Just like Crux with its waterproof Plasma, Berghaus has looked at the problems of using down jackets in damp environments and come up with its own solution: a down/PrimaLoft hybrid that places the different insulation types in areas according to the degrees of wet-weather exposure each is likely to be subjected to. Down baffles run around the chest, stomach and back of the Asgard Hybrid, while PrimaLoft One panels insulate the arms, shoulders and upper chest, the hood, and the waist – areas which are not only likely to get sodden first but which also get that bit more abrasion from rucksack harnesses.
Synthetic PrimaLoft might not be as efficient as down as an insulator – in fact I was surprised to be able to detect the difference while in the fridge – but it will out-perform down in wet conditions, retaining insulating properties while down simply wets out, clumps up and becomes almost redundant.
Or does it? Berghaus has used down that’s been treated to make it more water-resistant, faster-drying and more thermally efficient when wet so should, theoretically, be more resistant to bad weather. That wasn’t something I could test in the fridge that day (spraying water around wasn’t an option in the dry storage facility) but I’ll put the Asgard Hybrid through its paces properly this winter and report back.
The jacket’s design features are very promising: the large hand warmer pockets are positioned high so that they can be accessed when you’re wearing a pack hipbelt; the fully and easily adjustable hood has a stiffened (though non-malleable) peak; the hem drawcord is a little fiddly as its pull and adjustment toggles are positioned under and within the hem.
Chris Townsend reviewed the Hybrid in Autumn’s TGO and rightly questioned the wisdom of blending long-lived down with a less long-lasting synthetic. My own, simpler concern would be that in prolonged downpours it will prove impossible to protect the down sufficiently, and a shell jacket will need to be carried.
To be fair, this kind of innovative thinking should always be welcomed and I’m looking forward to reporting more fully on the Hybrid’s effectiveness.