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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Friday, November 13, 2015

The shell game? But in this case we are discussing insulation.

PrimaLoft One insulation has been exceptional.  But as I have pointed out in previous writings there are differences in the  other PrimaLoft insulation values of the differing products.  And a wide difference on price as well. Enough so that I typically wouldn't buy anything but PrimaLoft One.

Here are the old definitions:

The human body uses energy to keep warm PrimaLoft uses a patented microfiber structure to help the body retain warmth and conserve energy. PrimaLoft is as warm as down, compressible, breathable and offers superior water repellency so you remain dry, warm and comfortable even under the most extreme conditions. These performance qualities and technical benefits make PrimaLOft the thermal insulation of choice for outerwear and sleeping bags.
Wash/Care Instructions: Machine wash and rinse in cold water, gentle cycle. Tumble dry warm, remove promptly. Do not dry clean, bleach, iron or steam.
Please keep orders to 1/8 yd increments. Minimum order is 1/2 yd.
1/8 = 0.125
1/4 = 0.25
3/8 = 0.375
1/2 = 0.5
5/8 = 0.625
3/4 = 0.75
7/8 = 0.875

PrimaLoft One

PrimaLoft® One
Comprised of 100% specially treated polyester micro-fibers (1 denier or less). Has the highest col value per weight of all PrimaLoft insulations at 0.084. It has softest hand and is the most compressible of all PrimaLoft insulations and abosorbs 3 times less water, and is 24% warmer than the closest competitive insulation. Available in two weights: 3 oz and 5 oz.
Width: 60"  3 oz Price: $11.95/yd 5 oz Price: $16.95/yd

PrimaLoft Sport
PrimaLoft® Sport
Comprised of 100% polyester blend micro-fibers (1 denier or less) and fine fibers (>1 denier). Has increased durability and loft due to blend of both micro and fine fibers, along with a little more binder. Col value by wieght is 0.074. Gram for gram PrimaLoft Sport is warmer than any other competitive continuous filament or thin insulation. Available in two weights: 3 oz and 5 oz
Width: 60"  3 oz Price: $9.95/yd 5 oz Price: $14.95/yd

Here are the newest insulations:

Gold Insulation

The benchmark in performance of all synthetic insulations

  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation

  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Down Blend
  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation USA
  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco
  • PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco with Grip Control     

    Silver Insulation

    A high-performance insulation with the full spectrum of features to brave the elements

  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Eco
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Down Blend
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Hi-Loft
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation with 4Flex
  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation USA

  • PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Performance Fleece 
  • PrimaLoft®
    Black Insulation Eco

    Warmth, softness and lightweight comfort from post-consumer recycled materials       

  • PrimaLoft® Black Insulation Eco
  • PrimaLoft® Black Insulation Hi-Loft

  • Significant to me is:

  • Gone is the info to make realistic comparisons of insulation to weight per cost.      
  • "Primaloft GOLD is widely considered to be the industry best when it comes to synthetic insulation and the standard in terms of warmth-to-weight ratio. Previously known as PrimaLoft ONE, it is made with extremely thin individual fibers and provides insulation by capturing body heat in the countless tiny air pockets that exist between these fibers. The thinness of the fibers allows not only for more trapped air in a given amount of insulation, but also allows for relatively good compressibility.

    Primaloft SILVER Hi-Loft, seen in the Patagonia DAS Parka, is a continuous filament insulation made with fibers of differing thicknesses. Primaloft calls this their loftiest insulation. This insulation is less compressible overall, but more durable in the long run.

    Coreloft, Arc'teryx's proprietary insulation, is made of many short, thin fibers, and is used in the Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody and Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody. It is very warm, but not quite as warm as PrimaLoft GOLD.

    ThermaTek, another proprietary Arc'teryx insulation, is a continuous filament insulation used in some of Arc'teryx's high end products like the Arc'teryx Fission SL, which is more like an insulated ski jacket. Arc'teryx claims it to be warmer relative to weight than Coreloft, but it isn't as compressible.

    Click to enlarge
    Exceloft is a proprietary fiber insulation used by Montbell. It uses a combination of thick and thin hollow polyester fibers. We found the Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket warm for its weight. However, it is difficult to compare Exceloft's warmth directly to Primaloft GOLD because the Thermawrap uses 50g/m2 Exceloft insulation, while the Primaloft GOLD used in test models is 60g/m2.

    Thermal.Q Elite, a new proprietary insulation from Mountain Hardwear, uses a combination of thicker, longer fibers to form a framework, and short, thinner fibers to fill the gaps in between. Mountain Hardwear claims both better warmth and compressibility for this insulation. Again, it is difficult to compare its warmth directly to Primaloft 60g/m2, as the two products we tested, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor uses 100g/m2 Thermal.Q Elite. "

    Quote above is from this review:

    I also found this while looking...

