Nikwax hydrophobic down
Down is naturally breathable, which makes it very comfortable to wear, but this comes with a drawback – it can absorb moisture. This moisture can overload the fibres, or cause them to stick together, stripping the down of its insulative properties.
To mitigate this effect, we apply a Nikwax water repellent “hydrophobic” treatment to the down. This treatment significantly improves the performance of the down by preventing the clusters from absorbing moisture and helping it to retain its loft. In the event that the down does become waterlogged, the treatment significantly decreases the time it takes the down to dry and its loft to recover.
It’s worth noting that hydrophobic treatment means that a down jacket will perform better in wet conditions, but it’s not intended to make a garment waterproof. If you’re looking for a down jacket that is also waterproof you’ll want something that combines insulation with a waterproof material.
Down vs. Synthetic insulation
Broadly speaking, our garments and sleeping bags use one of two types of insulation – down or synthetic. Although down is, for its weight, always warmer than a synthetic equivalent, there are instances where synthetic insulation may be the preferable choice.
Synthetic insulation is relatively good at dealing with moisture, especially when compared to down that has not been hydrophobically treated. When synthetic insulation is soaked it will offer more warmth than down which makes it a good choice for damp and cold conditions, typical of Scottish winter climbing.
Synthetic insulation is generally easier to clean and care for and is also a less expensive material than down. Ultimately though, there is still no synthetic material that can rival the warmth-to-weight ratio of duck or goose down, so where weight and packability are a concern there is really no contest.
Duck and Goose down
Rab jackets use either duck down or goose down. Higher grade down (700FP and up) tends to be from geese as the clusters are larger, offering a higher warmth to weight ratio and improved packability.
Although duck down consists of smaller clusters and a reduced warmth to weight ratio, we find that it is still the best choice for everyday jackets, as premium goose down is simply too warm for everyday use.