Dynafit Cho Oyu Down Jacket – Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 5, 2013      
Dynafit Cho Oyu puffy

Dynafit Cho Oyu puffy

Dynafit Cho Oyu jacket is a sleeper. Due to how this puffy is styled, you might think the Cho is just another sewn-through seamed inefficient use of premium goose down. But no.

Instead, the Cho Oyu jacket is one of the few thinner yet baffled down puff jackets on the market. That means it’s packable, quite light, and most importantly a significant percentage warmer than a sewn-through jacket of similar weight.

Not only does this jacket have baffled (box) construction, but Dynafit “Swiss knifed” the thing:

– Shell is Pertex Quantum, a lightweight ripstop nylon with a reasonably effective DWR treatment.
– Fill claimed to be the higher end fluffy 750, and feels like that’s about right.
– DownTek down treatment makes the down work better in humid conditions.
– Hood fits over my helmet, albeit tightly (yes Virginia, I do wear a reinforced hat on occasion). Note this hood is fully baffled, with plenty of fill. Warm and fits my head nicely with the drawstring cinched up.
– Length is perfect, drops down just enough over your butt to keep your lower back warm.
– The Cho packs in it’s own somewhat small but still functional stow pocket, a design feature invented by the all-knowing ancients of Atlantis but nonetheless missing from most jackets on the market.
– Decently sized front zipper, with double-pull for configuring over climbing harness (double-pull has the downside of being fiddly, but it’s a necessary evil on a technical jacket in our opinion).
– 18.8 ounces, 534 grams — reasonable weight for a baffled (box construction) hoody jacket with technical features.

Stow pocket is kinda small, but it works. The access zipper is short.

Stow pocket is kinda small, but it works. The access zipper opening is short; be careful of damaging it with overzealous cramming.

Fit of Cho’ is typical euro-athletic. Nice when you’re slim, but could be a girdle if you’ve got any thickness at your middle. Even in a size large the arms and shoulders are tight on my mouse-proportioned upper body, and I’ve got no extra room in the front of my torso. Sleeve length is average, ok for skiing but a bit short for reaching up in situations such as rock climbing.

While not a “belay” parka or something you’d use for sub-zero alpinism, Cho Oyu is on the warm side for its weight. But as with most of the trimmer puffies I test a tiny bit more fill would be appreciated, especially in the front panels that do the bulk of insulation work when the back is compressed by your backpack. The guys who design these things fight a battle with looks versus performance, and too much fill results in the “moon man” effect. To be fair, with the baffled construction you do get more warmth so they can get away with the jacket being slimmer.

At the risk of sounding like a Dynafit orchestra (you should hear me strum the Beast), I’m here to tell you guys that this really is a beautiful piece of equipment. If you need a mid-weight down puffy that’s “modernized” and looks stylish, check it out.

Shop for Dynafit Cho Oyu puff jacket.



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Comments

21 Responses to “Dynafit Cho Oyu Down Jacket – Review”

  1. TimZ November 5th, 2013 10:00 am

    Specs on the fill weight?

  2. Lou Dawson November 5th, 2013 10:28 am

    Never got clear on fill weights. Backcountry.com says a size medium has 4.76 ounces fill… Main thing to know is this is not the thickest jacket out there, it doesn’t have a huge amount of fill. But it seems to have just the right amount to fill the baffles without any over-stuffing. I could do with a tiny bit more as stated in review. But in terms of efficency, it’s important to not have too much down fill for a given space. Lou

  3. Wookie November 5th, 2013 11:47 am

    Whats the durability of this piece? My expirience with Dynafit soft goods has been…..um……

    I think they make great bindings.

  4. Lou Dawson November 5th, 2013 12:37 pm

    Wookie, I’d agree, quality control problems have been obvious in the past. I actually have two Cho Oyu jackets, one is the older style with smaller zippers, no waist drawstring, etc. The older one had some stitching come out, this newer one seems to be holding up as well as anything else I’ve had with this type of construction.

    It appears Dynafit changed who’s making their soft goods. Definitely better construction.

    As mentioned in the post, my biggest concern is the too tight stow pocket with the tight zipper. I don’t see that holding up to repeated stuffings. It’s an optional feature, however, so not a deal breaker. I’ve got plenty of small lightweight stuff sacks I can tie into a pocket like I usually do.

    I really like the hood, and the warmth/weight ratio seems quite good, which of course is why it got reviewed.

