Written By: Eric Riley
As summer starts to give way to autumn and eventually winter, temperatures drop and cold weather starts kicking in. It is therefore best to consider purchasing a new jacket to protect yourself from the elements. Of course, you would want the best jacket available for you, and thus, you will have to carefully choose what kind of jacket you want. In particular, you must consider what material your jacket will be made out of: down or fleece? Which one is better? The answer to this question is that it really depends on the specific circumstances you are in.
First, let us examine down. Down is a natural insulator consisting of the undercoating feathers of geese and ducks. When this plumage is clustered together, these feathers trap air with a high level of efficiency, meaning that you are losing far less heat compared with other forms of insulation. Furthermore, down jackets can prove to be long-term investments in that if they are properly cared for, they can last decades. Down is also very lightweight and feels luxurious to the touch.
Unfortunately, down’s biggest disadvantage is that it loses its effectiveness when it rains. When it becomes wet, down ends up flattened and can no longer insulate properly. Furthermore, it can take a long time for down to dry out completely, usually more than a day. In 2012, water-repellent treatments were introduced to down, making it usable in mists or light drizzles. However, down remains completely useless in heavy rain. It is also the more expensive option.
Fleece is the cheaper option of the two. While down is slightly warmer, fleece tends to be more effective, especially for highly active people. This is because fleece is a highly breathable material that provides effective insulation when your body is producing more heat than normal—that is, when you are highly active. It is also very soft, and it can come in weights of light, middle, and heavy, giving you more options. It dries out more quickly than most other jacket materials, meaning that it does not have any of the problems that down has when it gets wet.
That said, fleece really is not suited to wearing for prolonged periods of time. It tends to be bulky and is useless as a windbreaker. Fleece is most effective when it is worn underneath another layer of clothing. Unless you are an active person or an athlete of some sort, it is best to also get something to wear over your fleece jacket.
So once again, let me state that which one is better really depends on the circumstances you are in. If you live in an area where winters tend to be rather wet or you are a very active person, then fleece is the way to go. If you are in a situation where you are exposed to the cold for more prolonged periods of time or are looking for something that lasts longer, then down is the best choice for you. It is these sorts of circumstances that determine exactly what would be the best type of jacket for you.