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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

New Primaloft Insulation for 2016

By Alpkit
07, Dec, 2016

Why we use different Primaloft Insulations.

Primaloft1

As Ronnie has already discussed in her previous Develop posts about our new Primaloft insulated jackets we are excited to be using 2 different kinds of Primaloft.

Primaloft Silver is in the Heiko, the Heiko is designed to be a classic lightweight insulated piece, it’s there to put on when you are at rest, or for low intensity activity. The insulation is less breathable and the fabrics we have used are wind resistant and not very breathable. This means you get the instant hit of warmth that is expected in lightweight belay type jackets. Perfect for rest stops, for belays (obviously), or for when you get that puncture, you know, the one that takes ages to fix, in that fine rain, miles from anywhere...

Being just 315g (men, medium) it’s also super packable and ideal for keeping in your pack ‘just in case’. The very nature of synthetic insulation also means that its a great choice for the mixed (wet) conditions we experience in the UK.

John putting the Heiko to the test...

Primaloft Gold Active is the cutting edge of Primaloft insulation technology.  The Insulation itself has stretch and increased breathability over other versions of Primaloft. This breathability means it has to be used in a slightly different way. We use breathable fabrics that have a more open weave and that allow a higher degree of air permeability.

This makes the Katabatic far more suited to more active uses in cold conditions. The additional water repellency on the outer fabric also means that the layering principles can be shelved (sort of)....

Basically you can get away with wearing an active insulation piece in a wider range of conditions than you might with traditional softshells or fleece/shell combinations.

Don’t get us wrong – you should still carry a shell... (its not magic)...but you can leave it that bit longer before you dig your shell out of the bag. You could also wear less underneath, obviously everyone is different but in active use and around 0 degrees you should be comfortable in a base layer and the Katabatic. Equally if you prefer to use it as a traditional mid layer with a base layer and shell combo then that extra breathability means it works just fine... like a really technical wooly jumper or heavy weight fleece...

Fran at a high alpine camp with Katabatic

There are others out there who may want to just use it as a traditional over layer and that’s fine too. Its just as warm for its weight as previous fills, the only time you may feel a slight difference is in strong winds where the warmth may be whipped away from you, this is all down to that extra air permeability in the outer fabric... but if you plan for this and layer it under a shell or windproof then you remove that problem and have a warm, breathable and super comfortable system for the very worst conditions.

For example, if you decided to ride up Snowdon then you could put the Katabatic on in Llanberis (after a brew at Pete’s) over your Kepler Merino top, ride/push/carry to the summit. It may be raining, but not hard enough to warrant a shell, and the DWR does its job... this turns to snow as you near the summit but you’re still fine. You stop briefly at the summit for a snack and the obligatory summit selfie, but hands and feet are getting cold so its a short stop... you then point the bike downwards and head down the Rangers path, the extra windchill is now a bit cooler so you could sling a shell on but its warmer as you drop down and the clouds are breaking so its still fine... you take the faint trail up and over to Telegraph valley for the final descent, comfortable and warm in your Katabatic jacket... then its back to the car, for tea, medals, maybe even a cheeky pint...

Dan on Snowdon Summit with Katabatic

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