Down clothing: not just for the extremes

The Lowdown

Extraordinary stories and technical knowhow

Down clothing: not just for the extremes

12 Apr 2019
Clothing isn't just clothing. It's a complement to your sleeping bag and a way of carrying less weight.

Summer: time to head for the hills and clad yourself head-to-toe in down clothing.

Yeah, time to dig out the old…wait, what? Down trousers and socks for UK summer camping? Is that not a bit…daft?

Actually, no it’s not.

OK, let’s approach this from another angle: if your sleeping bag was adjustable for different temperatures, that would be a good idea, wouldn’t it?

So, you take a bag which is lighter than you might need, and add clothing to it. If you’ve not encountered our Sleep Systems concept before, that’s pretty much what it’s about: layering up for a range of different conditions, but in a predictable way. By predictable we mean that instead of scrabbling about in the dark for your jacket because you’ve woken up cold and you hope you’ve got something warm enough, you know that (for example) an outfit of Wafer clothing boosts the bag’s warmth by 5°C.

It makes sense, but it still may not seem like the first choice for temperate, UK camping: it’s all well and good if you’re in the Himalayas and have a suit of down gear anyway, but in the Scottish Highlands? In June?

Well, it’s pretty standard practice to make sure you’ve got a warm jacket with you (and if you want to keep the weight down then something like a Wafer Jacket is a pretty respectable choice). Then you just have to add the trousers and the socks – which for Wafer gear is only 175g in total – and as you’re carrying a lighter bag than you otherwise would, this isn’t really ‘extra’ weight anyway.

So even if you just think about it as temperature-control for your tent, it’s not a bad idea. But the great thing about it is that in the cool of the evening, when you’re tired because you’ve been walking all day, then your insulation isn’t all sewn into your sleeping bag. It’s something you can wear.

And then in the morning (or the middle of the night) when you’re drowsy and it’s chilly and you need to get out of your bag, you’re already wearing half of it, so it feels like much less of a pain.

If you’re going out camping, you’ll be carrying insulation with you. All we’re saying is: you don’t have to carry all of it in one sleeping bag. If some of it’s clothing then you don’t have to go to bed to be warm, and if it’s a warm night, you don’t have to use all of it and overheat. And that’s really not that daft.

If your sleeping bag was adjustable for different temperatures, that would be a good idea, wouldn’t it?
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Gear mentioned in this post
Custom size version of one of our lightest insulated jackets. Available in 125...
Custom sized version of our lightest insulated trousers. Specify Waist and Inside Leg...
Boosts the performance of your ultralight sleeping bag. Warm feet from the tiniest...
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