Down & Insulated Jackets Complete Guide

When the temperatures dip and the cold sets in, you need a warm coat to keep the chill at bay. You need a down jacket. But what are they?

When the temperatures dip and the cold sets in, you need a warm coat to keep the chill at bay. You need a down jacket. But what are they?

Everyone should have an insulated jacket on hand for cool temperatures. Whether synthetic or down, the fibres or feathers filling these coats work by trapping warm air that will help you fend off the shivers. Whether out for a stroll or hiking, they allow you to keep going comfortably and safely.

We’ve created a complete guide to help you choose what’s best for you, and we’ve also included a glimpse of this season’s best down jackets.

Read on to discover more about down and insulated jackets for cold temperatures…

What are insulated jackets?

Insulated jackets are coats filled with an insulating material that traps heat in air pockets to keep you warm.

They come in three main types. These are insulation, synthetic insulation or a combination of the two. However, down and synthetic are the most popular. Down jackets are brilliant for cold temperatures as they provide effective body-warming insulation.

Insulated jackets used to (almost always) look like puffer jackets, but there are now many styles of this type of jacket available. They also have varying insulation levels, which means you’ll be able to find the ideal insulating layer for an expedition or walking with the family.

Down vs synthetic jackets

The two main types of insulation are down and synthetic, but what is the difference? Which is better? 

The short answer is they’re both great and will keep you warm. So, which one is better for you will depend on your preference. We’ll go into more detail below.


Down insulation

Down jackets contain a layer of “down” to help keep you warm. This is the fine layer underneath that consists of fluffy feathers from either geese or ducks. Down is used because normal feathers can’t retain loft – the fluffiness – on their own. This is why you may see down displayed in percentages when shopping for a jacket.

It’s to balance the percentage of feathers being a “down insulator”. For example, if a down jacket has a percentage of 80/20, it contains 80% down and 20% normal feathers. When down is compressed, the fibres create small air pockets that trap air and retain heat to create insulation. Using feathers gives down jackets a great warmth-to-weight ratio, meaning that the jackets are often very lightweight while being incredibly warm.

The main drawback to down jackets is that they can retain moisture and are not waterproof, which can cause the down to clump together. This can limit the insulating abilities and take a long time to dry out.

For more information on the Berghaus Mens Tephra Stretch Down Jacket, click here. 

Synthetic insulation

Synthetic insulated jackets are the man-made equivalent of natural down, formally known as poly fibres. 

Synthetics are used to replicate the warming and heating effects of down but without the thickness. They also do this with higher breathability and often at a lower cost. Two examples of synthetic insulation are Thinsulate™ and Primaloft®.

Although heat is circulated, synthetic insulation can suffer from heat loss more quickly than a natural down. It is more suited for when your body is still producing its own heat during activities. 

Synthetic insulation is much better at handling moisture than down jackets and dries much quicker if wet. So, if you plan to use this type of jacket in wet conditions, we recommend the synthetic option. It also makes it much easier to clean as a result.

Are down and insulated jackets waterproof?

While we’ve said synthetically insulated jackets are better at handling moisture, these coats (like a down filling) are not waterproof. They are much more likely to be water-resistant, meaning they can stand up to showers. In heavy rain, down jackets will lose their loft, becoming wet and heavy and taking a long time to dry out.

This is why you may have heard of hydrophobic down, where the down is treated with a water-repellent coating. This doesn’t mean the jacket will still work when soaked, but it will dry quicker and won’t absorb as much water. It will also retain its warmth much better than regular down.

The reason why these jackets aren’t waterproof is that down insulation needs to be able to breathe. A waterproof membrane would make you very hot, making you open the jacket to vent. Then, you’d cool down quickly and repeat this all day. Plus, down is designed mainly for snowy conditions rather than heavy showers.

Insulated and down jacket features

Insulated jackets have a range of features that make them easy to pick out while shopping. We’ve highlighted them in the diagram below before going into more detail.


  • Baffles: baffles are sections that contain insulation. Stitch-through baffles keep insulation evenly distributed, while box wall baffles allow insulation to expand.
  • Hood: not all insulated jackets come with a hood. They are not just there to shield you from wind and rain but to trap warmth.
  • Cuffs: adjustable cuffs and hem mean you can easily trap warmth inside the jacket.
  • Pockets: internal and external pockets. External pockets can be lined for additional warmth.
  • Drawcords: to help keep the jacket closer to your body and retain heat.
  • Body-Mapped Design: this has insulation strategically placed to ensure the best possible warmth without adding weight.

Baffle sizes

Baffles come in two sizes – wide and narrow.

Wide baffles are the warmest option as they contain more grams of down or insulation and can be constructed. There are fewer seams where body heat can escape. However, they can feel heavier and do not layer well or compress.

