Insulation is critical when it comes to cold-weather jackets. Your jacket cannot keep you warm if it is not adequately insulated. Insulated jackets are required regardless of the chilly weather activity if you want to stay warm when temperatures drop.
You’ll have to choose between two very distinct yet related types of insulation before you can choose a jacket. PrimaLoft vs. Down Insulation is the main rivalry.
There’s no arguing that high-quality down is the best choice for dry-weather warmth. However, it has a number of drawbacks, like being very heavy and not being waterproof.
This is where PrimaLoft, the top synthetic insulation brand, comes in.
PrimaLoft insulation has the same amazing capabilities as down insulation, but it also provides superior protection even in damp conditions.
With fabric with millions of air pockets that absorb and retain your body heat, this synthetic insulation replicates the warmth-giving features of down.
In our guide, you can find out more about PrimaLoft Gold vs. down, which could be the better option for your outdoor gear. (Find the Best Heated Jackets)
By the end, you’ll know much more about these two materials and how they can keep you warm in the coldest of weather with your new purchase of durable water repellent coating and the insulating ability.
What Is The Difference Between Down and PrimaLoft?
High-quality down provides tremendous warmth in dry weather, but it’s pretty heavy and subject to water damage. PrimaLoft, a top synthetic insulation brand, tries to address these issues.
PrimaLoft synthetic materials were initially developed to imitate qualities of down while reducing weight and offering water resistance. PrimaLoft insulation is a fantastic alternative to down in damp and dreary weather, although it falls in the warmth department.
Down has long reigned in the insulation world where things such as sleeping bags, jackets, and lots more contain it. Down is among the best insulation options, but at a price.
PrimaLoft may not offer the same insulation properties but is moisture resistant, unlike natural down.
When shopping for gear, it’s hard to pick between the two easily. Both offer excellent insulation materials, and much of the decision will be based on the wearer’s needs besides whether the coat is extremely lightweight, or one offers better insulation than the other.
Here you can compare the two products that offer the best insulating abilities for outdoor gear.
Down products are the most effective insulators you can find, and this doesn’t just include natural insulation. The best insulator holds significantly more heat than any synthetic insulation.
Down products work by trapping air between clusters of down plumes or feathers. Keeping heat inside lets air pockets help down insulation work as it does on birds in the wild.
It’s important to remember that not all down is made equal. The fill power of down (at least 550+) will determine the quality.
The fill power of down is a measurement of its relative quality.
The figure is based on a laboratory test that determines how many cubic inches of loft one ounce of down fill creates. Higher fill power figures show greater loft and insulating efficiency.
You also discover that higher fill power products (900) can be lighter, with a warmth-to-weight ratio showing high insulation power.
In principle, 40 ounces of 450 fill power down is equivalent to 20 ounces of 900 fill power in your down product.
Although it depends on how much insulation the manufacturer includes, a PrimaLoft jacket can be as warm as a down jacket. A PrimaLoft jacket could be as warm as a down jacket with more synthetic materials added for higher insulation and a puffier shell.
With so much PrimaLoft synthetic insulation, your jacket will be bigger, puffier, and harder to compress. (Find the Best 2 Person Sleeping Bags)
Down and PrimaLoft insulation are both breathable; however, it varies on the product. PrimaLoft has a slight advantage, but it all depends on the fabric of the outer shell.
This doesn’t make much of a difference for sleeping bags, but it makes a big difference with coats. The overall jacket must be assessed because it will have a considerable impact on performance.
Because both down and PrimaLoft are quite breathable, the choice is yours.
The phrase “water-resistant” refers to a product’s capacity to withstand water.
The ability of down to withstand moisture and be water-resistant has improved in recent years where there is a product called hydrophobic down, which is water-resistant down that has been soaked in DWR.
Although hydrophobic down outperforms conventional down, PrimaLoft will always be more moisture resistant. PrimaLoft was specifically designed for military use, thus the need for high levels of water resistance.
PrimaLoft is a fluffed polyester that has natural moisture-wicking properties. Even if it gets wet, it is unlikely to become soaked, and even if it does, the synthetic insulation can retain heat-retaining capabilities better than down’s ability.
If properly maintained, a down jacket will almost always outlast a synthetic equivalent.
However, it can be a little deceiving, as down jackets are nearly always more expensive than a synthetic alternative. As a result, the best down jacket will come with the best materials.
Down is quite resilient on its own, but if not correctly cared for, it is susceptible to mold and mildew. Wash it with a special laundry detergent and make sure it is completely dry before putting it into storage.
Down can also keep its loft, and thus its warmth, for a more extended amount of time. You can roll and compress down, causing no damage, and unless it gets soaking wet, it can keep its loft for a long time.
For PrimaLoft, it’s best not to flatten the synthetic fibers too much, as, over time, they can flatten and keep this shape. Once your synthetic jacket takes on this structure, then the ability to provide warmth is lost.
