Much like the choice between a synthetic or wool base layer, trying to decide between a jacket with down or synthetic insulation can be quite difficult.
Luckily, we’ve come to a point where there are so many manufacturers designing hybrid jackets that incorporate treated down or a combination of different materials into one jacket that the decisions we have to make as avid outdoorsman have become a bit easier.
Nevertheless, many of us still choose to wear classic synthetic jackets with their light and fluffy synthetic insulation! But, as is often the case when it comes to outdoor gear, we sink into despair as soon as we read the care label. Fortunately, caring for synthetic jackets is much easier than you may think. Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to keep your jacket in tiptop condition. One of the advantages synthetic jackets have over their natural down counterparts is how easy they are to clean!
How to wash your synthetic jacket
Jackets with synthetic insulation usually consist of a windproof outer with a smooth or slightly rough surface. These very light fabrics are treated, making them water-repellent. The synthetics used for the insulation are ultra-thin with a continuous filament, which weaves around, interlocking with itself. In the air spaces in between, warmth is retained, resulting in an insulating effect. You could compare the insulation in such synthetic jackets to a wad of cotton.
When cleaning synthetic jackets, it is important to wash it – as you would all your functional textiles – at 30°C and refrain from using fabric softener. If you wash it at a higher temperature, the fabric can thin out, become matted or damaged in some other way. The same thing will happen if you use fabric softener. What’s more, if you don’t care for your garment properly, any damage to your clothing will no longer be covered by warranty. In other words, be sure to care for your expensive gear properly. It’s worth it! You should also wash your gear yourself, as giving it to the cleaners will result in you losing warranty coverage as well.
To wash your garment, turn it right-side out, zip up everything, including the pit zips and pockets, and loosen up the hook-and-loop fasteners and drawcords (keep both closed just not tight) and toss it in the washing machine. Then use a detergent for functional apparel. You have a choice between your standard care product or wash-in treatment (a 2-in-1 detergent). In contrast to down jackets, synthetic jackets don’t need a special kind of detergent. After washing, spin the garment at a maximum of 800.
Then, you’ll have to reproof the face fabric of your wet garment with a spray (to apply it, hang it up), provided that you didn’t use a wash-in treatment. Keep in mind that regardless of whether you choose to use a spray or a wash-in treatment, the result will be the same. One is not better than the other! It’s all subjective. After applying the water-repellent, the garment will have to be exposed to warmth for the treatment to fully set in. The easiest way to do this is to use the dryer. By the way, heat has the added plus of rejuvenating the fill power of the insulating material. So, put your wet and treated jacket in the dryer at a low temperature for about 45 minutes. Afterwards, your jacket will be just like new!
How often to wash your garment
The same goes for synthetic insulated jackets as for all your outdoor gear: As frequently as necessary, but as seldom as possible! In other words, don’t wash your jacket every other day because every wash will take a toll on the fabric. Of course, all that salt, oil and dirt left on the garment from all those outdoor adventures can have a negative effect on your garment’s performance as well. Thus, synthetic jackets should only be washed when you’re convinced that you’ve really put them to good use – and you have sweat, dirt and mud stains to prove it! There’s no general rule as to how often or when you should wash your outdoor jacket. Some may have to wash it immediately after a hill walking trip at the weekend while others may do so after weeks of cycle commuting to work. It’s different for everybody.
Thus, as with your sport shirts or fleece jumpers, wash your synthetic jacket when you feel like you should! If you just wear your jacket casually and don’t use it for sports, then you can wash it about every three months or so.
Caring for and repairing synthetic jackets
If your synthetic jacket is only dirty on the outside, you can usually just wipe it off (carefully) using a cloth and some water or neutral soap. Unfortunately, getting the stank out of a synthetic jacket is not easy as getting it out of a down jacket. You can’t just hang it up outside over night. You have to wash it.
On the plus side, though, if your synthetic jacket happens to get damaged, it’s much easier to fix than down products. So easy if fact that if it gets torn one of your trips, all you have to do is just tape it up with some duct tape. Because the material is connected, you won’t need to worry about losing any insulation if you just tape it kind of haphazardly. With down, it’s a different story. You have to make sure to seal the tear or hole completely. Otherwise, you may lose all the down in that particular baffle. If you find that there’s a tear or hole in your synthetic jacket before you head out on a trip, you can repair it with a needle and thread. You can use a patch as well. Since the fabric is only water repellent and not waterproof, you don’t need to use any special kind of repair tape or patch. But because such patches are self-adhesive, you can use them as well. After all, they make the procedure a whole lot easier.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.