DOWN VS. SYNTHETIC INSULATION

Text by:Quartz Co.

As a purveyor of performance outerwear, down and synthetic insulation are central to Quartz Co.’s mission. These high-performing insulators allow us to provide wearers with the ultimate in warmth and comfort through the winter seasons. These materials are also a central element in our commitment to sustainability.

The main difference between these two insulators lies in their composition: down is a natural fibre sourced from the undercoats of various birds, and synthetic insulation is usually made from polyester, either raw or recycled, and is made to mimic down’s natural softness. 

We use both natural down and synthetic insulation to fill our winter outerwear. While both fibres are known for their superior insulating properties, they also have some significant differences. Read on to learn more about both our traceable down and synthetic, and to find out which filling is right for you.

Traceable Down

Down is a natural thermal insulator sourced from the soft, fine undercoat of birds. With its softness and high-loft, this natural material has an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, and durability, offering exceptional protection against the cold.  

At Quartz Co., we use only traceable down, which is sourced in compliance with local animal welfare regulations that ensure all down and feathers come from animals that haven’t been subjected to any necessary harm. Our natural down is sourced as a by-product of the food industry from farms located in Alberta and Quebec. As such, it contributes to a larger, circular economy and can be processed in a way that has very little environmental impact. 

Synthetic Insulation

Synthetic insulation is usually made from polyester, either raw or recycled, and is made to mimic properties of traditional down.  

At Quartz Co., we use Isosoft, a performance insulator manufactured from 92% post-consumer recycled polyester recuperated from plastic bottles. Isosoft insulation is breathable and, moisture and mildew resistant, and is engineered to retain its flexibility and volume over time. Because it’s made from synthetic fibres, Isosoft is completely hypoallergenic. This material’s unique blend of fibres provides excellent warm air retention, offering excellent protection against the cold. 

Pros and Cons: Down vs. Synthetic Insulation

Weight-for-weight, synthetic insulation is less warm than down. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, maintains its insulating power in damp conditions.

So, What’s Best, Down or Synthetic Insulation?

The simple answer is: it depends. One is not better than the other in every situation. The decision to choose a down-insulated jacket or a synthetic-insulated jacket hinges on the conditions you’ll be wearing it in most of the time.

When to Choose Down Insulation

Down is weight-for-weight the better insulator, so it’s more suitable than synthetic down for extremely cold conditions. Very cold conditions are usually very dry, as well, and down performs best in dry rather than humid conditions.

When to Choose Synthetic Insulation

Synthetic insulation is a very versatile insulator. It’s easy to care for, it keeps you warm in a variety of conditions, including cold and wet environments, and it’s more cost-effective than traditional down.

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