When choosing a lightweight down jacket one of the most important decisions you will need to make is whether to have a full length zip or a half length zip. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so ruminate on our list before you make a decision.
Full Length Zip Positives
Easy to take on and off
Vent yourself easily if the zip is two-way
Can be opened out and used as a blanket
Access inner pockets quickly
Possible to join it with other jackets
Full Length Zip Negatives
Larger zip area leads to greater heat loss
More surface area for wind and rain penetration
More wear and tear on the zip
Half Length Zip Positives
More down area, so warmer
Less zip wear and tear
Better fit around the stomach
Less zip area for wind and rain penetration
Half Length Zip Negatives
More difficult to take on and off
Harder to access inner jacket pockets
Harder to vent your body during intense exercise
Lightweight Down Jacket – Full Zip or Half Zip?
At the end of the day both half zip and full zip lightweight down jackets are going to keep you warm. The decision you will need to make is do you want a jacket that is versatile – full length zip, or one that is slightly warmer and better fitting – half length zip.
If are poor at regulating your body heat and are constantly placing on and removing jackets then the full length zip is the style of lightweight down jacket best suited to you. If you feel the cold and very rarely remove a jacket over long periods of time outdoors, then the half zip version is going to be more useful.
And finally, what about your hair? If you like to look perfect and are constantly preening yourself then a half zip jacket is going to cause you untold grief, so they are best avoided!
Although a fleece is great for warmth, a softshell jacket has the best of both worlds. Not only will it provide warmth, it also offers more protection from the elements. Highly comfortable, these jackets are a popular choice for everyday wear.
Softshell jackets were initially created for activities like climbing and mountaineering. The fabric is incredibly breathable and has a great deal of stretch, made to keep you moving, dry and warm.
Soft and flexible, softshell jackets are best for keeping active. They also work great as a mid-layer in severe weather or as an outer layer in moderate conditions, and are great to protect you from windy conditions.
Made from feather by-products of geese, ducks, or other waterfowl, the down insulation will keep you warm without weighing you down.
Insulated down jackets and body warmers are ideal pieces of technical clothing for adding an extra layer of insulation without adding much weight. The lightweight jackets have a small pack size so they can fit easily into walking trouser pockets or the smallest of free spaces in your backpack.
However, down-insulated jackets are weak to moisture and provide less protection against the elements. Although some jackets use water-resistant treated down, the jacket is best suited to drier conditions.
Choosing the right jacket for you will depend on your activities and weather conditions.
If you are going to be active, the flexible softshell jackets are the best. The lightweight down-insulated jacket is great to carry to keep you warm in cold and dry conditions. In wet conditions, the fleece will keep you warm and dry quickly.
All the jackets work best when worn in layers.
Ready to choose your perfect jacket? Browse our range today.
Posted in Down Products | Comments Off on The differences between fleece, softshell and down-insulated jackets
Down is the fluffy plumage that waterfowl grow next to their skin to help insulate and aide buoyancy. It is not a true feather as we understand them, but a much simpler form that has soft and fluffy filament shafts growing in all directions. These down ‘clusters’ are extremely lightweight and provide a large surface area to trap air and warmth from the body. True feathers grow over the top of the down and help shield the birds from wind and water penetration, as well as aiding flight due to increased aerodynamics.
Why use goose down?
All waterfowl produce down, but geese and duck down are the most popular as it is a by-product of commercial farming practices. The most sought after down comes from adult geese as they have a very fine cluster construction, providing more loft than juvenile goose down or duck down.
Advantages of down insulation
One of the major advantages of down is its warmth-to-weight ratio. No synthetic insulation even comes close to matching it. So producing a like-for-like jacket, the down insulated one is going to be much lighter than the synthetic insulated one. Combined with this is the compression advantage of down. You can scrunch up down jackets in to very small shapes without damaging the clusters. If you want to wear one that has been jammed in to an awkward shape in yor backpack, just like a duvet, all you need to do is waft it a little bit to increase the loft.
Negatives of down insulation
Downs Achilles heal is moisture. If it gets too damp or is waterlogged, then the clusters stick together, drastically reducing the surface area and thus the insulation properties. Drying down takes a very long time unless you have a tumble dryer, so if it gets wet when you are outside, then it is going to stay wet and offer little protection from the cold. Fortunately, new hydrophobic treatments have started to be applied to down clusters to help repel water for longer. Using this treated down produces an insulated jacket that is not waterproof, but it will function a lot better in damp and wet weather, will dry quicker, and will retain the loft of the down even when wet.