New Product: Down Suit (Design Input Opportunity)

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New Product: Down Suit (Design Input Opportunity)

by trevl1593 » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:32 am


I work as a development engineer for a company that is currently working on a new line of products specifically designed for alpine mountaineering (other products in our line may have similar input opportunities elsewhere on the forum). One of the products currently under development is a full-featured down suit designed for conditions such as those found on top of the world's highest peaks as well as those found in Antarctica. Many iterations of early designs have already been developed but we have come to a point where we would like the mountaineers themselves who have used similar products before or who have experience in these conditions to provide input towards our design. Though we are not currently releasing any details pertaining to our designs, we would like a list of any features that you would like to see appear in a suit such as this. If you would also list features that you strongly liked or strongly disliked in other, similar suits that would be much appreciated by our design staff. The purpose of this post is to gain the information necessary to craft a product that exceeds the strict quality standards set by our previous product lines. We are acquiring as much input as is possible so as to create a product that exceeds expectations and goes above and beyond what is asked of it. Any assistance or input you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Re: New Product: Down Suit (Design Input Opportunity)

by radson » Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:34 am

Just some random ideas.

I really liked my rab down suit as I could vent it using side length zips..yeah extra weight but many people dont realise how hot it can get up high if the wind stops and the sun comes out. What i didnt like about the rab suit was that there was so much down in the abdomen area that i could never see my harness. Like having a massive beer gut.

My TNF down suit I think was the optimal size/warmth ratio. I also like the elasticised material around the end of the sleeves to help with warmth at the extremities, especially for some reason you did have to take off a mit.

Surprised that a Suit/Sleeping bag combo has never appeared. No need for a massive sleeping bag if you are wearing a down suit but some kind of design that enables you to sleep a bit lighter/easier in a sleeping bag with a suit on.

I thought a crotch zipper was actually easier than a rainbow zipper.

Considering that a lot of HA climbers are using oxygen masks then this should be thought of in the collar flap design.

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Damien Gildea

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Re: New Product: Down Suit (Design Input Opportunity)

by Damien Gildea » Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:18 pm

I guess you've seen: ... _suits.htm It's a fairly extensive look at the range of suits at that time, though I would not necessarily agree with all his conclusions.

I second Radson's comments about too much down around the middle. Maybe this is to protect the core, but it is impractical for other reasons. Good elastication around the waist is important.

Antarctica? People only wear down suits on Vinson, and then not always. I've been up there and around there quite a few times and only wore a down suit once (a Marmot 8000m suit). Most of the high Antarctic peaks I climbed I did so in base layer + midlayer + windshell, with a down jacket to put on up high or at rests, plus synthetic (Primaloft) overpants for when it was really cold. Antarctica is low, so you can move fast.

Years ago at least one company (Mountain Designs [Australia] for the 1984 Everest exped) made special sleeping bags that were light on fill but wide on space so that you could wear your down suit inside, negating the need for a full-fill bag up high. Maybe too niche for the main market.

One two occasions I've slept in just my down suit - no bag. Once on the summit of Vinson (-46C) and once at C1 on Gasherbrum 1. Neither was ideal and in both cases keeping my feet warm was an issue. Possibly some type of large down bootie, with velcro attachment, as an addition might work?

I don't like internal braces. They're unnecessary and add weight and complication.
Most down suits are only good for plodding and not good to move in - too big, too bulky, too hot. I'd consider a lighter, thinner, trimmer, better fitting suit that might be useful for a greater number of situations than just jumaring 8000ers.

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