Dilema: Fleece vs down.

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BigMonster

Native
Sep 6, 2011
1,060
75
Manchester
Hi guys. It's getting colder again and I'm rethinking my outdoor clothes, midlayers to be exact. I have always been a fan of fleece for it's durability and price, so I don't have much experience with down jackets and vests.
Basically I'm ok hiking in a light fleece and maybe a shell jacket if it's windy, even down to 0 C. I need something around campsite, after getting out of the sleeping bag, when belaying someone. Is down jacket really worth the price and hassle (and saving in weight and pack space), or should I just get another fleece that would fit between my layers. So far I red on the internet that it's only wort it for really cold situations. Happy to hear any opinions.
 

mick91

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
May 13, 2015
2,064
1
Sunderland
Unless you're talking cold, like -10 and below you should be fine with fleece. I think fleece is underrated to be honest especially for the price you pay
 

Squidders

Full Member
Aug 3, 2004
3,853
14
44
Harrow, Middlesex
I use 4 layers that get me through the year and fleece is definitely part of that. I use a thin fleece from Mountain Hardware that cost £25 from Cotswold outdoor. It is an outer layer in the spring or early autumn and goes under a thin synthetic down-like jacket during the winter.

It packs tiny and I love it.

When I was climbing though, I was bouldering - and a huge down jacket to quickly throw on between attempts was perfect. If I was walking around a lot or active there's no way I'd still use a thick down jacket (which is why I sold it).
 
Hi BigMonster!

I like fleece too. But I purchased a down jacket last year and it was the right choice for me.

I had always shied away from down because of its traditional shortcoming: it loses its insulating ability when wet. I needed something bombproof and fleece was it. Fleece can be bulky and heavy. But I accepted the trade happily in exchange for the warmth, comfort, and low cost.

I am more sensitive to weight and bulk than I was when I was younger. Carrying a large 42 lbs (19 Kg) pack has lost its allure (if it ever had any). In the past two years, American manufacturers introduced down jackets where the fill is sprayed with a water repellent. This piqued my interest because I was looking for a "mother ship" jacket to wear in camp that would not be as bulky as my Polartec 300 jacket.

I eventually treated myself to an LL Bean jacket (on sale at the time): http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/83564?feat=506673-GN3&page=ultralight-850-down-jacket

It has been a good investment so far. But I have not had the opportunity to test it in truly wintry conditions. But it is *warm* as well as light and compact when packed. The jacket is relatively expensive when compared to fleece, but I hope to keep it for many years to come.

I plan to use it as my camp jacket where it should not get wet. I will still use lightweight fleece as my middle or outer layer when I am hiking.

I should mention that the jacket's nylon shell has a distinctly "plastic" feel to it. It does not bother me, but I feel very "techy-modern" when I wear it.

Most of my day hiking is done in a moderate climate and I am acclimated to cool weather. So I don't use the jacket often. It is a luxury to make my Sierra backpacking experience more enjoyable.

I hope this helps!

- Woodsorrel
 
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Kilbith

Member
Oct 18, 2013
39
0
South West
It's depends a lot what you are doing.

For "bushcrafting" or hiking in forest in Europe, I think that fleece is very good : warm, cheap, light and "fool proof" (except near fire).

When you are hiking in mountains (Alps...) they are too heavy and bulky. And, in mountain when you are walking you are normally quite warm and you need only underwear+shell and more than one fleece is quite useless. But when you stop, you need quickly a lot of insulation : down is very good, particularly in winter.

In scandinavia (cold and flat) perharps fleece is better : You could walk with two layers of fleece in deep cold under your shell without problems. It is difficult to walk a long time with a down jacket, a synthetic jacket could be a better option (heavier and bulkier than down : but scandinavia is almost flat so weight is less a problem and you have no technical gear in your rucksak.).
 
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Kilbith

Member
Oct 18, 2013
39
0
South West
Decathlon has down jackets on at £30 mark if you wanted to try one

http://www.decathlon.co.uk/x-light-mens-down-jacket-khaki-id_8344413.html

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I did not know that you have "Decathlon" in UK. Their down products are not fantastics but for the price they are really quite good (they are well known in France). It is better to try the jacket in the shop to check size and quality (but aniway the garanty is good). Beware this model is Down/synthetic mix.

In french : http://www.randonner-leger.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=27222
 

unruly

Member
Jan 8, 2014
47
0
Suthriganaweorc
Wool? Better than fleece for so many reasons (fire, warm-when-wet, environmenal impact...). But not as light as the down garment.
I've avoided down because of the usually damp UK weather.
I have a Norgay Wool Insulated Jacket made by Howies from British wool.
It's low profile so you don't look like the Michelin man. I wore it all last winter with often just a t-shirt underneath and found it surprisingly warm.
I can't speak for Scandanavian cold where down might be the way to go but in this country I think it would be a good option.
 

ADz-1983

Native
Oct 4, 2012
1,589
1
Hull / East Yorkshire
I'm guessing it's not ethically sourced down. This may or may not bother you. The cheapest down generally comes from live plucked down, suffice to say the process isn't pleasant.
Indeed, it's utterly disgraceful what they do. The videos are really shocking.

The fill power, bird (duck/goose) and the amount of down can also effect price a lot as well. Generally though if the price is really low it's more than likely live plucked which I try and stay well clear off and try best to only go for bi-product sourced.


