How to choose a winter jacket
Which jacket is best for you depends on what you will use it for and the weather conditions you are most likely to encounter. Both down and synthetic padding have excellent warming properties, but there are differences between them, which makes their suitability vary depending on the situation.
DOWN – when weight is important and it is very cold
Down insulation gives the most warmth in relation to weight and is easy to compress to a small pack volume. If you are going to be out in extremely cold conditions, down is the obvious choice, just as it is if you prioritise low weight. However, down insulates less effectively when it is damp, and it needs to be stored and cared for carefully, for example when it is washed.
In extreme cold, the air is dry and down is the best choice. Some down jackets have a moisture barrier so they can withstand wet weather.
SYNTHETIC – perfect in damp conditions
Synthetic padding is less sensitive than down and the fibres have an ability to recover their form even after extensive use. It can also withstand getting damp without its insulating properties being greatly reduced. Jackets with synthetic padding can be washed easily and tend to cost less. Disadvantages are that a synthetic jacket insulates less than a down jacket of the same weight and it takes up more space in your pack. In temperatures around zero, when rain turns to snow and then back to rain again, synthetic padding is an excellent choice.