So the time has come to replace your sleeping bag, mid layer or maybe some insulated shorts because those are actually a real thing. There a certainly a few factors one must consider when buying any new piece of equipment. Colour , fit, style and design all play key roles in our personal choice when choosing one product over another. When it comes to insulation there are two main categories. Synthetic or organic fill. Both fills have their advantages and disadvantages, well will go over the pros and cons of these briefly.
The process in an info-graphic.
So you have thought it over, weighed the con's versus the pro's and you have settled on an organic fill. You've decided to go with down for your next sleeping bag. You arrive at the store and start looking at the different bags and information tags and read about many different kinds of fill weights, different treatments applied to the down , some are ethically sourced and it all seems pretty confusing. A big concern for myself is where the down is coming from. Some suppliers, albeit rare purchase down that has been harvested from live animals in a process called “live plucking” and as the name suggests it's a gruesome process that causes major discomfort and harm to the animal. Some farmers use the process because the animal can be plucked several times before slaughter increasing the down harvest per bird. If you haven't really considered the process as a factor when selecting a product a simple google search might persuade you otherwise. It is completely possible that the supplier is unaware of the exact harvesting practices used to collect the down they purchase. This is why the RDS was created.
The responsible down standard is a voluntary international standard that enables consumers to easily identify responsibly source down products that meet or exceed the criteria of the RDS. As a concerned and responsible consumer here is what you need to know about the RDS. Products that are awarded the responsible down standard must meet these 5 standards.
1. Any removal of down or features from live birds ( live-plucking or molt-harvesting ) is prohibited.
2. Force feeding the birds is prohibited
3. The welfare of the birds is respected at all times: From the time of hatching to slaughter.
3. RDS down and feather is to be properly identified at all times; this ensures that non-RDS down and features and not mistakenly represented as an RDS certified product.
4. Each stage in the supply chain is audited by a professional, third-party certification body.
5. Only products that contain 100% RDS certified down may carry the RDS logo.
One standout down supplier that probably already provides the fill for some of your current garments is Allied Down. They supply down to companies like The North Face, Sierra designs, Eddie Bauer, Outdoor Research as well as many other brands that provide household down products like comforters and pillows.
To some, choosing the colour of their new sleeping bag might be as far as the decision process goes and for others the fill power and treatment of the down might factor in. Very few will go as far as researching the down supplier of a particular item. Does it matter? I supposed that's up to the individual but here are a few stand out reasons that you should consider an Allied Down sourced product
Sustainability and responsibility. It's no longer trendy to consider the environment or animal welfare it's the norm and Allied has worked hard over the last 30 years to progress with those values in mind. They have been recycling water used in manufacturing for nearly 3 decades. Last year it was an average of 65 million gallons per facility that was recycled. Allied has developed a process that allows them to treat the down prior to being introduced to water which significantly reduces water contamination.
By the end of this year, 100% of down supplied by Allied will be certified. This means that down sourced by Allied is 100% free from live plucking practices, force feeding, overcrowding or supplied by any part of the supply chain that does not meet the criteria of the RDS
Now that you are an informed consumer armed with the knowledge to choose ethically sourced down products you are ready to buy your down garment. Or are you? Looking over the product information of your RDS certified , Allied Down filled Jacket you notice a lot number which you can enter at www.trackmydown.com. Once you type in your lot number the website will show you exactly where the down that fills the jacket you are holding actually came from. It will tell you what fill power results that lot obtained and how much down content is present. This process is possible due to an automated system that collects information and tracks any particular lot of down through its entire life cycle. That means that the down is tracked from the hatchery, the slaughter house to the supplier etc. Track my down is much more than a tracking tool. It's also a learning tool featuring down 101. If you are unsure about exactly what modern down is then I recommend stopping by.
While being ethical, responsible and environmentally friendly as all very important, innovation and progression are just as important. There are many advancements being applied to the time-tested insulation we call down. Allied has developed several technologies to adapt the down for certain applications. Below some of the innovative down treatments Allied is responsible for.
