Best Brand of Winter/Down Jackets?

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 21:26
ThreadID: 69735 Views:16702 Replies:13 FollowUps:3
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Heading from Sydney out west this weekend with the dog. They're predicting it will be very cool and there was some snow earlier this week.

Tonight I visited Anaconda, BCF and Rays Outdoors on Parramatta Road Auburn. There was an amazing array of brands and types of jackets to look at. Some were 'shell' jackets meaning waterproof windbreakers you are meant to put over a fleece jumper (or similar). The Columbia brand looked great (but expensive) and were fleecy with waterproof outer jacket. I also liked the slightly warmer feeling down jackets like "The North Face" brand but these were extremely expensive and not waterproof. The other thing about down-type jackets is they're bulky.

So anyone have any particular brand recommendations for warm jackets and clothing when out camping? How do the store-brand names compare to the specialist brands (Denali is Anaconda's brand, Wild Country belongs to Rays Outdoors)?
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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 21:36

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 21:36
Kathmandu regu;arly have 50% OFF sales - their down jackets are great value then.
AnswerID: 369588

Follow Up By: Jimmywhisker - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 06:21

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 06:21
Macpac have a 30% sale on at the moment. They make great long lasting gear in my opinion.

FollowupID: 637011

Reply By: Member - Sigmund (VIC) - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 21:49

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 21:49
Macpac have or have had a special on their down jackets - around $200, and if IIRC these have a water repellent shell. I've had one for years and was comfy in it at -14 at Kiandra once.

Yes they're bulky: that's the price of insulation.

They may be overkill though. If you had a couple of layers underneath then a quality heavyweight fleece may do the job. Those made of Malden fleece are comfy over a wide range of temps. Put a cheap waterproof shell over them to keep the wind and rain out if you are not doing heavy exercise; if you are the shell needs to be waterproof and breathable.

There are windproof fleeces out there but the insulation value is lower than the above. They're good at dealing with wind chill but at a cost.
AnswerID: 369591

Reply By: Ian & Sue - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 22:07

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 22:07
We have Columbia jackets (Gortex) they are great, you can wear them with or without the fleece and they breathe so you dont get wet from sweat. In Australia they are somewhere around $700 but look on the internet as we bought ours from the USA and even with postage they cost around $170Au each.
AnswerID: 369597

Reply By: gh1967 - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 22:18

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 22:18
Is it fair to say with down jackets, if a reputable brand, probably are much of a muchness in the Australian winter (ie. they all keep you warm enough)?

Which would be better out of a fleece + shell vs down?

AnswerID: 369600

Reply By: Member - Sigmund (VIC) - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 05:48

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 05:48
No and it's hard to get reliable info. Down jackets vary by quality of down (better stuff = higher loft = more insulation) and quality of the making. It's one area where you pretty much have to go by brand reputation and user comments.

I'd endorse the post about Kathmandu stuff - it's not top range but serviceable.

If you are wearing this stuff while active, go instead for layers and a shell. Layers mean you can put on another or take off one to suit the conditions. A light fleece, a heavy one and a jacket.

As I said above if you're not active you don't need an exxy breathable fabric in the jacket.

If you're going to be sitting around at night with low temps then obviously don't forget warm headwear as you lose a lot of body heat through the throat and noggin.
AnswerID: 369618

Reply By: paulnsw - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 06:04

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 06:04
find from experience 100% wool long sleeve thermals are best investment and more useful in long term. Still use a wind proof jacket that goes to under bum length with wool jumper or polar fleece track suit top underneath. Allows you more flexibility with temperature control and more useful overall.
Don't make mistake of buying a jacket that is waist length and is not a bum warmer. Jacket to minimum bottom of bum is the go.
AnswerID: 369620

Reply By: Member No 1- Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 07:56

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 07:56
I have a columbia
waterproof outer and fleece zip on/out inner
keeps me warm

you can always strip off if too hot, but if your cold and dont have other stuff with you you stay cold.

i have learnt from experience that to stay warm (and dry) during winter on the back of a ute, spotlighting fox's n cats till sunup dont but cheap so called warm clothing.
AnswerID: 369630

Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 08:20

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 08:20
Down is often not much good in wet weather as once wet it loses all insulation. It needs to be under a water proof layer or (expensively) in a waterproof material. "Thinsulate or similar will keep you warm if it gets wet. I think fleece is better for Oz conditions. Usually water just rolls off it, but if really wet and it gets wet, will also keep you warm. Very lightweight and not to bulky. Katmandu often have good deals on thermal underwear and this makes a huge difference. You wont have time before this trip, but otherwise check "Landsend" on the internet. They have some very good wet/cold gear at good prices. If you buy from the 'Overstock" department, they can also be very cheap, especially for their quality, even after you have paid the postage to Oz. They tend to have their specials out of season which is handy if you live in Oz.
AnswerID: 369632

Reply By: Dave B ( BHQ NSW) - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:21

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:21
I agree with what some others have suggested, and get some thermal underwear.

That makes a huge difference and is much cheaper than the better quality fleeces.

It's a bit like choosing a 4wd, there is nothing that suits all occasions.

We have some Polartec clothing, and it's great.

Bulky clothing is a bit restrictive at times, more so when you might be getting in and out of the car quite a bit.

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AnswerID: 369635

Reply By: D200Dug- Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:55

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:55
Margo got an amazing down jacket some years ago in Perth. It is Chinese Army issue and made from goose down. It is top quality and was from memory $60 !!!

The only down side ( no pun intended ) is she is 5'4" tall and the extra large one fitted her perfectly. I am just over 6' and nothing they had came close to fitting me :-(
AnswerID: 369640

Follow Up By: D200Dug- Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:57

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:57
PS I now wear a think Katmandu windproof fleece jacket and gortex outer shell jacket if required. Very snug and warm :-)
FollowupID: 637036

Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:56

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:56
Have a read of this article that I wrote some time ago for the campertrailers group.
Dressing for the outdoors

In my opinion you don't really need down jackets unless you are snow camping or in REALLY cold conditions and you want the ultimate in lightweight gear. Modern fleece jackets are adequate with a good shell layer to trap the warmth and keep out the wind. A good fleece beanie and golves will also help greatly.

If money is little object, I would look at the folowing jackets as being just about the best available in Australia at the moment:

Mont Icicle

Macpac Equinox

Mountain Desgns Aurora

Each of these companies has 'lesser' down jackets a little cheaper. Likewise as has been stated, Kathmandu often have specials on clothing and their jackets aren't too bad, but not in the same league as the ones above.

It all depends on what you want to do with it, I guess. Fleece is easy to care for - just chuck it in the wash, whilst down requires a great deal more care in storage and cleaning and isn't as 'robust' for the rough and tumble of the bush.

Good luck with the decision.



AnswerID: 369641

Reply By: T-Ribby - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 17:05

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 17:05
Think in terms of layers.
Hunting in NZ's high country I wore Poly thermals as the first layer, Polarfleece shorts, heavy brushed cotton or woollen shirt, Gortex windcheater jacket, and carried a waterproof ex-Army poncho in me pack. The poncho is a wonderful piece of gear, you can even use it as a tent, and it doesn't sweat like other waterproofs. Gloves and woollen beanie made up the rest. As the day warmed up, I just removed layers.
Good stuff costs money and it's well worth it. I would recommend Kathmandu.

AnswerID: 369685

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 22:32

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 22:32
Hi gh,

I like Kathmandu gear personally, if you are smart with your buying you can pick it up on their regular bargain rack for quite a good price!

I'm also a huge fan of layering. I'm also no fan of full length zippers, I prefer pullover type garments with at the most a short throat zipper.

Add or remove layers to suit the conditions, there really is no such thing as a single garment for every condition.

Some great advice above is don't ever forget the head, up to 80% of your body heat can escape through the top of your head!

Good gear isn't always insanely expensive. It's just a matter of sorting the sales speal from what you really need.


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AnswerID: 369750

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 23:20

Friday, Jun 12, 2009 at 23:20
Kathmandu sell a Neck Tube - if you pull it up it can keep your ears covered.

Combined with a Beanie, you can select how much of your face you want exposed to suit the conditions - something a Balaclava can't do.
FollowupID: 637169

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