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Gear Guy
Q:

What parka is best for Denali?

Is a Patagonia DAS (which I already have) good enough for Denali? Or should I upgrade to Patagonia's Down Parka? Or to First Ascent's new Peak SV? Tom Great Falls, VA

A:

Well, Patagonia's DAS Parka ($275) is a fine piece, a jacket with synthetic insulation that's great for cold, wet climbing. There's also First Ascent, the new Eddie Bauer brand that has Ed Viesturs as a consultant. Its Peak SV ($269) is a down-filled piece that is rated to about -5 degrees. A nice jacket, and I admire Viesturs, so if he is really working this problem, it's a good investment.

The Icefall

But for Denali? Ummm...no. It is cold there. Really cold. Really, really cold. Did I say it was cold? Because it is. Twenty below is common at 17,000 feet there...at noon. So if you're going, I really recommend serious insulation.

Marmot's Ama Dablam ($550) is an excellent mid-weight expedition parka. Long cut, full hood, 800-fill down. Weighs three pounds, so you get the sense this is a LOT of jacket. Or go with The North Face's Himalayan Jacket ($498). Overall it's similar to the Marmot, with 800-fill down, full hood, and serious design, but it's hard to track down.

Then there's the Feathered Friends Icefall Jacket ($475). This is what I would get. Super-warm, light at two pounds, and is really well designed. For warmth at all costs, Feathered Friends' Rock & Ice ($725) is to down parkas what Godzilla is to lizards. There is. No. Better. Down. Jacket. On. The. Planet. It's what I wore on Denali 12 years ago. Hardly needed to zip the thing up. Hell, I still have it and can sell it to you. I ain't going back!

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