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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


If you have read any of my insulated garment reviews and wondered why I bitch so much about what is used by the garment's designers  this may help.  Know what you are buying!  There is a distinct difference in the field and it is EASILY noticeable between the Primaloft insulations.  NO one that is using Primaloft for climbing should accept anything but Primaloft 1.  If you do you are simply getting RIPPED off by cost cutting. If it isn't Primaloft 1 it is less efficient and most importantly in this case less EXPENSIVE insulation for the garment's manufacture. 

It would be nice to see independent tests of the insulation other's use as well.  Arcteryx Coreloft (which I think are very good btw) comes to mind.  Hard data would be better than what I *think* how ever.

"Clo is used by insulation companies as a standard measurement of warmth. Like most imperial measurements such as the yard, foot, or inch, the origins of a clo value are quite curious. At its origins, one "clo" represent the amount of insulation required to keep a man in a business suit comfortable in an indoor room at 70 degrees F. Not very specific, right?
In the modern world, one “clo” is the comfortable temperature of a clothed resting person in a room at 70 degrees F. The clo value is mathematically related to the R-value, so there is no longer an overarching generality for the measurement. "

Primaloft One 0.92 dry / .90 wet, clo/oz

Primaloft Sport  0.79 dry /.72 wet, clo/oz

Synergy .73 dry / .61 wet, clo/oz

ECO .68 dry/ .60 wet, clo/oz

800 fill down having a clo/oz of about 1.1.

-800+ fill power down is 1.68 clo/oz at the density used in most UL manufactures products

PrimaLoft ONE®
 .92 clo/oz./yd2 (test data by Hoehnstein Testing Labs in Germany)
 · Available weights: 40g, 60g, 100g, 133g, 170g, 200g (grams per square meter)

Q: Is PrimaLoft close to being the equivalent of down?
A: You can get anywhere from 450-fill-power down to 900-fill-power down. Look at pinnacle (superior) down products—900 at the top of the pyramid, 450 and 500 along the bottom. Then look at the pinnacle synthetics, and PrimaLoft One is the best synthetic insulation you can buy. The pinnacle synthetic only crosses over to the down chart near the bottom end of the down pyramid. We usually equate PrimaLoft One as the equivalent of down in the 500 to 550 range. (others say more like 450)  You could not replace a 900-filll-power down garment with PrimaLoft One and expect to get the same performance in dry conditions. However, wet down doesn't even come close to the bottom end of the synthetic pyramid in regard to thermal performance. As soon as you get down wet, you lose a lot of its thermal properties.

More here:


Unknown said...

Have you experimented/worn with any of the 'water resistant'/'waterproof' down jackets in the field?

I have really not seen any critical/highly informed reviewers (like you) tackle the water resistant down in a meaningful way. I wonder if it will work well enough in the real world to take over some of the scenarios where synthetics are often currently preferred... (It works great in trade show demonstrations - but not really the same thing...)

Charles Miles

Dane said...

Hi Charles, I have not. It is on the list of "to dos" but I haven't seen a jacket I'd want to buy yet and actually use. Likely the Brooks Range in the future.

James said...

I like the post, Dane. I complain a lot about synthetic insulation, just because it's so variable. Then again, so is down. I can see that we found some of our numbers in the same place, but by my math, primaloft one is equivalent to about 600-fill down. I'd recommend checking out Marmot Thermal R as well. Quite similar to Coreloft. Dunno if you're interested, but I wrote about the same topic a few months ago. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Dane said...

Hi James, thanks for the link. I don't trust any one manufacture's testing. I'd rather see independant testing. Patagonia? Sad for all the claims and reputation. DAS is Primaloft 1. The Micro Puff (a poor copy of the Atom SV imo) is 100-g PrimaLoft Sport. MH Compressor Hoody started out as a Primaloft 1 garment, then went to Primaloft Eco to cut costs and now is 100g Thermic Micro TK. If it were Primaloft 1 I'd still one one...but not now.

Dane said...

600 down, Charles? Where did you get that number when Primaloft only gives themselves 550 at best and others much less.

Anonymous said...

Interested in this topic since I'm in the market for a belay jacket. There is a great deal of extremely valuable information related to this topic on the BPL forums, but there is alot to wade through to get it. Richard Nisley on the forum does alot of great CLO testing and also discusses practical (and theoretical) clothing/warmth issues.

Right now I'm looking for a lightweight hooded primaloft (1 of course)jacket with about 100-120 g/m of insulation to pair with my RAB Generator Alpine for a more versatile belay jacket system than a single heavier piece like a DAS Parka. Most I find are either too heavy, use eco or sport insulation, or have 60g insulation. The closest I've found is the Brooks Range Cirro Extreme, but they can't make it with a two way belay zipper. I may still go with it anyway if I don't find an alternative.

Unknown said...

As I am sure you are aware the # of jackets offered with some sort of treated water resistant down goes way up in 2013 - Moutain Hardwear, Marmot and Patagonia (limited to 1 style direct via their website last I heard) being vendors I can remember off the top of my head with new offerings...

Look forward to reading more reviews - testing and numbers are important but really (imho) don't adequately predict performance and good reviews are surprisingly scarce!

Love the blog - Thanks,
Charles Miles

Anonymous said...

This forum post has tons and tons of data regarding clothing warmth, with the 4th from the bottom having lots of good information about synthetics (geeky but good info):

Òscar Ballespí said...

TNF Men's Red Point Optimus Jacket, isn't it?

skovalenko said...

MEC has their entire Northern Lite jacket series on sale right now, and I was thinking their Northern Lite Ultra would make an excellent belay jacket in this category.

I tend to be colder than average, so 135g and 200g Primaloft 1 throughout the body sounds warm enough for me. $115 sounds like an amazing deal for a jacket like this. They also have the Stormfury at $125 for something in the 60g/100g insulation range.

Tim said...

Now I know why some of the garment makers aren't specifying "Primaloft ONE" in their catalogs. Sneaky buggers!

Dane said...

"Sneaky buggers!" Ya think? :)

Jesse in CO said...

Just picked up a TNF red point optimus. 100g P1, double main zipper, no lining on the pockets, external chest and internal chest pocket, internal mesh pocket sized for a nalgene/gloves, helmet compatible hood. The listed weight was 26oz, but my Med came in at 20oz. All for $200. Sounds very close to you're list. Thoughts?

Dane said...

Sounds perfect to me.

Zgemba said...


just wondering why no (major) manufacturer is using Primaloft 1 for sleeping bags?
I am in the market for a lightweight compressible (+-1100g) bag that will withstand a few nights in a soggy snow-hole or bivy ledges without turning into cold and wet mess. I'm not looking for super warmth, just something that will keep me somewhat comfortable during the night. I usually run quite hot while climbing/moving but cool down quickly and sleep cold.
In my experience down just does not cut it in such conditions.

Anonymous said...

Very interesing! Today Primaloft ONE is favoured from most manufacturers. Generally 60 g/m2 is used. I am wondering what is more insulating ONE 60 g/m2 or ECO 100 g/m2 ...


Dane said...

Do the math.

Primaloft One 0.92 dry / .90 wet, clo/oz

ECO .68 dry/ .60 wet, clo/oz

Takes a lot more Eco to hit the same clo as One. The physical difference between a 60g sweater layer and a 100g jacket layer is pretty clear. But the 100g Eco jacket will be warmer. Just not by much.