To gear up for winter, find out the key differences between down and polyfilled coats,
When the northerly winds start to sting our faces, it’s time to pull out our winter coats. If you don’t have one, not to worry. There are plenty of choices out there — though that isn’t always such a good thing.
Wading through a sea of puffy outerwear can overwhelm a chilly shopper.
There are coats filled with down (that fluffy undercoating that keeps geese and ducks warm) while others are polyfilled (synthetic insulation). Some are expensive; others look similar, but are more affordably priced. And 600 fill? What does that mean?
We spoke to Nancy Copping at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Westboro for a primer on down versus polyfill.
Prices for down-filled coats are typically more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. Copping says MEC’S coat line (they carry other brands as well) varies depending on whether they are waist or three-quarter length. Lightweight synthetic ranges from $110 to $125 for waist length; a comparable weight in down would be $195 to $210. For three-quarter-length coats, she says they tend to average $145 for polyfill; $270 for down.
Copping says there are different variations in between. For example, MEC carries a lightweight, waistlength down-filled coat for $130.
Generally, she says synthetic coats are heavier than down. But with technology and design advancements, there are lighter synthetic polyfills than before.
Fill power is a measure of down’s quality or “fluffiness.” Basically, higher fill power products provide more warmth for the same weight — and they tend to cost more because it is a higher quality of down.
In terms of quality, 400 to 450 fill power is considered medium quality; 500 to 600 is good and 650 to 850 is excellent.
“It is expressed as the number of cubic inches an ounce of down displaces,” says Copping. “All things being equal, a parka with a higher fill power is lighter and more compressible than an equally warm one with lower quality down.”
Noize full-length parka with polyester lining and faux-fur trim, $179.99 at Sears.
MEC’S Nancy Copping says synthetic coats are generally heavier than down.
Men’s Canada Goose Expedition Parka, $695, from the Expedition Shoppe.