Guide to Finding Your Perfect Puffy

Down vs. Synthetic Insulation: When, Where, and Why You’ll Wear Both

Cold temperatures call for warm jackets. But what type of warmth do you need? What’s the difference between down and synthetic insulation, and why does it matter? Here, we’ll help you navigate through all your options when it comes to selecting down and synthetic outerwear.

Nature’s Best Insulation

Down Insulation

 

Down insulation is made from the soft, fluffy undercoat of birds, creating high-loft clusters that trap air and body heat.

Supreme warmth-to-weight ratio

Compressibility

Extreme warmth

 

Best for:

  • Staying warm in cold, dry climates
  • Stationary activities that create less perspiration
  • Compressing at the bottom of your pack for an emergency or backup layer
  • Adventures requiring the lightest weight possible

Durable & Versatile Warmth

Synthetic Insulation

 

Synthetic insulation is designed to replicate the qualities of down, but stays warm and holds loft during start-and-stop activities, using polyester fibers to trap warmth.

Warmth in wet conditions

Dries quickly

Abrasion resistant

 

Best for:

  • Creating warmth in cold, wet climates
  • Start-stop activities where managing sweat is key
  • Versatility and dependability in all weather conditions
  • Adventures where comfort is more important than weight

Down Collection

Even if these puffies all share the same type of insulation, no one is built the same. Find out which of these down insulation pieces is best for the most rugged adventures, the everyday chill factor, and the very worst weather.

Every Outdoor Research product made with down insulation complies with the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). From your most technical down jackets to everyday urban parkas, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect puffy that’s safeguarded by RDS responsibility right here.

Most Rugged Down

Helium Down Collection

Available in both men’s and women’s jackets, hoodies, and vests, the Helium Down Collection tackles the #1 issue outdoorsy people have with down insulation: The Helium is extremely durable, resisting rips, tears, and abrasions. It gives you the warmth and performance of down without the delicateness, not to mention – it's our lightest puffy yet.

  • Down fill power: 800-fill
  • Additional tech: Lightweight durable shell by Pertex® Quantum with Diamond Fuse Technology.
  • What else? The Helium Down Hoodie is the winner of the Editor’s Choice award from Backcountry Magazine.
  • Hidden Features: Only on the Helium Down Hoodie: Durable waterproof shoulders.
  • Best for: Cold weather climbing or bouldering, layering under your ski shell, compressed at the bottom of your pack for those “just in case” coldsnaps.
  • Wear it as a: Hoodie, Jacket, or Vest.

Most All-Around Versatile

Coldfront Down Collection

The Coldfront is your new everyday favorite puffy, available in both men’s and women’s sizes (up to XXXL!) in the form of a jacket, hoodie, or vest. Its all-over down insulation is enhanced with warmth-trapping details, like our exclusive VerticalX™ ECO SR synthetic insulation at the shoulders and cuffs, in order to prevent cold spots and keep in heat.

  • Down fill power: 700-fill

  • Additional Tech: Durable double ripstop shell & lining powered by 53% recycled Pertex® Quantum Eco.

  • What else? The Coldfront is enhanced with synthetic insulation details to trap even more warmth where it counts, utilizing 85% recycled VerticalX™ ECO SR.

  • Hidden features: Insulated brushed tricot-lined hand pockets create a haven of cozy warmth when you’ve got frigid fingers.

  • Best for: Every day and anywhere warmth, in town or on the road, stashed in your car as a reliable backup puffy.

  • Wear it as a: Hoodie, Jacket, or Vest.

Most Waterproof Urban Function

Stormcraft Down Parka

The Stormcraft Down Parka combines two of adventurer’s favorite things: Super warm down insulation, and a durable waterproof GORE-TEX membrane. Together, these two elements provide windproof, waterproof, insulated protection against the coldest and most severe weather.

  • Down fill power: 700-fill

  • Additional tech: Durable waterproof GORE-TEX 2L membrane.

  • Hidden Features: Interior pockets hold onto valuables and keep electronics from freezing.

  • What else? Burly warmth doesn’t stop at the fabric – the Stormcraft is loaded with warmth-trapping details like an insulated hood, wrist cuff gaiters, a drawcord hem, and more.

