What's the Difference Between Down Fill and Synthetic Down?

Nobis Men’s The Shelby Military Parka - Navy Nobis Men’s The Shelby Military Parka - Navy

Dave’s New York is located in the famous Chelsea district of Manhattan on the Avenue of the Americans, between 16th and 17th streets. Dave’s has been a family owned and operated Americana rugged and casual clothing store in New York for over 50 years. The clothing at Dave’s New York is geared toward the working outdoorsman, with everything from boots to beanies. They offer brands such as Levi’s, Carhartt, Dickies, Red Wing, The North Face, Timberland Pro, and more. For anyone who’s interested in learning how to buy the perfect winter coat for their needs, check out more about the difference between natural down and synthetic insulation from our outfitting experts.

Benefits of Down

There is no warmer insulation material than down—period. For that extreme cold where you want to keep warm without looking like a puffy marshmallow, down coats like the Nobis Men’s The Shelby Military Parka are an excellent choice. Also, down material is incredibly long-lasting if cared for well, and because a small amount goes a long way with down, it makes down products easier to compress and much lighter to carry. You stay warmer with less material, meaning the style options are also more diverse and at times sophisticated looking than synthetic counterparts that provide the same amount of warmth.

Downsides of Down

There are two main disadvantages to down insulation. The first is that it can’t get wet. Once it does, not only does it lose its insulating power in the moment, but water can damage it from being as effective at insulating in the future. The second downside is that down can be very expensive—especially if you purchase a higher quality grade of it. Higher quality grade means a better product, and it also means a lighter wallet. Therefore, for individuals interested in the North Face Men’s Mount Elbert Parka for its insulating power and choice style need to consider the wet as well as the cold.

Alpha Industries Slim Fit N-3B Parka in Replica Grey Alpha Industries Slim Fit N-3B Parka in Replica Grey

Benefits of Synthetic

Synthetic insulation has developed a great deal in the last few years, and the warmth it provides is now comparable to down. Also, synthetic material is water-resistant and hypoallergenic. That means that there isn’t a risk of permanent damage from water with synthetic, and not only does it usually repel water but it often dries faster when it gets wet. They’re also usually machine washable, which means easy maintenance, and can be reasonably priced. That’s why something like the Alpha Industries Slim Fit N-3B Parka can be a great choice.

Downsides of Synthetic

It takes a much higher volume of synthetic material to match the insulating ability of a fraction of the amount of down. This is why synthetic coats can look puffy—it’s because they’re actually stuffed with more material. This makes heavier duty synthetic products physically heavier and bulkier overall, which you can see in coats like the Caterpillar Men’s Insulated Glacier Parka, which provides the durability and weather resistance, but which doesn’t have the look of sophistication that a down coat might.

When to Choose Down vs. Synthetic

It really depends on what you want the coat for. A more physically strenuous setting, where you’re going to be sweating in the cold and still trying to keep warm, might make synthetic a better choice because it’s machine washable. For extremely cold winter season, you might want to skip looking like a snowman and choose a decent down coat that will last you for years to come.