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Down Jackets for Rainier


Original Post
Chad Coragiulo · · Marysville, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Hi everyone, I am new to the forum and I am sure this question has been asked multiple times, but I was wondering what would be a good down jacket for Rainier. I am planning on attempting Rainier in July or August and am gearing up now. I am looking to get a down jacket that will be good for breaks as well as the summit day. 

I was wondering if an Arc'teryx Cerium SV would suffice? Would it be overkill or not enough?

If not the Cerium would any other Arc'teryx jackets be a good option or should I just stick with the classic Fitz Roy or Nilas?

PS: Only reason I am pushing Arc'teryx is I currently get a discount there and would prefer to take advantage of it. 


Current upper body layering system:

Arc'teryx Phase SL Zip

Patagonia R1

Arc'teryx Atom LT

Arc'teryx Beta SV

akafaultline · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 225

Personally, for me it’s to light.  I don’t think it’s fully baffled.  I’d want the nilas. More durable material with a membrane makes a world of difference in fighting the wind. The nilas is only a couple candy bars heavier and that way you have insurance should the weather really suck. And it packs so small that you can bring it for future climbs.  I know some people would try it -but why risk safety for such a minimal amount of weight difference. Arc’teryx advertises the cerium sv as a midlayer-definitely not the case with the nilas or Fitzroy.  I’ve used my Fitzroy and nilas both to -15 f.   I wouldn’t be happy in either of them if I was stuck outside long in a crap situation (as a point of reference).   


I have the nilas and Fitzroy and by in large prefer the nilas. 

Chad Coragiulo · · Marysville, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
akafaultline wrote:

Personally, for me it’s to light.  I don’t think it’s fully baffled.  I’d want the nilas. More durable material with a membrane makes a world of difference in fighting the wind. The nilas is only a couple candy bars heavier and that way you have insurance should the weather really suck. And it packs so small that you can bring it for future climbs.  I know some people would try it -but why risk safety for such a minimal amount of weight difference. Arc’teryx advertises the cerium sv as a midlayer-definitely not the case with the nilas or Fitzroy.  I’ve used my Fitzroy and nilas both to -15 f.   I wouldn’t be happy in either of them if I was stuck outside long in a crap situation (as a point of reference).   


I have the nilas and Fitzroy and by in large prefer the nilas. 

Thanks for the reply! I appreciate your input! I think I am learning towards the Nilas because I have yet to hear anything negative about it! 

D14411 F · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 765

If you get a discount on the nilas it’s great.


if not, feathered friends Volant is warm(er) as/more than the nilas and $100 cheaper.


I have many FF products and all are impeccable!


worth considering :)

greggrylls · · Salt Lake City · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 67

Eddie Bauer XV is a sweet parka heavier and warmer than what has been mentioned but on black friday you can get one for 250 bucks since EB usually does half off or more.

I've got a nilas and it's very light however, IMO it could do with a bit more fill.  There are cold spots and the jacket is very fragile.  But that's what you get for such a light jacket.  I got mine for under 200 and it's been my go to rainier and winter belay jacket when it's cold.   IF you can get it cheap it's great but I think there are much better options at that price tag.  

Also FYI OP you'll get some people commenting on layering ultralight puffies and wind shells etc.   IMO a parka is essential on rainier.  If you live close by or you've got your clothing dialed after multiple trips then you can start slimming down the clothing but I would never recommend this strategy to someone new to rainier.  Big puffy=Safety if something doesn't go as planned.  Also makes breaks and hanging out way more comfortable on the upper mountain.

Your layers look good,  good luck on your trip.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 322

The Nilas is pretty bomber and is kind of the go-to jacket for Rainier. The Phantom is also good, it’s a little lighter in the full and has a little bit of a thinner material. The Patagonia option is too delicate for my liking. 

I’ve actually got a new Nilas and Phantom for sale in size M if you are interested. Hit me up! 

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

For starters, here are some old threads about this topic:

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/111987237/mt-rainer-clothingparka

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/110084157/parka-for-rainier

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/112505531/arcteryx-atom-ar-as-a-belay-jacket-on-rainier-summit

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/111935670/rainier-gear-for-kautz?page=2

I was up there twice last year (June and August) and both times I did not bring a huge puffy down jacket.  I happened to be up there when the weather was warmer, and an OR Transcendent (probably similar to the Cerium SV except heavier because there is a lot more money left in your pocket) was just fine over the normal baselayer/R1/windshirt combo.  Not to say this will be the case when you're there, just pointing out that the doom and gloom about always needing an Alaska-grade parka on Rainier might be a bit much.  Look at the weather before you go.

