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Hoody fans???? A sweater or a jacket?


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Saw the newest "light" version DAS parka over the weekend at the local Patagonia store. Not the old DAS! More than a few designers have realised a lwt jacket is a better option for most.


From Parkin's web site.




"Hi Andy, I was reading an old article in High where you suggested an optimum outfit for alpine winter was shelled microfleece (e.g. vapour-rise), shelled pile (e.g. buffalo) and a duvet on top (DAS or similar).


At the time, the likes of the DAS Parka, Montane Bivvy, Lowe Alpine Heatseeker, etc. all had had 250-300g of their own-brand insulation.


The latest version of the DAS though has 170g Primaloft insulation. (Similiar to a Haglofs Barrier Zone Hoody jacket I have with 170g insulation).


Ignoring the hype, is Primaloft that good that it is just as warm with half the insulation? Or do we all not feel the cold as much?!


170g doesn’t seem to be very thick to be suitable as your stand-alone piece of insulation. So thought I’d ask how you find the latest jackets, with your experience.



It’s true that the original synthetic belay jackets - like the Patagonia DAS parka - had a much heavier weight of insulation, and most modern designs feature a lighter weight, but I think in all but the most extreme of conditions this weight may be more appropriate, offering a better balance between weight, bulk and warmth. Worn over a standard layering system - especially the softshell system I described - these lighter parkers will still do their job of keeping you warm when static in normal climbing scenarios (belaying, abseling, biving).


The heavier weight parkers worked better in more extreme situations, such as super cold (Alaskan winter or high altitude mountaineering), or for super extended belaying. I’ve used the old school DAS parker in the Ruth Gorge in Winter (temps reaching -50), and super long belays in frigid spots, while people like Steve House used his all the way to the top of Nanga Parbat.


So what if you want a system that will do both duties, but will still offer the same degree of warmths and protection?


If you have a specific need (big walling in Baffin for example), I’d recommend getting a bespoke belay jacket from someone like PHD, who could take their existing Zeta jacket and double up the insulation.


A more flexible option would be to have a layered approach to your booster layer, perhaps layering up a hooded midweight synthetic hooded jacket with a micro loft down jacket (or gilet), perhaps even modifying both so they can be linked (velcro, poppers or toggles). With this you’d wear your basic outer belay jacket for rough and dirty action (wet snow, belaying etc), and save the down layer (stowed in a small drybag) for bivying, super long belays or extreme cold action."


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I used the newest Atom Lt Hoody while out in the recent cold spell for aprts of 2 days. 1/2 the weight of my go to Gamma MX Hoody and a bit more warmth. As breathable as the softshell MX, may be even a bit more. I left the MX at home so I was committed to the AtomLt for my climbing shell. Not as stretchy or as abrasive resistant. As a lwt wind shell and insulation that you can use while really working hard it is a good outer shell. Very quick to cool if you aren't careful how you expose the under arm soft shell vents.


A very specialised piece of clothing. But also layers under the lwt belay jackest like the MTN/H Compessor or DAS easily for a little more protection in cold weather climbing/bivy when a soft shell isn't quite enough. In the right conditionals (cold and windy and wanting to carry less weight) it might be a good answer instead of a soft shell. My suggestion is try it with your layering system before committing to a cold climb with a Atom as a primary piece.

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Excellent to hear it is a good piece Dane, mine is en route from Arc right now. I haven't seen one in person yet, but I am excited that the softshell sections vent as well as you say - very neat bit of kit. Not a negative I'd say, as I will throw the MX on at belays at the minimum.


Here's to hoping the hood fits nicely

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  • 4 weeks later...

I thought some info and comments on the heavier styled belay jackets that came up is another thread might be better used here.


