Synthetic insulation fabric
The synthetic insulation material is chemically made to imitate a natural product like down feathers. The material is spun into filaments that create a pocket of air between each fibre. This pocket then warms up from your body temperature, the same way down keeps you warm. You might choose a synthetic fill rather than down to provide excellent warmth in cold and wet conditions. It is a lot more resistant to moisture and dries faster than down. A general rule is that synthetic insulated jackets are cheap than the down jacket alternative.
Is synthetic insulation warm?
There are many improvements being made in how warm synthetic insulations is, however, down still has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio and is less bulky.
Having said that, if you're looking for a jacket for active use like a fast, cold hike, then synthetic is a good choice. Synthetic jackets can be worn over something like a waterproof jacket during periods of inactivity. They’re ideally suited towards cold weather climbing where you’re likely to reach a belay ledge and need that extra layer of protection whilst you’re not moving and creating your own warmth.
Also, consider how you are going to wear it. Is it a layering piece that needs room to fit layers underneath?
The best synthetic insulation jackets
We highly recommend Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody, The North Face Thermoball range and the MONTANE Prism Primaloft Jacket. These are some of the most versatile, insulated and well-constructed outdoor jackets you will find.
Another option is insulated jackets that combine a hybrid of down and synthetic. To offer different insulation in certain areas of a jacket like your core or arms.
Synthetic insulation lifespan
Synthetic insulation durability will wear down due to the fibres getting broken over time as you pack it into a stuff sack. Down on the other hand, if cared for correctly, is more resilient and can last many years longer.
Primaloft insulation is commonly used in outdoor jackets
PrimaLoft® Silver insulation is built with two different sized fibres. Retaining 85% of insulation, the technology offers incredible thermal efficiency. The fibres used to provide reliable insulation with easy packability, making it a perfect option for travelling or hiking.
PrimaLoft® Silver Eco prides itself on being environmentally friendly. Made from at least 60% recycled content, it offers the same insulation qualities as alternative technologies in the range. PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Down Blend is the highest performing PrimaLoft® available.