Down or Synthetic? How to Choose

For your winter jacket, you want something warm and practical. Should you choose one with a down filler or a synthetic one? Here are a few things to consider before you make a choice.


What we like:

• Equal in terms of weight, but warmer than synthetic
• Lightweight
• Highly compressible
• Durability that’s hard to beat if well maintained

What we like less:

• Longer dry time
• Not as warm when humid
• Requires more frequent maintenance
• More expensive than synthetic


What we like

  • Moisture resistant
  • More economical
  • Hypo allergenic
  • Easy maintenance

What we like less

  • Less compressible than down
  • Less durable
  • Reduced comfort
  • Bulkier

When to Wear Synthetic

If you jog, snowshoe or practice other medium-to-high intensity activities. Because it stays warm even if it is slightly compressed between your body and the shell.

Our suggestion: the Ventrix Insulate Jacket from The North Face for men and women.

When to Wear Down

In cold and dry places, between two periods of physical activity in cold temps, when arriving at camp, when waiting for the bus or when walking.

A down jacket is lightweight and compact. You can easily put it in your bag when you get warm, or take it out to wear so that you don’t get cold after an outdoor activity.

Our suggestion: a Tullus Jacket from Marmot.

How to Maintain your Synthetic Jacket

Synthetic is easy to maintain—in hot or cold weather, lay it out in the sun for an hour and you’re done!

For down, wearing your coat helps dry it slowly but surely.

How to Dry a Wet Down Jacket Take a Nalgene water bottle and fill it with boiling water. Don’t burn yourself! Make sure it’s closed tightly and roll it over your jacket. You’ll immediately see steam rising from the jacket. Do this for a few minutes. It also works on your down-filled sleeping bag.

Gear up for adventure by visiting the women’s jackets & men’s jackets section of our website.