"I am a belay/bivy jacket fanatic and am really picky about what I use. The XV is the first down jacket I have seen in years that was actually designed as a bivy, really, realy cold weather climbing jacket. Retail is $269. Compare it directly to the FF Front Point @ $429, Wild Things @ $295 ($170 sale) and Arct. Dually @ 499, Norrøna Lyngen $378 when you can find them and no comparison to the new lwt DAS @ $300. I made those comparisons in person today except for the Norrøna Lyngen. Mammut has the Stratus for $$219 which is a good comparison to the old DAS and another best buy. I bought my last Swiss, Egge Delux for $150 in the '80s...and the XV is a better jacket imo.


AND that is saying a LOT! In short...GOOD SHIT here for hard, really cold, alpine. Pick and choose though...some of the stuff is below par to other manufactures and price point; some way, way above. At 1/2 price some of it is really a steal imo."


"Feathered Friends makes GREAT gear. We own a bunch of it and have for years. But IMO the EB XV stands inspection side by side to the FF Front Point parka and comes out equal if not the better of the two for actual climbing. Did just that last night. Even at the same price? I'd take the XV. But they aren't the same price, FF is $429 and the EB $269. I've looked at a number of really nice belay/Bivy style jackets over the last few days and few are as good. Only the Norrøna Lyngen ($378.,) looks to be as technical a piece as the XV. But I have not laid my hands on one to make a direct comparison. The Mammut hooded Ambler is another comparable down bivy/belay jacket. ($300) Many others should be relagated to shoveling the side walk...in a T shirt 'cuz no way I'd ever climb in one


Been awhile since I've seen a decent down jacket I'd want to climb and/or sleep in. So I am really STOKED on the EB XV! What down climbing jackets are made for..winter technical climbing and a open bivy."


The Norrona weights in at a claimed 24oz and the EB VX at 34oz FWIW in comparisons off the first post in the thread.


Are the current DAS parkas not as warm as the older ones?


Glad you asked as I am learning more about that myself. But long answer. Some Internet discussion going on about that right now. I've not used the new and thought the old one too warm for my normal climbing uses. As did many others. This time around I wanted a warmer jacket for some colder conditions (multiple days out in Canada up high) and might have bought one of the old ones this time around. (and it may turn out to be a mistake that I didn't buy the new one)


Most thought the old DAS the "gold standard" of belay jackets with generally rave reviews.


Then the thinner "belay/climbing" jackets appeared. Patagonia micro Puff Hoodie and the Mtn Hardware Compressor were two of the early ones. Since then belay/climbing jacket have gotten even lighter..down to sweater weight really. Arcteryx Atom Ltw is a good example but there are a few others out there as well.


Many Internet 'purts said Patagonai was going to a lighter weight DAS so you could climb better in it and the extra warmth wasn't required. Sounded reasonable to me. From a phone call to Patagonia this morning it turns out Patagonia and its designers had no intention of making the DAS lighter. What they were looking for was a better insulation. The old DAS used Polarguard 3D. The new DAS uses Primaloft I.


I think I know just how effecient Primaloft 1 is by comparing the Mtn Hardware Compressor (PL1) to the Patagonia Mirco Puff Hoody (PG3D) in use. Compressor is way warmer than it has any right to be given it's thickness and realtive compressability.


The previous pictures of Collin Haley on Hunter in a new DAS first turned on the light bulb for me. His partner is using the Norrona, down/ synthetic high bred I mentioned above on that climb. So I started asking more questions.


After my phone call to Patagonia I just sent out a couple of emails this morning asking guys I trust that have used both old and new DAS their input. I'll post the input. But my take after an education this morning is the new DAS should be even better (lighter, easier to compact into a smaller package and just as warm or maybe even warmer) than the old DAS as a belay jacket.



Old DAS insulation 200 in the body 160 in the arms


POLARGUARD 3D 7 denier

This is continuous filament, meaning it is manufactured in a singe strand that when spun together forms the loft (up to 8,000km long). The main feature of 3D is that is has a hollow cored fibre that has a triangular cross section, making it both warmer than a straight solid fibre and more resistant to compression, meaning it will maintain its loft even with a lot of hard abuse. The fibres are very fine (14 microns) and slick, meaning it’s soft and very compressible - perhaps not as compressible as other fills but this translates into a longer loft life.


