Synthetic vs Down Underquilt-Which One Should You Get

down feather

One of the first things that you encounter when you are about to buy an underquilt is whether you want synthetic or down insulation.

First letus define what they are, Synthetic underquilts are filled with synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester or taffeta while down sleeping bags are filled with goose or duck’s feather.

there are pros and cons for each of them so it depends on your situation what is the best underquilt insulation for you, Synthetic or Down?

Taking temperature rating and durability as the main factor down underquilts are superior to synthetic ones, while the synthetic ones tend to be more water-resistant and cheaper. For most situations Your best bet is to get a down underquilt because it has a higher weight-to-warmth ratio and also higher durability.

What you have to know is there is more to this you can’t just say one is superior to the other, what i meant here is there are many ways to compare them, both have their pros and cons now let us get to that.

Content

Synthetic vs Down comparison

Price comparison

There is no question here, underquilts filled with down are more expensive than ones filled with synthetic, this also works for sleeping bags, jackets generally everything that uses fillings

Why are down-filled more expensive than the Synthetic-filled ones? This is due to quality difference Synthetic ones have an average lifetime of 2-4 years while down can stay up to 10 years, the second major cause of price difference is the material used on down underquilts is from ducks and goose which is easy to get.

Price
Outdoor Vitals UnderQuilt(down)$230
Western Mountaineering(down)$249
OneTigris underquilt(Synthetic)$77
ENO ember underquilt(synthetic)$100

As you clearly see in the above table, down-filled underquilts are more expensive than synthetic two, three times the price which is a huge difference. which means if you are tight on budget you go to under quilt would be synthetic. There is a clear winner here and it is a synthetic-filled quilt that is way less priced.

Winner: synthetic

Warmth-to-weight ratio

To have the same temperature rating on a down and synthetic quilt there must be at least 1 pound difference in weight, which is not your best bet especially if you are backpacking. Down under quilts have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio which makes them better if you are camping in a cold place. let us see some examples from the above table with their temperature rating.

Weight
Outdoor Vitalsdown,(30°F,down)20 oz
Western Mountaineering(20°F,down)41.6 oz
OneTigris underquilt(40°F,synthetic)47.6 oz
ENO ember underquilt(40°F, synthetic)22.4 oz

Conclusion on their temperature rating to weight ratio: There isn’t a big difference so to say but backpackers know the struggle of keeping their weight as low as possible, but you should not worry that much if you are camping with your car.

Winner: down

Which one resist water better(water-insulation)

If you haven’t seen the above video it shows how down becomes useless if it has contact with water for an extended period of time especially if it is untreated but the synthetic insulation stays clean even after it becomes wet.

When it comes to water resistance synthetic underquilt overweighs down underquilt. Down underquilts are filled with feathers that are not water-resistant at all which makes them useless if they somehow become wet.

The new models of down-filled quilts are becoming waterproof because of the polyester coating they have which makes them the best choice, I mean you get a lightweight, warm, waterproof under quilt who hates that.

But you should expect 100%waterproof underquilt, if you are camping in a rainy place the best thing to do is get a sturdy waterproof tarp which will do 90% of the waterproofing will be done, the rest 10% will be the hammock and the underquilts’ job to keep you dry and safe.

Winner: synthetic

Durability and compression

There is no question to this, down underquilts are way more durable than synthetic they last up to 15years with average use and you can also say that that is why they are expensive. This works for sleeping bags too, I have bought a down insulated sleeping bag which I have used for 4 years and it is still almost new.

There is a general belief that the outside bird’s feather is used for the filling which is partly false because it is the soft fluffy feather that lies underneath the counter feathers on the bird’s body and that is what is called down.

So when we talk about compressibility the down feather is a super compressible material, which is not the same for synthetic which can be compressible but not as of down. The more comparable synthetic fillings become the less insulation they are going to give.

Winner: down

Goose down vs duck down

When buying your underquilt you might come across the term goose down and duck down and this is nothing but the bird the feather is extracted form; if it is from goose, goose down and the same for the other one too.

Duck down was not a very common thing, but due to the rising price of goose down many manufacturers are deciding to use it, but our concern is which one is best for us?

Goose down has higher fill-power when compared to duck down, goose down is superior to duck down by the warmth and it is also lightweight. So to get a cheap and high quality under quality you can search for one that is made with a combination of both.

Best Synthetic/Down underquilt you can get

  • Best goose down: Western Mountaineering Slinglite Hammock Underquilt is probably one of the most high-quality underquilts you can get it is I haven’t bought it and see for myself but a friend of mine has had it and used it for a week solo camping and told it is magical. The price is not cheap, it is sold on Amazon you can check it. It is insulated with treated goose down it is lightweight.
  • Best Synthetic: Ayamaya Hammock Underquilt if you don’t have to budget to buy a super expensive product and you still want high quality then it is your go-to product with a weight of just under 2 pounds this underquilt can do wonders for you. The material used is Synthetic and it is also sold on amazon you can take a look.

Conclusion

  • Pros of down
    • Warmth to Weight Ratio
    • Durability
    • Weight
    • Warmth
  • Cons of down
    • Some people are allergic to down
    • High price
    • Morality(birds feathers are used)
    • Low water resistance
  • Pros of synthetic
    • High water resistance
    • Cheap
    • Quick-drying
  • Cons of synthetic
    • Bulky
    • Generally lower quality