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  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Maine and Oklahoma
    DH Sparrow and Darien
    UGQ Winter Dream
    UGQ - Quack, quack
    Cinch buckles

    Synthetic or down UQ for AT thru-hike?

    Trying to decide which insulation to go with for my UQ setup and will greatly appreciate feedback/perspective/experiences which will help me decide...

    Here are some of my thoughts, details, etc -

    *Like the idea of synthetic UQ since AT can be a very wet trail (rain, humidity, clouds, etc) and synthetic insulation seems to perform better when wet, as compared to down.
    *Idea/plan is that my summer UQ will be 40* - switch-out quilts (cold for warm weather) after Shenandoah (NOBO)
    *I have no experience with synthetic insulation...said differently, my other 3 quilts are duck down
    *Down compresses better than synthetic, packs smaller, but not by much at 40* rating
    *Down weight less than synthetic, but marginally so at 40* rating...according to UQ mfg sites I've visited, 3 or 4 oz difference

    My gear:
    *Dream Hammock - Asym, 11 ft long, 72' wide, SL
    *Tarp is UGQ Winter Place with doors; provides plenty coverage
    *My cold weather gear is 20*, down, and performs flawlessly

    Discuss! Help?


  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave556 View Post
    Trying to decide which insulation to go with for my UQ setup and will greatly appreciate feedback/perspective/experiences which will help me decide...
    In the not so recent past before I owned an underquilt, I went through a similar thought process. Since I live and camp in Georgia for the most part, my thought was that humidity would affect down more than synthetic insulation, so I have a synthetic UQ (actually two now). My favorite is my AHE Jarbidge, which I've used into the 20s several times and once down to 18 degrees F. At 5'9" it gives me shoulder to ankle coverage. My reasoning was that the UQ would be more likely to get damp from humidity and blown rain and I'd rather have synthetic if that happens. My top quilt is down.

    With a bit more experience now, however, and having hiked and camped with others who own down UQs, I'm less sure of that line of reasoning. I'm not at all unhappy with my synthetic UQs, but if, like you, I already owned down that "performs flawlessly" I'd stick with that rather than buying something else. Especially on a thru hike, ounces are important and down wins that argument.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Watkinsville, GA
    Hammeck Netty, Astd. Dutch
    HG DCF Hex, TF
    LW straps/Becket
    Congrats on your upcoming adventure! Frozen (Outdoor Adventures) just completed the AT last month and discussed his insulation choices in a wrapup video. Bottom line, IIRC, was that he had no issues with his down quilts but if he were to do it over again, he'd probably carry along an Underquilt Protector such as the ones produced by 2QZQ. Here's the link:

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Clisbyclark View Post
    ...(Outdoor Adventures)...if he were to do it over again, he'd probably carry along an Underquilt Protector such as the ones produced by 2QZQ.
    (Slaps self in head)
    Doh! That's an excellent suggestion. Rather than switching to synthetic insulation, get an underquilt protector. I should have mentioned that I added one to my kit this year and like the extra margin of safety/convenience it gives me.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dakotaross's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Chamblee, GA
    Bonefire Whisper or no net
    Toxaway or asym
    Down/Apex UQs
    Ultimate straps
    Yeah, UQP is about the same difference in weight, right? Personally, I wouldn't do without down when its cold, but have switched to synthetic for summer and early fall because those are times - for me in the SE - where things never seem to dry. Nothing that an UQP really helps with. So, yeah, keep your down quilts and maybe look for a good summer syn quilt set.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  6. #6
    Senior Member BillyBob58's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Tupelo, MS
    But adding an UQP(which I like to do) wipes out any few oz saved by going with down, as well as adding bulk and $ spent. However, it is the best protection against wind chill, especially if the tarp is less than huge. Hence I am a fan of UQPs.

    Sidney, you have taken that not quite full length Jarbidge to 18F with no problems, right?( I have seen similar claims by other folks, even lower I think) Do you think you were at the absolute limit before getting cold?

