Jackets & Insulation

Aerogel is made almost entirely of air encapsulated in an ultra-light silica matrix and is the lowest-density solid material that exists. This man-made substance also has superb insulating abilities and has been used extensively by NASA in spacesuits, space shuttles, satellites, and other applications. Aerogel’s ultralight, ultra-warm qualities would seem to make it an ideal…

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Remember that classic scene from “A Christmas Story”? It’s a frigid morning, and a doting mother has dressed her youngest child in so many layers of winter clothes that he stands in front of her “like a tick about to pop.” “I can’t put my arms down!” he yells. “Put your arms down when you…

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AMC Outdoors, November/December 2015 Was the down in your jacket or sleeping bag stripped from a live animal? Maybe. Maybe not. Until recently, it was impossible to know. That’s changing, however, as a small but growing number of outdoor companies institutes standards designed to ensure none of their down comes from live-plucked birds. Goose and…

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Don’t wait for the first snowfall. Trek down into the basement, out into the garage, or deep into the closet and pull out all of your winter gear—tonight. A thorough preseason evaluation of everything from clothes to skis to crampons will help preserve your gear, keep you safe, and prevent problems once you do head…

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The price of goose down has soared over the past few years, a trend clearly evident in the world of sleeping bags and puffy jackets. And, while exact numbers are hard to come by, I’ve noticed that many gear manufacturers have begun to use duck down instead of goose down in some of their sleeping…

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Your face is at risk for frostbite in bitter cold and freezing wind, especially in above-treeline winter conditions. To fully protect it, you need two things: a facemask and goggles. A good mask fits snug against your face and nose with no gaps whatsoever; the smallest exposed sliver will rapidly frostbite in severe winter conditions….

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Warmth in sheep’s clothing. Photo: WoolX Part of an ongoing series on Northeast-based gear companies. Turns out there’s more than one company in the Northeast specializing in merino wool garments. WoolX joins Minus33 in the cadre of regional merino wool proselytizers. And, after testing out one of their midweight tops, I would say my conversion…

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Photograph by iStock. Dirt, sweat, and body grime cause goose down to clump together, reducing the puffiness and warmth of your down gear. So puff it back up with the following tips on how to clean down jackets and sleeping bags: Handwash in the bathtub using a mild powdered detergent or down-specific cleaner (available from…

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I’ve used an extensive array of outdoor gear over 20 years of hiking, camping, and backpacking. Here are my top five most used, most abused, most durable, and most loved items. Please share yours! Mountain Hardwear Subzero Parka I purchased this ultra-warm, super-sized down parka a decade ago—and still revel in its delicious warmth every…

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This winter season, Columbia Sportswear is heavily promoting its new line of TurboDown jackets and vests, even featuring it in prominent TV ads during last week’s World Series. Besides having some marketing snazz, what exactly is TurboDown? And what does it say about the current state of goose down in general? The TurboDown sandwich: synthetic…

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