Narrow baffles work well underneath a waterproof in cold and wet conditions. They also compress down small enough to fit easily in your pack, ready to pull out when you stop moving. They are also better for being more active.

When do I need a down jacket?

Down jackets provide a light layer of warm insulation, ideal for low-intensity activities in cold weather, such as dog walking.

If you’re very active when exploring the great outdoors, a down jacket can make you feel overheated – and quickly. This is why you may prefer to wear multiple layers of fleece and other materials or synthetic insulation. These are more versatile and breathable.

How should an insulated jacket fit?

A down or insulated jacket shouldn’t be too fitted or too loose. This allows for adding layers underneath but not so loose as cold air could get in through the hem and arms. You may have drawcords to help with this.

Down jackets tend to run small, so remember that you need a bit of room to allow you to move about.

How warm are down jackets?

How warm a down jacket is will be determined by its “fill power”. The fill power measures the loft or fluffiness of the down and its insulating abilities. The higher the fill power, the more air pockets there are in the down and the more insulating it will be. 

Fill power can range from 400 to 900, but most down jacket ratings will fall between 600 and 800.

How tough are down jackets?

Down jackets are designed to be as light as possible with thin fabrics and are also often windproof. However, it’s worth noting that down jackets aren’t indestructible! 

Down jackets tend to be worn as a mid-layer because they aren’t made to be as durable as outer jackets. For example, down jackets can be torn on branches. Ideally, you should wear a down jacket underneath a rain jacket or be mindful when exploring the great outdoors.


What are the best down & insulated jackets?

What are the best down & insulated jackets?

We offer an extensive range of down and insulated jackets at Winfields Outdoors, so we’ve picked out some of the best coats for men, women and children.

Mountain Equipment Mens Lightline Down Jacket

If winter outdoor adventures are your thing, this ultra-lightweight Mountain Equipment Mens Lightline Down Jacket is what you need.

This jacket has it all. Protection from the elements is guaranteed, thanks to the DRILITE® Loft 40D, which provides unparalleled wind and water resistance. This jacket will also ensure you stay warm, even if the temperatures outside plummet.


Eddie Bauer Mens Microtherm 2.0 Hooded Down Jacket

Next, we have the Eddie Bauer Mens Microtherm 2.0 Hooded Down Jacket – perfect for those who love to explore in style. 

Ultra-lightweight and incredibly comfortable, this Jacket from Eddie Bauer is designed to provide unmatched comfort, enhanced mobility and superb protection from the elements. 

Specially designed to be a highly effective layer that offers superb insulation, made from Premium Goose Down. 


Kathmandu Womens Heli Lightweight Down V3 Jacket

Be prepared for any adventure with the Kathmandu Womens Heli Lightweight Down V3 Jacket

Not only is this jacket super stylish, but it’s also super warm, durable and ultra-lightweight – thanks to its high-quality duck-down and feather fill. Perfect for those looking for comfortable protection from the elements!

This Kathmandu jacket also benefits from a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Finish, a protective chin guard and plenty of storage pockets for personal items. 

Eddie Bauer Womens CirrusLite Down Jacket

Next, we have a superb down jacket from one of the most trusted outdoor retailers in the outdoor industry. Introducing the Eddie Bauer Womens CirrusLite Down Jacket!

Lightweight, packable, stylish and available in different colour finishes, this superb down jacket will ensure you’re protected from the cold throughout any adventure. 

This Eddie Bauer creation benefits from a higher neck construction for added comfort, Premium Down insulation and a water-repellent finish, allowing water to bead off the jacket.




A superb jacket for children, we have the

In addition to cold heat insulation, the kid’s Amira Jacket is completely windproof, keeping them warm and comfortable on their adventure. The jacket also features a detachable stud-fastened hood, offering further coverage that can be entirely removed when not required.



Trespass Kids Upbeat Waterproof Insulated Parka 

Lastly, we have the Trespass Kids Upbeat Waterproof Insulated Parka – perfect for any little adventurer in the making!

An ideal choice for shielding your little one from the elements, this is an ultra-warm and ultra-comfortable waterproof insulated parka-style jacket made by industry leader, Trespass.

A great all-rounder jacket, this Trespass creation benefits from Tres-Shield fabric, Coldheat insulation and comfort and added protection features – such as fully adjustable cuffs and removable faux fur trim.

Shop the best range of down & insulated jackets at Winfields Outdoors

We hope you found our comprehensive guide on down & insulated jackets useful. 

With the cold weather fast approaching, if you’re looking to invest in a premium jacket to ensure you remain comfortable and protected – check out our extensive selection today. 

When you browse our full range of down and insulated jackets, you’ll find the best outdoor brands and latest releases, bursting with the latest outdoor technology. Ensure you can enjoy spending time outdoors, no matter how cold it gets! 

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