    My JB is right at a smidgen under 20 oz, if mem serves. A typical duck down 20F "short" ( but still 73" long, so 15" longer than the JB) weighs 23.7 oz, or 20.8 for a 30F model. When I adjust for the shorter length of the JB, that 800FP duck down model would weigh about 18.7 oz for the 20F model, or about 16.4 for the 30F model(JB "rated" at 25F). So, I'm thinking with all other things being equal, there might be about an oz or 2 difference in weight between 800FP down vs Climashield Apex. Hopefully I did not miscalculate, correct me if so. (oh, the down UQ is also just slightly wider than the JB, but I think the JB is plenty wide enough. Do you?)

    The dif is greater down at zero rating. The down model weighs 28.9 oz, and when adjusted for JBs shorter length, that would be 22.9 oz. The zero JB is 28 oz. So, about 5 oz dif there.

    A bigger differenc is bulk. Though I don't think the dif is huge, it is certainly noticeable. So depending on how much room in your pack, this could be a deciding factor. If you barely have room in your pack for all your gear and food when using down quilts, then you will NOT have enough room if switching to Climashield. But if you have some spare room, you might not notice the dif. And if you already have a large tarp to block the wind, you will have far less need of an UQP's added bulk and weight to keep your UQ dry. So, there are pros and cons, sort of depends on personal pref.

    But bottom line, there is not a lot of dif between 800FP down and CS Apex when it comes to warmth per weight, especially for ratings above 20F. There is more dif when it comes to bulk.

  7. #7
    gunner76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Beaufort, NC
    Blackbird 1.7 double
    HG Cuben
    Dutch Clips
    Jarbidge's come in 3 flavors.... Summer Season...3 Season and Winter Season. Big difference in the wight and bulk between the 3. I own each flavor.
    3rd Annual Frosty Butt Hang Feb 2019 ............

    I am 18 with 48 years of experience ! ................ Hike the Neusiok Trail & check out the NTforum !

  8. #8
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Jersey Shore, NJ
    Dutch PolyD
    HG Winter Palace
    HG 0, 20, 40
    Dutch Whoopie Hook
    I've never seriously considered synthetic, because I haven't had any problem with my water-resistant down quilts. If I was ever going to have a problem, it would have been last November when we had a group hang at Hawkin Bridge. The forecast called for 40 mph winds and 2-3 inches of rain. That's not what we got - we got 60 mph winds and 5 inches of rain. Out of 30 people, maybe 12 had to go sleep in their cars because even if your quilts were exposed to that torrential rain for 15 seconds, the quilts were soaked through.

    My quilts were wet, but the overnight low was only 30* F. I slept like a baby.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    NW, U.S.A. & Pink Mountain, B.C.
    Big Red Love Tarp
    I have both synthetic and down. Most of our hanging in along the Oregon Coast/Coastal Range. Very damp, I feel my down quilts soak in the moisture. Whether or not I am using my UQ protector, the UQP for me helps with the rain splash or blowing moisture not the Dew etc. rising.

    We seem to fall into a couple of categories for the insulation we think is tops.

    In the past we have had discussions on the moisture restive down. In the past at least one vendor stated he was not going to use H2O restive down in his quilts. We each make up our own mind on what to purchase for our needs. When I am not in a rain forest and it is cold I definitely use down and it goes into a dry bag. My life could depend on my choice of gear.

  10. #10
    cougarmeat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Bend, OR
    WBBB, WBRR, WL LiteOwl
    OES, WL BullFro
    HG UQ, TQ, WB UQ
    Python Straps
    I usually pack all down. BUT once in BH days (Before Hammock) I was on the north Beach of Vargas Island and this dew - not rain - came in. Everything - I mean EVERYTHING was wet. It still sort of haunts me a bit. When I was first gearing up for hammocks, I bought some synthetic for a GE and the Ridge Runner. But have used them twice - at home. I never had to deal with that "ring water out of the sky" humidity again. But the images are still lingering in the back of my mind.
    In order to see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone. And DO what few have done.

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