Is 950 Fill Down Worth It?

A group of people backpacking, carrying 950 fill downs.

The title of this article might seem a bit mysterious. Unless, of course, you’re an experienced backpacker. Whatever the case – we’re sure you’ll enjoy this one! Needless to say, we’ve got a bit of explaining to do. Just so that, once they’ve finished reading the text, some folks don’t say: okay, so what in God’s name did I just read?

If you’re still feeling a bit confused: we’ll mostly talk about backpacking quilts today! That’s the category in which the is-950-fill-down-worth-it question finds itself feeling just right. But, let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves here, okay? In the text you’ll find below you’ll find the answer to the question proposed by the tile (is 950 fill down worth it?) and some interesting, additional info!

You’ll want to know that a 950 fill down backpacking quilts is absolutely worth the investment. It’s warm, it’s durable and it’s made from high-quality down. Needless to say, it’s made to last you for years, even – decades. Even though some might say that it doesn’t handle moisture well, a 950 fill down quilt is up to the task.

That, of course, can’t be the whole thing! Don’t hesitate to scroll down and see just what we’ve got planned for today!

Table of Contents

The basics (FAQ)

As always, it’s best we explain the terminology we’ll be using quite a lot in the text you’re about to read. What’s a backpacking quilt? Or: what’s a down fill? Hey, what’s fill power? You know how it goes… Each question opens up the territory just so further questions could be asked (it’s something you’d call a never-ending cycle of question-answer-question-answer).

It’s very important we know what we’re talking about! Without further ado, let’s begin!

What is a backpacking quilt?

This might be the most important piece of equipment inside your average backpacker’s backpack (and here’s how you’ll pack one). In the simplest of words: it’s a backpacker’s substitute for a sleeping bag. It doesn’t have a mummy-style hood just like your typical sleeping bag. The other difference is found in the weight of both items. It goes without saying that an average sleeping bag is definitely heavier than an average backpacking quilt.

Let’s elaborate further on the quilts vs. sleeping bags distinction! Also, if you’re wondering what are the main differences between camping and backpacking, we’ve written a little piece about the subject.

Why quilts are better than sleeping bags?

That might be too big of a word (better). We have to put it into context. A quilt is absolutely a far better option than a sleeping bag when we’re talking about backpacking. Needless to say, backpackers are well-known to have a thing for traveling ultralight; a backpacking quilt will weigh about 1/2 of an average camper’s sleeping bag. That’s because the production of an individual quilt requires less fabric and less down.

Speaking of down, there’s a question we must consider before delving deep into today’s article subject matter. You’ve might’ve even asked yourself this one quite a lot!

Down vs. synthetic insulation – which one’s better?

Let’s use an example of down vs. synthetic jackets. Anyway, you’ll wanna know that down jackets are actually a better option than their synthetic counterparts. They offer a better weight-to-warmth ratio (which is a piece of information backpackers will greet with a smile). Additionally, down is known as a much better insulator, which makes it a go-to option for backpacking in harsh weather conditions (dead of winter, etc.).

All in all: down insulation offers a better weight-to-warmth ratio and it gets the job done if you’re enjoying the outdoors in colder climates. Needless to say, it’s the type of insulation most wanted on outdoor expeditions where weight plays an important role.

Now that we’ve realized what is the word “down” in the title, it’s time to see what the number 950 represents!

What is down fill power?

It’s safe to assume that the number from the title represents the so-called down fill power. It’s a number that shows us the relative (not absolute) qualify of down. How do you measure that? You’ll wanna know that there are lab tests that measure just how many cubic inches of loft 1 oz (28 g) of a specific down fill creates. A higher fill power number should mean better insulation.

Does higher fill mean warmer?

That’s right! As we’ve said, a higher fill power number should indicate that the item (whether it’s a backpacking quilt or a jacket) offers better insulation and is warmer en général. Also, you might wanna know that goose down is generally regarded as being warmer than duck down; some would even say that a high-quality duck down’s the same as moderate-quality goose down.

What down fill power do I need?

It’s good you asked since this is a question that’s always stirring up some confusion among beginner backpackers! So, what down fill power do you need? Well, try not to opt for a number that’s below 450. That is usually considered low-quality down. Numbers that go above 550 should indicate that you’re dealing with high-quality down. As we’ve said, goose down’s the best since it compresses less than its counterpart (duck down). Thus, it’s able to trap more air which means it will generate more warmth.

Okay, so now that we’ve explained the basic terminology we’ll be using in the rest of the text, it’s time to tackle our main issue of the day: is 950 down fill worth the money?

A backpacker looking at the mountains.

Is 950 fill down worth it?

Needless to say, a 950 fill down winter backpacking quilt is something you wouldn’t call cheap (far from it, actually). Still, there are certain investments that are well worth the money spent. So, is a 950 fill down one of ’em? Let’s consider the experts’ opinion!

There are folks that’ll tell you a high-quality loft down such as 950 might turn out to be having a hard time dealing with moisture. If that was the truth (and it isn’t), it would be hard to picture a 950 fill down as having an advantage over other loft downs (most folks wonder if they should opt for 850 or 950 down fill power) that’s well worth the money invested. That theory seems to be lacking some deeper insight.

The thing is: 950 fill down doesn’t represent something you’d wanna call a frangible down cluster. Of course, it’s close to being 0% feather and 100% loft, but that’s not yet achieved. Once we’ve said that, one might ask: wouldn’t that make it more susceptible to moisture/humidity? Only in theory, dear friend. Experts say that the whole talk about humidity doesn’t really stand on its two feet, since the differences are trivial (some say 950 might even outperform 850 in humid conditions).

Other less-talked-about advantages

Let’s up the loft aside for a bit since 950 has other advantages worth mentioning. It would be totally unkind of us if we didn’t count them here also. Here are some of ’em:

  • The fewer the feathers, the lesser the chances of the poking-feathers issue appearing.
  • They’re made to last for years, even – decades. Durability is one of their main attributes.
  • They’re ultralight. Obtaining a 950 down fill quilt is surely one of the easiest ways to save some weight (if you don’t have a hard time spending some funds, of course).

All in all: it’s pretty much safe to say 950 down fill quilts are worth the investment. If you’ve got some extra funds and you’re eager to save some weight, making your backpacking trips closer to being ultralight, obtaining a 950 fill down backpacking quilt might be an ideal option for you!

Bonus round: Do you need a draft collar for your quilt?

All this talk about whether this or that kind of a quilt will withstand moisture more efficiently made us forget about the biggest issue of backpacking in the colder climates: how to stay warm during a cold winter’s night? One of the best ways to guarantee you’ll stay comfy and warm during a cold winter’s night is to be equipped with a draft collar for your quilt. We’ve already talked about it in the previous article we’ve published.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on whether you need a quilt that comes with a draft collar or one that doesn’t have it, it’s best you go for the first option. Opting for a quilt that has a draft collar won’t make much of a difference when we’re speaking about the weight of your trust backpack. However, it will provide you with some extra warmth since its main function is to keep all the warm air you’ve accumulated by sleeping in your quilt inside.

Parting thoughts

So, we’re about to hit the end margin of this article! That’s all there’s to say about the is-950-fill-down-worth-it issue. Hopefully, your head’s now cleared out of all the question marks you’ve had about whether should you opt for this or that backpacking quilt!

If you’re on the lookout for more useful backpacking tips, we strongly recommend you visit this page on our blog!

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