Hi guys. It's getting colder again and I'm rethinking my outdoor clothes, midlayers to be exact. I have always been a fan of fleece for it's durability and price, so I don't have much experience with down jackets and vests.
Basically I'm ok hiking in a light fleece and maybe a shell jacket if it's windy, even down to 0 C. I need something around campsite, after getting out of the sleeping bag, when belaying someone. Is down jacket really worth the price and hassle (and saving in weight and pack space), or should I just get another fleece that would fit between my layers. So far I red on the internet that it's only wort it for really cold situations. Happy to hear any opinions.
This depends on what types of camps you're refering to. If it's woodland I would stick to fleece and synthetic based jackets.The Buffalo smocks are really nice. You could alternatively grab something like a British Army softie jacket which are like non-branded Snugpak softie jackets.

Another alternative is something like a Montane Prism jacket, which are quite warm, light and pack down into tehir own pocket as a pillow shape and comfy as well.

In woodlands when cold I tend to take a fleece and Buffalo 6 smock or Prism jacket. When out in hills either Prism, Rab Microlight or Alpkit Filoment.
 
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johnnytheboy

Native
Aug 21, 2007
1,884
14
42
Falkirk
jokesblogspot.blogspot.com
I don't think you can beat a north face primaloft jacket. It packs down really small and is very light, i think it's warmer than a fleece and much more flexible layer in terms of it can be used as a windcheater as well as an insulation layer. Drys much quicker than down as well. the other thing is if your going to ever go out in the real cold and use a down layer, it can then be used as a base layer under the down due to the way it compresses.
 

swotty

Space and time
Apr 25, 2009
1,669
76
Somerset
Personally I can't stand fleece, horrible sweaty stuff that bobbles and attracts dog hairs! Usually a wool mid layer for me such as a Swanndri ranger shirt or if really cold the trusty Buffalo wind shirt. I get very hot as soon as I'm moving so tend to wear a merino t shirt (lidl) and a ventile or Gaberdine shirt or jacket and just pop a mid layer on when I stop for a brew!
 

Brynglas

Full Member
Down is great for the cold and dry weather you get in the far North or at altitude, for our weather in the UK I'm still a fan of Buffalo type pile and pertex combinations. The newer softie type jackets are great as well. Obviously the limitations regarding proximity to fire apply but for the climate I think they're great. In the last few years I've been hugely impressed by Paramo's systems. If I'm near a campfire etc. I'll chuck a wax jacket or my arktis smock on.

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sunndog

Full Member
May 23, 2014
3,532
453
derbyshire
Is down jacket really worth the price and hassle (and saving in weight and pack space)
This is the crux of the question, how important is weight and pack size for you?
In a temperate climate i use down clothing when its only needed for a small amount of time.

If the temps are a bit borderline then a down waistcoat is a small weight penalty for a 'just in case' garment
If its colder and i want extra for morning times or when stationary then the same applies to a jacket

If on the other hand its gonna be worn for a for a good part of the day then its fleece, wool, or buffalo mountain shirt. activity/temp dependant
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,777
859
Bedfordshire
I used two fleeces and a Paramo Alta coat as my around-camp insulation on a number of canoe trips, and was often cold when there was a wind, or in the damp evenings near the water. Even in August in the UK it can get very cold if you are sitting still with the wind blowing. Fleece loses its loft over time, long before it "wears out", so it becomes less warm for its weight.

I bought a PHD down pull-over with a hood from someone on here for £60, about half price, and it is an amazing garment, packs down to about 1 litre volume and good with nothing but a light wool pullover down to minus temperatures. In fact, it is so warm that I have only found a real use for it a couple of times, and one of those was in Canada in winter! I do worry about the damp, although the shell is DWR finished.

Better for the UK, I think, is the Paramo Torres lite smock I got (on sale), which while not as compact as the PHD still packs pretty small and light. The main thing about it though is that it is properly water resistant, so much so that it is meant to be worn over the top of whatever fleece / shell you have already been wearing. Plenty warm enough. Used in dank drizzly November evenings sitting around and on my last spring canoe trip to Sweden. Very happy with it. Was put on to the design by an outdoor instructor from the Lake District who was loving his to death over many trips.
 

forestwalker

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
I've avoided down because of the usually damp UK weather.
I have a Norgay Wool Insulated Jacket made by Howies from British wool.
It's low profile so you don't look like the Michelin man. I wore it all last winter with often just a t-shirt underneath and found it surprisingly warm.
I can't speak for Scandanavian cold where down might be the way to go but in this country I think it would be a good option.
Wool is fine for most Scandinavian weather. Once you get to -30 C or so it is hard to work with just wool to both stay warm and mobile (but can be done).
 

rg598

Native
Fleece will work perfectly well for you. The only advantage of down is that it is lighter and more compressible for the same amount of insulation. That is why you see fill based jackets (down or synthetic) used as belay jackets-they are easy to carry in a pack. If that is not an issue however, fleece is a great option. It has the added benefit of retaining more insulation that down when wet, and drying out much, much faster. I wear a thin fleece (Patagonia R1). Over that I now wear a fill based jacket (Patagonia Nano Puff; you can get down equivalents), but before that I used to wear a 200 weight fleece instead. I would say the 200 weight fleece and the Nano Puff offered about the same insulation. The only difference is that the Nano Puff packs down much smaller.