Off to the slopes? Or just taking the dog out on a chilly winter morning? It’s a cold world out there, and the combination of insulation and a windproof outer layer is the best way to maintain our natural body temperature, creating a buffer between your body and all those cold, cold elements.
Choosing the right insulated jacket comes down to what you want to use it for. Are you going to be pelted with horizontal rain in freezing temperatures? Or just dashing through light drizzle on a chilly fall evening? Will you be out on your adventure for days? Or only a few hours?
Whatever you need, we find it useful to remember the four Ws:
Your jacket needs to keep you warm (obviously). But not too warm. It’s all about balance. When you first put on your insulated jacket, you shouldn’t feel too warm. Once you start moving and get your blood pumping, then you’ll reach the right temperature—without overheating.
Whether you’re shoveling snow in the driveway or stepping off the ski lift to carve down the slopes, your jacket should keep you at the right temperature to go further, not turn you into a sweaty mess.
Maybe you want a truly unique looking jacket with weather protection— like GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ insulated garments with persistent beading; or maybe you want something more ready for tackling the extremes, from the wide range of jackets made with GORE-TEX PRO technology.
If you need to pack (or even just carry) your jacket, how heavy and bulky it is really matters. Your insulated jacket shouldn’t be a burden—whether you’re wearing it on your way up a mountain, or carrying it on your way to your winter vacation. Lighter jackets tend to offer less insulation, though, so think carefully about how the weight and size of your jacket will impact your pack.
As anyone who’s stepped in a puddle at the beginning of the day can tell you, it’s almost impossible to stay warm and comfortable once you’re wet. That’s why it is so important to make sure the insulation in your jacket stays dry. Our new GORE-TEX Insulated garments act as the first line of defense against drizzle and snow offering sophisticated, extremely breathable protection for everyday protection from the elements.
It’s not just the rain trying to bring down your body temperature—the wind is out to get you, too. Wind chill can be especially brutal when you’re in a cool-down period in the middle of a high-energy activity.
Well-constructed, warm jackets—like those with rip-and-stick tabs on the cuffs and a front zipper that goes all the way up to the chin—help to keep the wind out. And all original GORE-TEX products are totally windproof, as well as being waterproof, and very breathable. As rock climber and GORE-TEX Ambassador Stefan Glowacz says: “I can’t control a storm. But the jacket I bring to protect me? I can control that.”
So those are the four Ws. We told you they were useful. But there’s one more thing to consider: material.
Insulation material: Down or synthetic?
Insulated jackets are usually filled with either down or synthetic material or sometimes a combination of the two.
- Down insulated jackets: Goose or duck down is one of nature’s best insulators, providing brilliant heat retention with the lowest total weight. However, down doesn’t insulate when wet, and it dries very slowly, so it’s always best combined with a durably waterproof shell layer. Down is (literally) light as a feather, so if you’re looking for a lightweight, warm jacket, this could be just what you need.
- Synthetic insulated jackets: Compressible, water-repellent fibers are also used as a filler to make insulated jackets, and these do perform when damp and dry much faster. However, we do still recommend a protective layer like the GORE-TEX membrane or GORE-TEX INFINIUM membrane to ensure the insulation is kept dry and performing and its best.
Need more advice? Don’t forget you can always chat with an expert down at your local store. Getting the right jacket is an investment, sure. But if you get the right one for the adventures you’ve got planned, it should keep you protected, and comfortable, for a long time to come.