Down jackets

Down jackets

Postby snafuspyramid » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:13 am

So I notice that Macpac has another of their (almost endless) 40% off sales. In other words, they're selling their gear at its 'real' price (at which I'm more than happy to buy it - as I've mentioned before, I love their product and service, just not the marketing).

I am looking with some interest at the down jackets and vests - either the hooded Sundowner jacket, or the Sundowner vest.

I really want an excuse to buy one for dog-walking very early on winter mornings here in Melbourne. But since I'm at it, it wouldn't hurt to have something useful for bike touring too :D

Does anybody here use a down jacket or vest for off-bike clothing on tour? Do you find it useful as camp clothing? For roughly the same weight, it would replace my winter weight Polarfleece and one medium base layer, but provide far more warmth.

I recall RonK saying that, even in NZ, a softshell and a few base layers was enough, together with a cycling rain shell when really nippy. That surprises me. Were you spending much time physically inactive around camp, especially early mornings? Didn't you find it very restricting wearing a cycling shell over an insulating layer? (I remember you have a Showers Pass Elite, which is cut more generously than my own Sugoi eVent).
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:25 am

40% off coming down to real price is not called a sale. Same tactic as Kathmandu. Those places are not worth considering for these items.

Much better of to source down jackets online (local and os) from far better brands and price. I bought a Montane down jacket earlier in the year during Mainpeak.com.au's end of season sale. It's great quality and value. But unfortunately, the sale season is largely finished although still some stock left. Worth checking it out.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby WestcoastPete » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:35 am

Oo oo! I can help with this one!

When I tour or tramp, I take a long sleeved merino and a down jacket, worn over my regular short sleeved merino. This has been sufficient in very cold temps, the only problem being getting too hot, but with zippers and layering is easy to control. It stuffs into a small bag, taking up about the same space as a fleece but with more warmth.

Mine came from [url=woe.co.nz]Wear On Earth[/url] in Christchurch, NZ. I have kiwi friends with well used WOE jackets still going strong. Blair is a helpful and practical fella too.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby RonK » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:26 am

snafuspyramid wrote:So I notice that Macpac has another of their (almost endless) 40% off sales. In other words, they're selling their gear at its 'real' price (at which I'm more than happy to buy it - as I've mentioned before, I love their product and service, just not the marketing).

I am looking with some interest at the down jackets and vests - either the hooded Sundowner jacket, or the Sundowner vest.

I really want an excuse to buy one for dog-walking very early on winter mornings here in Melbourne. But since I'm at it, it wouldn't hurt to have something useful for bike touring too :D

Does anybody here use a down jacket or vest for off-bike clothing on tour? Do you find it useful as camp clothing? For roughly the same weight, it would replace my winter weight Polarfleece and one medium base layer, but provide far more warmth.

I recall RonK saying that, even in NZ, a softshell and a few base layers was enough, together with a cycling rain shell when really nippy. That surprises me. Were you spending much time physically inactive around camp, especially early mornings? Didn't you find it very restricting wearing a cycling shell over an insulating layer? (I remember you have a Showers Pass Elite, which is cut more generously than my own Sugoi eVent).

As a matter of fact, I do have a Mountain Designs down vest. It's quite handy as it stuffs into its own pocket. I've often used it on mid-winter visits to Tasmania. Personally I regard Mountains Designs as fairly average gear. My preference - Marmot, runs rings around it, as do many other brands.

I don't take my down vest cycle touring. Down is hopeless if it gets wet or sweaty, which is almost inevitable. And you need clothing that is is versatile enough and can be layed. Layering is key to staying warm with miniumum clothing. Replacing multiple layers with a single layer is not a good idea because it reduces versatility.

Off-bike, my camp clothes are a Macpac Bush Shirt and Bush pants. This model is no longer sold but they are simply microfleece so warm and compact. I have microfleece socks and beanie. A medium weight thermal top and leggings would suffice but are not as comfortable.

