Here I’m going to talk about insulated and down jackets.
I’m gonna go through the main differences between the two kinds of insulated jackets that are available and those two kinds are down and synthetic jackets.
As technology has advanced in the past few years, the difference between down and synthetic has gotten smaller. That’s great because you have more options when choosing your garments.
I’m gonna talk about what the differences are and how technology has advanced so that we can actually minimize the downsides to both down and synthetic.
Let’s get into down first.
Down is a natural material. It comes from ducks and from geese and it’s actually the sort of fluffy piece that comes underneath the feathers.
How down works? There are little clusters and those clusters interlink and those links trap air.
When you put a down jacket on, that air that is trapped by the down is actually warmed up, heated up by your own body heat and that is what makes you warm.
The best things about down is that it has the best weight to warmth ratio, it’s a very warm material, it’s also very lightweight, it’s also very compressible, which means you can pack it in your rucksack and pull it out when when you have an emergency, you stop when you’re out on the hill and you can put it on so you can stay warm.
So lightweight, compressibility and warmth are the biggest positives to down.
Traditionally the downside to down was that it was really susceptible to moisture. Over the years a lot of people have tried to negate that downside.
What they’ve done actually is they come with a treatment called hydrophobic down and down is actually treated with a
coating and that stops moisture from being absorbed into the down, which is brilliant because it actually makes down much more suitable for many different occasions.
Down is great in really cold conditions, but with the new hydrophobic treatment is even better in wet conditions.
Moving on to synthetic insulations.
Synthetic insulation does get compared a lot to to down.
The biggest pro to synthetic is it does not get affected by moisture. When it gets wet, it actually retains a lot of its warmth and it dries very quickly.
In comparison to down, synthetic is not as warm for the weight, it’s a little bit heavier, it doesn’t compress as much, so it doesn’t get as small.
Like I said, it’s not as warm, so you actually need more synthetic insulation to have the same warmth for down.
But again, this technology has advanced. Materials have gotten that much warmer and that much more water resistant. In some cases, you can get some really top level performance materials that are very highly water resistant.
In a country like the UK, where it is very wet, a synthetic jacket is a brilliant solution, particularly if you’re going out in the hills, if you go on winter walking, if you’re going walking when the weather is really bad and you still want to stay warm.
Or if you’re going winter climbing where there’s rain, there’s sleet, there’s snow that’s melting all around, your synthetic insulation is the perfect partner to keep you warm in that situation.
Just to summarize, we’ve got down that is very light, very warm, it’s also very compressible. Down is susceptible to moisture. However that has been combated by hydrophobic down and it does cost a little more.
Synthetic is very resistant to moisture and even if it does get wet, it stays warm. Less expensive. It’s actually easier to care of. You can wash down but it’s a bit challenging.
Downsides to synthetic are that it’s not as warm, it weighs a little bit more and it’s not as compressible.
About the kinds of jackets that are available in both down and synthetic.
To keep down in place, a down jacket has baffles and these baffles are filled with down. They’re filled with that material we just talked about. The baffles hold that down in place so that you have even warmth spread throughout the jacket.
That is one kind. This jacket is very warm, it’s designed for mountaineering, it’s designed for really cold days out in the Alps and in a very cold but dry environment.
It might be overkill in most of UK conditions, but if you make the baffles smaller and put less down in it, you can actually get still a very warm jacket that’s very suitable for the UK conditions. You probably won’t overheat.
This is a brilliant everyday jacket, it’s a brilliant emergency jacket for a spring day or an autumn day.
These jackets can be used in any kind of conditions. These are really versatile jackets, these are what are called micro baffle down jackets and as a result have been incredibly popular in the past few years.
In synthetic jackets, the material hangs in a sheet, it hangs down from the top and you’ve just got a single panel, so it doesn’t need the same kind of micro baffles that the down jackets have.
There is one special synthetic jack and this is cutting edge technology.
It looks like a down Jacket, it has those baffles, but it’s actually synthetic material that mimics the shape of down and it has the similar warmth to down.
Yet it benefits from the positives of synthetic material, so it’s less susceptible to moisture.
That’s just one example of how technology has moved on to narrow the gap between synthetic and down jackets.
For over 12 years, I have been testing and reviewing heating technologies that overcome cold weather conditions. In recent years, I have specialized in the heated apparel. I’ve made it my mission to educate people about heated clothing.