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Travel Backpacking The Travel Backpacking forum is for discussion that relates directly to international backpacking (also known as independent travel). Subject matter should involve the elements that comprise this type of backpacking: budgeting, cultural tips, backpacking gear, hostels, and transportation.

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Old 10-13-2009, 07:33 AM
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redwylie redwylie is offline
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Question Jackets / Coats for Cold / Humid Climate

Dear Friends,

I will be traveling to the south of france soon for a 3 month or longer stay.

I have been told that the climate is cold and the humidity is very high, avg temps in the coldest months are in the lower 30's F.

I will be staying at a monastery where the heat and insulation of the buildings is pretty poor.

I have been getting some very warm gear, but my question has to do with the down jackets I got and should I actually get synthetic because the long term humidity might just render the down jackets useless.

I got a Patagonia Pipe Down and a Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

I am also bringing several capeline and merino wool baselayers.

So will I be ok with down jackets in the humidity? or should I exchange for some synthetics. (I have arrived at this question after researching synthetic vs down sleeping bags)

Thanks so much for reading this and letting me know your thoughts.

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Old 10-14-2009, 06:35 PM
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yippikiyo yippikiyo is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 485
although it is my plan to one day have experience with living in the south of France, I cannot yet comment directly on that. i can offer my experience living in a very humid climate and how it relates to the cold.
as you probably know, humidity makes the cold feel much, much colder, the kind of cold that can seep into your bones and make you ache.
i like the stuff sometimes called monkey fur- it's a fake synthetic 'fur' that you can find on lots of items right now. get it to wear near your skin and it helps trap additional air. performance underwear and socks or, my favorite, Wright socks brand (has the wicking layer built into the sock) all help keep the moisture away. mountain hardware and some REI brand items have this monkey fur. also lots of fleece and wool
i don't think the down jackets will be such a problem as an outer layer.
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Old 10-15-2009, 05:02 AM
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Surveyor Surveyor is offline
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I too live in a very humid region and have no problems with my down garments. I just do not wear them during strenuous activity when I am prone to sweat heavily. This is when layering will help. The down is mainly used while in camp or or on stand when I am not moving around very much.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:58 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Down jackets, in general, have come a long way since their introduction years ago. The quality of the down has increased and the fabrics have become more water resistant (...). In short, they can perform better in humid weather these days.

I like the comfort and warmth that a down jacket provides, but my personal use-range is quite narrow. I tend to use them in dry and very cold weather.

And I'd be more likely to use a down jacket for travel backpacking than for wilderness backpacking. Primarily due to the fact that I prefer that my insulation/clothing (jacket) be able to function for supplemental warmth in my sleeping bag/quilt (if and when needed).

Therefore I choose to use a jacket with synthetic insulation, so that it can be used (more efficiently) when lying in my bag. Down significantly loses its insulating qualities when it is compressed (e.g. from body weight).

So that's some food for thought.

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Old 10-16-2009, 09:19 PM
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big_load big_load is offline
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Long ago I worked some good stretches of late autumn in cold, damp coastal areas of the UK. Heat and hot water were available only at certain times of the day, usually when I was out. A couple big Aran sweaters kept me warm and happy. They're heavy and not too practical on the trail, but probably about right for a drafty old monastery.
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