OUT IN THE RUGGED AND MOUNTAINOUS TERRAINS THAT WE AS HUNTER’S LIKE TO CALL OUR PLAYGROUND, MOTHER NATURE CAN BE AT HER MOST EXTREME. WITH WIDELY SWINGING TEMPERATURES PLUMMETING DOWN TO SUB-ZERO, A CRUCIAL DECISION FOR ANY HUNTER IS CHOOSING THE RIGHT INSULATION LAYERS THAT CAN NOT ONLY OFFER COMFORT AND PERFORMANCE, BUT WHICH CAN BE TRUSTED IN A WORST-CASE SCENARIO TO BE A CRITICAL LIFESAVING PIECE OF GEAR. HERE AT STONEY CREEK OUR PHILOSOPHY IS BUILT AROUND PURPOSE-BUILT GEAR, DESIGNED AND OPTIMISED TO PERFORM DURING A SPECIFIC HUNTING APPLICATION, SO THAT YOU WILL MAXIMISE YOUR EXPERIENCE DURING THAT ADVENTURE. HERE TO HELP SIMPLIFY THE TECHNICAL, DEMYSTIFY THE COMPLEX SPECIFICATIONS AND CONFUSING NUMBERS AND RATINGS IS LEAD TECHNICAL DESIGNER AT STONEY CREEK, SARAH MACDONALD. SARAH EXPLORES SOME OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND WILL HELP TO PROVIDE YOU WITH THE RIGHT KNOWLEDGE TO ENSURE YOUR NEXT INSULATION PURCHASE IS THE RIGHT ONE, THAT WILL LAST FOR YEARS, AND HAVE YOUR NEXT EXPERIENCE OUT HUNTING FULLY MAXIMISED.

So why is the insulation layer such an important one for a hunter heading into the hills?

(SM) On any given day hunting in remote locations the conditions will range from windy, wet and cold, to exposed, hot and dry with everything in between. A good insulation layer is a key player in your clothing layer team, it is the piece that will give you the protection from the cold and the ability to stay out longer. A good insulation layer will maximise warmth without adding bulk or weighing you down.

What are the common applications hunters will use insulation, and what are the key considerations?

(SM) The typical scenario is the hunter will use their insulation at the start and end of the day when the temperature is low, and when they are not as active. During the day your insulation layer will be put on when stopping to re-fuel or stopping to glass etc… The choice of insulation is very tied to the activity level and the expected terrain. The NEW Accelerant Jacket for example is the choice for shoulder season fast and light hunting trips where your activity level is high. Whereas the NEW Ignitor Jacket is your go to puffer when the temps drop, and you are going to spend less time moving. The popular Frostline Jacket covers you for all day warmth and concealment when you are moving all day.

What is the difference between fill weight and fill power?

(SM) Fill power (also referred to as Loft Power or CUI), is a measurement of how much volume, measured in cubic inches, that 1 oz of down takes up. To complete the test 1 oz of conditioned down is placed in a measurement cylinder, and a lightly weighted disc is placed on top. The disc is left to slowly compress down, after exactly 1 minute the height of the disc is recorded as the CUI fill power. The measurement goes from 500 cui to 900+ CUI. The more volume created, the more air is trapped, and the warmer that 1 oz of down is. Fill weight is how much Down in total is inside the garment. The goal is to create space between the cold outside and the warmth on the inside. To add volume, you can do one two things. 1)Keep the same fill weight but add a higher lofting down. This will add no extra weight or bulk but increases warmth. 2) Increase the fill weight of the same down. This will increase the warmth but also increase the weight and pack volume. It is important to know both Fill power and Fill weight of the fill in your jacket to get the true picture of how much insulation you can expect from your garment.

What does hydrophobic down mean? And do Stoney Creek products use it?

