Everything you need to know about hybrid jackets

While hybrid jackets can sometimes cost slightly more than a jacket of a similar type, they can be more economical because they replace two or more other garments. 

If you’re out trekking or hitting the slopes, the weight saving they bring can make an enormous difference, and you won’t have to keep changing as the weather and temperature fluctuate. Let’s answer some of the key questions about hybrid jackets, especially their insulating filling.

 

What are hybrid jackets?

Hybrid jackets are jackets that fulfil several functions. For example, an individual jacket could be flexible, windproof, waterproof, light or insulating, or any combination of those properties. They offer all these abilities through careful selection of materials. Non-hybrid jackets might, for example, be waterproof but not particularly warm or lightweight.

The North Face’s Ventrix™ Jacket is a light hybrid jacket that features special ventilation apertures that open up when you’re moving, helping to prevent moisture build-up inside when you’re active. You can, therefore, wear it on any expedition without having to keep changing it as you exert yourself and relax.

 

Is down insulation effective?

Down has exceptional insulating properties thanks to its ability to trap air in its natural structure. When it fills coats and jackets, it has slightly better performance than equivalent synthetic materials, weight for weight. That makes it the first choice when a lightweight outer layer is required.

The Crimptastic Hybrid Down Jacket is filled with lofty goose down at 35 g/m², which gives it extraordinary insulation, breathability and lightness, just as nature intended. The down is certified to Responsible Down Standards (RSD) and is rated at Goose Down Fill 800, which means incredible insulating properties and compressibility. 

What is synthetic down?

Synthetic down is a man-made replacement for natural down. It is usually made from polyester and has been designed at a microscopic level to imitate natural down, that is, with tiny fibrous twines to capture and retain warm air. Synthetic down is also popular in the vegan community.

Synthetic down filling often comes with a brand name, as manufacturers develop their own materials with specific properties. For example, the Summit L3 Ventrix™ hoodie uses 240 g/m² of Polartec® Hardface® insulation to give excellent insulation. The North Face uses several brands of synthetic insulation across our range.

The different properties of each determine the performance of the garment. For certain autumn and summer garments, too much insulation would not be a good thing, so we can use a lower fill density to provide a reasonable amount of insulation.

How does synthetic insulation compare with natural?

The synthetic insulation vs down debate has been ongoing since the dawn of synthetics. As technology has improved, the gap between them has shrunk, but there are still key differences that give outdoor sports lovers a choice to make. 

As far as insulating performance is concerned, they are similar, although goose down has the edge for a given weight.

The biggest difference is in drying time. Synthetic filling can get soaked and still dry out in less than a day if left out to air, and retains good insulating properties even when damp. Natural down can require longer and warmer conditions to fully dry out, and is less effective when damp, so is best when combined with a breathable water-resistant outer layer. That’s an important distinction if you don’t have access to drying facilities.