The women's down jacket, originally designed for winter sports, has become a true fashion item like The North Face street jackets . Down is the perfect weapon to fight against the cold, whether in the mountains or in the city.
There are duvets for everyone: long or short, with or without hood, with or without sleeves.... The choice can quickly become a real puzzle!
that's certainly the most important thing. What to choose between natural down insulation and synthetic insulation?
Indeed you will find on the market 2 main families of insulation: down and synthetic. It is not impossible to also find products that combine the two.
Down is a natural material from duck or goose. Down has a much higher insulating and compression capacity than synthetic down. The insulation of down is linked to its swelling power. The more air the down swells, the warmer it will be. This swelling power is measured in cubic inches (cuin) or power thread. The higher the cuin, the warmer it will be.
- Between 400 and 500 cuin: medium quality down
- Between 600 and 700: good qualitydown
- More than 800: very goodquality down
To compare two down jackets, simply multiply the cuin by the amount of down (not the weight of the down jacket).
- Down comforter 1: 600 cuin x 200 grams of down = 120 000
- Down jacket 2: 800 cuin x 150 grams of down = 120 000
In both cases, the jackets are as warm as each other, but the second one will be lighter and more compressible. We talk about heat index in quilting tests and sleeping bags. Obviously, the better the feather, the more expensive the comforter will be.
There are 3 categories of jackets:
- 90 to 150g of down: micro down jacket for temperatures around 0°C
- 200 to 300g of down: winter and high altitude down jacket, for temperatures below freezing
- 400 to 500g of down: expedition down jacket for the extreme cold
Another point to be taken into account is the proportion of down/plumette. While the feather is essential to stabilize the down, the more down there is, the warmer and more compressible the comforter will be, but it will be more sensitive to humidity. The ratios generally vary from 85/15, up to 95/5 for high-end products, i.e. 95% down and 5% feather.
Moisture being the main enemy of down, more and more down jackets have down treated to be hydrophobic.
The competition is serious among synthetic insulation manufacturers. All of them are committed to their technologies and innovations and announce unrivalled properties. There are, however, well-known manufacturers of synthetic insulation such as Primaloft or Polartec (made from recycled plastic bottles).
- PrimaLoft One: the hottest, lightest and most compact, but expensive
- PrimaLoft Sport: a little less hot, but more economical, good value for money
- PrimaLoft Eco: not as hot as the One and Sport, but environmentally friendly, made from 100% recycled bottles.
- Polartec Alpha: cooler than PrimaLoft One and Sport, but more breathable, very compressible
- Wadding: generic insulation used for low/mid-range clothing, stays warmer than a fleece.
The synthetic insulation is made of polyester filaments that mimic the swelling power of down. It would be reductive to say that synthetic is worse than down. Less compressible than down, synthetics retain their thermal properties even in wet weather! Synthetics are less fragile, less water-resistant and, above all, much more economical. It just has different properties.
The density of the synthetic filling is measured in gr/m². The higher the grammage, the better the insulation.
The outer fabric is also important in the choice of your down jacket, for its lightness and compression but also for its properties (waterproofness - breathability - windproofness). The thinner the fabric, the lighter and more compressible, but more fragile the down jacket will be. If a tear in the fabric on a synthetic down jacket is not catastrophic, on a down jacket, it is the loss of feathers insured.
Most down jackets are windproof and water repellent, but are not totally waterproof. A few rare jackets are waterproof, as this affects breathability, compression and price. You can find RAB's ultra warm jackets , the quality of the columbia jackets, or Karpos hybrid down jackets for ski touring.
Tip: an outer fabric made of "Pertex Quantum" is a guarantee of quality!
In recent years, down has been the subject of much controversy. Manufacturers have realized that many consumers are concerned about their environmental impact when buying a down comforter. In fact, animal abuse has been questioned, as well as the respect of working conditions for personnel in down production plants. Manufacturers have understood this, and are trying to propose solutions that are more respectful of the environment, animals but also humans.
This is why the RDS label (Responsible Down Standard) was created. This label certifies that the feathers used to make a down comforter for eco-responsible women is derived from animals that are raised healthily and without unnecessary suffering. It is thus synonymous with sustainability and respect for the environment, a quality that is increasingly appreciated by consumers.
Now you have all the weapons in hand to choose the most suitable comforter!
You have finally invested in the comforter of your dreams and you wish to maintain it as well as possible so that it lasts as long as possible. Not easy the maintenance of a comforter. Don't hesitate to wash your duvet once a year. This will reactivate the swelling and waterproofness of your down comforter. Alpinstore gives you some advice.
Tip 1: To make it last as long as possible, take care of it from day to day! To begin with, lightly clean it with a washcloth lightly soaked in soapy or clear water, so as not to wet the down inside.
Tip 2 : read the label on the comforter ! Indeed it is recommended to follow the advice given by the supplier on the labels of the jacket. Be careful, some down cannot be machine-washed.
Reading the washing instructions on the label and respecting them will ensure a longer life for your down jacket.
Tip 4: Use drying balls or simply tennis balls during the machine program and for drying. Perfect for keeping the down's swelling power, the balls are designed to stir the down so that it does not clump in the corners of the down comforter.
Discover at Alpinstore the special blanket washing kit with a down detergent with 3 drying bales.
Council No. 5 If you are afraid to wash your down you can always call a dry cleaner.