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In harsh and biting winters nothing beats the comfort of a down jacket. Its unique warmth-to-weight ratio is what makes it so special. Due to the high demand, there are different types of down jackets you can wear all year round. But what exactly is a down jacket? How do the different types of jackets vary from one another? Here’s a detailed guide about down jackets, its types and down material.

What Is Down Material?

Contrary to popular belief, down isn’t the feathers of a bird, but the hidden layer that lies beneath the tough feathers. Down material is so light weight that birds can freely fly, yet at the same time, it is so warm that they can swim in freezing waters. These two qualities make it the best insulator. The down fill of a jacket is either duck, goose or a combination of both. Goose down is often considered to be the warmer and lighter option. Although duck down is a cheaper option.

Properties of a Down Jacket:

Insulated from the warm under feathers of a duck or goose, a down jacket traps your body heat and prevents it from escaping. Simultaneously, it remains breathable, while preventing over-heating and moisture inside. They are also mostly windproof. Down jackets nowadays have a protective water resistant layer but the majority of them are not rain resistant. When wet, down is rendered practically useless by clumping together and losing its loft.

Another positive about down is their compressibility. For adventurers such as skiers, bikers and hikers, a down jacket is the perfect companion since it easily compresses into a portable accessory. Due to its weight-to-warmth ratio, it resists damage from any sort of compression and instantly regains its original shape.

Types of Down Jackets

There are basically 2 types of down jackets:

  • Natural down jackets
  • Synthetic down jackets

1. Natural Down Jackets

As the name suggests, natural down jackets are made from either duck or goose down. These type of down do not have any chemical substances used in their manufacturing. Henceforth, they are lighter in weight, easily compressible and have better insulation compared to synthetically modified jackets. While on the flip side, they are understandably more expensive, require special care and often lose their insulation properties when wet. Natural down can be further categorized into two types:

A. Duck Down Jackets

Duck down is easily available and hence more affordable. The reason for its availability is that duck meat in comparison to goose meat is consumed at a larger scale. Another plus regarding duck down is that it withholds itself in a much better way than goose down when wet.

B. Goose Down Jackets

Since Geese are naturally bigger than ducks, they are loftier. Simply stated, larger and more mature birds produce better quality down. The biggest difference between goose and duck down insulation is their fill power. Fill power is basically the measure of how puffy and warm an amount of down is. In a nutshell, it is the quality of down. Because of this, goose fill power is famous for being more long lasting. Apart from this, there is not much of a difference between duck and goose down, they both provide the best form of insulation for jackets.

2. Synthetic Down Jackets

A synthetic down jacket is made by man in a laboratory through chemical processes. As a result, we acquire a product that is not available in nature. In this type of jacket, polyester strands are made to imitate the phenomenon of trapping air that is done by the down present in ducks and geese. In result, synthetic down jackets are moisture resistant and hold on to their insulating properties when wet. Regardless of man’s scientific victory, we have not been able to beat natural down. Therefore, synthetic down jackets are much heavier, less compressible and not as warm as their predecessor. Nonetheless, they are a great alternative to the expensive natural down jackets.

So if you’re looking for an outdoor jacket, that is warm, light and portable; a down jacket is worth the money. Amid different types of downs, there will definitely be one that fits your financial and comfort needs!