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Down Jacket Guide: What is a Down Jacket?

Down Jacket Guide: What is a Down Jacket?

30.08.2017 | Outdoor Buying Guides

Find out answers to the most common questions and learn how to choose a down jacket that’s right for you in our down jacket guide.

Contents (Click To Jump To):


1. What is a Down Jacket?

A down jacket is a jacket which has been insulated with the soft and warm under feathers from duck or geese. Down is a fantastic insulator as the loft (or fluffiness) of down creates thousands of tiny air pockets which trap warm air and retain heat, thus keeping the wearer very warm.

The down fill of a jacket will be either goose down, duck down or a combination of the two. Goose down is often regarded as the warmest and lightest but duck down jackets, or jackets with a combination, are often cheaper.



2. What is Down Fill Power?

Down fill power is a measure of the loft or ‘fluffiness’ of the down and its insulating properties. The higher the fill power, the more air pockets in the down and the more insulating the jacket will be for its weight.

 

Down Jacket Fill Power Ratings:

Fill Power Rating
400 – 450 Medium
500 – 550 Good
550 – 750 Very Good
750 – 900 Excellent

 

Fill power is calculated in laboratory conditions and is measured in cubic inches per ounce. To test fill power an ounce of down is compressed by a weight in a glass cylinder. It’s ability to bounce back and ‘loft’ is calculated as the fill power.

Fill power is also an indication of the quality of the down used. The better the quality of down the higher the fill power. As less down is required to provide the same amount of warmth, jackets with a higher fill power tend to be lighter and more compressible.

Fill power ranges from 400 to 900. For down outerwear ratings will generally fall between 600 and 800.


Henry Down Padded Jacket

Men’s Henry Down Padded Jacket

Stay warm with this lightweight down jacket, the perfect packable layer for winter.

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"Featherweight

Womens Featherweight Down Jacket

With a down fill power rating of 600, this water resistant jacket will keep you warm.

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3. Down Vs Synthetic Insulation

Down Insulation

Pros Cons
Excellent heat retention Loses insulating ability when wet
Lightweight- better warmth to weight ratio Takes a long time to dry out when wet
Wider comfort temperature range- making it suitable for cold and warm temperatures More expensive
Easier to compress and packs small Requires special cleaning

Synthetic Insulation

Pros Cons
Cheaper than down Heavier
Easier to clean

Check Out The Mountain Warehouse Down Range


 

4. Jacket Construction

There are two types for down jackets, Sewn Through or Box Baffle.

Sewn Through

This is the most common and generally the cheapest type of down jacket. It is simpler, less time consuming and as less material is used, cheaper to make.

 

Box Baffle

This method maximises the loft and warmth of the down fill. Each separate baffle has its own section of down. This allows less pinching, meaning loft can be maximised and “cold spots” minimised. Jackets made this way are generally thicker and warmer than sewn through versions but as extra material is required and they more complex to make, box baffle jackets are often more expensive.

 

Outer Material

The materials used for the outer shell will have an effect on the jackets performance in four vital ways:

-Durability
-Weight
-Warmth
-Waterproofness/Breathability


5. Waterproof & Breathable Down Jackets

The shell will often be coated with a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating to offer some resistance to rain. Waterproof down jackets will combine this waterproof coating with a waterproof membrane to help keep moisture out. A waterproof down jacket will often also be breathable allowing moisture and sweat to escape.


6. Durability & Weight

A super lightweight down jacket will be made with a thin, light material for the outer shell. Although ideal for reducing weight they can be more vulnerable to snagging and abrasions. This type of jacket is great if you are wearing it now and again on cold days. If you are looking for a jacket to wear regularly for many years to come, it is worth looking for a slightly heavier and thicker outer shell which will last far longer.


7. Fit

A down jacket should not be too fitted or too loose. You should allow for adding layers underneath but ensure it’s not too roomy as cold air could get in through the hem and arms. Down jackets tend to be heavier than regular waterproof jackets or wool coats so remember you need a bit of room in it to allow you to move about.


8. Other Features

  • Hoods – A hood will help add extra warmth but will also add bulk. If you are wearing a down jacket as a mid-layer, i.e. under a waterproof coat, you may consider wearing a jacket without a hood.
  • Cuffed waist and wrists – Help to seal in the warmth.
  • Pockets – Padded lined pockets are ideal for cold hands.

Men’s Down Jackets

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Women’s Down Jackets

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