When I talk to people about my UglyQuilts, the conversation usually goes a little like this:
Them: Oh, nice quilts. What kind of down do you use?
Me: Thanks... no down, I use synthetic insulation.
Them: Wait... what? Don't you do this a lot? Isn't down the best?
Me: Yes I do and "the best" is very subjective.
So, let's talk about insulation for a minute.
What is best? No, really... what is best? What does that mean? Best at what? Best for who (whom?)? When I'm working on a product I don't just look at what the current trends are. I look at who is going to be using my gear and how they might use it. I also think about how I use my gear, and how I used gear when I first started.
Down is great, to be sure. But, is it best?
Let's look at the pros and cons of down. Pros - keeps you warm, light weight, packs down small, a natural insulator. Cons - high cost, doesn't perform well (or at all) if wet, easily damaged if packed down too long, not always ethically sourced.
Synthetic Insulation has its pros and cons as well. Pros - keeps you warm, low cost, doesn't shift (migrate), works even when wet, doesn't damage when crushed. Cons - heavier than down, doesn't compress as well, made from synthetic material (not natural).
The key factors here are, as with most things personal preference. They both keep you warm and that is the main point. Everything else is all in what you are looking for.
So, why did I chose Synthetic?
Like I said earlier, I design from many points of view. I know that not everyone wants to spend $250 on every piece of gear they buy AND most people don't want to worry about being too rough with their gear.
I chose synthetic for both those reasons, I wanted to offer quality, handcrafted gear at affordable prices that could take on the elements. Sure you can find cheap down quilts and bags online, but where and how well are they made? Where did that down come from? It could very well be recycled (a lot of time from used pillows... eewww) and it most likely has filler in it. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you find a down bag for $90... that's not going to be made from the greatest materials.
Synthetic allows me to make quilts that can handle getting wet and still keep you warm, don't need a lot of "loft time", can literally be vacuum sealed to compress them and come out fine. Get a small tear in the shell? No worries, synthetic comes in sheets and won't spill out. Forgot to fluff your quilt? Forget about it... synthetic doesn't migrate like down. Rainy with some wind and you forgot a quilt protector? Pffft... who cares, it can handle getting wet with out collapsing. Don't have $250-$400 to spend on each quilt? I can make synthetic quilts for 50% less or more!
Again, when it comes right down to it. What is best comes down to what you're looking for, there's no wrong answer. If you think like I do... synthetic is probably the way to go.
Check out UglyQuilts here: https://hemlockmountainoutdoors.com/collections/uglyquilt