Fall 2011 - Jackets with Synthetic Insulation!

by Charles Friday, November 18th 2011

This season we have the best selection of jackets with synthetic insulation that we have had in years! To help you understand why we are excited this blog post will give you some information about synthetic insulation and some insight into why we picked these jackets.

The most important advantage that synthetic insulation offers is better performance in wet conditions: synthetic insulation will provide some warmth even when wet! This is a great feature and a nice advantage over down insulation (which quickly loses its ability to insulate as it gets wet). Synthetic insulation also tends to dry faster (often much faster!) than down. Better insulation and drying more quickly can be important advantages in sustained wet weather and damp/humid conditions.

Some other minor advantages that synthetic insulation has when compared with down: holes/rips in the outer shell will generally not leak insulation, washing and drying synthetic insulation is often simple and synthetic insulation is usually hypoallergenic.

It is useful to also consider the advantages that down offers: higher warmth to weight ratio, better compressibility and - properly cared for - longer useful life. These differences are important to consider, but today's synthetic insulations are quite good and at this point these are minor details.

Our selection for Fall 2011:

Arc'teryx Atom LT - Men's Jacket, Men's Hoody, Women's Jacket, Women's Hoody Luminara™ nylon weave fabric with wind and water repellant coating and Coreloft™ insulation, Polartec® Power Stretch® with Hardface® Technology on the sides and, in the hoody version, a close fitting hood.


Why we picked it:

-Full zip: Easiest/best way to vent a jacket and control your temperature - practical for both outside adventures and everyday use.
-Outer shell: Enough weather protection to easily shed mild wind/rain/snow.
-'Sweater' weight: Practical as your only piece of insulation in mild weather - but also useful as a layer (perhaps under a shell) in colder conditions.
-Great Colors!

Montane Fireball Smock - Men's PERTEX® Quantum Core and Ripstop outer with PRIMALOFT® ECO insulation and a deep 2 way chest zipper.


Why we picked it:

-Lightweight! This jacket is worthy of an ultra-light backpacker's consideration.
-Great details: Reflective hits/trim, chin guard and double chest zipper (for venting and pocket access). To keep this piece as light as possible pockets and a full zip have been eliminated, but all the features you really need are included.

Marmot Variant Jacket - Men's, Women's Thermal R™ Eco insulation in the front, Polartec® Power Stretch® in the sides, back, and sleeves and thumbholes.


Why we picked it:

-Smart! The synthetic insulation is in the front of the jacket where you need the warmth the most and where it won't be compressed by your pack.
-Great for active use: The Polartec® Power Stretch® is stretchy and breathes quite well - a great choice when you are on the move.
-Unique Look!

The North Face Super Zephyrus Jacket - Men's, Women's Water resistant nylon ripstop shell, Polartec® Power Stretch® panels, PrimaLoft® One insulation, thumb holes and hood.


Why we picked it:

-Hood: Sometimes the warmth and protection that a hood offers is just what you need.
-Smart Combination: Like the Variant this jacket combines different materials to get a great combination of insulation, protection, movement and breathability.


The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!