|Outdoor Gear Advice - Which insulated jacket? Down or Synthetic?|
According to Ian McCaskill down there, or whoever now does the BBC weather, it's going to be parky this January and February, so choosing outdoor gear that will keep you warm in the UK climate could be of interest to you Here's a brief description of the beauty of insulation.
|How do insulated jackets keep you warm?|
It's not the fabric, or how nice and chunky it looks, or how great the label reflects in the afternoon sun, or how much it makes you feel muscular
(okay I'll get on with it...).
It's all about trapped air. The more air you trap inside your insulated jacket the better. Your lovely hot body warms the trapped air and... there you have it... warmth
|Down (don't worry, there are no pathetic duck 'your quackers' puns, so read on in safety)|
Down is great, ask those lot pecking at people's mouldy old bread next to Keswick Launch. Different grades of down give you different insulation levels. Here's where we need a quick word about Fill-Power: The Fill-Power is the amount of volume one ounce of down will fill in cubic inches. For example, one ounce of 600 fill-power down will loft to 600 cubic inches. The more loft the better.
So, all you really need to know is that the higher the number the warmer the down. Add a windproof outer shell and you're laughing.
|So down is miles better than any synthetic insulation?|
Down traps more air than synthetic material, is more compressible and its warmth to weight ratio is awesome. So, you'd be quackers (I lied) to choose synthetics, everything's great with down?
No, no it isn't - everything isn't great. If you thought there was going to be a happy ending to this, then think again. Get your down jacket wet and the whole thing collapses into a horrible cold mess with no insulation at all. The light fluffy down loses its fluff.
Now, you probably don't need to be told this but, in the UK it rains a lot. Keswick, this December, was no place for Down Jackets. This is where choosing outdoor gear with synthetic fibres come into its own.
|Not nice weather for ducks|
Synthetic insulation does not quite have the same warmth to weight ratio as down and it doesn't pack down as small (although it's not far off) but it does keep most of its insulating qualities when wet.
So, in The Lake District, where the Met Office measures the annual rainfall in metres rather than millimeters, the extra weight of a synthetic insulted jacket would seem a good trade off. Eating your mam's jam butties on Skiddaw in your down jacket with a metre of rain tipping on your head would make more than your butties soggy.
Primaloft is one of the best known synthetic insulation materials. It mimics the lightweight compressibility of down but, as we've said, continues to insulate even when wet. I'll just give you the Primaloft tag line on their website to save me the effort of making something up. Read this in an American accent if you like to give it more oomph 'Primaloft: The best choice for Damp, Wet and Cold Weather'. Big white smile from a toasty warm man in his warm Primaloft world.
Down is great when dry. Synthetic is great when wet (why didn't I just say that at the beginning and save you the effort of trawling through all this waffle).
|Our outdoor gear that uses down and synthetic insulation|
Below is a list of the outdoor gear we have in our shop that uses down and synthetic insulation.