is the manufacturers use of higher end, more expensive materials to go along with the higher end down. Most 800-900 fill items are going to be paired with the latest low-denier, lightweight fabrics, which increases costs also.

Both will keep you just as warm. The decision is if you want to pay for the lesser weights and smaller compressed volumes.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 3:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Franco @ Dec. 21 2012, 2:30 pm)
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If you could choose for the same price between a 650 and 850 down filled ,otherwise identical piece , which one would  you would pick ?

Is this a trick? ;-)

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 3:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rayestrella @ Dec. 21 2012, 3:53 pm)
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What adds to the differences is the manufacturers use of higher end, more expensive materials to go along with the higher end down. Most 800-900 fill items are going to be paired with the latest low-denier, lightweight fabrics, which increases costs also.

Both will keep you just as warm. The decision is if you want to pay for the lesser weights and smaller compressed volumes.

Definitely so.  I suspect the overall weight reduction in higher-end sleeping bags is more from the lighter fabric than the lighter down.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 9:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(rayestrella @ Dec. 21 2012, 12:57 pm)
QUOTE

(Franco @ Dec. 21 2012, 2:30 pm)
QUOTE
If you could choose for the same price between a 650 and 850 down filled ,otherwise identical piece , which one would  you would pick ?

Is this a trick? ;-)

Nah, I think it's just twisted thinking down under.   :;):

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 21 2012, 10:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's simply a way to reduce weight if you are up to spending that much for a sleeping bag ... or 2 ... or 3.  

Loft is loft.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 22 2012, 10:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What I found is I like to carry a smaller lighter pack and space becomes a premium. So I bought things all on clearance in February. All of it was 50% off and now my pack works much better for me. Sold the old stuff. If you are going to go on some longer backpacking trips. The premium is worth it. I view it as the cost of a hotel room is $100/night I bought my Golight quilt for $125. Glad I did. I wanted a down jacket - didn't get too hung up on brand and found TNF Summit Series on clearance. Very happy with both decisions. Wife has 650 fill jacket and it is fine but definitely more bulky which is a challenge in your pack when stuffing it.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 23 2012, 9:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

thanks for all the observations.  i didn't kick this off to get advice, really - everyone has different priorities, i suspect.  more to point out that you can pay a lot more money for something if you want, but there is a lot of great functionality available for outdoor gear without breaking the bank.
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