Even the most experienced outdoors enthusiasts may not realize that there are big differences between down and synthetic jackets. It is important to know the differences because selecting to right one for you can have a huge effect on you comfort levels while camping or hiking.
For those who just want to trek back and forth between home and school/work, this review is also for you. So many people just select their jackets based on appearances and fit. They forget that they main reason to wear a jacket is to remain warm without being too warm.
Two key types of jackets are ones made out of down, and ones made of synthetic materials. One will be better than the other based on the particular needs of the one who makes the decision. And in order to make a decision, one must understand the facts and arguments.
For the past several decades, there has been an assumption that down was the best way to go. There was always a good reason for this. Down jackets have a better warmth-to-weight ratio. This means that for anyone who wants to pack light, they will get more warmth with less bulk. This also makes down jackets especially good for the casual jogger. Not only does it retain heat better, it allows moisture from sweat to escape, and does it better than synthetics.
Another main advantage to down jackets is that you can compress it and fit it into a small pouch. Down is so much more compressible than synthetic, and it will retain its integrity by ‘fluffing’ back up even after being cinched down.
So, why would anyone argue against purchasing a down jacket? There are a few downsides to down that we have not mentioned. One of the biggest downsides is that it is considerably pricier than synthetic jackets. Also, down is only getting pricier, thus discouraging once avid fans of down from purchasing it.
The other major downside is that if your down jacket gets wet, it will lose its warmth retaining quality until it dries back up. Adding to this problem is the fact that down dries up very slowly. So if you get your down jacket wet, you can forget about wearing it for a few hours.
The upkeep when it comes to down is a bit more complicated than with synthetic. Instead of putting your down jacket in the regular wash cycle, you will need to use special detergents that will maintain its longevity. But looking on the brighter side, down jackets last much longer than synthetic jackets.
If you want a relatively inexpensive way to keep warm while you run or hike, synthetic jackets can do the trick. Although they are not as good as down jackets in terms of warmth-to-weight ratios, newer synthetic materials do pack much value for the amount of spend.
Unlike many other synthetic products, synthetic jackets are often favored over down for the fact that they require you to wash them more frequently. The more you sweat in your jacket, the more often you need to wash. And a due to the fact that down carries with it the burden of needing to use special detergents and washing methods, synthetic jackets are an obvious choice for many people.
Now, if we were talking about much thicker jackets, such as parkas, there would be a stronger argument for down materials. After all, parkas and thick jackets under which people normally wear heavy clothing are less likely to need frequent washing.
So which is the better; down jackets or synthetic jackets? In general, we argue that both down and synthetic materials are good for different people. But when it comes to picking out a jacket, we feel that most of the time, barring any needs for parkas or other Winter jackets, synthetic materials are better. This is because of the fact that it is less costly, does not need as much maintenance, and will still maintain a good part of their warmth when they are wet.
Going for a down jacket usually involves wanting something that is just as warm, but lighter. Also, light backpackers love the compressibility of down. It just comes with the unfortunately high price tag, and the fact that it requires more maintenance than regular jackets.
What is your jacket type? Do you prefer down or down alternatives? Please enter your comment below and start a discussion.