Keep warm, no matter how low the mercury goes with our great range of Men's insulation pieces at The Epicentre.
Whether you're looking for a lightweight summer layer for when the sun goes down and mountain-top butty stops or a full on winter warmer to keep the tundra at bay, we have a range of Synthetic and Down insulation to keep you toasty.
Check out Arc'teryx for the ever popular Atom LT or super light Cerium LT. Patagonia have the classic Nano Puff and Down Sweaters while Sherpa, Black Diamond and Mountain Equipment all have excellent offerings to choose from too.
Synthetic - Synthetic insulation is ideal for damp conditions as its insulating properties are little effected by moisture (unlike down). It isn't as warm for its weight or as compressible as down but it is easier to care for, is generally more durable and more versatile. If you're looking for active midlayers for very cold conditions, synthetic can be a great option but look for layers with breathable panels in high-warmth areas such as under the arms as many synthetic pieces are not very breathable (with the exception of the Patagonia Nano Air among others). There are numerous brands of synthetic insulation with the most popular being Primaloft (with various incarnations within their range) which uses long lengths of hollow fibres in a rolled sheet. Many clothing brands produce their own synthetic insulation such as Arc'teryx's Coreloft or Patagonia's FullRange Insulation.
Down - Down insulation uses the down feathers of ducks and geese to trap air. This is probably the most effective insulation available, perfected by nature over millions of years. Unfortunately, when it is treated for use in garments, it loses the natural water resistance that it possess when its on the duck's back. This means if you're caught in a shower or looking to use it in damp conditions, it won't perform as well as intended, with down tending to hold moisture, clump up and lose shape/loft. The huge benefit of down is how light and compressible it is, with even the warmest jackets packing down to a fraction of its full size. 'Waterproof' or hydrophobic down is available but this relies on an application of DWR (water resistant treatment) to the down which is quickly worn away when the jacket is repeatedly worn and packed away. It is also a very harsh process, both for the environment and the down itself.
When looking at down products, there are several numbers quoted that explain the warmth rating:
Fill Power - Usually between 600 and 900 (though by no means restricted to this range), this refers to the 'fluffiness' of the down or, more scientifically, how much air a given weight of down can trap thus providing a standard measurement. There is some variation between European and U.S. measuring standards but essentially; the higher the number, the warmer-for-its weight the down is.
Down weight - Once you have a fill power, the next factor is how much down there is in the garment. If a garment uses 900 fill power down but only 50g of it, it won't be as warm as a garment that has 100g of 650 fill power down. If you have lots of high fill power down, the jacket will be very warm and light/compressible but also very expensive. Anything above 600 fill is going to be pretty warm, whatever the amount of down but the bigger the jacket (the fuller it is), the warmer it'll be.
Down ratio - Feathers are far less insulating and heavier than down but much cheaper. Feathers are used to add bulk to the jacket, making for an impressively 'puffy' jacket but without great insulation. Fashionable or cheaper down products often use a high proportion of feather to give the look of warmth but keep costs low. Look for a 80/20 ratio (Down/Feather) or higher.
European vs Chinese/American etc - Down quality is closely related to the living conditions of the livestock. Happy ducks make for better down. The best down tends to be European (usually Eastern European) but there are an increasing number of suppliers in China and the U.S. producing high quality down at a lower price. Most (reputable) brands adhere to some sort of Down register or Codex that ensures a high level of welfare, quality and traceability as opposed to down from mixed sources where quality is harder to control. For more information regarding down and where it comes from, check out our blog.
Most insulation pieces use lightweight outer fabrics that are often wind and water-resistant to offer some protection from the elements and high level of compressibility but most don't have taped seams (especially as most down jackets have stitched-through baffles - stitches mean holes) or full waterproof membranes. There are waterproof insulated pieces available but they tend to be very expensive and less versatile.
Breathability - Insulating pieces tend to be less breathable as there is a lot of material (be it down or synthetic alternative) between your skin and the outer fabric. They are designed to trap air, warmed by your body and so keep you warm, a design that is not conducive to breathable performance. There are exceptions such as those that use panels of breathable (non-insulated) fabric or an insulating fibre that wicks moisture and breathes. Insulated garments with breathable elements tend not to be as warm as others. Some garments use Windstopper membranes for added protection, this reduces breathability further while adding weight but can be valuable in poor weather.
For information regarding sizing and fit click here.
For care guidance click here.
If you have any further questions regarding Men's Insulation at The Epicentre, please don't hesitate to contact us.