New DAS insulation 170 in the body and 130 in the arms


PRIMALOFT PL1 sub 1 denier

This is an ultra fine short filament (15 microns) fibre, meaning that instead of having a single strand you’ve got something far more like down (seven microns) with a vast number of individual fibres being stabilized by a thermally bonded scrim. Primaloft was originally designed for the US army as a viable alternative to down, being very warm (warmer than it looks, in fact) and compressible and it is perhaps the nearest we’ve got to man-made down so far. The individual fibres have a special water-resistant coating giving the fill a very high water resistance, absorbing very little moisture and drying fast. The down side of the fill’s down-like qualities is that it is slightly more affected by repeated compression - although in clothing this isn’t as big a factor as in sleeping bags.


I was able to ask Steve House his thoughts on the difference between the old DAS and the new DAS today. His reply below:

"Warmer. about 20% warmer. And it's significantly more compressible. I think this is the biggest single improvement...made in the DAS. It will look like it isn't that puffy when you first get it. Toss it in a hot dryer for 15 minutes and it will puff right up (it gets compressed during shipping)."

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Dane, do you have a more detailed opinion on the Arc'teryx Atom LT (performance in the field, etc.)? Also, could you expand a little bit on what you see as the difference between a "belay sweater" and a "belay jacket" (such as the MH Compressor Hoody)?


I'm looking to get an insulated hooded jacket (synthetic only, no interest in down) for belaying/rest stops/cold days, but not something that's too warm because I get hot easily. It doesn't have to be bombproof but hopefully would offer at least some weather resistance, and obviously needs to be helmet-compatible. I've tried both the Compressor and the Atom LT on in-store and like the XL size (normally wear a large, but that gives room for layers underneath plus it doesn't need to be a super-technical cut given what I want to use it for).

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Julian, I just made up the term "belay sweater" while writing here @ cc.com. My idea of a "belay" anything is an additional layer with a intergal hood to add at the end of a pitch when you are wet from sweat and will cool down rapidly while belaying. So you add the "belay" sweater, jacket or bivy weight outer. What I want that layer to do is keep me warm while stopped and most importantly dry me out when stopped or while climbing.


For the use as a "belay" jacket at any weight/insulation thickness down insulation is obviously limited to very cold temps and limited physical levels.


So to keep them all straight in my mind I have used the three terms, "sweater", "jacket" and "bivy" to define levels of warmth and amount of insulation. Obviously there are some pieces that will overlap in utility and warmth in each catagory and each person is different. Fatique and your physical condition will change as well and require different levels of insulation at different times. Belay "sweaters and jackets" I will climb in when cold as a second or when conditions dictate that it is cold enough I have to leading.


The "Bivy" level are the thickest belay jackets generally not all that fun to climb in as a second and worse yet while leading except in really, really cold conditions (Alaska or high up in Canada winter) and on moderate terrain where you aren't working too hard but make a perfect additon to a light bag or even alone on a sparce bivy.


I like the Atom and a buddy has been using his a lot as a belay "sweater" in moderate conditions like low level waterfall cragging in the desert. Maybe the perfect "sweater" there. But I think it is better used as a primary cold weather climbing piece than a belay specific piece. I like it in that position while saving a Compressor hoody as the belay jacket to go over it. Makes a pretty warm system for cold weather climbing. More than the Compressor Hoody could do alone for sure. And 1/2 the weight of the soft shell it replaces.


I used that combo (Atom/Compressor) at 0F as a bivy set up with a lwt bag (Vario) and made it through the night and actually got some sleep while in terrible physical condition, starting wet and dehydrated. So the system works :)


But in general I would suggest a pile/shell (or soft shell) combo with a dedicated "belay" jacket. Compressor Hoody (lwt weight) or DAS (warmer level and a cross over from "belay" to "bivy") as a good outer depending on the level of warmth and compressability when stuffed that you require.


