Are you looking at buying a down jacket or sleeping bag heading into this winter? Here is a 30 second guide about the key specs you need to know to make an informed decision. It will also make you look educated when a sales person is rattling off numbers and you can fire a question back 👍
Okay... Start the Clock!
There are two important attributes to insulation - Quality & Quantity!
- Quality - Also called "loft" or "fill power" is the grade of down. The bigger number the better the quality. This means more space is taken up by less down = better warmth to weight ratio. Numbers range from around 550 - 950.
- Quantity - How many grams of that down is in the jacket. Are you buying a lightweight ultra compact jacket/sleeping bag or an expedition one?
There are two main types of construction - Stitch Through & Box Walled
- Stitched Through - The lighter, more compact and cheaper option. The baffles are divided by stitching the outer and inner fabrics together. Although very light, compact, easy etc. etc. it means no insulation exists where that stitch is = can get cold spots in high winds.
- Box Walled - Bulkier but no cold spots and wind proof. Baffles are divided by a internal wall. Outer and inner fabric never meet.
Note: Some products have combinations of the both
Lightweight and durable = more $$$
Water treatments/membranes = more $$$
You need to keep your down dry! Water treatment comes in two main forms
- Treating the down itself with a Durable Water Repellent treatment (DWR)
- Treating the outer fabric with DWR or indeed having a waterproof outer fabric
STOP THE CLOCK!
Now this is by no means an exhaustive look into down products. There is a lot more at play within these categories but understanding a couple of key points can go a long way to making a much better decision.
By - Matt