It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves before – what insulation is right for me? Down or Synthetic? With down being the warmest option and synthetics being more technically advanced it can be hard to choose.
But what if we told you there is another option? And that manufacturers are starting to make jackets that offer the best of both materials? That’s right – Body mapping. If you don’t know what it is yet, you will.
Before we start talking about this innovative new design, let’s take a look at the benefits of down and the benefits of synthetic insulation.
As you probably already know, down is a great insulator but doesn’t fare well in damp or wet conditions. This is where synthetic insulation comes into play. Synthetic fibers are designed to mimic downs lofty nature, but still hold their insulating properties when wet. These ultra-fine fibers are typically constructed out of polyester and trap heat to provide warmth in cool weather.
Synthetics also have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than down, meaning that you need more synthetic insulation to achieve the same insulating properties as down. Another great thing about synthetics is their ability to resist moisture, allowing them to dry faster; synthetics can usually dry in 24 hours maybe even less depending on conditions. Synthetic insulation is also naturally hypoallergenic, and a little lighter on your wallet.
Believe it or not down insulation isn’t actually made from the feathers of a duck or goose, but the plumage – the fluffy stuff found underneath the feathers. Known as the best natural insulation, the down plumage works almost as a built-in midlayer, creating lofty clusters that trap heat. Down is also naturally wicking allowing it to push water vapors away from your body to evaporate.
Down also has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulation on the market today. This makes it extremely compressible and easy to pack. Down is considered top-of-the line when it comes to insulation and has the ability to maintain its lightweight, compressible qualities while keeping you extremely warm.
For more information on down and synthetic insulations, check out our blog on how to layer for skiing and snowboarding.
Now that we’ve recapped the pros of both down and synthetic insulation, let’s talk a bit about this great new design feature, known as body mapping.
This revolutionary technology takes the best features from both down and synthetics and puts them into a single garment. Typically in these pieces the body is loaded with down to provide warmth in the core (where it counts!), trapping heat in even the coldest of conditions. In areas such as the shoulders, hood and under the arms is where synthetic insulation is placed because these areas are the most likely to get damp and retain moisture, so that you stay warm even in inclement conditions.
A couple of our favorite Body Mapped items are the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Mens Vest and the Arc’teryx Fissile Mens Insulated Jacket.
For a full selection of down and synthetic jackets, take a look at SKIS.com.