Street clothes are a either a Macpac merino short-sleeve club shirt or long sleeve shirt, underpants and travel pants, I can't remember the models. A Marmot softshell and gloves completes either outfit if necessary.

On bike, it's a Ground Effect merino jersey and bibshorts, undershirt, arm and leg warmers, Ground Effect Jetson vest, Showers Pass Elite II jacket. I wear cycling mitts and thin glove liners, and if it rains I have some Mountain Designs goretex mitts which fit over the lot (had, I should say - I lost one in the Catlins last years and will have to get another pair). Finished off with rain legs and a Taiga helmet hat -much more comfortable than the Showers Pass hood and has a flap to stop rain going down the back of my neck.

Shoes are Northwave Expedition GTX - I don't think this model is available anymore but there is a similar one. And usually a pair of flipflops to wear in campground showers. Last year I took a pair of Vivo Barfoot Ultra instead because I had to ford quite a few streams.

I ensure my clothes are appropriately sized to for layering, so I can layer them clothes in various combinations. Shell jackets (soft and hard) for example must be plenty roomy anyway for proper ventilation even with a couple of underlayers. One way or the other, I have enough clothing to handle even sub-zero temps if necessary. I only used one more layer than this at -15C in the Himalaya.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby snafuspyramid » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:35 am

sogood wrote:40% off coming down to real price is not called a sale. Same tactic as Kathmandu. Those places are not worth considering for these items.

Much better of to source down jackets online (local and os) from far better brands and price. I bought a Montane down jacket earlier in the year during Mainpeak.com.au's end of season sale. It's great quality and value. But unfortunately, the sale season is largely finished although still some stock left. Worth checking it out.


The fact that Macpac have started using Kathmandu-style sales technique is irritating, but it's hardly unique to them. I personally think that it's a bad idea at that end of the market - when you're asking that much money for something, what you're really selling is the integrity of the brand. I think it undermines that integrity, which is a problem. But I'm an armchair expert, not a businessperson - this approach clearly works for many companies.

I have seen much complaining about the brand on forums (especially on the bushwalking forums) but very little of substance regarding their actual products i.e. there is pretty much nothing to suggest that their quality has declined. If anything, theirs is the opposite problem - their stuff seems a bit heavy and old-fashioned.

Anyway, back to other sources of down jackets. My concern about buying online would be fit, as always. Which brands do you suggest? I would much prefer Australian websites for the returns policies.

Oh wait, I can't resist one more plug for Macpac - their stuff is so good that even the packaging it comes in has ended up being a functional part of my touring gear.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:40 am

Mainpeak is a Perth based outdoors store. Montane is a good UK brand, comparable to Marmot in the gears I have from the two.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby RonK » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:49 am

snafuspyramid wrote:The fact that Macpac have started using Kathmandu-style sales technique is irritating, but it's hardly unique to them. I personally think that it's a bad idea at that end of the market - when you're asking that much money for something, what you're really selling is the integrity of the brand. I think it undermines that integrity, which is a problem. But I'm an armchair expert, not a businessperson - this approach clearly works for many companies.

Hardly surprising, since Jan Cameron, who made a motza building up the Kathmandu brand using exactly that marketing strategy and then selling it, is now the owner of Macpac and Fairydown.

Personally I think Macpac needed a boot up the backside anyway. I have bought more Macpac products since Jan Cameron assumed control of the company and expanded and updated the product range and opened Macpac stores. In particular I like their merino products which are as good as Icebreaker and less expensive.

The prices don't bother me much - with my wife running a trekking business we usually get up to 50% off anyway. But it's very predictable that there will always be sales before Xmas, Easter, long weekends and school holidays so purchases can be timed easily to take advantage of them.

Most of my Marmot gear I have bought online.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:52 am

Kathmandu just had another record profit with an up kick in share price. More will follow into that kind of pricing tactics. Blind and sad consumers.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby RonK » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:16 pm

sogood wrote:Kathmandu just had another record profit with an up kick in share price. More will follow into that kind of pricing tactics. Blind and sad consumers.

