Four Ways with Down Clothing

Hiked It. Liked It.

March is right around the corner here!.. but we still have plenty of winter ahead of us, plus a lot of cold spring nights. Down clothing is great insulation against the cold when the mercury ducks for cover. For backpacking trips, down can be ideal, especially when it’s being packed away until camp is made. Since down is the most efficient insulation ounce for ounce, and also very compressible it packs smaller and lighter than other garments. For this installation of Hiked It. Liked It. I decided to include four pieces of gear, rather than the typical single item. Here’s what we’ve got…

  1. Black Rock Gear Down Hat
  2. Eddier Bauer First Ascent Downlight Jacket
  3. Western Mountaineering Flight Pants
  4. Goosefeet Down Socks

Here’s my assessment on each piece…

Black Rock Gear Down Hat

(by Sandra D)

BlackRock Rastaman
BlackRock Rastaman

Specs

  • Weight: 0.8 oz (medium), 0.9 oz (large), 1.1 oz (x-large)
  • Fill: 900 Goose Down
  • Shell: 20D DWR Ripstop Nylon
  • MSRP: $75 (limited edition), $65 (regular)

Impressions

Jacob bought me my Black Rock Rastaman hat as a gift, 2-3 years ago. The only difference between it and the Original Black Rock Hat is the colorful stitching and limited edition label. It’s been a great hat. It keeps my noggin warm in camp and I usually wear it to sleep as well. The weight is next to nothing and it packs down so small it can be stashed just about anywhere. Love it.

Liked…

  • Warm, light, good looking, amazing!
  • Made in USA

Not So Much…

I have no complaints!

First Ascent Downlight Jacket

EBFA Downlight Jacket
EBFA Downlight Jacket

Specs

  • Weight: 12.4 oz (medium-Tall), 15.2 oz hooded (medium-tall)
  • Fill: 800 Goose Down, ~3.8 oz
  • Shell: 20D DWR Ripstop Nylon
  • MSRP: $219 (tall), $199 (regular)

Impressions

Cats love it too. I’ve had my Downlight for a few years now (it was formerly called the Down Sweater and Down Parka), and recently treated myself to a hooded version. The fit and finish on the Downlight is very good, despite being made in China. For tall or small people, Eddie Bauer First Ascent (‘EBFA’) is great because we actually have tall and petite sizes to choose from – awesome! I’m tall and slim (6′-3, 165 lbs) and a tall-medium fits great; no more floating around in an oversize jacket just to get sleeves and torso length long enough. The pockets have a thin fleece lining for better feel and warmth, the zippers are light and small, and the horizontal baffles keep the down distributed evenly. Most importantly, it’s a very warm jacket. With base layers I’ve had it down below -5º F and not been cold. It’s also just slender enough that I can get a rain jacket over it without compressing it much; not something I regularly do, but have done and like to be able to do.

Liked…

  • Lots of sizing options for a great fit.
  • Insulation to weight ratio is good
  • Value – often on sale, or clearance at 50% off… can’t be beat at those prices

Not So Much…

There’s not really anything I dislike about the Downlight Jackets. If they were made anywhere besides China I’d prefer that.

Western Mountaineering Flight Pants

WM Flight Pants
WM Flight Pants

Specs

  • Weight: 11.9 oz (medium)
  • Fill: 850 Goose Down, ~4 oz
  • Shell: DWR Microfiber
  • MSRP: $225

Impressions

If the WM Flash pants had a big brother, these would be it. They’ve got twice the fill, full length zippers, adjustable waist and cuffs, and a more robust shell. I just purchased them this year and have had them out a few cold nights so far. I love these pants! Yeah… they weigh 5 oz more than the popular Flash pants, but hey, it’s winter and my overall pack loadout is simply going to be heavier. If I need down pants it’s because it’s going to be cold, so I wanted a really warm pant. On a recent trip I had to venture outside in the middle of the night to breakdown my shelter in 60mph winds, blowing snow and ice into white-out with temps around 15ºF (probably well below zero with the windchill)… I never felt the cold. That was a great test as far as I’m concerned. Being able to put them on without taking off my shoes was a big plus. I might leave these home most of the year, but when it’s really cold out – what a difference they make.

Liked…

  • Warm, warm, and warm.
  • Reinforced seat and knees work great in the snow
  • Zippers are fab for easy on and off
  • Made in USA

Not So Much…

No complaints here.

Goosefeet Down Socks

GooseFeet Down Socks
GooseFeet Down Socks

Specs

  • Weight: 3.1 oz (large, 100% overfill)
  • Fill: 850 Goose Down, ~2.2 oz
  • Shell: 20D Pertex
  • MSRP: $78 as specified

Impressions

The Goosefeet Socks (more like booties) were a gift from Sandra D. I’d been eyeballing them for a while now, and I guess she noticed. Well, they’re great! Not something I use for walking around camp, but at bed time they really keep my feet from getting cold, which is a problem I often have. It’s hard for me to sleep with cold feet, so I’m sleeping better now (at least, when the wind is not threatening to blow my shelter away). They’re well worth the ~3oz weight penalty for me! I have walked around in the snow a bit with them with just a thick wool sock underneath and didn’t feel much cold coming thru, but I wouldn’t attempt to do that for extended periods of time. Overboots are available, but I don’t have them and probably won’t get them.

Liked…

  • Super toasty on the feet
  • Made in USA, made to order

Not So Much…

My only complaint is, now I have a piece of gear that I don’t need but I’ll never be able to talk myself into leaving them at home. My pack is doomed to be 3 oz heavier 🙂

Hike It. Like It.
Jacob D Written by:

Jacob is the head honcho, wearer of many hats, and modern day berserker here at Hike It. Like It. When he's not out hiking or running the trails you'll find him operating in full capacity as a Super Dad and chipping away at a degree in Kinesiology. This guy likes to stay busy. Follow on Strava

One Comment

  1. Andy Jarman
    March 1, 2015
    Reply

    With the black rock hat. I’ve found it can be too light. I once lost it in a strong breeze. With the DWR coating on the Pertex shell it floats. Blew clean across a large lake – someone retrieved it from the other side though! I did consider getting a hooded Ghost Whisperer after this – but then realised I’d have to wear it to bed if I needed to cover my head at night – best off with a non hooded jacket and a black rock hat. A tip I picked up from sailing is to connect the black rock to the back of my collar with two miniature ‘crocodile’ clips tied the ends of a short length of reflective cord. Ever tried looking for a black hat in the dark? Brightly coloured reflective chord/tape – priceless for retrieving things you’ve dropped.

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