How to Choose Insulated Outerwear

Insulation type and warmth varies from one piece of outerwear to another. Non-insulated outerwear is designed to protect you from various elements but doesn’t offer much warmth. Slightly warm outerwear will keep a bit of heat inside while protecting you from water and winds. Warmer outerwear has insulation technology to trap the heat within the jacket. The warmest outerwear has insulation as well as other technology features to keep you warm.

What types of insulation are available?


Down insulation is a natural insulation made from plumules of ducks and geese and provide a solid warmth-weight ratio depending on the quality of the down. This insulation will certainly produce a warm jacket but it doesn’t play nice with moisture. Once the jacket gets wet it will take on weight and takes a long time to dry out. Even when the shell is highly waterproof the insulation will get wet so these jackets are not a good weatherproof option. Even if the weather is dry you’re likely to sweat while snowboarding or skiing and this will be absorbed by the down.


Synthetic insulation offers good warmth and is lightweight and compressible. It doesn’t absorb water, dries out quickly and offers good breathability. Common brand names include Primaloft and Thinsulate. Outerwear insulated with synthetic insulation will keep you warm even if gets wet.