If you’re planning a high-altitude winter excursion, a down jacket is a worthwhile investment. When used in conjunction with other appropriate layers, it can keep you warm down to – 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter packing can be a challenge, especially if you‘ve never done it before or aren’t sure what to bring.
Here’s the way to know when to bring along a down jacket, choosing the best one and caring for it.
Knowing When to Pack a Down Jacket
Instead of carrying a random choice of coats and cable-knitted sweaters, the ideal move is to check the forecast for the area you’ll be visiting before starting your packing process. There is a big difference between what to wear at -10°F and 40°F! This helps you figure out what to pack.
You should consider a heavy-duty double-layered and hooded-down jacket whenever the temperature drops below freezing. Choosing the correct fabric for both your inner and outerwear is critical. Polyester blends, wool, down, and fleece linings, should be your go-to selections for sub-zero temps.
All your gear, from the jacket and pants to the gloves and shoes should be waterproof. To put it bluntly, if you’ve ever had to deal with hypothermia while wearing damp clothing, you know what we’re saying: it’s not nice, nor is it safe. Wear a beanie, earmuffs, and a scarf at all times during the winter!
Other Items to Bring on Your Winter Trip
- Outerwear: Hooded down jackets with two layers of insulation (Preferably waterproof) Sweaters, jumpers, and Turtlenecks are all examples of tops.
- Clothing for the lower body: Pants and leggings (Preferably waterproof) heat-retaining clothing to keep your head and ears warm, and don’t forget to pack a few extra pairs of thick socks, as well as a few heat pads. Waterproof winter boots (with a good grip and insulated lining) are also important. They are stuffed with down, or under-feathers, from birds such as ducks and geese.
The excellent insulating properties of down are well-known. Several little air pockets are created, which capture and hold on to warm air, keeping you toasty. In subzero temperatures, down jackets provide excellent warmth.
But they’re also a lot more costly, particularly for those with the greatest amount of fill-power. A down jacket’s upkeep is time-consuming and labor-intensive. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help you maintain it for as long as possible.
Be Aware of the Insulation Level of Your Down Jacket
The total mass (in ozs or grams) of them down in the jacket can be determined by looking at the down fill weight. However, this is not a direct indicator of how warm a jacket is. Down comes in a variety of quality grades, so in addition to how much insulation it contains, other factors contribute to its ability to keep you warm.
The weight and warmth-to-weight ratios of different forms of synthetic insulation vary widely, as well. The down fill grade (to never be mistaken for the down fill mass) is primarily a quality parameter, not a measure of how warm a product is.
Greater Fill Means More Warmth
Greater fill results mean more air being trapped, and ultimately more heating every ounce of down, which is why higher fill ratings are better for keeping you warm in cold weather. As a result, even if two jackets have the same amount of down feathers per weight, the jacket with the larger fill rating is likely to be more insulated. The fill-power and weight of a down jacket are both important considerations when shopping for one.
Fill-power ratings of less than 550 are not recommended for Himalayan trips. The product’s weight should also be taken into consideration. The heavier it is, the more heat it will hold.
You Don’t Need a Down Jacket for a Trek
Walking on a journey is not the time to wear your down jacket. On a hike, it’ll have you dripping wet from the heat. A lack of hydration could result from this.
Instead, you can use sweaters and fleece jackets as a layering strategy. In addition, if you wear it while hiking, you’ll have to be particularly careful of sharp items on the trail, such as twigs or thorns. These have the potential to quickly harm the delicate outer layer of your pricey down jacket.
Don’t Wear Your Down Jacket in the Rain
In the event of heavy rain, do not wear a down jacket. Keep in mind that down jackets are not waterproof. They’re only water-resistant.
They could lose their fur feel if left in water for an extended period. Because they’re composed of feathers. We recommend wearing a raincoat over it if you ever need to wear it while it’s raining.
Caring for Your Down Jacket
Don’t wash it often
After every excursion, you mustn’t wash the down jacket. They don’t get soiled or smelly throughout the trip. If you wash it too frequently, it will lack fluffiness as well as a water-resistant coating.
There is an 850-fill power down jacket that I purchased three years ago. If you wash it once every 10-15 hikes, you’ll be OK.
Always Give Your Down Coat Fresh Air
It’s a good idea to store your down jacket in direct sunshine once or twice per month when it’s not being utilized. This prevents it from becoming wet. Feathers get dryer and fluffier as a result of this process.
Always wash the down jacket on a sunny day if you plan on doing so. You can keep your down jacket in direct sunshine all day if you wash it in the first half of the day. This also prevents the feathers from becoming clumped together.
Dry cleaning should never be attempted on a down jacket. When it comes to cleaning mountaineering gear, most dry cleaners are clueless. I strongly advise against taking the chance, especially with such an expensive item as your down jacket.
Washing the jacket
Only front-loading washing machines should be used for machine washing, in my opinion. A central agitator in a top-loading washing machine can harm the down filling and cause it to gather in the jacket’s smallest corners. Turn the jacket inside out, then close the zippers and buttons.
With the jacket, put up to three tennis balls in the midst. The filling does not become clumped up because of these balls. The filling will retain its loft if you do this.
Set the water temperature to 30 degrees Celsius and run a moderate cycle. Rinse it twice to eliminate all soap remains. Do not use the spinning wheel.
To avoid lumps and odors, completely drying the down jacket is essential. The first half of the day is the best time to wash and dry it, although it may be done at any time of day. Drape the jacket from a hanger on the clothesline.
Fasteners are not necessary. To restore the fluff to your jacket’s stuffing, pat it dry thoroughly. Down jackets shouldn’t be cleaned with a standard harsh detergent, as the jacket’s splash-proof layer will be harmed.
It’s a good idea to wash all of your mountaineering gear before the next outing.
Don’t Fold Your Down Jacket
When storing your jacket, don’t fold it up. Keep it flat. Choose a hanger with straight edges and high-quality materials.
And hang it in a place where it won’t be damaged by sharp zippers from any clothing. You preserve the jacket’s loft and distribution when it is hung to dry.