Winter is rearing its head; days are shorter, and the temperatures just keep on falling. A good insulated jacket is your best friend during the colder months, it will keep you warm and protected if you need to venture outside. However, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to buying an insulated jacket. Do you want a down filled jacket or a synthetic jacket? Hood or no hood?
Our guide to insulated jackets is designed to take away some of the guesswork and give you all the knowledge to make the best decision for you.
How does Insulation Work?
We all know that to be warm we wear thick clothing and plenty of layers, however, there is a misconception that insulated fabrics provide warmth. In fact, insulated fabrics are designs to withhold our natural body heat, to stop it from escaping and making us cold.
Heat insulation doesn’t create or provide you with a new source of heat, it just stops your body heat from escaping. Insulated fabrics create numerous tiny pockets of air close to the skin, which traps the air and restricts it from escaping. The more air that is trapped, the warmer you’ll be.
As a result of insulated jackets trapping air, the breathability of these types of jackets are limited, after all they are designed to keep you warm. A good lightweight, packable insulated jacket is best if you are concerned about breathability, these types of jackets can be used as a mid-layer, and store away easily should you get too warm.
Types of Insulation
Down is the traditional form of insulation made using geese or duck feathers, usually the smallest feathers found next to the bird’s skin. Goose feather is generally better for warmth as it packs down smaller than duck, having a better warmth to weight ratio. The loft, or warmth, of a coat is measured by how much is filled in it, higher the fill the warmer the coat will be.
A drawback of down coats is that they do not perform as well if they get wet. If the garment becomes wet, then the feathers will clump together, losing its ability to retain heat. Down jackets are great at keeping you warm in dry conditions, if wanting a down jacket then we’d recommend wearing a waterproof jacket over the top.
Synthetic jackets attempt to recreate the effectiveness of a down jacket by replicating their ability to create pockets of warm air. Unlike down insulation, synthetic jackets retain their insulating properties even when wet, and doesn’t clump together like down does. They are a perfect choice if you plan on using an insulated jacket while out in wet conditions.
Synthetic jackets are perfect as a mid-layer in cool, wet, and humid conditions, by retaining more loft when damp they are the ideal option. These types of jackets are measured by grams per square metre, like down jackets, the higher the fill the warmer the jacket.
A hybrid insulated jacket uses both down and synthetic insulation. Although less common, these types of jackets are highly technical drawing on the strengths of both down insulation techniques and synthetics. Down insulation is on the areas where you want to be kept the warmest, you’d expect to find them in the core build of the jacket. Synthetic fibres are found in places that don’t need as much warmth, such as the shoulders and arms.
Hybrid jackets maximises functionality and weight saving properties of synthetic and down insulation. These jackets are suited to be used in damp conditions like a synthetic jacket, but also have the packability and warmth of a down jacket.
What are Baffles?
Baffles contain the sections of insulation; this helps spread out the insulation and prevents the material from gathering in one area of the jacket. They are important in the make up of the jacket, dependent on the style of baffle will affect how well the jacket performs.
Stitch through baffles evenly distribute the insulation through the jacket, ensuring that each section of your body receives insulation. However, the stitched areas where there is no insulation will cause heat loss.
Box wall baffles allows the insulation to reach its maximum loft, this makes sure that the insulation is at its best, giving you full heat retention. The stitching is also designed to help reduce heat loss.
If you’re looking for the warmest option, wide baffles are your best bet. Filled with more grams of down or synthetic and with fewer seams, wide baffles are great at keeping you warm. Despite this, wide baffles aren’t the best if you wanted to layer your clothes, it would be uncomfortable to add a waterproof jacket over the top of this coat. Wide baffles also feel bulky, think marshmallow vibes here, great for keeping you warm but not so good for movement.
Narrow baffles offer a better ease of movement and works well under a waterproof. Even if they do not offer as much warmth as wide baffles do, you can layer these styles of jackets under fleeces or gilets for added warmth. Additionally, narrow baffles compress better, meaning that they can be easily packed away should you get too hot in them. These are a great option if you are active outdoors during cold or wet environments.
Closer Look at Details
As we’ve already seen, insulated jackets are perhaps not the best for torrential rain, therefore do you really need a hood? A hood on an insulated jacket isn’t designed to keep you dry but to keep you warm. The intention is to trap the air in an area where heat escapes the fastest. However, where insulated jackets might not be the best for terrible weather, they are still versatile for light rainfall and so come in handy to keep you dry as you nip in and out. Being water resistant rather than waterproof.
If you want to read about what makes a quality rain jacket check out this blog!
However, while this extra area of warmth may sound good, if you’re wanting a lightweight, packable insulated jacket, a hood is extra bulk. A hood is a great feature to keep you warm, but it adds weight and makes an insulated jacket bulky if you wanted to add it as a mid-layer piece.
Adjustable Cuffs and Waist
Having adjustable or elasticated cuffs and waist ensures that warm air is trapped in an area where heat usually escapes from. Synching around the waist also ensures that the jacket is moulded to your body, allowing the heat your body creates to stay close to you. The adjustable cuffs also allow you to move freely without worrying that your arms might get cold.
Internal pockets are a great feature and are essential for colder days. They are also good to have if you want to keep your phone in a pocket, keeping it warm allowing it to hold its battery for longer than if it was in a trouser pocket without much insulation.
Or you can explore our entire jacket collection here.