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Our Synthetic Insulation Explained

The classic application for synthetic insulation in outerwear is in a “belay jacket”, a functional piece that can be stowed in your rucksack and then thrown on top of your outer layers when it’s your turn to belay, to help prevent you from cooling down excessively during a period of inactivity. The relative tolerance of synthetic insulation to damp and wet conditions when compared with down-filled insulation means it tends to be well suited to the British winter climate.

Advances in fabric and insulation technology mean that nowadays these garments can be extremely light and compressible and therefore suitable to a wider range of applications. This winter at Out & About, we are offering a comprehensive range of synthetic insulation jackets that can be worn on their own, under or over your waterproof shell or carried in your rucksack to provide extra warmth if conditions deteriorate.

First up is the Rab Photon Hoodie (£110). With the average men’s version weighing in at 520g and the average women’s model at only 410g this is lighter in weight and packs smaller than many fleece jackets, making it ideal to carry as an extra layer. It’s also ideal for cold winter walks, alpine climbs and multi-pitch rock-climbs. These qualities are achieved using the best fabrics available. The outer is lightweight, windproof, breathable Pertex® Microlight fabric and the inner lining is the even lighter, softer Pertex® Quantum which weighs in at only 30g per square metre of fabric.
Providing the insulation between these two layers is a filling of Primaloft® Sport. Lightweight and compressible, Primaloft® fibres have the best warmth to weight ratio of any polyester insulation. Their soft fibres hold 1.5 times less water than other fibres, making them a superb insulator, wet or dry. The Photon Hoodie uses 100g Primaloft® Sport in the body with a quilted structure to ensure that the insulation stays in place around your body’s core. The sleeves use 60g Primaloft® Sport to maintain a contoured, tailored fit.
The features of the jacket support the technical qualities of the fabrics used, with a helmet compatible hood that can be neatly rolled down with the integral collar tab and has draw-cord tunnels to prevent them whipping across your face in high winds. The full length zip has an internal baffle to minimise cold spots and the cuffs and hem are adjustable. A stuff sack is provided to pack the jacket into for carrying.

From Swedish company Haglöfs we have the Barrier Hood Jacket (£120), pictured here in golden green but the colour we are stocking is Blue Moon. This is slightly heavier than the Rab Photon Hood with the average men’s model weighing in at 610g. The insulation level is correspondingly higher, so whilst the Photon Hood could be used in fairly active situations, the Barrier Hood is more likely to be used in situations where a traditional belay jacket might be used, to stop you cooling down when you take a break from high intensity activity.
The insulation used is Thermolite® Micro, the best product in the Thermolite® range which provides a natural, softly lofted feel for comfort and is very compressible and easy to care for. The body of the jacket uses an insulation density of 150g per metre squared and the sleeves and hood use a density of 100g per metre squared.
The jacket has a soft polyester lining and the outer fabric is Haglöfs own Performac™1001, a 100% polyester fabric weighing in at 58g per square metre. Its highly breathable, windproof and has a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish to help keep the fabric dry for longer.

There is also the extremely versatile Barrier Vest(£70) using the same Performac™1001 outer fabric and Thermolite® Micro insulation at a density of 80g per square metre. A men’s size large weighs only 270g and a women’s size medium weighs even les at 220g. Both the jacket and the vest will pack down into one of their own pockets for stowing in your rucksack.
Finally we have the Paramo Torres Overlayering Insulation garments, designed to be worn over the top of all your layers, allowing you to select the best garments for your intended activity and simply add synthetic block insulation over the top when you need it. The synthetic insulation will work equally well in the wet, won’t get damaged by being compressed in your rucksack and can be washed and re-proofed in a washing machine.

The two garments available are the Torres Smock(£100) and Gilet(£75) both of which are simple in construction but are helmet, harness, rope and glove friendly where appropriate.
The smock weighs in at 775g and the Gilet at 370g so, whilst still being light, they feel heavier than either the Rab or the Haglöfs products but this is offset by the durable feel, suitable for the robustness of their intended use as an over-layer.
When we are discussing products with our customers to help them decide the one best suited to their requirements, we don’t usual start spouting off data in grams per square metre or lots of names followed by ® or ™ but in the case of synthetic insulation these facts can help you narrow down your selection depending on the way you want to use the garment. So we hope on this occasion you’ll forgive us a little outdoor techno-geekery!
These products are currently highlighted in our Peebles branch window displays where they will be on view until 28th December 2009. Prices and data may not be accurate after this time and inclusion on this blog entry does not indicate availability. Please contact our Peebles store directly before travelling in anticipation of a purchase.

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