Owning a big down jacket in case you need it isn't a bad idea.  I own a MH Phantom and it's nice, although it honestly doesn't get that much use, even in winter the Cascades simply don't get mega cold.

ChuckSchick · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

If you're near Seattle go into Feathered Friends and talk to the team about what you need. Support a legendary local business and buy the best product on the market from the people who know the most about down. 

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 476
ChuckSchick wrote:

If you're near Seattle go into Feathered Friends and talk to the team about what you need. Support a legendary local business and buy the best product on the market from the people who know the most about down. 

Or you can just RENT an appropriate down parka from them at a very reasonable rate and not spend a ton of money on something you would use infrequently.

Personally I've been up Rainier a few times in summer (July and August) and been happy with far less than the nilas. Montbell Mirage would be my choice currently. Note I rarely use a hardshell, the very light one I do bring is sized to be able to go over the Mirage. 

Bobby H · · Michigan · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

So i was super happy to have a nilas when i did Rainier at the end of July. I used it at summit day breaks and hanging at base camp.

Here is my theory.... I was coming from warm summer weather and even hiked to Muir in short sleeves so i was by no means used to the cold. When it dropped below freezing, that was a huge temperature swing and my body wasn't used to it, so i was happy to have a nice warm puffy. The opposite happens at the end of a long winter when it finally warms to 33F and you feel like you could wear just a t-shirt. 



Kevin Adams · · Auburn, WA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

I’ve been to the summit 3 times.  I’ve been using an Eddie Bauer Igniter for several years, and it has been plenty warm, in fact I recently switched to the EB Evertherm for Rainier.  My profile picture is me at the summit of rainier in a fleece and soft shell, and I was comfortable.  It definitely depends on your metabolism and the conditions.  However, for new climbers, I always recommend a big puffy.  Something along the lines of the Peak XV, Fitz Roy or Nilas is what you want for your first go.  You can always switch to something lighter for future climbs, but until you know how your body reacts up there, you shouldn’t skimp on insulation.  

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,146

In July / August your don't need no stinking down jacket.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 322
Allen Sanderson wrote:

In July / August your don't need no stinking down jacket.

Yeah. I used to go up in a sweatshirt and jeans back in the 80s. 


^That’s a lie, I was 2 years old in the 80s. 

I used to always recommend people to not bring a parka and instead go with a couple ultralight down layers. However, I think enough new people fail due to general discomfort that I no longer feel like it’s a good recommendation. Ultimately the parkas aren’t very heavy and can provide a lot of relief if things don’t go their way. So until they really have their gear honed, why not remove a variable from the equation. 


To answer the OP’s question more directly, yeah, the Arc’teryx jacket will probably work no problem. Carry another layer maybe just in case things get really cold or if you need to stop for an extended period of time for whatever reason. Check the weather before going as well - if things look bad, it will probably be very bad. It is actually pretty warm up there when the weather is nice. Generally when climbing in the dark up there, I am only wearing a baselayer and a softshell (Gamma LT or MX depending on forecast). Once the sun comes out, I’m only in the baselayer. Honestly, I find myself worrying about serious sun burns way more often than worrying about the cold when I am up there. Still, every now and then the wind can just smash you, so it’s good to come prepared. 

On another note, If you haven’t already bought the Beta SV, I’d recommend the Alpha SL or LT instead. I’d also recommend getting a hooded baselayer, which is unfortunately hard to find. The sun can really beat down on you, and having a nice light layer that covers up everything is super handy. Icebreaker makes a nice one that I use.  

Chad Coragiulo · · Marysville, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Thank you for the reply's everyone! I truly appreciate all of your time and feedback! I think for now I will end up going with the Nilas! It seems like the most logical choice and the jacket that I hear about the most. 

Chad Coragiulo · · Marysville, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
Chris C. wrote:

Yeah. I used to go up in a sweatshirt and jeans back in the 80s. 


^That’s a lie, I was 2 years old in the 80s. 

I used to always recommend people to not bring a parka and instead go with a couple ultralight down layers. However, I think enough new people fail due to general discomfort that I no longer feel like it’s a good recommendation. Ultimately the parkas aren’t very heavy and can provide a lot of relief if things don’t go their way. So until they really have their gear honed, why not remove a variable from the equation. 


