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mountainsandsound

How durable is Primaloft?

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I need a warm belay jacket for the N. Cascades winter cold and wet. I have my mind made up (almost) on primaloft rather than down insulation. I don't mind the extra weight of primaloft vs. down, but I would like it to last more than a couple seasons before losing loft and warmth. So longevity is the big issue I'm trying to sort out here.

 

In your experience, what has been the lifespan of your primaloft jacket? How quickly does it lose loft? Thanks in advance for any insight you have.

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I've owned a number of primaloft jackets and have had great success with them- one from OR lasted 5 seasons before I felt like it had lost insulation qualities.

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Cool, thanks for the responses. I've have very positive experiences with OR and I'm looking at the new and improved Chaos which has PL1. It is on the heavy side for a belay jacket, but I'm not Uli Steck so I could care less about a few more ounces. If I can get it to last 5 years I would be happy.

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I've worn out the shell fabric on PL jackets before I felt the loft had degraded. FWIW, I recently replaced a nearly 10 year old Primaloft One insulated belay jacket with a new one - same brand and model only the new one uses Primaloft Sport. It seems bulkier, does not drape as well, and overall not as lofty as the Primaloft One.

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I have the OR Havoc with 60g primaloft eco. I've only had it for a year and can't compare it to any other insulation layer, but even with the lighter insulation it was adequate for Shasta, Baker, and Rainier during fair weather last July.

 

I can only imagine that the OR Chaos with 170g of primaloft one will be very warm, maybe too warm for all but the coldest N. Cascades conditions.

 

Does anyone have thoughts on how warm you need to go for winter? Haven't done too much winter climbing, mostly snowboarding, xc skiing, or snowshoeing where I was in constant motion and didn't need to overnight or stop for any length of time.

Edited by Nater

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Does anyone have thoughts on how warm you need to go for winter?

I use a 100g Primaloft hooded jacket (Patagonia Micropuff) year round. It is adequate for the Cascades in winter. For Rainier in winter I use a warmer parka (Wild Things Belay).

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Durability of primaloft and other synthetics is mostly a concern for sleeping bags. Repeated stuffing and such. A lightweight synthetic jacket is one of the handiest pieces of clothing you can buy. I wear mine almost year round, and go through one about every other year. The outer shell, or more ofter zippers, seems to go long before the insulation.

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Good responses above already, but thought I'd add one more thumbs up...

 

I've been wearing an LL Bean puffy with original Primaloft for roughly a decade, and for the last few years it has spent most of the year stuffed in a dry bag in my trunk. Who knows how many times I've washed it. It is still performing great and keeping me warm, with no noticeable loss in loft. I have since purchased other Primaloft pieces and been equally impressed. Good stuff for temperate environments. My thought process has always been use a down sleeping bag but always carry a synthetic puffy for insurance.

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New more loft or want to get back what you had? Throw it in the drier and run it on a hot cycle.

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primaloft is good for moving in really crappy weather but its falls short for the cold and dry or after hours - especially if you've soaked it. It's clammy - like wearing a bunch of cut up ziplocks, which it kind of is, and not nearly as warm as down. I don't know how anyone sleeps in a primaloft bag - it's like bedding down in a double knit leisure suit with cheap whore - you're bound to hate yourself by morning.

 

Given that it's for moving in crap weather - you might think about getting a really thin one and supplementing it with a down sweater (Montbell, etc). That's what I've been doing in mixed weather. If it's just cold and dry - a synthopuff makes zero sense to me. I leave it at home.

 

I'm experimenting with replacing the synthopuff with merino layers and a windshirt. Merino is so much more comfy, and the syntho is almost always too warm in motion except in freezing rain. You can pick up merino sweaters at Goodwill for 10 to 20 bucks - they're a common item there, and they are awesome in the BC. No hood though. For that, you'll need to shit a sheepload of money for Ibex, Icebreaker, or Smartwool's mid or outer layers.

 

I just snagged a cashmere hoody for around town for (relatively) cheap. Once i trash it, which typically doesn't take me very long, it's going into the BC too.

 

BTW, Merry Christmas!

 

I'm off to church...

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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How would you compare merino pieces to fleece for insulation while on the move? My only experience really with merino is as a next to skin layer, and I prefer synthetic in most conditions anyway.

 

I too have a sweet merino sweater thrift store score, made in the UK. But everyone keeps telling me it looks good so I have not tested it in the backcountry yet.

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i think merinos more comfy, def less stinky, but not as durable as fleece. for a baselayer in cooler wetter merino outperforms synthetics no contest-but it will cost ya. nderarmour makes a good T for warmer conditions. UA undies are nice too

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Primal loft "wears out" due to the fibers getting broken, mainly from stuffing in a small stuff sack. I use a larger than the original stuff sack for mine. Usually I just loosely stuff it in the top of my pack, and only use the sack if it's raining. I have not noticed any degradation in mine in the six years I've had it.

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Did anyone else just throw on layers of cheap fleece for warmth before buying a nice sythetic or down puffy? I did that for the longest time- it was sort of heavy and bulky, and not too warm in truly cold conditions, but it was my set up for years. Makes me realize how little one really needs. Or maybe youth and enthusiasm easily offset sub-standard gear, discomfort, and heavy packs.

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Fleece, capilene - most anything will work, but the more time you spend out, the more comfort in all conditions adds to your overall quality of life. Things can get tough enough without adding unnecessary discomfort to the mix. And the difference comfort and performance between the natural stuff verses plastic is pretty stark. I haven't known anyone who's gone back to plastic once they've had a taste of sheep.

 

Trips tend to get more demanding as one rockets towards the grave - the big packs of youth (I actually started out with a really light pack cuz I didn't have fuck all to put in it) are no longer a viable option at some point.

 

Finally, the good stuff, merino etc, seems expensive until you compare it to the cost of a motor sport. Cut down on beer - problem solved.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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