Bun­dle up

To gear up for win­ter, find out the key dif­fer­ences be­tween down and poly­filled coats,

Ottawa Citizen - - REAL DEAL -

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.

JULIE OLIVER, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

MEC’S Nancy Cop­ping says syn­thetic coats are gen­er­ally heav­ier than down.

Men’s Canada Goose Ex­pe­di­tion Parka, $695, from the Ex­pe­di­tion Shoppe.

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