IR Active Down
ThermaDown™ utilizes a natural particle-based thermoreactive nano-coating that, through the emission of infrared energy, increases the natural benefits of down. Using body heat as a catalyst, the ThermaDown™ IR active down utilizes a body’s emitted heat by trapping that energy in the particles coated on the down and transmitting it back within the high-infrared spectrum. This infrared energy is easily absorbed back into the body providing all the benefits of infrared subcutaneous absorption – gently increasing circulation helping to re-oxygenate muscles and keep the body temperate.
The result is a unique down that actively works with your own body heat to keep you warm, dry, energized, and comfortable in any condition or clime.
Water Resistant Down
HyperDRY™, Allied Feather & Down’s newest water-resistant down technology, is built upon the years of research and development of the previously successful Allied Resist® Water Resistant Down. Constantly evolving and pushing boundaries, Allied has developed proprietary nanotechnology treatments and procedures creating the most effective water resistant down on the market. These methods provide an invisible coating that does not compromise the texture or color of the fill and when the treatment is applied to Allied's superior down.
BioDown™ anti-microbial down prevents microorganism and bacteria build up on the fill that can add weight to untreated down causing it to lose loft and create unwanted odors. The treatment is washable, retains volume and imparts a durable freshness for extended use in the coldest dampest climes.
Down + Fiber Blend
Most synthetic fibers aren’t capable of blending evenly with down to form a cohesive, lofty fill. When using common synthetics to blend, the down clusters and artificial fill tend to wrap around each other. This suffocates the down, causing it to clump and lose its fill power -- the element of down which provides its renowned warmth-to-weight ratio.
Allied Feather & Down has searched the globe for uniquely created fibers that are capable of blending successfully with our award winning down. After locating fibers that possessed the right attributes for blending, we married that fiber in our proprietary machinery. The result is a unique, hybrid fill that successfully bridges the gap between products. F X Down™ acts and feels more like down providing superior warmth, and is capable of performing after washing.
For this review I was given two Allied filled products to put through the paces. An Eddie Bauer MicroTherm Jacket with 900 fill Storm-Repel down and the Sierra Designs back country bed Featuring DriDown. Both performed extremely well for different reasons.
The Backcountry Bed was one of those products you would call a gamer changer. A sleeping bag reinvented with all the features you wish yours had. The model I tested was the 600 fill DriDown rated for 3C and is a 2 season sleeping bag. The bag is a classic mummy bag shape but that's about where the similarities end. Simply slip your way into the opening and pull over the down comforter to create a sealed mummy bag with no zipper required. If you are getting a little toasty then you have a few options. The bag features a slot in the bottom of the bag that you can easily slip your feet out to regulate some of that extra heat you have built up. If that's not enough you can always fold down the comforter and let the heat rise out of the bag. These features really make all the difference when sleeping in a hut. With a traditional side zip sleeping bag you tend to end up too cold while opening the entire bag to release heat or to warm when completely zipped up. The Backcountry bed also works well with stomach sleepers and the underside is designed to hold your sleeping pad in place.
The Microtherm features the StormDown 800 fill and is designed to be used as a high-performance jacket. It features a wind-resistant Ripstop shell that repels the moisture before it can get to the insulation. While testing the jackets wind resistance ( skiing a few high-speed laps ) I was truly impressed at how good of a job it did. While it wasn't perfect I didn't want or feel the need to throw on my shell. I wouldn't use this as a ski jacket but would be totally happy kicking steps up a couloir on a windy morning with it. This jacket is made to fit tightly to the body which can be movement restrictive with some jackets on the market. The Microtherm has resolved this issue with the articulated shoulders which allow for a near resistance free range of motion. Other features that are note worthy are the large interior pockets that fit large write in the rain notebook or an extra pair of gloves.
I think most would agree that down has come a long way over the years. It has always been a trusted product but certainly had its limits. Allied down has been pushing the capabilities of the world's oldest insulation for the new consumer in an ethical and responsible way. If yourself or a friend are looking to improve their technical wardrobe I can feel confident and ethically responsible in recommending Allied without compromising on performance. Innovation, sustainability, and responsible sourcing can all be achieved simultaneously as proven by the good folks at Allied Down.
Depends upon the individual products.
Ethical nights sleep 2/2
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