When discussing down as insulation there is an important distinction between flight feathers and down feathers.
Flight feathers make up the protective and water repellent outer layer of a bird while down feathers compose the insulating layer beneath this outer coating.
A feather is flat with a quilt point and a rigid spine. A down feather has a smaller quill point with no spine and thousands of long and flexible filaments. Down feathers are called "clusters" because of their three-dimensional structure.
Down clusters trap and hold air to form an insulating layer between you and the elements. This is effective because heat does not travel well across air filled spaces. Down works so well at insulating the body because it can compress and re-expand, making it like a comfortable bubble.
Fill power is a number which represents is the amount of air (measured in cubic inches) down can hold, this is also called “loft”. Fill power is affected by the quality and condition of the down itself, the feather content of the down, and the region the down comes from. Fill power determines how much down is needed for optimal warmth. For example, 3 oz of 850 fill power down will keep you just as warm as 5 oz of 750 fill power down*. For the average jacket wearer, the difference between 3 and 5 oz is inconsequential, however this is an important detail to backpackers. Fill weight is the amount of down used in a garment and it is determined by fill power of the down, the construction of the garment, and the fabric.
*not an exact fact, but an example to illustrate the relationship between higher and lower fill powers.
With higher fill powers available, we sometimes get the question of why don’t we use a higher rated fill? Being a classic, manufactured-in-house brand, our focus is on style and comfort and less on the technical nano-futuristic fabric used to climb Mount Everest. Where the higher fill power makes sense is in these more technically constructed garments, including baffle box construction where the down has room to loft. Using 800-900+ fill power with our ‘sewn-through’ process simply would not provide any additional warmth for the higher cost.
We purchase down which has been certified by The Responsible Down Standard. RDS is an independent certification body which requires farmers, brands and supply chain members meet their obligations to respect the Five Freedoms of the animals that provide their down and feathers.
All our down is a bi-product of the food industry, and never harvested from live animals.
Down is a sustainable, biodegradable, and renewable resource.
Because it is a natural product and one of nature’s best insulators, down requires a lower carbon footprint whereas synthetic is often made from non-renewable resources like oil.
Our down comes mainly from Europe including Poland, Ukraine, and Moldova.
Down tracking will be available soon for each garment. In the meantime, click here to learn about the fill power, turbidity, and origin of a recently received down shipment.
Or you can use our recent lot # 03060120783 below:
Turbidity measures the dust or dirt (organic and inorganic) present in a solution of water after the feather and down fill is rinsed. A measurement of 400mm+ is considered hypoallergenic. One of the cleanest available, our down is consistently measured even higher than the hypoallergenic standard at 1000mm+.
For information on washing and storage, you can check out our care tips page here.
More questions? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop us a line here.