Selecting the right insulated jacket for winter

So, your old winter coat is looking a little tatty or you’ve decided to buy a new one to refresh your wardrobe? To help you make your decision about the coat that’s right for you, Charlie-Eden Laflamme, Sales Consultant from the clothing department and downhill-skiing enthusiast, offers her advice when it comes to picking a winter coat to meet your needs.

t3-4When selecting a winter coat, the first thing to look at is the insulation. Two types of insulation are offered on the market: natural or synthetic. Each has its advantages and disadvantages so you will be able to select a coat that suits your needs.

Natural insulation:

The pros
Natural insulation keeps heat close to the body thanks to feathers and filling. The number of cubic inches of space that down fills in cold weather conditions is also a vital calculation. Another important element is the proportion of feather and filling (often written on the tag). A coat having a 95/5 offers 95% down filling for every 5% of feathers. Of course, the higher the percentage of down filling, the better the insulation quality. However, feathers are an essential factor since they work together with the filling to provide warmth.

Another important thing is the size of the squares and down quantity. The larger the squares, the warmer the coat. For example, a very warm coat will have a count of 800.




The cons
Your coat cannot become too wet, especially if it is not waterproof as it will lose all if its insulating properties. Humid or rainy weather will cause the down to pile up in the corners, cancelling the warming effect of your coat.


spaceSynthetic insulation:

The pros
Synthetic insulation has several advantages. It offers the same level of warmth as natural insulation would, but it breathes more. For late November and early December weather, take a look at the number of grams of insulation in the down of your coat. For temperatures around -5, you would not need a coat that has more than 80 grams of synthetic insulation. If you feel like its so cold you’ll have icicles on your face, you may opt for a coat with a higher count.

The cons
Even if this coat dries quickly and does not loose its bulk with the humidity, synthetic insulation is not as compressible as duvet. Those who spend lots of time outdoors and who wish to bring their coat along with them in their pack may lack storage space.

The outer layer of your coat

How to be sure that your coat’s outer layer will resist rain and snow? No matter the insulation, it’s important to know that not all winter coats are waterproof. To know whether or not your coat is waterproof, you can check if it has a DWR covering – which protects water from penetrating into the material.


Primaloft® by The North Face

Among your choices for synthetic insulation is Primaloft®, made with polyester, which is an interesting option as this technology combines the heat of synthetic insulation and the compressibility of natural insulation. If you like to layer your jackets, this kind of coat, thanks to its lightness and reduced volume, will allow you to stay warm without compromise, no matter what you wear underneath. Additionally, the material dries extremely rapidly and does not absorb humidity. You will not have to fear the rain or cold, Primaloft is water repellant.

f15-tb-wetting_450x305     black-gf-thmkTo the left, Primaloft®, to the right, down

Le CoreloftMD by Arc’teryx

CoreloftMD is a synthetic insulation technology by Arc’teryx. It is extremely compressible. For athletes who are not afraid of the cold, this technology is perfect. A CoreloftMD can even be placed in a small pocket of your bag and will stretch back into its original shape when you need it. Thanks to its size, it offers great liberty of movement and keeps heat in place at all times.


Polartec® Power Stretch® with Hardface® by Arc’teryx

This combination of technologies is very interesting for high-level athletes. It is made mainly of strategically-placed, lateral paneling. This technology is extendable, allowing you to move freely, stay warm, and most of all, to stay well-aerated. You can go hiking or climbing without being afraid to stretch or sweat.

The Windstopper® membrane by Gore

If you want an unrivalled protection against the elements, you can opt for this membrane. Among the membranes being developed on the market, this one is directly integrated in the material and totally blocks out wind all while being light and breathable. This technology will really block the wind and prevent the chilly feeling you can get, hinting that you’ve missed a crucial layer in your outfit. Certain brands such as The North Face also make their own membranes.


The Gore-Tex membrane

The Gore-Tex membrane is also very sought out as far as winter coats go. Gore-Tex technology is not only wind-stopping and breathable, it is also waterproof. Its microporous structure is composed of micropores that expel droplets of moisture and prevents rain from penetrating the membrane.



GORE® THERMIUM™ couples together the total wind block of Windstopper® with the water repellence of Gore-Tex. In terms of quality, its probably the most effective membrane n the market. It will protect you from snow and rain. Several brands such as Oakley and Arc’teryx offer this membrane in the coats.



Sportium Tip: For how long is a coat’s insulation effective and how should it be maintained?

The durability of insulation, be it natural or synthetic, depends on how it is maintained. It must be washed once a month with specific products that will not damage the coat nor cancel out its thermal properties.

For natural insulation: It’s recommended to wash the coat and then put it in the dryer with tennis balls so that the duvet doesn’t bunch up.

For synthetic insulation: Simply wash the coat and place it in the dryer. In 5-minute intervals, stir the coat around a bit to soften it and decompress it.