Skip to main content

The down in your jacket, sleeping bag just got more environmentally friendly

DownTek Demo
One of the most innovative products to hit the outdoor industry in recent years has been hydrophobic down. By applying a simple polymer coating to the down insulation used in jackets and sleeping bags, gear manufacturers have been able to greatly improve performance, maintaining loft and warmth – even while wet – while also adding quick-drying properties.

But the process of creating the water-resistant down has always required the use of perfluorocarbons (PFCs), a process which has been shown to contribute to climate change. This has led DownTek, one of the pioneers in the development of hydrophobic down, to search for a more environmentally friendly way to create its products. One that does away with PFCs completely.

The company recently announced the creation of DownTek ZeroPFC, which reportedly offers nearly the same level of performance of standard DownTek water-resistant down, but without the use of perfluorcarbons during the production process. Instead, the down is treated using naturally occurring molecules called nano-lipids, which accomplish the same task without creating any by-products that are harmful to the environment.

The first company in North America to begin using DownTek ZeroPFC is Enlightened Equipment, a Minnesota-based gear manufacturer that specializes in ultralight sleeping bags and down quilts. The company has already rolled out the new environmentally friendly insulation across its entire product line, reaffirming its commitment to the environment, as well as responsibly harvested down.

Other companies are likely to follow soon. DownTek works with a number of prominent gear manufacturers, including Big Agnes, Brooks Range, and L.L. Bean. Considering the outdoor industry as a whole is committed to protecting the environment, it seems natural that the ZeroPFC version of hydrophobic down will begin making its way into more products in the near future.

To learn more about water-resistant down, DownTek ZeroPFC, and the brands using it, visit the DownTek website.

Editors' Recommendations

Kraig Becker
Kraig Becker is a freelance outdoor writer who loves to hike, camp, mountain bike, trail run, paddle, or just about any other…
Stay warm while keeping your beer cool with the Sixer insulated jacket
686 PBR Sixer

When it comes to making apparel for use in then outdoors, 686 may not be amongst the most well-known brands, but that doesn't stop it from delivering unique products. Take for example the company's latest creation, the 686 x Pabst Blue Ribbon Sixer, an insulated jacket that doubles as a wearable cooler.

As with most of 686's gear, the Sixer is made from highly technical fabrics designed to keep the wearer warm and dry in the outdoors. In this case, the company has drawn on its vast experience in designing performance apparel to produce a jacket that offers not only protection from the snow and rain, but is also breathable, too. Made from water-resistant fleece, treated with a durable water-resistant coating, the jacket can vent out moisture and heat, keeping the wearer drier and more comfortable on the slopes or cold weather hikes in the backcountry.

Read more
Micro Puff from Patagonia is the company's lightest, most packable jacket yet
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

Patagonia has taken the wraps off of a new jacket that promises to be one of the warmest, lightest, and most packable garments the company has ever produced. The new Micro Puff Hoody uses a patent-pending construction technique, along with an innovative new type of insulation, to reduce weight and increase efficiency, keeping us warmer in cold weather conditions.

Typically, insulated jackets designed for use in cold weather use goose down, which provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any natural insulating material. But, when down gets wet, its performance level drops off significantly, making it a poor choice for active pursuits in rainy and snowy conditions. To avoid this problem Patagonia drew upon its years of experience using synthetic insulations, lining the jacket with a material called PlumaFill instead. This man-made insulation offers many of the same qualities that are usually associated with down, without losing its loft or suffering a noticeable drop in performance when it gets wet.

Read more
Eddie Bauer uses Thindown insulation to redefine down jackets

Following a near-death experience in the wild back in 1936, legendary outdoorsman Eddie Bauer designed the first down jacket that was sold in North America, creating a revolution in outdoor clothing as a result. Now, the company that still bears his name is looking to do the same thing by introducing a radical new jacket that uses a radical form of insulation called Thindown that promises to alter the classic down jacket forever, and redefine how these garments perform in cold weather.

Developed in Italy, Thindown is essentially a fabric that is made almost completely from down. It uses traditional down feathers that are pressed into a flat sheet and held together by two thin layers of scrim, which allow the material to hold its shape. This gives garment manufacturers the option of integrating a layer of down into their clothing without having to make alterations to their designs to accommodate it.

Read more