Why? I think consumers get a good deal from Kathmandu.

I have bought quite a few Kathmandu products over the years, and have had no issue with their quality or utility. The prices generally are cheaper than the big brand names, but few would buy at the full price anyway. Most would buy at sales, many get club member discounts, and the outlet store is even cheaper. Go into the Kathmandu store in Hobart where warm clothing is de rigeur and you'll find plenty of customers.

In fact competition from Kathmandu forced the specialist gear brands (Macpac included) to reduce the exhorbitant prices they got away with charging not so many years ago.

Perhaps you just have a problem with the brand - not good enough for you?
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:36 pm

RonK wrote:
sogood wrote:Kathmandu just had another record profit with an up kick in share price. More will follow into that kind of pricing tactics. Blind and sad consumers.

Why? I think consumers get a good deal from Kathmandu.

I have bought quite a few Kathmandu products over the years, and have had no issue with their quality or utility. The prices generally are cheaper than the big brand names, but few would buy at the full price anyway. Most would buy at sales, many get club member discounts, and the outlet store is even cheaper. Go into the Kathmandu store in Hobart where warm clothing is de rigeur and you'll find plenty of customers.

In fact competition from Kathmandu forced the specialist gear brands (Macpac included) to reduce the exhorbitant prices they got away with charging not so many years ago.

Perhaps you just have a problem with the brand - not good enough for you?

Not at all!

I used to buy a fair bit from Kathmandu along with their membership. All looked quite rosy when compared with across the street in Paddy Pallins. Then the Internet and recognized the pattern of their sales tactics. Take my earlier purchase from MainPeak of Montane's AntiFreeze down jacket. It's now $150 with free postage. The quality, design and construction are all significantly superior to Kathmandu's offering and at a real discounted price. This compares with K's down jackets going up to as high as $699.98 RRP, with a members price of $419.99. Way over priced. It's perfectly possible to pick up a top end quality down jacket from elsewhere for $419.99 or less even without a sale. As such, I am highly sceptical of Kathmandu these days unless they put out a real sale when viewed with a wider market perspective.

So no, it's not a case of "not good enough for me", but a case of I can buy far better with my hard earned money. If I want K's quality, I can find items easily 30% off their sales price. Torpedo7 currently has a $60 (sale priced) down jacket. It's more than a match to K's lower end down jackets, ones that even at sales price, is still more than double of T7's.

Kathmandu is just a very dodgy retailer that blinds its customers through marketing trickery.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby Aushiker » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:26 pm

sogood wrote:40% off coming down to real price is not called a sale. Same tactic as Kathmandu. Those places are not worth considering for these items


IIRC there is or was some connection between Kathmandu people and the changes at Macpac which probably explains the mode operandi of Macpac.

Personally if I was currently in the market for a down jacket I would be checking out the more innovative manufactures in the US and/or UK.

Edit: http://www.bivouac.co.nz/ is worth checking out and for down jackets on clearance go to http://www.bivouac.co.nz/products.html? ... =clearance (change pricing to AUD if it does not default]. I get my Icebreaker gear from them ... often pretty good prices and free postage.

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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:27 pm

Ex Kathmandu boss moved to MacPac.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby RonK » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:33 pm

Aushiker wrote:IIRC there is or was some connection between Kathmandu people and the changes at Macpac which probably explains the mode operandi of Macpac.

As posted previously - Jan Cameron, the former owner of Kathmandu is the current owner of Macpac and Fairydown.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby Aushiker » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:47 pm

RonK wrote:
Aushiker wrote:IIRC there is or was some connection between Kathmandu people and the changes at Macpac which probably explains the mode operandi of Macpac.

As posted previously - Jan Cameron, the former owner of Kathmandu is the current owner of Macpac and Fairydown.


To be pedantic :), the owner of Macpac Ltd is Macpac Holdings Ltd (100%) of which the shareholders are:

ALP SPORTS LIMITED (Jan Cameron) - 59.04%
Pierre Ludwig VAN NOORDEN - 20.48%
HELBERN INVESTMENTS LIMITED - 20.48%

So she holds a majority shareholding only.