Both PrimaLoft and down are quite equal when adequately maintained. PrimaLoft gold insulation makes beneficial use of its tiny air pockets to keep you warmer for longer than down but can stop mold and mildew from being an issue through use in wet conditions.
PrimaLoft is superior for upkeep. Because it’s made of polyester, it won’t clump up when wet and shouldn’t build excess residue.
Taking care of down is, to be honest, a real pain in the neck. Down goods cannot be dry cleaned; they must be washed with a particular washing detergent and need a great deal of attention with cleaning and drying. (Learn How To Wash A Down Jacket Patagonia)
When down, a natural insulator gets wet; it sticks together. You’ll need to break apart the clumps as they dry, so they don’t cling together. If you don’t break up those clumps of down, your jacket becomes useless at keeping you warm. Much of this you can see amid mother nature. Birds on water fluff up their wings regularly when they get wet.
Loft and Compressibility
Down is easier to compress and gives more warmth across the board, so it’s a straightforward decision. As a result, a lower amount of down will keep you warmer than the same amount of PrimaLoft. The Fill Power determines the total loft because not all down is created equal.
Down jackets with a higher fill power (750+) are warmer than PrimaLoft jackets of the same size. Lowering the Fill Power to 450-550 will provide somewhat more incredible warmth than similar-sized PrimaLoft jackets.
This means less bulk and weight while keeping superior fill power when wearing a down jacket.
Because of this, down coats are trendy in technical sports and activities where too much bulk can be a hindrance. No synthetic insulators compare to the freedom of movement you get from down for snowboarding, skiing, and mountaineering.
Does PrimaLoft Keep You Warm?
PrimaLoft insulation is a synthetic insulator made of polyester microfiber. The very thin strands that make up this material retain heat in air pockets that form between them, similar to how down keeps you warm.
Many synthetic insulation products are available that can offer a great deal of warmth, even in wet environments. They are extremely durable and wick moisture vapor away from the body once you get warm and sweat.
However, even with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, bulk quickly takes over, which can greatly affect performance even though it resists moisture.
PrimaLoft Gold can keep you very warm, yet it can’t compare to down that offers more insulation properties in a less bulky item of clothing.
What is PrimaLoft Down?
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation
Gold insulation has a high warmth-to-weight ratio, is water-resistant, breathable, compressible for easy storage, and is lightweight. It feels pleasing to the touch, and the synthetic insulators are the most comprehensive of their offerings to trap air and keep you warm.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Down Blend
It comprises 30% PrimaLoft ultra-fine fibers and 70% goose-down, and it mimics the warmth of down while preserving all the benefits of Gold insulation.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation ECO
Because of global concern, it is a green option. Insulation Eco comprises 55% recycled materials and has great insulation offering an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and excellent water resistance, breathability, and compressibility.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Active
This insulation has a 4-way stretch that won’t damage the insulation, as well as the conventional benefits of Gold insulation for more active travelers.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation LUXE
Lux insulation has all the benefits of Gold insulation, but with the added luxury of a down appearance, feel, and warmth.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation for Footwear
This insulation is exceptionally robust in circumstances of repetitive compression, but it is also manufactured from 90% recycled materials. High warmth, water resistance, and lightweight breathability are also included.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation ECO With Grip Control
This insulation, designed specifically for gloves, has a non-slip grip and is 90% recycled material. It’s also warm, water-repellent, breathable, and light.
PrimaLoft Gold CERAMIC BLEND
This insulation, like an oven, contains ceramic particles that reflect body heat into you while still providing all the benefits of Gold insulation.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation MERINO WOOL BLEND
This insulation blends Marino with PrimaLoft, using the performance characteristics of natural Merino wool. Although it is not as compressible as Gold insulation, it shares many of the same characteristics.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation USA
This tactical insulation is described as having 25 years of military field testing behind it and being constructed entirely of US goods and assembled in the US. It is warm, water-resistant, breathable, lightweight, and soft despite not being compressible.
Is PrimaLoft Synthetic Down?
Outerwear, gloves, sleeping bags, and footwear are all made with PrimaLoft synthetic insulation.
It’s also utilized in pillows, comforters, and mattress toppers as an alternative to down insulation. If you want the best performance and cost isn’t an issue, you’ll want 800+ fill power down with a hydrophobic, DWR covering.
It just doesn’t get much better. You’ll be able to journey in the coldest climates if you have enough down and a good layering technique.
However, not everyone needs to remain warm that much. Synthetics as a down alternative can be more than enough.
- Cost is an issue.
- Conditions are extremely damp for your sleeping bag
- Conditions that aren’t sub-zero
- If you can handle the extra weight/bulk, try sub-zero.
Car camping is convenient since it allows you to drive in and out without worrying about weight or compressibility.
Because weight and compressibility are more critical for backpackers, section hikers, and thru-hikers who need to travel light, you’re better off investing in high-quality down items.
Both have their upsides and downsides, yet if you want convenience from your insulating coat, then a synthetic alternative makes a suitable choice.