Steve House's Patagonia video discussing his and Vince Anderson's clothing system on Nanga Parbat is still "cutting edge" and a proven clothing combo.




One of the things I just recently became aware of is how effective Primaloft 1 really is. I had wondered why my Comprerssor Hoody was so warm and dried me out so well even when soaked. The answer is Primaloft. I won't be buying another synthetic jacket that isn't Primaloft. The Atom sadly isn't Primaloft and the effectivness shows when you compare it to a similar Primaloft item. All the Patagonia climbing jackets (DAS and Micro Puff) are now, as of this season, as are many of the Eddie Bauer and Mtn Hardware products.


Until a few years ago I had only owned and used "Bivy" jackets. I had so seldom used them climbing (but did a lot while sleeping) I really never had a clue how to use a belay jacket correctly.


I had owned and used a Patagonia Micro Puff in Polarguard for a while and it worked OK. But it was really the Mtn Hardware Primaloft Compressor that turned me on to just how good a piece designed for climbing and used correctly could be.


The "sweater" and the Atom Lt is a perfect example for me offers a few distinct advantages for a shelled insulation piece if you can use and take advatage of them. But the advanatges can also be disadvantages if used in the wrong place, wrong conditions. It stuffs and weights almost nothing. The side vents drop heat while climbing but have to be covered to retain heat in windy conditions or even just cold conditions if you are stopped. Good wind and water resistant though, other than at the vents. Perfect if it is cold and you are working hard and going fast. Sucks if it is cold, you are slow and it is windy out.


For my own use the Atom lwt is a very, very specialized piece. Amazing when mated to a MH "monkeyman" or EB "aaw-some" pile jacket with the same side vents. For cold..fast climbing the heat retention and body heat manipulation there is nothing else like it. But if you aren't careful you could freeze your ass off in one :)

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The Primaloft website sez:


"PrimaLoft® One is the ultimate microfiber insulation. Ultra fine fibers are specially treated in a patented process and then combined into an insulating core that is incredibly soft, lightweight and water resistant. PrimaLoft One absorbs 3 times less water, is 14% warmer when dry and is 24% warmer when wet than the competitive insulation.


PrimaLoft® Eco is earth-friendly insulation created for performance and comfort. Eco insulation technology combines 50% recycled material with PrimaLoft virgin fibers to create a high loft, thermally efficient insulation. PrimaLoft Eco is lightweight and water resistant with superior softness to keep you dry and comfortable. It’s global warming the right way!"


From the descriptions by Primaloft themselves I would bet it pays to read the label and compare products before you by.

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  • 11 months later...



as a note PL1 if you can unless its on a deep sale ... the clo are 0.92, 0.79. 0.74 for PL1, PL sport, PL eco respectively ... last i checked anyways


in other words PL Sp is 86% as insulating as PL1, and PL eco 80%


saving polar bears is a laudable goal ... but saving yr freezing ass is more important IMO


known PL1 belay parkas and sweater ... DAS, Micro/nano puff, FA igniter/serano, cloudveil enclosure, etc ...


some companies (MH, im looking at you) swapped from PL1 to PL eco ... very green ... but not exactly very warm

Edited by bearbreeder
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In English BB?


This has been discussed in detail before. Quick version?


Primaloft 1 (PL1) and Arcteryx's Coreloft are the only two synthetic insulations I would buy for climbing use.


Yes Mtn Hardware had dumbed down the Compressor series. Patagonia has upped the insulation in some of their gear.


Both Primaloft Eco (PLE) and Primaloft Sport (PLS) are cheaper to buy for the manufactures and cheaper to produce for Primaloft. Neither insulate as well as the original Primaloft 1.

