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Synthetic insulation buying guide

Synthetic insulation buying guide

How to choose a synthetic insulated jacket

Synthetic insulated jackets offer a range of benefits, different to down. How do you know which one to choose?  

Our synthetic insulated jackets are built to keep you warm in fickle or changeable conditions. From the Cirrus to the Khroma Transpose, this guide will help you find the best synthetic jacket for your mountain adventure.


Mountaineers in synthetic insulated jackets approaching a snowy summitMountaineers in synthetic insulated jackets approaching a snowy summit

What are the benefits of synthetic insulation? 

Synthetic insulation is relatively good at dealing with moisture, especially compared to down that has not been hydrophobically treated down.  When synthetic insulation is soaked, it offers more warmth than down, making it a good choice for damp and cold conditions. It's ideal for conditions in the UK, particularly for cold, damp Scottish winters.  

Compared to a down jacket, synthetic insulation generally has a lower warmth-to-weight ratio, so it can be heavier to achieve the same warmth. However, we offer synthetic insulation in a range of weights so you can find one to meet your pack size.  

What are the benefits of synthetic insulation? 

Synthetic insulation is relatively good at dealing with moisture, especially compared to down that has not been hydrophobically treated down.  When synthetic insulation is soaked, it offers more warmth than down, making it a good choice for damp and cold conditions. It's ideal for conditions in the UK, particularly for cold, damp Scottish winters.  

Compared to a down jacket, synthetic insulation generally has a lower warmth-to-weight ratio, so it can be heavier to achieve the same warmth. However, we offer synthetic insulation in a range of weights so you can find one to meet your pack size.  

Mountaineers in synthetic insulated jackets approaching a snowy summitMountaineers in synthetic insulated jackets approaching a snowy summit
Hiker in the mountains wearing a lightweight synthetic jacketHiker in the mountains wearing a lightweight synthetic jacket

Lightweight

Lightweight and compressible insulation is perfect for stop-start days, lower altitudes, and cooler summer evenings. Jackets like the Cirrus are highly effective for moving fast and light through the mountains.

Our lightweight synthetic jackets feature:

  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Luxe™
  • Water-repellent fabric and a tough outer shell
  • Recycled content to reduce the impact on the planet
  • Stashable size that is slim enough to work as a mid-layer.
Man fitting a harness in a khaki green synthetic insulated jacketMan fitting a harness in a khaki green synthetic insulated jacket
Midweight

A midweight insulated jacket can be a game changer on cold, damp days. Active insulation, like the Xenair Alpine, that works with your body heat is a perfect layer for alpine activities, meaning you can perform in a range of conditions.

Our midweight synthetic jackets feature:

  • Fast drying insulations so you can keep going all-day 
  • Body mapping to effectively regulate your temperature 
  • Pertex® Quantum Air fabric to balance breathability and weather protection.
Mountaineer gearing up for a winter climb in an orange waterproof jacketMountaineer gearing up for a winter climb in an orange waterproof jacket
Heavyweight

Winter conditions require rugged protection to ensure you’re comfortable. Jackets, like our Generator Alpine, provide unrivalled warmth to weight and durable protection against the harshest winter weather.

Our heavyweight insulated jackets feature:

  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation with Cross Core™ Technology
  • Water-resistant outer face fabrics
  • Recycled content through insulation and fabric
  • Winter-ready features such as glove-compatible zip pulls and internal stuff pockets.
Female hiker wearing a green synthetic insulated gilet Female hiker wearing a green synthetic insulated gilet
Layering Pieces

Our gilets offer adaptable and versatile warmth for the core, as part of a layering system or on their own in milder climates. They are designed as mountain all-rounders with excellent breathability and ease of movement, for example, the Xenair Vest.

Our insulated gilets feature:

  • PrimaLoft® insulation
  • Body mapping to ensure warmth where it’s needed
  • Lightweight and packable for versatility
  • Recycled insulation and outer fabric content.

Is down or synthetic better?

Although both down and synthetic insulation share many of the same properties, there are certain situations where one trumps the other. Down offers unrivalled warmth to weight and is highly compressible, making it easier to stash away. Synthetic insulation copes best with moisture and damp conditions and dries out quickly. We work with PrimaLoft® Synthetic Insulation to deliver most of our synthetic jackets. 

Your insulation choice will depend on your activity and the conditions. 

Climbers preparing gear, wearing synthetic baffle jacketsClimbers preparing gear, wearing synthetic baffle jackets

Climbing

Days out at the crag can mean changeable weather and temperatures. Conditions for your project might mean you are out in the cold, so you need a jacket that keeps you warm while resting and you can move in while climbing.

What makes a great synthetic jacket for climbing?

  • 2-way zip for ease when wearing a harness
  • Helmet-compatible hood 
  • Tough outer fabric, designed to withstand a day at the crag.
Female hiker wearing a blue jacketFemale hiker wearing a blue jacket

Hiking

Versatility is key for days out hiking. Changes in weather or terrain mean your jacket will be on and off frequently. Feeling protected from the cold, even when the humidity is up, makes the difference to a successful hike.

What to look out for in a synthetic jacket for hiking?

  • Adjustable hoods and waist cords to keep the wind out
  • Easy-to-layer fit that can be easily adjusted
  • Small pack size to easily stash away.
Male scottish winter climber preparing tools in a green insulated jacketMale scottish winter climber preparing tools in a green insulated jacket

Mountaineering

Stopping to belay in rugged mountain conditions demands synthetic insulation that won’t let you down. Our technologies mean our range offers a better warmth-to-weight ratio than ever while handling moisture better than a down jacket. A synthetic belay jacket is at the top of the kit list, especially in places like Scotland.

What features do you need in a mountaineering jacket?

  • Articulated sleeves and adjustable hem
  • Helmet-compatible hood to offer maximum protection
  •  Two-way zip that works seamlessly with a harness.
Female backcountry skier wearing a synthetic insulated ski jacketFemale backcountry skier wearing a synthetic insulated ski jacket

Skiing

Synthetic insulation is the best choice for skiing, as you need a breathable yet warm jacket. Whether you are ski touring or free riding, the effort and temperature will change throughout the day. The quick-drying capabilities and versatile nature of synthetic will protect you from the powder and keep you moving.

What should I look for in a synthetic ski jacket?

  • Hardwearing outer fabric designed to survive a bail
  • A hood designed to fit over a ski helmet
  • Zip pulls that are easy to use when wearing bulky gloves.




Caring for your synthetic insulated jacket

Washing your gear is a great way to maintain its performance and prolong its life. You should use a specialist wash and proofer, following our instructions, or get them washed professionally. Find out more about our wash services and products at our Service Centre

In the field, you can temporarily mend rips, tears, and holes in your jacket. This patch fix will keep you on the move until you can send your jacket to the experts at our repair service.

Our Rab Repairs service is here to help you extend the life of your kit. We offer an expert repair service for all Rab and Lowe Alpine gear. From near-invisible baffle replacements and colourful patch-ups to panel replacements, new zips, straps, or toggles, there’s virtually no rip, tear, or damage our team can’t handle. Visit the Service Centre to find out more.


Know your MVTR, from your hydrostatic head? Your boxwall baffle, from your stitch-through?

Know your MVTR, from your hydrostatic head? Your boxwall baffle, from your stitch-through?