Discussing insulation in the middle of August, we agree, is a bit of a downer, especially since all we can think about is the beach and the heat of summer.
However, learning about insulation and the different types that are part of our jackets is an important matter and there is no such thing as a bad time when it comes to getting new information.
We have discussed a number of insulators here on our site and have also compared some of them to each other, in order to determine which one fares better in the cold of winter.
Today, it is time to turn our attention to two types of insulators and learn about their characteristics, similarities and differences. We will be discussing Coreloft™ by Arc’teryx and PrimaLoft®.
We chose PrimaLoft® because it is regarded as being one of, if not, the best synthetic insulation there is.
As for the reason why we chose Coreloft™, well, it is made by Arc’teryx and it lives up to the brand’s reputation for high performance and high quality products.
Let’s get started!
- 1. Insulation: Why Is It Useful?
- 2. Coreloft™
- 3. PrimaLoft®
- 4. Comparison: Coreloft™ vs PrimaLoft®
- 5. Which One Is Better?
1. Insulation: Why Is It Useful?
Insulation is the part of your garment responsible for keeping you warm. Focusing on jackets, it can sometimes be a specific part, such as the padding (or filling), or it can also be the entire jacket itself, usually due to the fabric.
Regardless of whether the insulation used is natural or synthetic, the function is the same: trapping heat.
The way that insulation does this is by creating air pockets in between its composition, which will then serve as a barrier for the heat produced by the body.
As you can tell, insulation does not really provide warmth per se, but it helps prevent it from escaping, which in turn keeps you warm.
When it comes to synthetic insulation, the functionality is the same, but synthetic insulators have a great advantage over natural down, which is the lack of susceptibility to moisture.
It is for that reason that synthetic insulation is now so well-developed and comes in a variety of different performance levels.
While natural down still reigns supreme when it comes to insulating, there are some insulations which resemble down impressively.
Two of those are today’s chosen synthetic insulators, PrimaLoft and Coreloft.
An insulation developed for the purpose of keeping you warm regardless of weather or environmental conditions, Coreloft is Arc’teryx’s own synthetic insulation, which has been included in a variety of the brand’s jackets, from those made for mild conditions and as activewear, such as their ever popular Atom LT jacket, as well as heavier and warmer ones for when the temperatures really drop.
Coreloft is a polyester insulation, composed of staple fibers of mixed sizes, which are crimped in order to trap a considerable amount of air and prevent heat loss.
Its large denier fibers make possible the use of fabrics with looser weave, which in turn allow for greater air permeability, thus improving the breathability of the garment.
As a synthetic insulator, it withstands moisture better than down would, but to really make sure that Coreloft performs at its best, the fibers are hydrophobic, thus repelling moisture at a greater rate and being far less susceptible to humid and damp conditions.
Aside from that, Coreloft also dries quickly, which is a considerable advantage for those partaking in snow activities or visiting areas where rainfall is heavy and unpredictable.
Polyester is renowned for its longevity and resilience as a material, and this is also a characteristic utilized in Coreloft, making it a highly durable insulation.
When it comes to travelling with a jacket insulated with Coreloft, the insulation’s high compressibility and light weight will make it easy to pack into a small size.
Coreloft Continuous is a version of this insulation, which is more breathable and lightweight, made specifically for activewear and jackets to be worn in high performance activities.
You might also like: 11 Arc’teryx Jackets for your Favorite Winter Sport
Developed to closely resemble down in performance, PrimaLoft® is the synthetic insulator regarded as being the best in the market.
Like Coreloft, it is a polyester insulation. However, PrimaLoft is made of polyester microfiber, which is composed of tiny and thin fibers that are similar to the thin filaments of down.
Also similar to Coreloft, PrimaLoft is not a cluster-like insulation, instead it is in the form of a sheet, which is soft, lofty and air permeable.
Due to being made of polyester, PrimaLoft is highly durable and resilient, not only to wear but to weather conditions as well. It is a moisture-resistant insulation, capable of insulating even when wet.
It comes in a variety of performance levels, namely:
- PrimaLoft Black – this is the most affordable and the basic form of insulation, made for everyday use. It comes in the Eco, Hi-loft and Down-blend variations.
- PrimaLoft Silver – lightweight and made in three variations to cater to different activity levels, which include Active, Eco (70% recycled content) and Down-blend (60% Down and 40% Synthetic).
- PrimaLoft Gold Eco – an environmentally friendly insulation made from 55% recycled polyester, PrimaLoft Gold Eco is a high performance insulation designed to withstand moisture and insulate in the worst conditions.
- PrimaLoft Gold – regarded as being the best synthetic insulation there is, PrimaLoft Gold is a high performance insulation made for people who lead active lifestyles and require high breathability and great insulation in the most challenging conditions. It comes in a number of variations, which are used in jackets and other garments.
4. Comparison: Coreloft™ vs PrimaLoft®
With all the features and characteristics of each out of the way, let’s look at how they compare.
Insulation is made for warmth, which makes the matter of determining the best insulator a very important one.
In this regard, both PrimaLoft and Coreloft perform impressively, however PrimaLoft is a better insulator when it comes to the ability of trapping heat faster. The Gold series is exceptional in this regard.
Coreloft does not fall far behind, but it has a lesser warmth-to-weight ratio, which requires more insulation to provide the necessary level of insulation.
We will get this out of the way, PrimaLoft Gold is designed to retain up to 98% of the heat when wet, which makes it far superior to other insulations.
With that being said, Coreloft is also a hydrophobic insulation, which makes it also a very high performing one when in wet conditions.
While PrimaLoft is regarded as being breathable on its own, especially the Active series, Coreloft’s Continuous version is also remarkably breathable.
However, if you are looking for a really breathable insulation, neither PrimaLoft nor Coreloft will cut it. They are good overall, but there are better options available.
Their hydrophobic nature, on the other hand, makes them great for activewear as they will wick moisture away at a better rate, thus keeping you dry more efficiently.
Comfort and Durability
There isn’t much to say in this regard as they are both highly compressible, lightweight and durable insulations.
They wear comfortably due to their composition, which is made to resemble a sheet as opposed to clusters and their light weight makes them perfect for challenging activities.
As for durability, seeing how they are both made of polyester, which is a durable material in itself, this is a quality that is mutually shared between these two insulations.
With that being said, Coreloft can potentially be more durable due to the mix of different sizes of fibers, as opposed to the micro fibers of PrimaLoft.
5. Which One Is Better?
In regards to overall performance, PrimaLoft can be considered the better of the two. Especially when considering the ability to retain warmth and susceptibility to moisture.
Coreloft, however, is a similarly-impressive insulation, which performs commendably and is really durable.
With that being said, if you are looking for an insulation that is made to withstand the cold without adding bulk and weight, we would go with PrimaLoft.
On the other hand, Coreloft provides a waterproof and lightweight alternative, which can prove to be better than the PrimaLoft Silver and Black series.