Down is a naturally occuring, complex material that insulates by trapping air through the interlocking of three dimensional clusters, which gives it its extreme and still unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio.

Performance

The natural proteins provide an all-natural, biodegradable and breathable material that can be processed in a sustainable way to provide the best and most durable insulation on, and for, the planet.

The natural brilliance of the down cluster is that it is able to fill a volume with very little material and incredibly low weight. 

Each filament is just a fraction of the width of a human hair, and it is estimated that there are as many as 30 miles of these filaments in just one gram of down. 

While widely misunderstood, there are small differences between the down clusters of the duck and goose. The goose down cluster tends to have longer filaments, a different barb shape and a unique fat and oil composition. This all makes the larger goose down cluster slightly more compressible and resilient when it comes to jackets or sleeping bags that need to provide as much warmth as possible with minimal weight. Both insulate in the same way and more often than not it is almost impossible to distinguish between the two.

The down cluster is composed of a protein — beta keratin — which is very similar to our human hair.

Like our hair, it has fat and oils that give it bounce and resiliency. But again like our hair, proper processing, care and handling are needed to ensure durability, which can long outlive any garment. 

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In the end, Fill Power is simply a measurement of the volume created by a given amount of down – almost always measured in 30 grams per cubic inch.

So, for example, the down inside that 700 fill power The North Face Nuptse vest you have had hanging in your closet for years will fill 700 cubic inches for every 30 grams of down. A different type of material might only take up 550 cubic inches — ie. 550 fill power. 

How much loft a down insulation might be able to provide is based on the size and strength of the down cluster itself. The larger the down cluster, the more volume it will fill for equal weight. In some cases, stronger down clusters might also be able to hold larger air pockets for a slightly higher fill power than would be expected given the size of the cluster itself. 

Size and strength - and thus warmth - is all determined through sourcing.

Geese are generally bigger birds and thus grow potentially larger clusters than ducks. Ducks also tend to be much younger when they are consumed for their meat, and thus, smaller down clusters are collected. 

Region and supply chain are also factors determining warmth.

Those birds from collector-based supply chains raised in colder parts of the world will be older before consumed, offering larger clusters, and the colder environments can produce stronger (and therefore warmer) clusters. 

Processing
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Durability

ALLIED has developed our own unique processing method we call Durawash.

It helps to provide an industry benchmark cleanliness with maximum fill power potential and durability to last a lifetime. Every lot of down is processed with several wash and rinse cycles where all water is recycled through a proprietary filtration system. The material is then carefully dried to ensure that the oils have not been damaged drying out the down. All detergents used are bluesign® approved and certified Palm Oil Free.

It is often the case where “cheap” down can come from farms certified to animal welfare standards, but processed in a way that damages the quality of the insulation with harsh chemicals that wreak havoc on the environment. That’s why it is important to not only know where your down came from, but how it was processed. Why take a material with very low carbon footprint and treat it in a way that destroys both the performance and positive impact of the insulation?

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This is why many of the down-alternative filled products have small baffles, and provide a fraction of the potential warmth down can provide.

It is also the reason that down insulations can have a significantly lower environmental impact than petroleum-based alternatives, as down is a naturally occuring, biodegradable byproduct of the food industry. 

While some care must be taken with your down-filled products, they are actually quite easy to care for.

In a home laundry situation, the only way you can harm the down is to use the wrong detergent, which can strip it of its fat and oil. The only other potential issue is not drying thoroughly. 

For more information on how to care for your down product, click here

While some care must be taken with your down-filled products, they are actually quite easy to care for.

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Down vs. Synthetic

This allows brands to build four-season, down-filled products and work with unique layering systems, taking full advantage of down’s ability to provide precise warmth without the clammy feeling that can come from synthetics — and do so in the most sustainable way. 

It is our goal here at ALLIED to help our partner brands build the most unique, high performing, and sustainable products on the market, rethinking how down insulation can be used. It’s not just for high alpine, extreme expeditions anymore. 

It’s not just for high alpine extreme expeditions anymore.

At ALLIED, creating a down insulation is a bit like wine, where raw material from all over the world is blended to provide an exacting specification that is created for the specific baffle size, fabric, and construction method. We regularly work closely with design and development teams to help build garments and sleeping bags with a targeted warmth rating; whereas in the past, down was generally used to create the warmest parka and bag available. 

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