On a side note: ASIC could learn a lot from the NZ Companies Office :)

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Re: Down jackets

Postby il padrone » Fri Nov 01, 2013 5:38 pm

sogood wrote: Torpedo7 currently has a $60 (sale priced) down jacket. It's more than a match to K's lower end down jackets, ones that even at sales price, is still more than double of T7's.

Linky??

The only down jackets I can see there are not so cheap at $179 and $229.

sogood wrote:Kathmandu is just a very dodgy retailer that blinds its customers through marketing trickery.

Torpedo7 have some equally dubious marketing techniques :|

Ultimately if you want good service, a wide range (both products, brands and sizes) and the ability to try then buy, you will be paying more for the product. It is in fact a very diferent 'product'. This is in no way advocating for Kathmandu,
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 5:48 pm

il padrone wrote:
sogood wrote: Torpedo7 currently has a $60 (sale priced) down jacket. It's more than a match to K's lower end down jackets, ones that even at sales price, is still more than double of T7's.

Linky??
The only down jackets I can see there are not so cheap at $179 and $229.

Oops, looks like that their sale has finished. It was on sale at $60 for 2-3 weeks running. I bought one for my son.
http://www.torpedo7.com.au/products/BYJ ... own-jacket

Yes I agree, T7 is also into that kind of sales practice. However, at least a mark down is a real mark down. K's mark downs are just to fair market value, not a real discount.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby il padrone » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:57 pm

I no longer deal with Torpedo7. Their prices are often radically low, but only on certain items, for limited times. If you buy a product at a low price and like it, chances are that in 2 months time they no longer sell it. If you are a medium size for clothing or shoes the low-price item will not be available in your size. I believe they must pick up all the remainders from wholesalers at ridiculous low prices - all the XXS and XXXLs.

I bought the worst ever chainlube off them for just $3 a bottle. I bought ten bottles :oops: Ended up off-loading them at a club auction.

I bought some cheap tyres (but a reputable brand-name) that were trashed after less than 2000kms (these were 26x1.5, not super-light race tyres)

I can get good price deals for far better quality products from lots of other suppliers. Torpedo7 is the Supercheap Auto of the bicycle market.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:47 pm

No arguments there. T7 hasn't been my source on any regular basis. I think this down jacket must have only been my second purchase from them. Only mentioned them to contrast with Kathmandu sales.

Back to down jacket options, I think people are well advised to stay away from Kathmandu. Online locally, online overseas, there are so many better options out there. Sales ain't sales at Kathmandu!
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Re: Down jackets

Postby rifraf » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:23 pm

snafuspyramid wrote:So I notice that Macpac has another of their (almost endless) 40% off sales. In other words, they're selling their gear at its 'real' price (at which I'm more than happy to buy it - as I've mentioned before, I love their product and service, just not the marketing).

I am looking with some interest at the down jackets and vests - either the hooded Sundowner jacket, or the Sundowner vest.

I really want an excuse to buy one for dog-walking very early on winter mornings here in Melbourne. But since I'm at it, it wouldn't hurt to have something useful for bike touring too :D

Does anybody here use a down jacket or vest for off-bike clothing on tour? Do you find it useful as camp clothing? For roughly the same weight, it would replace my winter weight Polarfleece and one medium base layer, but provide far more warmth.

I recall RonK saying that, even in NZ, a softshell and a few base layers was enough, together with a cycling rain shell when really nippy. That surprises me. Were you spending much time physically inactive around camp, especially early mornings? Didn't you find it very restricting wearing a cycling shell over an insulating layer? (I remember you have a Showers Pass Elite, which is cut more generously than my own Sugoi eVent).


Hiya Snafu,
I like Macpac gear and wont comment on the fact some dont like their marketing and sales policy except to say its done wonders for Kathmando shareprice and and profit statements.