(SM) Hydrophobic is water hating, (hydrophilic is water loving). Depending on the position of the layer and conditions it is being used in, you want fabrics to be hydrophobic or hydrophilic. In the case of your base layer, you want to remove moisture to keep your skin dry. Hydrophilic properties are key to achieving this outcome. For outer layers that are going to be exposed to moisture from external or internal dampness or rain, it is key to use hydrophobic materials or treatments. All Stoney Creek Insulation garments have hydrophobic treatments to give you ultimate protection and maximise your experience.

What is better – Down or Synthetic fills?

(SM) There are pros and cons with both fill types. But the lines are getting more blurred as technology is solving some of the traditional issues. High lofting "goose down" is still the gold standard for most warmth for weight. However, the Achilles heel of "down" has always been moisture and how quickly your jacket can go from puff to pancake in a rain shower. DowntekTM Hydrophobic treatments, as used in the NEW Ignitor Jacket have solved this issue and put goose down back on top and the number one choice when you want a lightweight, warm, packable insulation layer. Synthetic fills are becoming more like “down” all the time but still cannot match the warmth to weight ratio of pure down. A strength of synthetic apart from not being as affected by moisture, is the ability to avoid compression under load. This has advantages when used as part of a layer system when the inner layer is compressed under the load of a harness or other outer layers. Primaloft® Gold Down Blend used in the NEW Accelerant Jacket is the combination of 70% High lofting Hydrophobic Goose Down and 30% Hydrophobic Polyester synthetic insulation. Warm, packable insulation layer.

Is the Down you use in Stoney Creek products responsibly sourced?

(SM) Yes all of the Down we source is from certified responsibly sourced suppliers, this ensures that our down does not come from animals that have been subjected to any unnecessary harm, such as force-feeding or live plucking. It also provides traceability in our supply chain. This includes the down component of the Primaloft® Down Blends used in our Insulation range.

Are your puffer jackets tough? And when is the right time to use them during the hunt?

(SM) When you get to the cutting edge of performance and you are looking to maximise your experience, you have to consider all of your gear choices. Things that will give you the advantage and enable you to get to the places you need to be. To do this you need to understand the strengths and limitations of your gear choices. The triangle of needs for our insulation range is 1) light/compact 2) warmth 3) durability. The reality is you can be strong in two areas, but not all three of these properties. So, if you want light/compact and warm it will not be as tough as something that is tough and warm, but this will not be as lightweight … decisions need to be made, you need to ask the right questions. Will I be using this while glassing and back at camp, but will I be carrying this in my pack most of the day? If you want light/compact and warm, then the Accelerant or Ignitor will be your best options. Alternatively, will I spend the day pushing quietly through bush, then moving though low scrub to get close to game? If you answer yes to that you need Warm and Tough, and options such as the Frostline, Stalking Pullover or Long Bush Shirt are good options.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THERE ARE A LOT OF CONSIDERATIONS TO MAKE WHEN CHOOSING THE MOST APPROPRIATE INSULATION GARMENTS FOR YOUR NEXT HUNTING APPLICATION. RATHER THAN JUST CHOOSING THE PUFFIEST JACKET, OR THE LIGHTEST WEIGHT, WE RECOMMEND CHOOSING THE RIGHT APPLICATION FIRST AND THEN FINDING THE CORRECT BALANCE OF PERFORMANCE ATTRIBUTES THAT WILL MAXIMISE YOUR EXPERIENCE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DURATION OF YOUR TRIP. WHETHER THAT IS A SUB ALPINE DAY TRIP, OR A TEN DAY EXPEDITION INTO BIG ALPINE BACK-COUNTRY WITH LONG HOURS STATIC BEHIND THE GLASS. HAVING A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR GEAR, HOW IT PERFORMS, HOW TO LAYER ACCORDINGLY, AND HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR GARMENTS TO GET THE BEST OUT OF THEM IS CRUCIAL. TREAT YOUR TECHNICAL APPAREL WITH AS MUCH CARE AND MAINTENANCE AS YOU DO YOUR RIFLE OR OPTICS, AND IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU WHEN OUT IN THE MOUNTAINS OR THE FORESTS.

Sarah Macdonald. Head of Design, Stoney Creek Ltd.