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The Climbing Club • View topic - Feathered Friends Hoodies

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:05 am 
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So I just bought a Volant Jacket w/ hood in eVent from FF and am thinking it might be a little much. I was thinking that maybe hooded helios would be a better choice now. Does anyone have experience with these two products in the cascades for all seasons? Recommendations?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:38 am 
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I have two FF jackets:
- a hooded Volant in Epic
- an unhooded Hyperion in Nano

I use the Volant from late-fall through late spring and it's fantastic. I've never been cold, even on a ridgetop with howling winds and blowing snow. It is, however, an overkill for summer trips. The Hyperion is fantastically light and perfect for summer trips, but woefully inadequate for winter.

Michelle has a Helios and has used hers year-round. She says that it's been fine, but she never goes out when it's "super cold or windy", so if you were going to use it for winter camping, you might need to augment it with another insulating layer.

So I guess it comes down to the conditions you plan to go out it...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:21 am 
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giving spoon
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Yep, the Volant is pretty warm. I even found it too warm at 5am at 11K' on Shasta, but then again I have a large furnace. That being said it is very nice when you are not moving. I don't think I would ever bring it on a summer outing, with the possible exception of going very high or using it as a sleeping bag. You will love it come winter though...

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:30 pm 
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Thanks for the responses guys. I just read today that hypothermia is the leading cause of death in the mountains so I'll keep the warm Volant. :|


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:28 am 
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:03 am 
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Yes, I agree completely, but I also think it's better to not place all your eggs in one basket and try to address WCS conditions. What if you where some how impeded and quickly getting off the mountain wasn't a possibility?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:16 pm 
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Kurt, joking aside, the key thing here is to strike a balance. What you want to do is to always carry enough gear to survive a night out. Carrying enough to make it comfortable is a great way to make yourself miserable all the time because of the wight of your pack. The key elements in my strategy here are a small emergency bivy pad and an . The bivy pad is a piece of closed cell foam big enough to sit and huddle on. In my case, half a . It also doubles as the frame sheet of my pack, which makes it essentially weightless. Aside from that, you need to experiment with how little cloathing you can get away with.

The above pertains to a day trip. On an overnight, you DO want to be comfortable at night, because good sleep is important for athletic performance and recovery. However, if you aren't using ALL your clothes in addition to your sleeping bag in order to obtain that level of comfort, then you've brought too much!


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:43 am 
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Thanks a lot. From last weekend on Adams with perfect weather I was definitely carrying far too much clothing. Do you use a pretty light bag in summer? I have a 20 degree bag which was too warm in it with only base layers on.

I have a much lighter emergency bivy http://www.rei.com/product/750944 than the one you linked to. Do you know if that one is significantly better/any experience with both. I have yet to use mine.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:40 pm 
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I like the bivy I linked to because it is much more durable than most "space blankets". It won't do you much good if you shred the thing trying to climb into it!

If you want to do everything with one bag in the cascades, I'd say 20 F is just right. It's really too warm for the summer though. I use a FF-Verio (1 lb) April-September


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:27 pm 
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The Feathered Friends Volant down jacket with optional hood is excellent! It's insanely warm for it's weight and for it's size when stuffed into its stuff sack. This is your true Winter down jacket, yet still lite weight.

The Feathered Friends Helios down jacket either comes permanently without a hood or permanently with a hood; a decision that must be made at the time of purchase. With hood this could work in Winter but you'd certainly be wearing several other layers in addition.


The Helios has 8oz of down and the Volant has 9oz of down, that 12% additional down in the Volant does not explain why the Helios is very warm and the Volant is insanely warm. The difference between the 2 garments is the construction - baffle construction on the Volant versus sewn through construction on the Helios. Baffling takes more material (Epic, Event, etc) and so the weight necessarily increases: 7oz of material for the Helios and almost twice the weight of material, 13oz for the Volant (some of that additional weight is wider elastic used in the Volant sleeve cuffs).

The slightly extra stuff size of the Volant versus the Helios with hood, the 4oz total extra weight of the 22oz Volant versus the 18oz Helios with hood......... there really is no decision for Winter use.


I have used a mylar space blanket for unplanned bivy. This was a blanket, not a sack. Worst night. Ever. I've done it several times. Each time, swearing to never ever buy another mylar space blanket. Each time at the store marveling at the lighter weight and the much cheaper cost. Oh, the blanket was shredded and not re-usable by morning.

Whatever you fabric construction choice, choose a sack, don't get a blanket.

I finally moved up to the 3.8oz sack, (AMK) Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy $16 which stings me deeply 'cuz the Mylar Space Blankets only weigh 1.5 and only cost $1.50!!!!! But you gotta get a bag. Don't get a blanket. The mylar Space Emergency Bag is $10 and weighs 3oz (and I did find $6 online, with horrendous shipping cost, of course). But if kept your shoes on or your boots on when getting into a mylar sack....... pretty much shred-city. No more bag.

Oh! and did I mention that _anytime_ I moved the single layer mylar sounded like 3 monkeys on meth opening xmas packages? Horrible.

So that takes care of single layer mylar. It sucked. There seems to be 2 other broad choices in fabric construction. AMK has the "heatsheet" fabric and they also have the "thermo-lite II" fabric. $16 3.8oz "heatsheat" or $26 6.8oz "thermolite II" I have and always carry the 3.8oz "heatsheat" bivy. I have not used it nor unrolled it to take a look.

I am curious to experience the difference between the two AMK products, though.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:26 am 
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Kurt, I know I'm a bit biased, but I'm going to second the point Brian made- If you're planning on being on peaks in the N. Cascades year-round, especially for multi-day trips, you probably need two different puffy coats. That doesn't mean that you have to buy both this year, though. I get away with being comfortable only using a helios is by pretty much avoiding winter ascents and only camping on snow during the summer. As a side note- I have two helios jackets, and I use my unhooded one way more often.
Also, cold really isn't good for the soul. Call me a wimp, but the view from a belay stance or peak always looks better to me when I'm not shivering or suffering.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:27 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:49 pm 
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Tenacious Lee
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I can't remember if I have the Hyperion or Helios, but it's definitely unhooded and it's worked pretty well for winter camping here and in Colorado and Montana. I do usually have long underwear on underneath at night, which isn't practical during the day if you need to regulate your temperature.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:16 pm 
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giving spoon
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I've used my Volant and some fleece pants as a light weight summer alternative to a sleeping bag. Plenty warm and optional dual usage - whereas a sleeping bag only does one thing. I personally don't see the point of a 40 degree bag, if it is really cold bring a warm bag, if it is warm just use a warm jacket.

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