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switchbackkid

Difference between reclaimed down and high quality down

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switchbackkid

Hey guys, have a question about down sleeping bags/gear that any of you may have experienced. Im big into sewing my own tents, hammocks, rain tarps and other gear and just recently i made my first down top quilt for my hammock with recycled down I got from a friends old bed cover. the quilt turned out super awesome and it was very lofty and light and my first test out in Idaho i was very happy with. got it down to 40 degrees comfortably and it only weighs 500 grams. Not sure how much down i put in it since it was reclaimed from a bed spread... anyhow I was confident with the performance so i took it on a trip to Isle Royale in michigan with me but i noticed after packing it tight every day and the high humidity in michigan the quilt was getting way less loft and wasnt even really filling out full in all the baffles like it used to. in the mornings it would feel very damp and heavier. Luckily i never got cold so it didnt affect my trip but it did make me question ever using down gear again. 

My main question here is im wondering if this down didint perform as well because its a low quality down made for bedding and not an outdoor down? i know there are a lot of people out there that love down gear so i can't imagine this problem happening to everyone. Do any of you that have down gear made for the outdoors have any problems with it or do you notice the same thing that in humid damp conditions the down shrinks and loses most of its loft and fluff? My quilt after laying out in my living room for a day is back to normal but i doubt i will ever take it on a multi day trip again.

thanks guys!

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Aaron

I use down gear, and have indeed noticed a loss of loft in consistently damp and wet conditions (multiday) where the sleeping bag does not have any chance to dry. Was there perhaps some condensation that was also working its way into the quilt? Usually I notice this when the sleeping bag comes into contact with a shelter wall that’s wet with condensation in the night, and then if you’re stuck in a pattern of wet weather it adds up over time and night after night. Outer fabrics with a DWR and/or hydrophobic treated down could also help. 

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PaulGS
On 8/21/2018 at 7:59 PM, switchbackkid said:

My main question here is im wondering if this down didint perform as well because its a low quality down made for bedding and not an outdoor down?

High quality down (850+ fill power) is believed by some to be even more sensitive to moisture than lower power  down fill.  My down bag is quite sensitive to moisture but where I backpack humidity is usually not a concern, except when it rains.

You could switch to a synthetic fill bag/quilt or could experiment with a wash in down waterproofer like Nikwax Down Proof and see how it performs. 

And how was your trip to Isle Royale?:) I have a brother who lives in Michigan and we've tentatively talked about going there. 

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ppine

Moisture will continue to accumulate under cold and especially damp conditions. Arctic explorers report 10 pounds of ice in their bags after several weeks of cold temperatures and accumulated body sweat and respiration. 

I have used several different down bags since 1960. We had the old Army surplus from Korea and WWII at first which was low quality, with duck down and even chopped chicken featers. Compared to everything else it was reallly warm.  I bought two duck down bag from REI around 1970.  I still have them and have slept in plenty of nights way below 20 degrees.  Now I have a Marmot goose down bag.

Down does not like to be compressed.  It accumulates moisture if you don't air it out.  Sometimes this is challenging.  I once got my down bag wet and it was a disaster. The closest I have come to freezing to death in Alaska above treeline near Chilkoot Pass.  That was in August. 

As a consumer the quality down mostly saves weight.  You can spend a lot of money saving 8 ounces of weight. Under the conditions of a bping trip, even the best bags will get compressed and accumulate moisture. They bounce back better than cheaper down.  For wet conditions a synthetic bag is really more dependable. 

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switchbackkid
On 8/23/2018 at 6:53 AM, Aaron said:

I use down gear, and have indeed noticed a loss of loft in consistently damp and wet conditions (multiday) where the sleeping bag does not have any chance to dry. Was there perhaps some condensation that was also working its way into the quilt? Usually I notice this when the sleeping bag comes into contact with a shelter wall that’s wet with condensation in the night, and then if you’re stuck in a pattern of wet weather it adds up over time and night after night. Outer fabrics with a DWR and/or hydrophobic treated down could also help. 

there were a couple rainy nights where the moisture level went way up and in the morning i wasnt able to hang my bag out to dry. I love how light and compactable down quilts are but after experienceing how easy they absorb moisutre and how hard it is to dry them on the trail I'm considering going back to sythetic insulation just for the piece of mind. Short trips where I know the weather is nice and dry I will probably still bring down but for the most part I think I have seen enough to know I'm not a huge fan lol 

I was actually just about to buy a down puffy jacket too for this fall season but now I'm debating weather I want to even own a down jacket if its going to act like my quilt did.

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switchbackkid
On 8/23/2018 at 4:15 PM, PaulGS said:

High quality down (850+ fill power) is believed by some to be even more sensitive to moisture than lower power  down fill.  My down bag is quite sensitive to moisture but where I backpack humidity is usually not a concern, except when it rains.

You could switch to a synthetic fill bag/quilt or could experiment with a wash in down waterproofer like Nikwax Down Proof and see how it performs. 

And how was your trip to Isle Royale?:) I have a brother who lives in Michigan and we've tentatively talked about going there. 

Thanks for the reply! I might try one more project using a hydrophobic down and waterproof fabric but for the most part im kinda turned off by down right now lol.

Isle Royale was amazing, we did the green stone ridge from rock harbor to windigo. An easy 5 nights and 6 days with an average of 8 mile days. all the camp sites we stayed at were awesome with really nice in land lake views and saw lots of moose. we went august 12th. If you plan a trip out there I would highly recommend taking the float plane. we kinda got it by accident because the ferry was booked but im glad we did. it was only double the cost and got us there in 30 minutes and was just a cool experience all on its own. I will definitely be taking the plane again when I go next time unless we bring kayaks! 

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Aaron
20 hours ago, switchbackkid said:

I was actually just about to buy a down puffy jacket too for this fall season but now I'm debating weather I want to even own a down jacket if its going to act like my quilt did.

Some people like the assurance of balancing their insulation out with a synthetic bag and a down jacket or vice-versa. Of the two, I've found that over multiday wet conditions a down jacket will stay dry longer and dry out faster - it's not as often in direct contact with any interior shelter condensation, and your body heat is always working to dry it out more directly, it's the bag that seems to start to accumulate the moist moisture over time. With care I've found down to be quite workable, but synthetics do have their advantages and peace of mind is important as well!

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