First and foremost: synthetic insulated jackets perform in wet conditions. Down jackets don’t.
No one likes being cold and down jackets are famously warm, lightweight and compressible but they are not your only option.
Synthetic insulated jackets will keep you warm and toasty by holding the warmth, they even have a few added benefits over down!
Synthetic insulation is designed to replicate the qualities of down, but retain them even when wet. Synthetic insulation is essentially polyester threading that is molded into long single threads or short staples to mimic lofty down clusters. Thinner and lighter threads fill voids and trap warm air more effectively, while thicker strands sustain the loft and durability.
First and foremost: synthetic insulated jackets perform in wet conditions. Down jackets don't.
Synthetic insulation is that it is much more resistant to moisture, and when it does get wet it dries faster. That said, insulated jackets are NOT a replacement for a waterproof jacket, heavy rain will compromise their insulating properties.
Another bonus is that synthetic insulation is easier to care for. Most synthetic fill jackets are machine washable and dryable – a definite plus!
One of the biggest appeals of a synthetic jacket is that they are also generally less expensive than their down counterparts.
Your insulated jacket will probably end up being slightly heavier than a down option. This is because synthetic insulation has a slightly higher weight-to-warmth ratio than down.
So how do you wear it?
The concept of layering is a long-standing tradition for travellers and hikers. You need to have a functional, versatile layering system to stay on top of weather changes, especially when an unexpected storm rolls through.
You'll need base layers, mid layers, and outer layers (or shells) to do this effectively.
The synthetic insulated jacket is a mid layer that transitions easily to an outer layer if it's not raining or incredibly windy. This will keep you warm and toasty!
In the end, it may come down to your personal preferences.
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Unlike down, synthetics come in different blends and performance is different depending on the brand or design of the material. Here are some features of synthetic insulation to consider.
- Water repellent
- Quick drying
- Warm when wet
- Cheaper than down
- Heavier than down
- Not as warm per ounce as down
- Not as compressible and packable