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.
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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 helping to keep the wearer very warm in cold winter weather.
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.
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.
|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.
|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|
|Cheaper than down||Heavier|
|Easier to clean|
There are two types for down jackets, Sewn Through or Box Baffle.
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.
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.
The materials used for the outer shell will have an effect on the jackets performance in four vital ways:
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.
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.