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Why do synthetic insulating jackets have baffles?

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 FinrodFelagund 23 Jun 2020

I haven't paid attention to synthetic insulation technology for around 7 years. Back then, synthetic jackets never(?) had baffles - baffles weren't needed to keep the insulation in place. 

Now I'm looking at the market and I'm confused (or baffled...). Most synthetic insulating jackets appear to have a baffled or stitched-through construction.

Has there been some big change/leap in technology that I'm unaware of?

And further to this, if there has been a big leap forwards, would the following statements still be true?

  1. For a given insulating power, the synthetic garment will be heavier than the equivalent down garment.
  2. For a given insulating power, the synthetic garment will pack down larger than the equivalent down garment.
  3. Synthetic garments start to lose their loft after a few years. They will be outlasted by a well cared for down garment.
Post edited at 08:58
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 Rigid Raider 23 Jun 2020
In reply to FinrodFelagund:

My understanding is that "baffled" means the insulation is contained within box sections rather than trapped in a quilted construction, meaning there are no thin points where there is stitching.

Not sure about weights, efficiency or longevity. That's as big a can of worms as different bicycle frame materials.

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 girlymonkey 23 Jun 2020
In reply to FinrodFelagund:

Some now have synthetic lofting "down" type insulation. So needs the baffles to hold that in. 

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 cpowell 23 Jun 2020
In reply to FinrodFelagund:

Fashion - people like the look of the microbaffle - makes you look outdoorsy when sitting in the pub garden or pottering around town.

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 DaveHK 23 Jun 2020
In reply to FinrodFelagund:

I've got several synthetic jackets, still current models from at least 4 manufacturers and none of them have baffles. If by baffles you mean discrete sections for filling rather than big sheets of it.

Typing that out makes me realise I may have a problem.

Post edited at 09:09
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In reply to Rigid Raider:

This is incorrect. 

A baffle is any stitching construction to stop insulation moving about.

Box wall baffles, as you describe, are superior, but considerably more expensive and now quite rare. 

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In reply to FinrodFelagund:

In reply to the OP:

All three statements are still correct. 

The main development in the last few years is that much down is now treated  be hydrophobic- thus reducing down's main weakness of wetting easily, drying slowly and losing insulation whilst wet.

I'm actually amazed that down has not yet been surpassed! 

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In reply to FinrodFelagund:

As others have said in some case I'm sure its fashion, but for most serious outdoorsy gear you get baffles with artificial down that is loose so needs to be held in place. I reviewed a Marmot take on this fad a few winters ago: https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/clothing/synthetic_insulation/marmot_featherless_hoody-10010 

But if you compare it to the Arcteryx Proton that I helped Theo review back in the winter: https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/clothing/synthetic_insulation/arc'teryx_proton_lt_hoody-12521 you'll see no baffles. I haven't worked it out but it might be the insulation in it is actually knitted like Polartec Alpha which comes in big sheets. I think some synthetic insulation does need some sort of baffles though. My DAS Parka which is going towards being 20 years old has wide channel baffles and the ME Citadel I reviewed 8 years ago has visible baffles on the inside: https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/clothing/synthetic_insulation/mountain_equipment_citadel_jacket-4444

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In reply to FinrodFelagund:

Fashion and low construction cost. 

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In reply to FinrodFelagund:

Sewn through construction can be used if the synthetic insulation is physically very robust, for instance, lacking a scrim to bind the fibres in place. Sewing through prevents the wadding slumping, or being torn.

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 Rick Graham 23 Jun 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

All synthetic insulation has a recommended maximum quilting pattern dimension between stitching. This will vary a lot between different sheet manufacturing designs and materials.

For some continuous fibre filament this is quite generous so say a sleeping bag needs no additional stitching.

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In reply to cpowell:

> Fashion - people like the look of the microbaffle - makes you look outdoorsy when sitting in the pub garden or pottering around town.

But how else would I display my eagerness to never stop exploring? 

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In reply to captain paranoia:

> Sewn through construction can be used if the synthetic insulation is physically very robust

isn't physically very robust...

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 wbo2 24 Jun 2020
In reply to FinrodFelagund: All your three statements are correct.  However I have a mixture of down and synthetic jackets and both have times when one is significantly more usable than the other...  an example being spring mountaineering where you might well be very wet with sweat at some point in time, but don't want to be taking stuff on, off all the time.

What do you want a jacket to do?

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