Written by: Jeremiah Greco
Down is one of the most tried and true insulating agents available for clothing and bedding. For hundreds of years people worldwide have worn down to stay warm. Russian trading records dating back to the 1600s list bird down as a popular textile. Today, down continues to be a desirable insulator for jackets, since it provides maximum loft, which in turn retains heat more effectively at a lighter overall weight than any other natural insulator. Thanks to technology, however, synthetic insulation has given us increasingly better alternatives to down for insulating jackets, sleeping bags, and more. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular down alternatives for jackets to see how it can keep you warm without adding unnecessary weight.
Primaloft® can be and is used in every product today that had previously been dominated by down. At Orvis, we chose Primaloft® to insulate our new Drift Quarter-Zip Pullover, Lightweight Drift Vest, Long Drift Jacket and Targhee Lightweight Down Vest, giving our Outdoor collection a new warmth-without-weight insulating option. What makes Primaloft® so special?
- It provides warmth without bulk or weight.
- Primaloft® is water resistant and absorbs less moisture than down. Additionally, the biggest benefit of most synthetic insulators over down is that they continue to insulate when wet, while down loses its loft and thus its insulating properties.
- Like down, Primaloft® is breathable, allowing moisture to evaporate away from the skin and outside the jacket, while retaining its heating properties.
In our Outdoor collection, the Drift series gives active outdoor adventurers and city slickers the same level of performance, wherever their day takes them, thanks to the versatile warmth of Primaloft®.
While Polartec® is used mostly as a wool alternative, its superb insulating and lightweight properties make it a great alternative to down insulated jackets. Our Denim Portlandia Cruiser jacket makes great use of a Polartec® lining to keep a traditionally light layer – a denim jacket – warm and toasty all winter long. Like other synthetics, Polartec® continues to provide insulation even when wet. It also allows for easy wicking of moisture away from the body, to provide a warmth that’s also dry.
Down certainly remains a smart choice for lightweight warmth but synthetic alternatives are giving it a run for its money. With these two alternatives for down, your next winter jacket doesn’t have to rely on the limitations of nature. Try a jacket insulated with a down alternative this winter for warmth without weight – even when wet.