What Is Primaloft Insulation? All You Need To Know
If you’re looking for something to add reliable warmth to your cold-weather looks then a Primaloft jacket is a solid choice. Famed for its ability to provide heat even in wet conditions and often referred to as synthetic down, the man-made fabric originated in military history, before making its way quickly into both fashion and outdoor circles around the world. So how does it stack up against down? Is it waterproof? And what are the benefits? Read below to find out!
What is Primaloft?
Primaloft was developed in the 1980’s after the US military approached advanced textiles company Albany International Corp to produce a synthetic alternative to goose down that offered the same protection even in harsh conditions. Originally intended for use in their sleeping bags and clothing, the innovative material quickly gained notoriety for its ability to still keep the wearer warm and insulated even when wet, offering a solution to its natural alternatives, down, biggest drawback. Since then Primaloft has gone on to gain commercial success releasing a number of new derivatives of its original formula and being used by a number of brands including, The North Face, Patagonia, CP Company and more.
Is Primaloft Warm?
One of the top synthetic insulators in the business, when it comes down to it, aside from all its functional bells and whistles, Primaloft boasts a substantial punch of warmth when worn. Available in a range of different densities to fulfill a spectrum of roles, the filling is one of the best when it comes to mimicking the same principles of down. Made from fine microfiber polyester fibers which form a number of small air pockets, the fabric traps the heat generated by the body, retaining it and forming an internal microclimate against the surrounding cold air.
Is Primaloft Waterproof?
Whilst technically not waterproof, Primaloft much like many of its synthetic peers handles wet conditions superbly. Having been designed to fulfill this exact role, thanks to its polyester makeup, its ultra-fine fibers are much less absorbent than their natural counterpart whilst also more quick-drying if water exposure was to occur. Perhaps where Primaloft truly excels, however, is its ability to retain the majority of its loft even when damp meaning that it still provides a formidable amount of insulation and warmth. Just see for yourself in the video below…
How is Primaloft made?
Primaloft is made from weaving together polyester fibres, arranging them into layered sheets and combining them with a synthetic agent which, when melted in the production line ovens, binds the ultra-fine strands together into one combined mass. Having used this technique for over 30 years, the label have been making the necessary steps toward a more sustainable future not only bringing recycled fabrics into the mix but introducing both Primaloft P.U.R.E and Primaloft BIO.
Meaning ‘Produced Using Reduced Emissions’ P.U.R.E removes the need for an oven, and the subsequent carbon emissions it comes with, from the equation. Removing the binder and instead using a resin spray that reacts with oxygen, Primaloft can now simply let their insulation air cure, reducing the carbon output from a single factory by up to 48%.
Primaloft BIO on the other hand is the first-ever fully recycled and biodegradable synthetic insulation. Resulting in no change to performance, the innovative technique, aims to significantly reduce the amount of micro plastics which find their way into the world’s oceans. Tested to show a complete breakdown within 2 years, the soil which is left behind is also free of contaminants and completely suitable for plant growth.
Is Primaloft Vegan?
For those who prefer a more conscious driven approach to their outerwear, you will be pleased to find out that Primaloft 100% vegan friendly, not only that but their recently introduced Primaloft Bio line (more on this below) uses recycled, biodegradable fibres.
What are the different types of Primaloft?
There are several different types of Primaloft available on the market each with their own insulation levels, breathability and unique differences. Below is a quick guide to help you get an idea of the differences!
- Primaloft Gold – Primaloft gold is often referred to as one of the best synthetic insulators on the market. The most robust and insulating of the various options, Gold is intended for those who lead an active lifestyle, balancing both moisture-wicking breathability with sheer warming power. Lightweight, water-resistant and quick-drying it is a perfect choice for even the most challenging conditions.
- Primaloft Silver – Not as insulating as Primaloft Gold but still packing a substantial punch, Primaloft Silver is suitable for warmer climates or for days of high physical activity. Coming with the same ability to deal with wet conditions, it is also packable, super comfortable and capable of circulating air to keep sweat at bay.
- Primaloft Black – The most basic variation, Primaloft Black is more suited for everyday wear in urban environments or as a layering piece when outdoors. Providing less heat than both of its counterparts, it retains the core principles which sit at the heart of its development including breathability and water-resistance.
What Is Better Primaloft or Down?
When it comes to picking an insulated jacket it can be tough to decide on exactly which one to go for. Do you opt for the more traditional down route or do you focus your sights on some of the more modern synthetic insulation options such as Primaloft? In reality, both are solid choices and each have their pros and cons which may influence your decisions. A good way to approach things is to think about what the intended use for your new jacket will be. Will you be traipsing across mountainous terrain? Camping in the great outdoors? or are you just looking for something to keep the chill at bay for the weekly run to the shops? To help you navigate the minefield that is a nice warm jacket we’ve rounded up some of the main points of each below.
- Warmth – When it comes to warmth despite Primaloft coming very close and still offering significant protection, down is often regarded as the apex when it comes to pure like for like insulation. Due to its high loft it has an incredibly generous warmth to weight ratio meaning a high fill power down jacket should keep you toasty in a multitude of climates.
- Water-resistance – Given that the main downfall (no pun intended) of down is that it loses its ability to trap warmth once wet, it may come as no surprise to you that Primaloft takes the victory here. Thanks to its synthetic makeup it isn’t nearly as absorbent as down and when it does get wet it is still able to provide significant warmth, retaining its loft and drying out in a much faster time.
- Packability – Despite both being very easy to compress and pack away when not needed, down may take a slight advantage in this field. The simple fact is that down has a greater loft than Primaloft meaning that there is simply less filling required to achieve the same levels of warmth, therefore, making it slightly less bulky in some scenarios. Not only this but many people find that after prolonged compression synthetic fibers can start to flatten out meaning a reduction in effectiveness when worn.
- Breathability – Whilst both are generally quite breathable and capable of wicking away unwanted moisture there are those that say synthetic insulations, do benefit from a slight advantage in this category. However, it’s hard to say which is more breathable without taking into account, the face fabric of the jacket, overall amount of insulation and the function of the garment.
- Maintenance – A benefit of Primaloft is that it is much easier to wash, with some even being able to be cleaned on a gentle machine cycle. When it comes to down the process is a lot more tricky, with several additional steps and perhaps even professional help needed to keep your garment not only fresh but functional.
So there we have it, a full crash course on Primaloft and all of its wondrous benefits. If we missed anything be sure to let us know in the comments and in the meantime why not take a look at some of our latest men’s insulated jackets, you may see something you like!