I have a Sundowner XP jacket.
Very toasty but not much cop for WA winter conditions unless your fairly stationary.
A 15 minute walk to my local shop will see my armpits getting moist even with the front zip undone.
I suspect its great for hanging around camp on a cold morning or evening but a little too efficient for doing much movement.

My best tip for you would be to try shopping there on Boxing day as thats when I do most of my Macpac shopping getting on average an approx 50% discount across the board.

Its the only way I could have afforded my Cocoon (bivybag), Minaret tent and Express 400XL sleeping bag and the Sundowner XP.
Another sale saw me grab another tent being the Microlight.
I wont bore you with the tally of the rest of my Macpac gear.
Suffice to say I've had good use from it and over all very well satisfied with it.

I'd not buy again their Hydopod due to it making the water taste like plastic which I was highly miffed over.

I"ve found their service usually exceptionally good and they've been happy to do repairs which have worked out to have a good turn around time and were very well done (this was when I was in NZ a couple of years ago now).

As RonK's offered a suggestion of layering ending in shell (event) and softshell I'd recommend you consider it strongly.
Its a recommendation I'm currently investing in myself (I've bought the Showers Pass Elite so far), with a Marmot Gravity on my to buy list.
I've failed to wear out my Macpac poly prop base layers from almost two decades ago but will be buying some marino versions in an attempt to keep my touring odour (BO) to a minimum.

Theres lots of good brands and gear out there and in some ways it makes the choosing much harder than in years gone by.
I think much of choosing is finding for yourself the right balance between weight vs price vs longevity (and sometimes style)

I'd suggest too some caution in forum responses.
I read some of the responses to questions on gear in the bushwalk.com.au with horror as there is some extremely biased views in there and not all of them fair ones, especially with regards Macpac and Kathmando.
I'd go as far as to say anyone could be excused from wondering about hidden agendas from some of the more vociferous posters.
I've had very few unhappy purchase experiences with both brands and I'm a whinger by nature.
My Macpac Sapphire sleeping bag (now departed), had a very hard life yet served me well for many years and was my first item of quality camping gear and a purchase decision I'm still over particularly happy with as for me at the time it was an over the top expense.
Likewise my Cascade pack is still in service and still looking good after many years.

Good luck with your purchasing decisions
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Re: Down jackets

Postby rifraf » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:31 pm

sogood wrote: Only mentioned them to contrast with Kathmandu sales.

Back to down jacket options, I think people are well advised to stay away from Kathmandu. Online locally, online overseas, there are so many better options out there. Sales ain't sales at Kathmandu!


Hi Sogood

A bit of googling would suggest theres plenty of happy repeat buyers who have done wonders for profit for both business and shareholders so I'm unclear where your view is coming from

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines ... 6725835618

"Kathmandu eyes expansion, stronger profits" "September 24, 2013"

"KATHMANDU Holdings has defied a weak retail sector to post a 27 per cent increase in profit, and plans to open 15 new stores this year in search of even stronger results.

The New Zealand and Australian listed outdoor goods retailer made a net profit of $NZ44.2 million ($A39.79 million) in the 12 months to the end of June, up from $NZ34.9 million last year, thanks to stronger sales and lower costs.

Investors cheered the result, a rare piece of good news from a retail business in the current climate, sending Kathmandu shares 11 per cent higher to a record high of $2.85."
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Re: Down jackets

Postby sogood » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:37 pm

rifraf wrote:A bit of googling would suggest theres plenty of happy repeat buyers who have done wonders for profit for both business and shareholders so I'm unclear where your view is coming from

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines ... 6725835618

Quite simply, by knowing exact quality of the gears they sell. Much of the consumers have no ideas of the technical variations of the cloths they are buying. Adding in their untruthful large mark down "sales", the strategy clearly works and plenty of consumers get hoodwinked.

As said, for the same price, one can buy products of far better quality and design. Their sale price barely bring their product to the equivalent of RRP of other brands. It's con, but a successful one.

