Outdoor Fabric Guide 6: Insulated Shells
Posted by Neil | April 19, 2011
This week, in our regular Gear-Zone outdoor clothing guide, we look at another option for combating the cold – the windproof, water-resistant insulated shell.
Fabric Guide: Insulated Shells
Insulated Shells are for outdoor activities in cold and windy conditions, giving lightweight warmth with a combination of total windproofness, maximum breathability and water resistance.
Designed to keep the warm air in and the cold air out, they are basically water-resistant shells with some form of insulation to give extra warmth. At the same time, they allow perspiration to escape easily, making them the perfect choice for a whole range of activities, including snowsports.
They are ideal for lower-paced pursuits, when it becomes much harder to regulate body temperature - although hill-climbing enthusiasts will probably be better served with a separate fleece or shell.
The insulation can be down, which is warm, but is expensive and stops working if wet. Synthetic insulation is cheaper, and continues working in the wet. Note that in both cases, warmth-to-weight ratio will depend on type.
Confusion arises when an insulated shell is also called a 3in1 jacket, which is actually two separate jackets that can form an insulated and much-more-versatile jacket.
Many insulated shells today combine technical performance with a casual, more on-the-street look, making them as serviceable over a glass of glühwein halfway down the slopes as they actually are racing down the piste. They are the ultimate in cold weather protection.
You’ll find great examples of insulated shells from The North Face, Rab, Berghaus and Montane.