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New insulation material merges the warmth of down with the water resistance of synthetics

Down versus synthetic? It’s a question that has plagued anyone who has spent time outside in colder temperatures. Down has the upper hand when it comes to warmth and compressibility, but it loses its heat value when it gets wet. Synthetics stay warm even when they are wet, but they don’t have the loft, warmth, and longevity of down. The holy grail of outdoor insulation is a material that has the loft of down and the water resistance of synthetics. Industry leader PrimaLoft is moving one step closer to this nirvana with its new PrimaLoft Black ThermoPlume Insulation.

Slated to be introduced at January’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2017 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, the new Black ThermoPlume is a synthetic insulation that looks and feels like down. It is comprised of small tufts of fiber plumes that mimic the loose fill of down. And just like down, Black Thermoplume is lightweight, warm, and compressible. When used in a jacket or gloves, it provides the equivalent of 550 fill down, but because it is synthetic, the insulation will stay warm even in wet conditions.

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On the manufacturing side, the Black ThermoPlume is attractive to clothes makers because it can be blown just like down. The ThermoPlume is compatible with existing down blowing equipment, allowing manufacturers to produce both down and synthetic products with the same manufacturing process. “The new all-synthetic ThermoPlume from PrimaLoft enabled our designers to leverage the benefits of synthetic down through the same efficient production methods as natural down for our fall winter 2017 range,”said Lottie Watkinson, a design manager for clothing manufacturer Montane in a press release.

The first manufacturer to adopt this new material is the U.K.-based Montane, which is best known for the lightweight and breathable clothing and equipment it produces for extreme outdoor adventurers. The company will be using PrimaLoft Black ThermoPlume in its 2017 lineup starting with its new men’s Icarus and women’s Phoenix jackets.