Down Jackets: What is the Best Filling Material?

Down jackets can be made of down and down blend, natural goose and duck down and synthetic down and down blend. One of the most popular types of down is the natural goose and duck down.

The most popular types of synthetic down are Primaloft and Thinsulate. When it comes to deciding which type of filling is best for a jacket, the quality is most important. The quality of the down is based on the fill power of the insulation. 

Fill power is determined by how much volume of insulation fills a certain amount of space. The higher the fill power number, the higher the quality of the down.

Down jackets with a fill power of 750 and higher are considered high quality down jackets with a loft that will last for many years.

But is it worth it? Keep reading.

Conclusion: Down or synthetic? You’ve got to pick one and we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you choose the right jacket for you.

Down vs. Synthetic: Why You Should Invest in a Down Jacket

The struggle between down and synthetic as the ideal material for winter jackets is as old as winter itself. Both materials have their pros and cons, and it all boils down to the preference of the wearer. What works for you might not work for me and vice versa. Here we will look at the details and help you pick the right down ski jacket for you.

winter down jacket

When it comes to winter jackets, it’s not surprising that the majority of people will opt for synthetic over-down. Down jackets are often seen as more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, with the added cost of washing the jacket posing an inconvenience. However, if you’re looking for a jacket that will keep you warm and dry, nothing beats down. Synthetic jackets are incredibly useful for casual wear, but for outdoor activities, nothing beats down. 

Downsides of Down Filling

Down filling allergies are becoming an increasing issue- down feathers are the softest type, which is why it's so popular, but also the most common to trigger allergies.


This is due to the fact that down feathers come from birds which are usually fed food containing chicken manure.

Many people who are allergic to down do not experience any other allergies, but if you are allergic to down, your body is reacting to the proteins in the feathers. It's also worth noting that down can be recycled, but due to the fact that it cannot be washed without damaging it, it needs to be scrapped for its loft. Further research is needed to determine if this soft material will lean to an increase or decrease in allergen production.

Another downside is the cost. For the most part, there are only two types of down filling: expensive duck feather filling or less expensive goose down filling. The choice between these two depends on the person's preference. If the jacket is for a temperate climate, the more expensive duck feather fill is likely better because it will keep heat around the body more effectively. If the guy or a girl is in a very dry climate, then the cheaper goose down filling is likely better because it will prevent overheating. With either type, the down filling should be frequently rotated to help spread out any trapped moisture. 

Pros and Cons of Synthetic Filling

Remember, that synthetic filling may not be as comfortable as natural filling. That's because the synthetic filling is engineered for support and durability. Down feathers, a reference point for natural filling, provide a soft and comforting feel because they conform to the shape of a body much better than synthetic filling. Synthetic filling doesn't have much give. Natural fillings also have a higher resistance to matting and lumping. That being said, synthetic fillings are comparable in their durability and resistance to matting and lumping to natural fillings. 


However, synthetic filling, for example, is a material that can mimic the feel of down or down alternative, also known as polyester fiberfill, which is a type of synthetic fiber often used in pillows. The benefits of this type of filling are its hypoallergenic properties. This makes it ideal for allergy sufferers! Polyester fiberfill is also more resilient than down or down alternatives. Down or down alternatives can easily be compressed or torn apart. This does not happen with polyester fiberfill. The blood flow to this type of filling is not slowed down by the fibers, which will not create any pressure points, which can result in pain.

How to Choose the Perfect Down Jacket for this Winter?

Decide how much money you can spend, we have a guide on 5 things to think about when buying a snowboarding jacket. Down jackets are a great winter fashion trend. They're lightweight, comfortable and they offer insulation for those cold days and nights. However, they usually come with a hefty price tag. Depending on the size and how many ounces of down they have, casual jackets can run up to $800+.

down jacket guide

Recently, advanced technologies have come out to help consumers differentiate between both feathers and down.

The Responsible Down Standard is the only internationally recognized standard for responsibly sourced down products. The standard can be used to assess the animal welfare, environmental impacts, and traceability of down products.

All down products that are tested and certified will have a Responsible Down Standard tag on it to let the customer know that the product meets the standard.

We all have a responsibility to use products that are responsibly sourced, that are not harming the environment or animals, and that also provide consumers with peace of mind. 

To Sum Things Up

Many people are familiar with the term winter coat because it is typically the most used coat to combat the cold weather. However, because of the different climates around the world, there are different styles of coats depending on the environment. Down jackets are usually worn in places that are humid or cold because it retains body heat better than cotton or synthetic materials. Down fillers are the most popular fillers for down jackets because they are able to trap warmth by trapping air in little pockets. Down fillers also have a higher insulating factor than polyester or cotton so they are warmer for longer. However, down coats are more expensive than other coat types.

Most Frequent Questions

1. What is the difference between 650 and 800 fill down?

The difference is the amount of down that is used to fill the product. "Down" is the name of the feathers that come from ducks and geese. 800 fill down is double the amount of 650 fill down (650 fill down filled to 100% capacity). This means that the 800 fill down will provide 20% more warmth than 650 fill down.

2. Can down jackets get wet?

Yes, they can get wet, but it is important to remember that the down will clump together when wet, making it heavier and more difficult to keep warm. If your down jacket is wet, it will need to dry before you wear it again. 

3. Is Thinsulate warmer than down?

Thinsulate is an advanced material that traps warmth and provides thermal protection. It is made of thousands of tiny, thin fibers that provide an excellent space-age insulation that is nearly one hundred times warmer than natural down. 

4. Do down Jackets lose warmth over time?

Contrary to popular belief, down jackets do not lose warmth over time, they actually increase in warmth over time. Regardless of how long ago you bought your down jacket, it will keep you warm this winter and in the future.

Author - Aleksandra Djurdjevic
Aleksandra Djurdjevic          

Senior Content Creator

Aleksandra Djurdjevic is a senior writer and editor, covering snowboarding, skiing and trends in outdoor winter activities. She has previously worked as ESL teacher for English Tochka. Aleksandra graduated from the Comparative Literature department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Serbia. Aleksandra’s love for the mountains, getting out in the snow on her board, season after season, seeking wild snow adventures across the globe helps her continue to be a top expert at CSG.


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