Wild Things Belay Jacket
Belay Jacket
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

Wild Things Belay Jacket

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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; wildthingsgear.com) 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

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…

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