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What’s the Best Down Jacket for Ski Racers?

Ski race training is cold. A puffy down jacket is a great insulator to protect your ski racer. Down has a high warmth to weight ratio, is very durable, compressible and comfortable. It’s perfect when you need a warm jacket that does not weigh a lot or impede your movement. But not all down jackets are created equal. With so many down jackets on the market, how do you determine which is the best down jacket for ski racers to wear?

Warmth ratings for down jackets

Down quality is rated by a system that measures its fill power. Fill power is measured by placing one ounce of down in a graduated cylinder and measuring the volume the down occupies in cubic inches. This rating is expressed as a number from 300 to 900 (ranging in increments of 50). The higher the fill-power, the greater the loft of the down and therefore the less down it requires to provide warmth.

Higher fill power provides better warmth-to-weight ratios, but is not always the definitive factor when determining warmth of a down jacket. Amount of fill is important too. A jacket may have twelve ounces of 650 fill down and still be just as warm as a jacket with eight ounces of 850 fill down. The 850 fill jacket will weigh less, and be more compressible. But will offer the same exact warmth as the 650 fill power down jacket in this situation.

900 fill down

A 900 fill down jacket is the highest quality down jacket commercially available. It has the largest down cluster size and comes from more mature birds. This type of down is available in extremely limited quantities and is the most expensive down. It is most frequently used for extreme conditions and expedition wear, where minimal weight and maximum warmth are paramount. Think Everest expeditions.

Sherpas on the summit of Mount Everest in their warm, yet lightweight 900 fill down jackets and suits. These jackets are expensive and would not make good down jackets for ski racers.

900 fill down is extremely lightweight, compressible and warm.

300 fill down

On the other end of the spectrum, 300 fill down is the lowest quality of down commercially available. It is sourced from young ducks and geese that are harvested for food at 3 – 4 months of age. As a result, it does not have much time to grow into a very large down cluster. Since smaller down clusters cannot trap as much air, you need a large quantity of these small clusters to create a warm product. This usually makes for a very bulky and heavy product. Think of Ralphie’s brother, Randy (that can’t put his arms down!) in his bulky snow suit from A Christmas Story. Not a good down jacket for ski racers.

Randy from a Christmas Story can't put his arms down in his bulky down jacket and pants snow suit that could very well be made of made of 300 fill down. Down jackets for ski racers should not be bulky and heavy like this.

300 fill down is typically bulky and heavy

650 fill down

We feel 650 fill down is the optimal warmth to weight ratio for a ski racers needs. Therefore, our Pinnacle Down Jacket is 650 fill down. This jacket is stylish, warm, very light weight and priced right.

Designed specifically for ski racers, it is purpose built with a nylon outer shell to resist gate burn. In addition, it is sized to fit comfortably over a GS suit and back protector. As a result, the Arctica Pinnacle Down Jacket is the warmest down jacket for ski racers on the market.

UConn Ski Team wearing their Arctica Pinnacle Down Training Jackets for ski race training. It is THE best down jacket for ski racers.

UConn Ski Team wearing their Arctica Pinnacle Down Training Jackets for ski race training.

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