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  1. #1
    Senior Member Risk's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Thoughts on Overstuffing and Understuffing down insulation

    I run into numerous threads and some advertisements about overstuffing down insulation... Usually by several ounces of down.

    I don't understand the fad. Quite to the contrary, I find it useful to understuff insulation.

    Down has the incredible ability to fill up the space it is palced into and to break up the convection currents so that an empty space works as insulation better than just an empty space. With several quilts I've made, it seems to work rather well to use LESS down than calculations would suggest... especially when there is no weight on the down filled tube - like with an underquilt.

    One of the joys of making our own equipment is to be able to decide how much down to put into an item. I'd like to know if others have tried this concept of understuffing, like I have. The idea is to end up with a tube or baffle that does not feel soft, but instead feels empty. The good news is that such an item packs up very small.

    And, it is less weight to carry.

    And, it costs less.
    Rick (Risk)
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  2. #2
    Senior Member NCPatrick's Avatar
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    Good points. I think it happens when folks expect their quilts to perform at or below 0 degrees, and need some assurances of being able to do so, perhaps by overstuffing. (I'm not a psychoanalyst though)

    I'd like to see the results of studies about the least amount of down it takes to get through those temps...


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  3. #3
    dragon360's Avatar
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    I think for many, its the seeing the gaps in the quilt that throws them. They understand its working but can't seem to get past seeing the empty-ish spaces. I tend to try to make my quilts similar in size and stuffing as many of our vendors as a template (until I feel more comfortable in the process!).
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  4. #4
    Senior Member bear bag hanger's Avatar
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    My oldest quilt (about 8 yrs old) has gaps in the down. Don't know if it effects the temperature rating or not, but it seems logical to me that the wind would blow through these gaps easily. That's why I'm always tempted to buy over stuffing to compensate for this.

  5. #5
    WV's Avatar
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    I hope you're right, Risk. I know I am guilty of overstuffing in my DIY projects, and I have added down to commercial quilts because I saw so many gaps when I held them up to the light. With underquilts I think there's more likelihood for down to shift downhill than is the case for topquilts. That tendency may be good news for cold butts but bad news for toes, heels, and shoulders. I wonder if anyone has done side-by-side comparisons of identical UQ shells with different amounts of down in them.

    Also, I've got a different pattern of baffles in mind for a future project that may embolden me to use less down in the tubes.

  6. #6
    markr6's Avatar
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    I'm pretty confident it was the overstuffing in my 40 Incubator got me down to 29 comfortably. But of course I can't say for sure. I do hear the temp ratings can be a bit under rated. Either way, I like a little extra just for peace of mind.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    this is a great topic.

    if i have an old comforter. how would i find out the goose down fill?
    its nice and heavy and i cant wait to set up my tent inside to keep the feather from going everywhere.. but dont know how to correctly use it. thanks everyone.

  8. #8
    turnerminator's Avatar
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    I stuffed a 2/3rds Pertex 4 shelled DIY UQ with the exact volume of 850 fill it needed probably a year and a half ago. Compared to my 20% overstuffed gear, it feels lifeless now.

    It now struggles to loft to the full 2" and blows flat in the wind, pushing some warm air out as it flattens. I'm currently ripping the stitches apart and putting some more down in.

    I'm not sure exactly on this, but I remember some posts linked from Backpackinglight that did some tests on slightly compressed down and it was actually warmer than fully lofted.
    Last edited by turnerminator; 01-08-2013 at 11:24.

  9. #9
    Jtupnsmoke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turnerminator View Post
    I stuffed a 2/3rds DIY UQ with the exact volume of 850 fill it needed probably a year and a half ago. Compared to my 20% overstuffed gear, it feels lifeless now.

    It now struggles to loft to the full 2" and blows flat in the wind, pushing some warm air out as it flattens. I'm currently ripping the stitches apart and putting some more down in.

    I'm not sure exactly on this, but I remember some posts linked from Backpackinglight that did some tests on slightly compressed down and it was actually warmer than fully lofted.
    I did the same thing on my DIY tq i just finished. I put the recommended amount in and ended up ripping most of the seams out to put in more. There were a lot of places that not only looked empty, but had 0 loft.

  10. #10
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    From HammockGear website:

    "The Incubator comes with 9, anatomically contoured, differential cut baffles that run the length of the quilt. One of the things this construction technique does is to greatly reduce the shifting of goose down that is sometimes more noticeable in quilts made with premium goose down. This is one of the reasons Hammock Gear quilts are always 15-20% overstuffed. The differential cut, contoured baffles also provide the highest level of fit which is critical to keeping warm."

    So overstuffing, according to Adam, reduces goose down shifting.

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