Q:

How does Climashield compare to other synthetic insulators on the market?

Climashield is increasingly being used in sleeping bags and insulated apparel these days. How does its performance and weight compare with other synthetics such as Polarguard Delta and the Primalofts? Steve Olympia, Washington

Sep 2, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
L.L. Bean Katahdin sleeping bag

Katahdin 20-degree sleeping bag

A:

Climashield is indeed gaining a higher profile. It’s a product of a long-existing company in the United States with the inspiring name of Western Nonwovens, Inc., though the insulation itself has been around for a mere four years.

It’s gaining traction in the market because manufacturers have found it has some advantages over both of the long-time market leaders in synthetic insulation, Polarguard and Primaloft. Like Polarguard, Climashield is a “continuous filament material," meaning it comes in long fibers rather than short ones, as is the case with Primaloft (also called “cut staple" insulation). That means that, like Polarguard, Climashield is fairly rugged (longer fibers hold together better) and easier to work with. Primaloft needs a special coating so that the fibers don’t separate, and some manufacturers have found it tricky to use.

Compared with both Polarguard and Primaloft, my fabric source tells me, Climashield is softer and offers better thermal efficiency—i.e., it results in a warmer bag or jacket for the same amount of insulation. And, as with other synthetic materials, Climashield resists moisture and is fairly effective at keeping you warm even when wet. It’s also hypo-allergenic.

You’ll find Climashield in sleeping bag such as The North Face’s Goliath ($169), a bag rated to zero degrees. L.L. Bean is also using it in bags such as the Katahdin ($119), a 20-degree bag.

Climashield doesn’t yet hit the Hoy Grail mark: a synthetic that’s as light, soft, and comfortable as down. But it’s getting closer.

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