Is down or synthetic insulation better for your adventure?

Rab Insulation Feature

As we await the warmth of summer and the frosty winds of winter continue to whisper past us, it’s key to keep ourselves well insulated on our adventures. But how do you choose an insulated jacket? And what type of insulation is best?

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Rab, in a battle of the insulations; bringing you a guide that’ll help you choose whether to wear a down or synthetic insulated jacket on your next trip. Our weapons of choice? We’ve chosen none other than Rab’s Mythic G and Xenair Alpine lightweight insulated jackets to go head-to-head.

- Female ski tourer in snowy mountains wearing a blue Rab down jacket.

Down for Unrivalled Warmth-to-Weight

The best thing about wearing a down jacket in the great outdoors? Its luxuriously duvet-like warmth. It’s warmth to weight ratio is unrivalled and you don’t have to wear one for long to realise why down comes with a higher price point than synthetic.

But what is down? Down is made up from the tiny little fluffy bits that you find nestled underneath the tougher outer feathers of a duck or goose. It’s these thin fibres that trap in all the air, holding it in position to create a thermal barrier. Not only are they warm, but because they’re filled with so much air, down jackets are incredibly compressible, making them nothing but a joy to pack down into your rucksack.

The cons? Down jackets take much longer to dry than synthetic, making them a better companion for dry weather adventures.

Down Jackets

Mythic G Down Jacket

Enter the Mythic G, one of the best lightweight down jackets armed with the power of 1000FP European goose down, creating a warmth-to-weight ratio that’s off the charts. Weighing in at a mere 252.5g (Size 10), this down-filled wonder is perfect for the minimalist adventurer.

The Mythic G introduces TILT technology – a revolutionary tech that reflects your body heat back towards you, making every ounce of warmth count.

At £450.00, the Mythic G might give your wallet more of a workout than a synthetic option, but hey, quality comes at a price, and this jacket is certainly an investment in comfort. Perfect for those ultralight endeavours where warmth is non-negotiable – alpinism, fast-paced missions in freezing environments, or any adventure where the weight on your shoulders matters.

For more help on which down jacket to buy, check out Rab’s Down Jacket Buying Guide. Their down jackets can be bought in men’s and women’s styles.

- Male hiker wearing a Rab synthetic insulated jacket in the mountains.

Synthetic Insulation for Adaptability

You’ll notice that synthetic jackets often come at a fraction of the price of down, but that doesn’t mean they offer a fraction of the function. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, they offer an array of benefits.

Synthetic jackets are completely man-made using polyester, this makes them incredibly lightweight which is perfect for keeping your rucksack’s weight down on the trails. They’re also very fast drying. Now this is particularly beneficial if you’re likely to be hit by unpredictable weather on your journey or if you work up a sweat as you pace the miles – just be sure to pair your jacket with breathable layers.

Another fab benefit of synthetic jackets is the fact that if you do happen to get soggy on the trails, the jacket will remain warm when wet. Synthetic jackets are also non-allergenic, for those who are unable to go for a down option.

The cons? Battling head-to-head, a synthetic jacket offers warmth but won’t achieve the elite kind of warmth to weight ratio that a down jacket can.

Male hiker wearing a Rab synthetic insulated jacket in the mountains.

Xenair Alpine Jacket

In the ever-changing great outdoors, the Xenair Alpine Synthetic Down Jacket is the ultimate companion for the unpredictable. Priced at £230.00, this synthetic marvel boasts an array of features that make it a force to be reckoned with.

Breathable brilliance and adapting seamlessly to varying conditions, its 20D Pertex® Quantum Air fabric dances between breathability and weather protection, ensuring you stay comfortable no matter what the mountains throw at you.

Powered by 133gsm PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Active+, this jacket is your trusty sidekick for high-energy activities. It regulates temperature like a pro, keeping you warm when static and cool when the adventure demands it.

For help picking a synthetic insulated jacket, head to Rab’s Synthetic Insulation Buying Guide. Their insulated jackets can be found in men’s and women’s styles.

Down vs. Synthetic: Which Should I Choose?

Whether you lean towards the cosy warmth of down or the adaptive brilliance of synthetic, Rab’s Mythic G and Xenair Alpine jackets stand as paragons of insulation innovation. Each has its pros and cons, but in the end, it’s about choosing the most compatible one for your adventure.

So, dear adventurers, gear up, choose your side, and embark on your next quest – because when the great outdoors beckon, Rab’s got your back, literally!