S-Thermic men

Revamped: a closer look at our 2022 outdoor jackets    

Recycled fills and baffle-free manufacture are two of the highlights of our new insulated jackets.

BY: MARK COHEN • hike • 12.10.2022

Nothing spoils a down jacket faster than burst baffles. You know, the stitching that runs horizontally along your favourite “puffer?” That’s what holds the rows of stacked insulation in place. And for those who wear them long or hard enough, once baffles burst (or rip), no amount of duct tape can sort it. Like a leaky faucet, feather by feather, that once lofty and warm jacket is drained of its life.

This season, we looked at the simple down jacket with two goals in mind: how to make baffles a thing of the past and how to source insulation only from sustainable or recycled materials.

“It was really a call to recreate and reset the line. We didn’t want to do another cut-and-sew line like other performance apparel brands. We sought distinction in construction and materials, and we delivered on both accounts,” explains Dan Pattison, outdoor category manager at ODLO, speaking about the new designs.

With hot tea consumption spiking, cool weather slowly turning to cold and thoughts of winter hikes, cold car parks and après ski around the corner, let’s break down this season’s new insulated options by examining fills and the (lack of) baffles that define them.

Insulation from recycled sources  

Puffers (down or synthetic) are ubiquitous in mountain towns and on city streets November through March for a reason. They’re warm, light and useful in countless situations. Inbound ski-touring? Take a puffer for the top. Walking for a few hours? There really is no sub for a good down jacket.  

In 2022, we are mainly working with two insulation types for our N- and S-Thermic jackets. Our N-Thermic jackets (superstars when all you want is warmth and comfort) are made with Neokdun® 750 power-fill recycled down insulation. This fill type comes from used duvets, pillows and old down jackets that have reached end of life (but contain materials with lots of life still left).

The down gets collected, sorted, treated with environmentally friendly cleaners and then resold as insulation for coats and bedding. We sourced down from Neokdun® for a couple reasons, but mainly because it’s traceable, transparent and provides a sustainable solution for people who want to keep warm and also know where and how their down is made.

On the synthetic side (these are jackets geared towards comfort but also performance), we opted to use recycled insulation that works even when wet – Primaloft®‘s ThermoPlume®, which is also made entirely from post-consumer recycled insulation.

ThermoPlume® mimics the look and feel of natural down but outperforms it in wet weather (synthetics don’t bunch or clump when wet, and because they hold their loft, they do a better job keeping you warm in those circumstances). If you live in United Kingdom-like conditions, where it’s often damp and wet at the same time, or engage in higher-heart rate hikes and activities, we recommend S-Thermic-filled jackets.

So, with the fill types sorted, we then turned our attention to making baffles better.

Baffle construction explained  

You may have seen the words “baffle construction” before when looking at insulated jackets. Baffles refer to the needle construction technique used to sew two pieces of fabric together (which then get filled with insulation). Baffling is an easier production method, and it’s what gives “puffer jackets” their unique look. It’s still a good way to make a warm jacket, but there are others, too. 

Baffles come with limitations, the biggest being the needle holes themselves. They’re small, sure, but air can pass through needle holes. Moreover, when baffled jackets are packed, compressed, then pressed again (like when you sit on your pack), the stitching can burst, making “leakage” more likely. Over time, this spells a loss of loft and longevity for your jacket. Not good. 

Baffle-free construction, however, is something different. It’s done by cutting a microscopic cross-section along one piece of woven, intertwined fabric. Insulation can then be injected in the horizontal cut. The construction method is therefore needle-free, yielding a simpler, cleaner, higher-performing, longer-lasting product.

So, how then to choose? 

Severin broken down

Among our new 2022 insulated jackets, you’ll notice one that’s made with tone-on-tone matte and shine material at a slightly lower price point. That’s the Severin, which comes in an athletic fit, is filled with recycled Neokdun® with a differentiated fill around the arms and hood for added warmth and is overall a great performer in cold conditions.

The Severin – unlike the Ascent – comes with traditional baffle stitching (needles) but does feature 100 per cent natural and biodegradable down fill from recycled and cleaned sources. With the Severin, you’ll get exceptional loft, heat retention and comfort in cold weather. A great city jacket and a great coat when conditions call for it. The main exterior fabric is also 100 per cent recycled polyester. A very stylish option.   

The Ascent N-Thermic recycled down jacket  

When it comes to colder weather, we’ve made the Ascent N-Thermic recycled down jackets for both men and women. These feature baffle-free construction and recycled insulation. “This new construction method that our design team found is one we hadn’t used before. I love it because it removes most of the possibility for snags and tears,” added Pattison. “The end result is really clean, simple and high performing.”

The men’s jacket comes just down below the waist, while the women’s is slightly longer. Both come with a hood and are great in cold conditions. This also comes in a hybrid version (no hood and stretch panelling under the arms for greater breathability). 

The Ascent S-Thermic   

The Ascent S-Thermic is filled with a mix of G-Loft Eco and ThermoPlume® (both recycled) but has a stretch panel under the arms for added breathability – an appreciable detail when you’re out hiking, snowshoeing or any higher-heart rate activity. The main exterior fabric is made from 51 per cent recycled materials and 100 per cent recycled filling.

Not your average puffer

A baffle-free down jacket made with well sourced fills really is something different. If you’re in the market – or just curious – pop into an ODLO store or check them out online. The fit is refined, as is the construction. And the performance is something you’ll enjoy for years to come. 

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