    I’ve got some stuff from other brands here. Funny how some of it fits too loose, and Dynafit fits tight. Can’t they use my own body as a design form (grin)?

    Lou

  5. Rod November 5th, 2013 8:53 pm

    Amen to a light baffled down jacket.
    About time.
    Even though it’s heavier than sewn thrus, it’s a lot warmer.

  6. Water November 6th, 2013 12:07 am

    Please forgive me if I seem overly negative.
    However this seems overly heavy, 750 FP seems… low? At least not up to the standard of most higher end down puffy jackets in 2013-2014. BC.com lists the fill on this as “750-fill European duck down”. Without knowing very specific details of the ducks it is harvested from, it is hard to compare to say 850 FP goose down (and knowing what kind of geese it comes from), but overall on the face must upper-tier jackets are not using duck down. (unless eider duck).

    Duck down is cheaper, and can be of equal caliber as goose down, so maybe they’re passing on some savings?

    But at ~$300 for a down hoody, that is pricey. There are other options on the market that will be warmer and/or lighter for similar price. Among the field if I needed such a piece, and had $300, this would be near the bottom of the list.

    Additionally The ‘water-resistant’ down is a cool feature but frankly I’ve encountered about nobody who has gotten their down items wet enough to be made useless-consensus is if that happens you have worse problems or you’re doing something wrong. multi-day below freezing sleeping bag use sans vapor barrier withstanding.

  7. Alex November 6th, 2013 2:13 am

    water, there are several reason why a 750+ cuin Downtek can be claimed “better” than a 850 of normal down:
    -the quality of down isn’t measured on duck\down, but on fill power. 750+ means slightly less than 800 cuin. The only reason why duck down is cheaper than goose is that it “smells” , but the treatment eliminates this natural smell.
    -the DWR treatment helps the down maintaining the highest loft and insulation value. Downtek down retains 70% more loft than untreated one.
    -the nano-treatment (which is nothing but a very thin layer of protection) makes the down cluster more durable and resistant.
    -it provides an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial protection….this means you’ll need to wash it less, therefore it will last longer.

    On top of this, I would add that the water resistant treatment is not really meant to keep you dry under a rain shower, but to keep the down dry while sweating during aerobic activities (like touring…), because wet clusters loose thermal efficiency.
    Anybody who’s ever done some backcountry skiing knows it.

    More info here:

    http://down-tek.com/home/downtek-demo/

  8. Alex November 6th, 2013 2:22 am

    TimZ inside the size M of the ChoOyu jackets there are 4.8 ounches of down

    Rod, Dynafit has also a light sewn through baffle version with 4 ounches of down inside the M size.
    http://www.dynafit.com/product/clothing/vulcan-dwn-m-jacket

  9. Lou Dawson November 6th, 2013 6:00 am

    Appreciate the opinions guys. Feel free to suggest other thin but still baffled jackets

    As for down, a few things I learned when I got schooled in down science last year at the International Down and Feathers Lab

    http://www.wildsnow.com/7994/international-down-feathers-lab-idfl-visit/

    1. Goose and Duck down are indeed the same thing in terms of insulation, if they’re both rated the same in terms of fill. The implication that “goose down” is better is just a myth promulgated by clothing and bedding makers over the years.

    2. 750 fill and 800+ fill are very similar, and sometimes “800” or higher fill is just more marketing spreech.

    3. If someone does claim numbers such as “900” fill, make sure you know how their down is tested and certified to that number before you pay a premium.

  10. Lou Dawson November 6th, 2013 6:34 am

    As for down jackets and moisture, I’ll testify that I’ve come close to death several times when my down jacket failed due to moisture, usually during extended rain and drizzle during alpine climbing. I’m trusting that these “water proof” down products help prevent that, but I’m not totally trusting and still recommend synthetic for use in places such as the PNW, or extended work in damp conditions anywhere. Me, I always own a couple of down jackets _and_ a couple of synthetics, and pick the jacket according to weather, location.

    Perhaps the most important consideration in using down over synthetic is in the case of emergency unplanned bivouac. That’s when the down horror stories generally happen. Digging a snow cave then sitting in it for 12 hours is not something a down jacket can handle, though it’s possible that the treated down, combined with the right shell fabrics, could perhaps work.

    For places like the PNW, one clothing technique I like is the idea of dressing fairly athletic, but always carrying a synthetic belay type jacket with a water resistant exterior fabric. You can put that parka on over everything, no matter what the conditions. And if you end up in a snowcave you’ll survive. It’s also the perfect layer for a hurt person who’s immobile and waiting for rescue.

