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How to choose a down jacket

KMD W16 PAT Day06 0909 RT

Down is nature’s best insulator. It provides exceptional warmth and is incredibly lightweight and breathable. It can also be compressed down to a compact size, making it great for travel.


Down jackets are designed in a wide range of styles for many different activities. Here are three key factors to consider when purchasing the best down jacket for your needs.

Warmth & loft-power

Down keeps you warm by trapping body heat and preventing it from diffusing into the cold air around you. The performance of down fill is measured by loft power (LP). The numbers 550LP, 600LP, 750LP, for example, refer to the fill’s quality, not the amount of fill in the down jacket as is commonly thought.

Loft power is measured by the number of cubic inches that one ounce of down occupies in a climate-controlled test cylinder. The more volume occupied by the down, the greater the amount of air trapped and the greater the insulation generated.

Weight

Down is naturally light and fluffy, which makes it highly compressible and easy to pack for travel and outdoor adventures. Depending on your needs, the overall weight of a down jacket may influence your purchase. Lighter jackets are more compressible and make sense if you’re climbing, trekking or travelling, while heavier jackets are great for less demanding pursuits and can be more durable.

Water-resistance & waterproofing

The main drawback of down is that it loses its ability to insulate when it gets wet (and once wet it can be slow to dry). But Kathmandu's driFILL technology is a game-changer. DriFILL is breathable, natural down with a water-repellent treatment that sheds water and dries quickly.

Kathmandu’s driFILL Down Jacket has been engineered to be waterproof, with NGX shell fabric and seam-tape construction, in addition to driFILL down fill. This jacket has been specifically designed for, and tested and retested in, cold alpine conditions.

For less extreme conditions, the Pertex® shell fabrics that we use in all of our down jackets and vests are treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish which helps to bead water in light rain.

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