To answer the OP’s question more directly, yeah, the Arc’teryx jacket will probably work no problem. Carry another layer maybe just in case things get really cold or if you need to stop for an extended period of time for whatever reason. Check the weather before going as well - if things look bad, it will probably be very bad. It is actually pretty warm up there when the weather is nice. Generally when climbing in the dark up there, I am only wearing a baselayer and a softshell (Gamma LT or MX depending on forecast). Once the sun comes out, I’m only in the baselayer. Honestly, I find myself worrying about serious sun burns way more often than worrying about the cold when I am up there. Still, every now and then the wind can just smash you, so it’s good to come prepared. 

On another note, If you haven’t already bought the Beta SV, I’d recommend the Alpha SL or LT instead. I’d also recommend getting a hooded baselayer, which is unfortunately hard to find. The sun can really beat down on you, and having a nice light layer that covers up everything is super handy. Icebreaker makes a nice one that I use.  

Thank you for your feedback Chris, you have been very helpful and informative! I will look into getting a hooded baselayer!

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175
Chad C wrote:

I think for now I will end up going with the Nilas! It seems like the most logical choice and the jacket that I hear about the most. 

The Phantom is over $100 cheaper, weighs less, and is more than enough jacket for Rainier in July/August.  Just food for thought.  Nilas is a great jacket, but I think it's way overkill for Rainier in late summer.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 476
Chad C wrote:

Thank you for the reply's everyone! I truly appreciate all of your time and feedback! I think for now I will end up going with the Nilas! It seems like the most logical choice and the jacket that I hear about the most. 

Just for reference, Allen who said you don't need no stinking down parka likely has more time on Rainier than all other posters in this thread, combined. He has done many of the more committed and technical carry over routes also. 

Jordan W · · NC · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 30

The last time I was on Rainier in late July, you could have been fine with a 60g coreloft/primaloft jacket thrown over a baselayer, r1 and softshell... It was hot as balls up there except for breaks in the morning, and even then... I carried a Rab Neutrino Endurance with me and it was too much for up there, but on a mountain like Rainier, it's definitely nice to have some breathing room. The Neutrino is a good price, good shell and packs down small and light... Not a bad jacket, it is nice and warm though.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 322
Chad C wrote:

Thank you for your feedback Chris, you have been very helpful and informative! I will look into getting a hooded baselayer!

Glad I can help!  Here is a link to the baselayer I use:

https://www.icebreaker.com/en/cool-lite-sphere-long-sleeve-hood/103610402M.html

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 845

There's a big difference between someone who has spent a lot of time on a mountain like Rainier and is comfortable there, and someone who has never climbed it before and will probably only do it once. I'm somewhere in between and I'd still be going much lighter and faster than I'd recommend for a first-timer. If you're going heavy and slow in a place you've never experienced, you should have a big jacket.

I am however always impressed by how eager beginners are to buy things. That's an expensive jacket. I've never heard anyone who owned a Feathered Friends item who didn't rave about it, if I were you I'd spend $75 to rent their jacket for a week and if you decide you need one in your closet you can apply a couple days of the rental price to the purchase.

chris magness · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 600

Lot's of talk here about what isn't important.

You're nearly a year out.  What is important is fitness, you should be focused on training.  You could spend $2k on on gear, get humbled or decide you don't like slogging, and never use the stuff again.  You won't know what you need until a few days before you're on the mountain.  Freezing levels move around and will dictate what clothing is appropriate.  You can rent a puffy in Ashford at RMI or IMG.  If needed, a belay weight parka is fine. An expedition parka is far too warm.

We had freezing levels above 14k feet last summer for nearly a month and the need for a puffy, aside from extra margin of safety, was debatable.  

Late July and early August can be balls-ass-hot on the glaciers, protection from the sun is almost more of a consideration than protection from the cold.  The summit of Rainier  during the summer months isn't cold.  At all.  It's humid.  It isn't windy, either.  The humidity and elevation will make it feel cold and windy.  Keep in mind, you won't be on the summit very long.  Spring and fall can be wintry and wet.

Back to the puffy you're talking about: you won't be wearing it in the sun, and you won't be wearing it while you're moving, except predawn on summit day, above 13k feet.

If you do decide to purchase, supporting local companies like Feathered Friends is a great consideration.  Otherwise, go for whatever you get the best pricing on.  Again, though, before you buy a boat load of gear, might be nice to figure out if mountaineering is for you.

 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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