    What’s interesting is that a down jacket has a minimum required fabric thickness, below that and the down leaks. More, baffles add weight, but if you don’t have baffles you need more fill weight for equivalent warmth. These design and engineering limitations create problems if you’re trying for ultra-light. Add membrane fabrics to protect the down, and you’re adding more weight.

    Build a synthetic jacket with ultra-light non-membrane fabric inside and out, minimal zippers and only a couple of pockets, and the weight starts to compete with down. In fact, there is probably a point on the graph of weight vs warmth where the two types of jackets are equal.

    Best sewn-through jacket I’ve owned is a Cloudveil that used the most minimal fabric possible, and contained a bunch of “800” fill down that is obviously high fill power. Never mind the fact that just touching this jacket with a tree branch would result in a down storm, it was amazingly efficient. It’s too beat up for the backcountry now, but I still own it and use it for various things. It’s got too much duct tape on it to sell. Am thinking I could use it as a down donor for over-filling something else.

  11. Ryan November 6th, 2013 8:01 am

    Alex- the “quality” of duck down is absolutely measured in the form of that “750” number. That only speaks to the quality as of right now, saying nothing about what it will be like in five years or more.

    Ducks are not as large of a bird and since virtually all down is a by-product of the meat industry the farmer doesn’t have incentive to keep the bird alive for as long. The growth curve tapers earlier on the duck and it goes to slaughter. With that difference in harvested size and age you typically get lower fill ratings from duck than you might be able to from goose.

    China now has more of a “middle-class” that wants to be like Americans and so they’re eating more chicken and beef. That means less incentive for the farmer to grow geese. The price of entry level goose down has quadrupled over the last several years, opening the door for a nice pricepoint alternative like duck down.

    Duck is less expensive as there’s certainly a consumer perception that it’s inferior and it is sort of but only in long term durability and potential loft.

    Duck down used to be laundered differently than goose and thus had a reputation for odor. That’s no longer the case. It goes through the same laundering processes.

    If you had a jacket with identical construction and fill weight and the only thing you changed on it was one was filled with 600 fill goose down, another with 600 fill duck down and another with 600 fill rat fur you’d have three jackets that were all the same warmth. Now you’d be hard pressed to find 600 fill rat fur and it might have some legit smell and longevity concerns but its an extreme example to illustrate it’s the number not material that’s important.

    Lower fill raitings and smaller bird mean a slight difference in longevity of the insulation. We’re talking 12 years instead of 15 years so it’s not like a synthetic fill all the sudden.

    All the water-resistant down treatments are pretty much the same. As Alex mentioned above it is more intended to address moisture from the inside over time than it is from the outside. It does perform better than non-treated down in terms of wetting out and drying. Better is a relative term though. Slightly better peforming than a Volkswagon bug driving up a mountain pass doesn’t really sound as sexy on a hang tag so they make it sound like a Porsche. It’s not. Think Volkswagon bug with new spark plugs and high flow air filter. It will dry out faster but don’texpect it to do much of that until you get it home to a dry heated environment.

    Unfortunately companies have to build things with overkill from a fabric standpoint so as Lou noticed, often fabrics are maybe a bit burlier than they need to be. There’s a very vocal miniority who will abuse the stuff and then cry bloody murder when reasonable wear and tear results in failure. It’s easier to build in more durability and honor the warranty that many outdoor companies still hold up.

    Last but not least Lou mentioned the International Down and Feather Lab. This is the only way to ensure “minimum fill standards” and accurate fill ratings. You can stir down up in the cylinder before testing, have it under ideal temp and humidity conditions, etc. All of this will yield a higher loft number for companies that want cheaper down to sound better. The IDFL has standards and tests that the best down companies adhere to and pay for so you know you’re getting what you pay for. I’d encourage you to see which companies take this extra step and then ask yourself why a company might not and if you’re getting what you’re paying for?

  12. RTrain November 6th, 2013 8:38 am

    I”m all for your above mentioned graph of weight vs warmth w/ down and symthetic plotted. Seems like a lot of work, and I have never seen r-values on a belay parka tag… Lots of obvious issues. Maybe group consensus(yikes)?

  13. Water November 6th, 2013 11:45 am

    RTrain take a look at backpackinglight.com — they’ve done a lot of work developing r-values as it relates to warmth, I think they developed their own unit? (clo). If you do a google search for: backpackinglight clo value
    You’ll get numerous results.

