Apparel, Gear Reviews, Outdoors

Battle of the Puffy: Wool Vs. Down

Wool vs. down is an ongoing conversation in the outdoor community. For a long time, wool was our foul weather best friend because of its ability to insulate while being wet. But now, as our industry grows, so does its technology. Some companies, like Big Agnes, are now using DownTek, a weatherproof down that continues to hold loft even when wet. So what now? Is wool a thing of the past? The company, Ibex, has found a way to compete with down “puffies” by make their own version of a wool puffy. Take a look as we explore the two puffy insulates and help you choose the best jacket for your adventures.
The Wool Aire is like a puffy without the puff. There’s tons of warmth from the merino wool insulation but it has a much sleeker look. There’s no marshmallow effect with this jacket. The 100 g/m merino wool insulation keeps things toasty near freezing and regulates body temps when things heat up.  While the jacket is great for the 30s, anything colder and unless you’re working up a sweat, you’ll want to start piling on the layers underneath. Raining? Slushing? Get pushed in a lake? Whatever. The properties of merino wool continue providing warmth and insulation despite being wet or dry. Surprisingly, this layer is great at cutting wind and the hood adds the perfect finishing bit of protection. At only 14.56oz, this jacket competes with other down jackets in their warmth to weight ratios. Winter, spring, summer in the North Cascades, Trek Tech would take this in confidence anywhere you’re guaranteed wet and cold weather.
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This mid-weight, DownTek insulated puffy is the perfect warmth to weight ratio. This 700-fill power jacket weighs 15oz and keeps those winter temps at bay. We found that the vertical baffling not only adds to the warmth factor but also slims the look of the jacket. The rip-stop nylon shell repels winds up to 55mph (we may or may not have tested this by leaning out of a car window going down a highway), perfect for spring skiing where the winds get nasty up on mountain ridges and mornings are still cold as F@&k. This piece is an excellent addition to the winter camping, back country skiing, Colorado brewery hopping collection. The down used to insulate this jacket is DownTek, more specifically a treated down that protects the pockets of air that are used to insulate in a down product. This means you can sweat or get rained on and the down will hold shape and continue to insulate. Pretty ground breaking stuff, although we’re not sure if all the old geezers out there will trust it…
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With the same ball park cost, same packability, same weight…it comes down to stand alone warmth and what you’ll trust in wet conditions. Both puffies are excellent winter and spring weather jackets ready to keep you warm, insulated, and dry.