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Insulation ...Down and Synthetic Part Two...Synthetics

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  • Insulation ...Down and Synthetic Part Two...Synthetics

    In Part One, I discussed down as an insulation. In Part Two I am going to cover Synthetics.

    Synthetic insulations are man made with the help of science. While no one has been able to create a true Synthetic Down, there have been many synthetic materials developed and improved upon over of the years that are used in sleeping bags, clothing and Quilts.

    One of the main advantages of Synthetic insulations is that they can insulate even when wet, something down can not do. Synthetic insulation also tends to be less expensive than down. If you see a low cost down filled sleeping bag and or clothing item, then the down is probably a low fill down and or a mix of down and feathers and feathers do not provide much insulation.

    The down side ( no I am not trying to make a bad pun here ) is that synthetics require more bulk to provide the same amount of insulation as down, will weigh more and do not compress as small as down products will.

    One of the early synthetics was Polarguard. My wife still has and uses a sleeping bag she got in the mid 1970's made by a company called SnowLion that used Polarguard. It is a very warm bag but it is also bulky and very heavy for its size.

    You may also see Polarguard 3D, Polarguard Delta, Quallofil, Hollofil, Holofil II and Thermolite, Clamashield Apex and Primaloft. There may be others I am not aware of at this time.

    These synthetic materials are made out of special polyester fibers and I believe that some of the fibers were/are hollow.

    If you are going to use synthetic insulation then I recommend going with products made with Clamasheild Apex. This stuff is also available for the DIY'er ( Do It Yourself ). I have made several DIY items ( Under Quilts, Top Quilts and pillows) with this material and found it fairly easy to work with. It comes in a continuous sheet and is available in various thickness that is easy to cut with scissors, is easy to sew and does not need quilting something Primaloft requires. You can add two layers to achieve a certain insulation value although when working with two layers it gets to be a bit of a PITA to control while sewing.

    Clamashield comes in several flavors:
    • APEX (sleeping bags and outerwear)
    • CONTUR (outerwear, gloves and footwear)
    • PRISM (sleeping bags and outerwear)
    • COMBAT(sleeping bags and outerwear)
    • CL (sleeping bags)
    • HL (sleeping bags and outerwear)
    • ELITE (comforters and quilts)

    Hybrids...there are some manufactures that use both down and synthetic material in their clothing and or other gear. How well this combination works, I can not say as I have never used any nor have I talked to anyone who has.

    For the record I own and use both Down and Synthetic UnderQuilts; TopQuilts and sleeping bags. I normally use the down products while backpacking and the synthetic fill gear while car camping.
    18 years old with 45 years of experience