    Alex: I’m aware that down (whether from goose or duck sources) is measured ultimately by the Fill Power and that as Lou mentioned there can be all sorts of trickery about the numbers, hence my qualification that one would need to know the nitty gritty details of both source birds (and how that translates to a lab test incl the testing parameters and prep) to really make any definitive statement between two different batches of down clusters. Though one can generally accept the difference between 650 and 750 and 850. Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends are two highly reputable North American Made companies that both advertise the use of ~850+. Boots on the ground assure these companies don’t blow smoke when it comes to warmth and fill power.

    Again as I said the down-tek or whatever marketing various companies call this encapsulating process is ‘cool’ and yes obviously anyone can wet out their down doing any activity, touring, climbing, etc, but by and large generally means one is improperly using layers. If you’re generating enough heat to wet out your down, maybe you don’t need to be wearing it? Or a wind breaker and a fleece would be better. Most of us when moving can get by with a long sleeve tshirt or so in some fairly cold temps. Add a shell of sorts (soft, hard, windbreaker) if the wind is cutting. When I’ve climbed in very cold (no moisture) conditions I’ve put my down on the outside of my shell, so my armpits and back didn’t soak it. That kept me warm. If you like an insulation layer while you’re moving something like a nano-puff is good.

    But of course there are exceptions but if I bring a down puffy when I’m touring (and I do) in the NW, I certainly don’t wear it on the uphill.

  14. Lou Dawson November 6th, 2013 8:12 pm

    Rtrain, I’ll bet I can estimate the sweet spot where both synthetic and down converge in terms of weight/warmth. I can tell you right now it would be in the lighter or medium-weight jackets. Once you get really thick, down rules for sure.

  15. Rtrain November 6th, 2013 9:23 pm

    Thanks Water and Lou. I guess as I get more conservative(i.e. older) I’m more willing to stick an extremely warm parka in the bottom of my pack. I begin to wonder if it makes more sense to haul a parka that could keep me from freezing overnight than a lighter mid-weight that would be a miserable(or worse) bivy partner.

  16. Mark Worley November 7th, 2013 8:23 am

    Just the baffled construction makes me want one. And the water resistant down is a great idea too. I got one of those trim down jackets a couple years back, high fill power and all, and it is not nearly as warm as my Michelin Man oldie with 550 fill.

  17. Pow Hound October 9th, 2015 12:02 pm

    Although this isn’t related to the cho oyu, I’d love a recommendation between two down jackets. The rab neutrino endurance has 8 oz of 800 fill down, sewn through stitching, and weighs 22 oz. The brooks range mojave has 6 oz of 800 fill down, box baffle construction, and weighs a scant 16 oz. I have other light synthetic down jackets which I could use if weight is a concern so I really want to focus on warmth with this one. Does rab’s extra 2 oz fill weight justify the higher overall weight? I’m leaning towards the mojave, but again, warmth is more important than weight here. Thanks all

  18. Lou Dawson 2 October 11th, 2015 3:15 pm

    Hi Pow, that is a tough decision! I wish the Mojave had about a half ounce more down, then it would be a no-brainer. As it is, I really have no idea which jacket is warmer, though I would always tend to buy baffled down rather than stitched-through. Perhaps contact Brooks Range and see if it’s possible to put a little extra down in a Mojave. In my experience almost all down jackets are engineered for ideal fluff conditions like trade show floors and shop racks, meaning they can almost always stand a little extra down, but not too much… Lou

  19. Kyle October 21st, 2016 6:18 pm

    Lou – how’s this jacket holding up almost three years later?

  20. Lou Dawson 2 October 21st, 2016 7:18 pm

    Glad you asked, as I usually don’t use clothing that many years, but I have indeed used the Cho many many days. I’ve not had any unusual durability problems. I’ve torn the fabric at the cuffs a few times due to wearing the jacket during activities it is not designed for, and the main zipper acts funny sometimes, but overall the piece is entirely functional. I’m pretty sure it indeed has water resistant down, but I’ve never been 100% sure of that. It seems to keep some puff even when I’ve abused it a bit, packing it with snow on it, stuff like that.

    Biggest issue with these jackets might be the sausage fit. To wear it, you need a flat belly and normal biceps (smile).

    ‘best, Lou

  21. Kyle October 23rd, 2016 5:51 pm

    Thanks for the info Lou!

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