When it comes to outerwear, there’s one choice everyone wonders about: should they choose down insulation or synthetic (i.e. PrimaLoftTM)? What’s the difference in warmth? In performance? In price?
Don’t worry, it’s not as complex as it all sounds. Here’s everything you need to know when deciding whether to buy a down coat or one with PrimaLoft insulation.
Both PrimaLoft and down make excellent insulators and have proven to be masters at keeping people warm year after year. Despite this, it’s important to remember that the insulation in your coat isn’t the only aspect of the garment that is working hard to protect you from the winter elements. Make sure that you’re considering the fabric of your coat as well when you’re shopping around; you are going to want something that is windproof or resistant as well as being waterproof or water resistant. Being quick-drying is key when threats like hypothermia are present. Wet coats will lose heat much more quickly than its dry counterpart, and can compromise the insulation. You’re going to need all the heat you can get when you’re out adventuring in the bitter cold.
Down, or the fluffy undercoating that keeps ducks, geese, and other water birds warm, is a perfect natural insulator thanks to the thousands of tiny air pockets they use to keep warmth in. No synthetic insulation will be able to complete with its warmth-to-weight ratio, so if staying toasty is your main concern, down insulation is for you. In addition, down is incredibly long lasting, compressible, and lightweight, making it perfect for travel situations where you might find yourself shoving your down vest into your carry-on once you reach the airport.
PrimaLoft is a synthetic insulator that is made up of polyester microfiber. The very fine fibers that make up this material keep you warm by trapping heat in the pockets of air that forms between them, similar to how down works. Even though PrimaLoft doesn’t have the same heat-keeping ability as down, it is the hands-down winner when it comes to water-resistance. Thanks to the polyester’s special design, PrimaLoft is less likely to get wet, and when it does it naturally prevents water absorption and won’t lose its insulating ability.
In most situations, down insulation will be your best bet. It’s warmer, lighter, more compactable, and will last longer than any synthetic insulation coat. If it rains a lot where you are adventuring, however, PrimaLoft is the insulation for you. It stands up to moisture a lot better than down, and, in wet places, that is well worth the extra weight.