Buying a down jacket? Remember this!
No other material comes close to the qualities of down when it comes to warmth, weight and comfort. However, not all down jackets are the same. Which is warmest and what does cuin actually mean? Here’s a crash course in down from Bergans.
Assessing the insulating properties of a down garment:
The thickest down jacket isn’t necessarily the warmest. The insulating properties are determined by the resilience of the down and the down quality (ratio of down versus feathers).
Down quality is calculated as a percentage. For example, a garment marked 95/5 contains 95% down and 5% feathers. This is also the warmest mix available.
The down fill volume is calculated using a scale known as cuin (cubic inches per ounce). A high cuin value means the down has a good fill volume and the ability to expand, which in turn gives good insulating properties. All Bergans’ down products are marked with both the down ratio and the cuin value.
Thin down jackets
A thinner down jacket works for many occasions and can either be worn by themselves or in combination with a shell jacket year round. When being active it may be wise to consider if the down jacket should be under or over a shell layer. Are you doing high activity, with short breaks or being inactive? The shell layer compresses the down, which reduces the insulation properties. With the shell layer on top, sweat will be trapped which leads to condensation and moisture inside. So if you’re doing challenging activities with short breaks, it’s better to wear the down jacket as the outer layer to ensure good isolation.
The down jacket featured in the picture has a down blend of 90% down and 10% feathers with a fill power of 700 cuin. You can find it here.
Thick down jackets
A thicker down jacket essentially has the same functions and areas of use as a thinner one. The main difference is that it is a more insulating garment and often has a material that is wind- and waterproof. They are used to give maximal warmth while also being lightweight so they’re light to wear and to pack. Are you going on a mountain hike or do you just need a warm everyday jacket? This is an all-round garment that you can pack in your hiking pack, that way you won’t be cold when you’re taking a well deserved break at the summit.
Extra thick down jackets
An extra thick down jacket is a more heavy duty garment that is designed for more challenging weather conditions and activities such as expeditions. A solid layer of down gives excellent insulation. In such conditions it is often dry and therefore the need for a waterproof garment is not as big.
The down jacket featured in the picture has a down blend of 95% and 5% feathers with a fill power of 750 cuin. You can find them here.
Which down garment is the warmest?
The way a down product is sewn together is crucial in determining how warm it is. There are essentially two different methods for doing this; box construction and stitched through.
Down garments made using what is known as ‘box construction’ insulate best and are warmest. “Box construction” means that there are internal partition walls sewn between the inner and outer fabrics. This creates boxes with down inside, which prevents thermal bridges from forming. A down product with box construction takes maximum advantage of the down’s insulating abilities.
Down products that are stitched through do not have any down in the seams. This produces areas with poorer insulation abilities, which are therefore colder. This type of construction is best-suited to down products which are not intended for the coldest days and/or intense activity.
The warmth of a down jacket is irrelevant if it’s not produced in an ethically sound manner. At Bergans, we use either recycled down supplied by Re:Down , or down certified through the Responsible Down Standard. We strongly distance ourselves from suppliers that pluck feathers from live geese and/or use force feeding.
A really warm down jacket for the coldest days:
• Has a fill volume of 95/5 (highest possible value)
• Has box construction (warmest)
• Has a high cuin value
• Is produced in an ethically sound manner
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