    "PrimaLoft® GOLD
    PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation – the highest performing synthetic insulation available. The ultimate in warmth-to-weight available in a synthetic is coupled with incredible packability and softness that mimics goose down, all with excellent water-repellency for wet-weather protection.
    PrimaLoft® SILVER
    PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation utilizes a proprietary water repellent finish to keep you warm when wet. A comfortable loft and feel provides warmth, while super-lightweight properties allow freedom of movement for whatever your day may deliver."

    I am not in the market for a synthetic jacket but you might be.

    These are the last "real" numbers I can dig up.  When I started dissing Sport and Eco for my own climbing it seems names and info  changed or became exceptional hard to find.  I find that odd.

    PrimaLoft's own published data comparing Primaloft One, Sport and Eco below which has been deleted from their web site:

    Primaloft One: 0.92 dry / 0.90 wet, clo/oz
    Primaloft Sport: 0.79 dry /.72 wet, clo/oz
    Primaloft Eco: 0.68 dry/ 0.60 wet, clo/oz


    Anonymous said...

    Any thoughts on the new Arc'teryx Nuclei AR?

    Also, I think Thermatek is DWR treated Climashield Prism.

    Dane said...

    I've been using the original version to the Nuclei for a while now (two seasons). Nice enough piece of insulation. The AR version should be even better.

    Unknown said...

    See this data sheet.

    By my math that makes thermal q elite about .85 clo/oz

    This is a respectable figure, probably close to coreloft, but one wonders where they figure they are 20% warmer than primaloft gold.

    On the topic of MH, ever used either a super compressor or a quasar insulated jacket?

    Dane said...

    Hi Nathan, Good stuff, thanks.
    I have not used the MH products you mention.

    Unknown said...

    The quasar insulated jacket looks interesting; dry q membrane with 80g insulation. Should be waterproof, windproof and reasonably warm. Also can be had for around $180 if you look hard enough (check Sierra Trading Post). I'm tempted to pick one up just because that seems like a lot of jacket for not much cash. Of course fit is everything, and MH jackets always seem to run a bit big/boxy on me, so it could be a bust.

    If it isn't a bust, it would be a product very similar to a nuclei AR at about 1/2 price. The dead bird appears to be nicer in every way that matters, but $200 in my pocket isn't something to take lightly. For the price of the new nuclei AR you can pick up an 80g quasar and have almost enough left over for a DAS on closeout if you like that sort of thing.

    Unknown said...

    I found the Mountain Hardwear PR site

    You can grab press kits and see details about new products at that site. You can also download "tech sheets" for their various technologies. Full warning, these are not very "technical" so I wouldn't expect much new info, but it does confirm that they are claiming %20 better than their "nearest competitor" for Thermal Q Elite and that they are saying they are "ounce for ounce, the warmest synthetic ever made." You can the Thermal q elite tech sheet here

    I picked up a 100 g/m2 insulated Super Compressor jacket for around $150 to test. It is warm, I'll give it that, but I really wish there was an industry standard for rating these jackets similar to the way sleeping bags are tested. The problem is that standardization would benefit the consumer not the vendor, so chances are slim that it will ever happen. My guess is that there is some serious fuzzy legality in the way that MH is claiming to be "the warmest synthetic ever made."

    From the tech sheet

    "Thermal.Q Elite sets a new standard for synthetic
    insulation, significantly warmer than the leading
    synthetic insulation at both 100 gram and 60 gram
    weights. Test results from independent laboratories
    have show that both the raw insulation and complete
    Thermal.Q Elite garments retain warmth more
    efficiently than any other synthetic. "

    I wonder what it would take to get ahold of of those independent tests. I also wonder why the CLO per/oz is much worse for the 60g (.694) weight vs the 100g
    (.85) weight. I wonder if this is true for Primaloft as well, but we'd never know since we don't know at what weight they are testing.

    If you look at this video, the MH guy says that the industry standard at 100g is generally 2.5 to 2.7 ish clo. That maxes out at about .76 clo/oz. Further, he then says that Thermal Q elite gets above a CLO of 3 at 100g. The math here doesn't add up and I don't see where they are getting their 20% claim as 20% better than .76 would put them at almost .92 (which doesn't match either of the values in the tech sheet).

    Further, check this thread there is a scan of a magizine advertisement where they specifically claim 35% better than primaloft one in the 60g/m2 weight.

    Basically this all boils down to a mess for the consumer. We do not have the ability to make an informed decision prior to purchase. Someone with more pull than I have needs to bust some balls to get these guys to start providing better data so we can make informed decisions with our hard earned cash.