I've been a sucker for Kathmandu too for a long time. Used to get quite excited at each of their sales. Then I found other brands and stores, and dawned on me how I have been duped. Go to one of the bushwalking forums and you'll get the picture.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby rifraf » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:50 pm

I'll put to you this way.
If its a con, where is the repeat business coming from?

Sticking with Kathmandu, they sell a range of quality and pricing in their operation (just like many other brands).
Which range and products do you happen to have issue with?

I think its a bit of a stretch to suggest a 44.2 million dollar con job.
I quote:
"A 27% increase in full-year net profit, like-for-like sales growth of 5.6% and a gross profit margin of 63%– these are results unheard of in the retail industry" -http://www.smartcompany.com.au/growth/economy/33848-how-kathmandu-achieved-its-massive-27-profit-increase---and-what-you-can-learn.html

You appear to be suggesting a lot of stupidity on behalf of the customers which might get a few buyers miffed.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby snafuspyramid » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:52 pm

My limited experience of Macpac is that their products are extremely high quality, reliable, and thoughtfully designed. Their staff are very friendly and professional, at least at my local store. They have allowed me to return stuff without any proof of purchase or even compelling reason on one occasion.

It's a shame they are adopting the aggressive price differentiation strategy that Kathmandu is infamous for. It has certainly annoyed some people over at the Bushwalking forums, which ran to dozens of pages. It annoys me. Still, it's easier to criticise a business than run a profitable one.

Their stuff tends to be heavy. But it is also indestructible. That is an intelligent design tradeoff, not a flaw. I like it.

Anyway, returning to the down jacket thing, what other sources do people suggest? Do you actually use a down jacket much on tour? Might a vest be more versatile?
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Re: Down jackets

Postby snafuspyramid » Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:59 pm

I can't resist adding to the Kathmandu thing.

Dislike of Kathmandu among gear freaks (admit it, it's what we are) is not just 'gear elitism'. It's because a leaking tent or mattress tends to make one very, very unhappy. You'll confess they're hardly 100% on the quality control.

Still, it's not like that matters. We're not the target market. The vast majority of their massive sales are 'street wear'. Else, every hiking trail and campsite in the nation would have been stampeded into nothing by a horde of Kathmandu-clad enthusiasts by now.

Macpac are not Kathmandu. I hope they do not become Kathmandu. For now, at least, their stuff is awesome.
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Re: Down jackets

Postby rifraf » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:08 pm

snafuspyramid wrote:My limited experience of Macpac is that their products are extremely high quality, reliable, and thoughtfully designed. Their staff are very friendly and professional, at least at my local store. They have allowed me to return stuff without any proof of purchase or even compelling reason on one occasion.

It's a shame they are adopting the aggressive price differentiation strategy that Kathmandu is infamous for. It has certainly annoyed some people over at the Bushwalking forums, which ran to dozens of pages. It annoys me. Still, it's easier to criticise a business than run a profitable one.

Their stuff tends to be heavy. But it is also indestructible. That is an intelligent design tradeoff, not a flaw. I like it.

Anyway, returning to the down jacket thing, what other sources do people suggest? Do you actually use a down jacket much on tour? Might a vest be more versatile?


I dont find their business model particularly helpful to my back pocket but they are in business to make profit not only to grow the business but also feed the hungry shareholders who would take food from a baby if it affected their bottom line.

Customers will either buy or walk.
The business model appears to working.

Back to the jacket, I've bought one but think I'll get "more" use from the layering method.
Not a waste as I've other areas in my life than touring where the Sundowner XP might be utilised more.
I'd follow Ronks suggestions in your position of not yet having invested in the down jacket.
You can still return to the purchase decision after you've the shell, softshell, mid and base layers of your choice.

Also in your location it rains a lot (it does here in WA too in winter/spring) making its choice less than optimal (IMHO).
The downwear is water resistant more than waterproof so I'd question its fit for purpose.
Surly Ogre, Carry Freedom Y-frame Trailer, Extrawheel trailer.
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