  • Best for: Around-town errands and city commutes in foul weather.

  • Wear it as a: Down Parka.

Most Stylish Warmth

Women’s Coze Down Collection

These are our most stylish down coats, each complete with their own unique ways to trap warmth. Feedback and love from the Coze Down Parka inspired the new shorter Women’s Coze Down Coat, completing your need for the very best warmth, length, and coverage this winter.

  • Down fill power: 700-fill

  • Additional tech: Finely tuned details with VerticalX™ ECO SR insulation, and a 100% recycled shell and lining.

  • Hidden Features: Heat-trapping details like the cozy hood with neck warmer, internal cuff gaiters, thumb loops, an internal storm flap, and more.

  • What else? The Coze styles are our longest winter puffies available, with the parka coming in below-the-knee and the coat reaching the upper thigh.

  • Best for: Commuting into town, walking the neighborhood, and adding some comfort to your travel itinerary.

  • Wear it as a: Down Parka or Coat.

Synthetic Collection

Each of our synthetic jackets, synthetic hoodies, and synthetic vests are made a little bit differently to fulfill your exact adventure itinerary. Find out what sets these styles apart from each other.

COMING SOON:

SuperStrand LT Collection

Most Versatility and Stretch

Shadow Insulated Collection

Combining the classic performance of synthetic insulation with a style that can blend seamlessly both on and off the mountain, the new Shadow Insulated Hoodie is your all-winter insulating layer. Undeniable softness, natural stretch, and elastic cuffs + hem seal the deal.  

  •  Insulation: VerticalX™ ECO SR  
  • Additional tech: Fabric makeup of 90% nylon and 10% spandex balances strength and stretch. 
  • Hidden Features: Sustainably-minded insulation VerticalX™ ECO SR is created with recycled REPREVE® and bio-based Sorona® for durability. 
  • What else? The Shadow was designed for total versatility – it's your city commuter jacket in cold, wet weather, it's your skiing midlayer that layers easily under a shell, and it’s the winter hiking hoodie that compresses down at the bottom of your pack. Whatever the adventure, the Shadow is up for it. 
  • Best for: Days when you only have room for a single jacket, straight from work to hiking to happy hour. 
  • Wear it as a: Insulated Hoodie. 

 Most Lightweight Durability 

Helium Insulated Collection

Building on the durable lightweight legacy of the Helium Collection, the all-new Helium Insulated Hoodie is injected with super warm and eco-friendly synthetic insulation. Its durable ripstop shell resists tears, abrasions, and weather, plus – it's available in sizes XS through XXXL. 

  •  Insulation: VerticalX™ ECO SR  
  • Additional tech: Lightweight durable shell by Pertex® Quantum with Diamond Fuse Technology. 
  • Hidden Features: So packable, it compresses down to the size of a sandwich.  
  • What else? This insulation is made with recycled REPREVE® and bio-based Sorona®, giving you durable warmth that makes less of an impact on the planet.
  • Best for: Uncertain weather forecasts where you’re still trying to pack light. 
  • Wear it as a: Insulated Hoodie. 

 COMING SOON: Four-Season Warmth

SuperStrand LT Collection

The SuperStrand LT Hoodie, Jacket, and Vest are the best down alternative to four-season warmth. This is our lightest and warmest synthetic puffy, balancing what you need with what you don’t for the most streamlined warmth-to-weight ratio.

  • Insulation: VerticalX™ SuperStrand 
  • Additional tech: Windproof nylon fabric creates the best warmth-to-weight layering package.
  • Hidden Features: A unique quilting pattern reduces stitching, creating an uninterrupted flow of insulation and warmth. 
  • What else? The unique lofted polyester strands of VerticalX™ SuperStrand mimic the shape of thousands of down clusters, blending the best properties of down and synthetic insulations; high-loft and warmth when wet. 
  • Best for: Spring, summer, fall, and winter adventures where light weight and big warmth are critical to staying safe and comfortable.  
  • Wear it as a: Hoodie, Jacket, or Vest. 

Find More Insulation Tips, Tricks, and How-To's on Our Blog

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