Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
Gear Guy

Which synthetic insulation is most durable and best retains its loft?

I looking for a warm belay jacket for ice climbing and have considered the Patagonia DAS or the Wild Things Belay Jacket. Would the Polarguard 3D (in the DAS) be more durable over time and keep its loft more so than the Primaloft (in the Wild Things jacket)? Rich Athens, Georgia


Well, for starters, they’re slightly little different things. The Patagonia DAS Parka ($259) is a pretty traditional synthetic-fill insulated parka. As you note, it does use Polarguard 3D as insulation, and its nylon shell is treated with a water-repellent coating. The Wild Things Belay Jacket ($295; also is insulated – in this case with Primaloft. But it adds a nearly waterproof shell made with Nextec EPIC fabric, a material made from fibers individually coated in silicon.

Wild Things Belay Jacket

Belay Jacket

Weight is about the same – 28 ounces for the Patagonia jacket, 29 for the Wild Things – so I would imagine warmth to be about the same. But the Wild Things piece is going to be a little more weatherproof in those cases where it’s snowing, raining, or otherwise dripping wet. True, synthetics are renowned for retaining warmth when wet, but I’d still rather be in a dry jacket.

As for loftiness over time…it’s hard to say. Polarguard 3D has proven to be very durable stuff over the years, while Primaloft has occasionally struggled with a reputation for not being quite so tough. The other side of the coin is that Primaloft is softer and more comfortable to wear as a jacket, and in fact very much resembles down in that regard. It also packs down a bit better. So I’d be willing to give up a year of durability out of say, 10, in favor of the Wild Things piece.

That is, unless you’re size XL. Because in that case Patagonia is getting rid of its 2007-2008 inventory of DAS Parkas for $99. Only one size left…

The 2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Climbing
Lead Photo: courtesy, Wild Things