If you could only take one jacket on your next adventure, which would you choose? First, let's figure out the weather conditions and the type of activity you'll be doing.
A jacket for cold conditions
If you’ll be outdoors in cold to freezing conditions, you’ll need a jacket that provides excellent insulation.
Down is nature’s best insulator, providing exceptional warmth and breathability. A down jacket keeps you warm by trapping body heat and preventing it from diffusing into the cold air around you.
The performance of down fill is measured by fill power. Numbers on the sleeve, like 550, 600 and 750, refer to the quality of the fill.
Fill power is measured by the number of cubic inches that one ounce of down occupies in a climate-controlled test cylinder. The more volume occupied by the down, the greater the amount of air trapped and the greater the insulation generated.
A down jacket’s construction, such as the size of the baffles, also impacts your jacket’s insulation capabilities.
If the conditions you’ll be venturing in will be cold and wet, you want a jacket that insulates when wet and is quick to dry.
Synthetic fill is designed to replicate the qualities of down, but has the added benefits of being more resistant to moisture and able to dry faster.
A synthetic fill jacket can be a more affordable alternative to down and is naturally hypoallergenic. The downside of synthetic is it’s heavier and bulkier than down, requiring more weight and volume to keep you warm.