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

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.

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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.


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