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short version ... get PL1 if you can ... PLE and PLS maybe be cheaper than PL1, but the consumer doesn't usually see the savings ... ex. the dead bird fission is a $$$$ jacket even with PLS ... even LL bean does a PL1 jacket for $129




i have an atom lt ... and if i had to do it over again ... id get a nanopuff instead



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My idea of a "belay" anything is an additional layer with a intergal hood to add at the end of a pitch when you are wet from sweat and will cool down rapidly while belaying.


If you're literally wet from sweat at the end of the pitch what belay sweater you wear is the least of your problems.


...no item of clothing or fabric choice will cause failure on a route. Reflect on the difficult climbs undertaken in bad weather by climbers from the former Soviet Union and East Bloc nations using what Westerners consider hopelessly antiquated clothing and gear. More often than not, they succeed. Why do Westerners fail on easy routes up big mountains with all the advantages of the most modern equipment? Simply, success and failure come from within.
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"Simply, success and failure come from within."


Last I checked no one climbs naked. Most will want to search out the best gear for your own use. By that statement the number of pull ups you can do doesn't matter either. Mental toughness will generally over come any physical obstacle in the mountains.


Helps to be prepared for the environment you might expect..mentally, physically and with your gear.


Something most every good climber does and has done. The better educated you are to the options available the better choices you are capable of.


Nothing "simple" about being successful. Nice sound bite though. If there was a "simple" solution everyone would be doing it...and last I checked they aint.


"If you're literally wet from sweat at the end of the pitch what belay sweater you wear is the least of your problems."


I've been wet from prespiration at the end of many leads...as well as from following some.


Drying out is important if you want to stay warm. Which is why the difference between a down sweater or a synthetic version might well be important.


The idea is to climb "cold", stay dry and stay warmer. I've found that generally easier to say, than it is to do.



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Great conversation.


Just snagged a Patagucci micro-puff hoody a week or two ago on an impulse buy and was a bit worried I'd coughed up top-dollar for a synthetic jacket filled with cut-rate insulation. Just checked and was glad to see that Patagucci didn't stuff their "Alpine Climbing" synthetic jackets with cheapo-"eco" insulation.

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Hey Dane, funny I have been thinking the same thing about the "Belay Jacket", just found an Arcteryx Atom SV on sale, pretty impressed with how warm the dang thing is for its weight and size.


My 2 cents is that it may be more worthwhile to get trimmer fitting belay hoodies. The Atom SV can be worn over or under shells, that offers a lot of possibilities.


My prob with a lot of the hoodies is they are NOT warm enough to bank life or limb on here in Wyo. Seems like the Atom SV and the Millet Belay Device both offer that extra bit of warmth over hoodies and are MUCH smaller in the pack than the burly jackets.

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  • 4 weeks later...
just found an Arcteryx Atom SV on sale, pretty impressed with how warm the dang thing is for its weight and size.


My 2 cents is that it may be more worthwhile to get trimmer fitting belay hoodies. The Atom SV can be worn over or under shells, that offers a lot of possibilities.


My prob with a lot of the hoodies is they are NOT warm enough to bank life or limb on here in Wyo. Seems like the Atom SV and the Millet Belay Device both offer that extra bit of warmth over hoodies and are MUCH smaller in the pack than the burly jackets.



Hey Evan, I'm now using a Atom SV and a Atom LT as a combo which seems to work very well for my own use.

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Love the conversation! Great advice happening here.


I'm doing my part and staying true to the great white north with a Himalaya Hoody from Westcomb






weighs in around 13oz, and is a brilliant piece of kit. the hood even fits comfortably over a BD half-dome, and has a rigid brim. I've stuffed it down to what looked like 1L, so it can definitely get small!


albeit pricey, it's made in canada and uses top-notch materials, and if you find it on sale i'd say its worth it. be prepared, though, if you get the black colour you'll be getting plenty "are you wearing a garbage bag??" questions!

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