Down, the soft under-plumage that lies beneath the tougher exterior feathers of birds, provides outstanding insulation that protects them from icy weather. Goose down, in particular, has long been regarded as the warmest, lightest, and most-compressible insulation available to keep humans warm in those same frigid conditions. This article examines why Filson goose down works so well, where it comes from, and what we mean when we say we use only “responsible down.”
WHY FILSON DOWN WORKS
As opposed to the feathers with quills and barbules that cover the bird’s exterior, down is actually a somewhat spherical cluster that consists of thousands of tiny fibers that spread out from its core. A down cluster is fluffy, light, and traps a great deal of air. This air-trapping ability is what makes it such a powerful insulator—the reason goose down is regarded as the best down for insulation is simply due to the fact that geese are larger birds, and therefore have larger and stronger down clusters. The larger the down cluster, the greater its insulating ability.
We combine lofty and warm, responsibly-sourced goose down with our iconic, water-resistant oil finish Cover and Shelter Cloths in our Down Cruiser and Down Cruiser Vest for unfailing warmth even in wet and cold conditions. When lightness of weight and the ability to stuff a winter coat into a backpack are top priorities, Filson Featherweight Down Jackets and Vests are outstanding choices. They’re extremely warm, weigh next to nothing, and have a water-resistant reinforcing layer over the shoulders for added protection.
Filson only uses goose down supplied by
Allied Feather & Down, the industry leader in
quality, responsibly-sourced down.
WHAT IS “RESPONSIBLY-SOURCED”?
Filson down comes from geese that have been raised for the food supply, primarily in Europe. This means that the geese were raised for the table, and their down feathers are collected after harvesting. Filson only uses goose down supplied by Allied Feather & Down, the industry leader in quality, responsibly-sourced down. Allied, in cooperation with forward-thinking outdoor companies, the Textile Exchange, and Germany’s Control Union, helped establish the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)—a voluntary global standard aiming to ensure that all down feathers come from animals that have been subjected to no unnecessary harm. Under the RDS, independent auditors are deployed to inspect the entire down supply—industrial goose farms as well as the collector-based supply chain. This ensures accountability for all down sold by Allied Feather & Down—whether it’s sourced from large farms or from down collectors who obtain feathers from households and micro farms that raise geese for their family’s and village’s food supply. To ensure that down from even the smallest farms can be tracked, Allied Feather & Down went so far as to open rural sourcing offices, and in some cases taught the collectors to read and write so they could provide the needed traceability.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Unfortunately, there are goose farms in the market that are not concerned with how their geese are treated. On these farms, the birds may be force-fed to make them grow faster, or live-plucked for their down, a painful process that is repeated each time the feathers grow back. While these practices may increase profitability for the farmers, Filson does not condone such inhumane treatment of any animal. We insist on only purchasing down that is proven to meet the requirements of the RDS, under which geese are never force-fed, live-plucked, or otherwise treated inhumanely. Allied Feather & Down, as a pioneer in establishing the traceability of ethical practices from the retail store all the way back to the goose farm, meets the RDS criteria better than any other supplier.
TRACK MY DOWN
The RDS system of independent, third-party certification assures us that 100% of the down we use has been obtained in the most humane manner possible and has enabled Allied Feather & Down to provide transparency into their entire supply chain. Attached to every Filson goose-down product is a “Track My Down” hangtag. On this tag is the lot number, which can be entered into Allied Feather & Down’s website to track the down’s origin. There’s also a QR code that can be scanned to get the same tracking information on your phone while you continue shopping in a Filson retail store. The tracking is comprehensive, including hypoallergenic testing data, which goose species the down was taken from, where they were raised, and much more.
Bluesign® Technologies AG is a Swiss-based organization that audits the materials, processing, and treatments of participating suppliers and manufacturers with the goal of minimizing environmental impact. Bluesign®-certified companies minimize their use of natural resources, utilize the safest chemicals for both humans and the environment, and exercise strict protocols to safely treat their wastewater. Because all of the cleansing and other treatments given to our down are bluesign®-approved, we’re confident that the processing of our down has caused minimal environmental impact. When Filson purchases down from Allied Feather & Down, we know that with their bluesign® certification, their workers were treated safely, their CO2 and water emissions are environmentally safe, and that we’re not putting harmful chemicals into our down clothing.
DOWN TO THE BOTTOM LINE
At Filson, we believe that not only is it important what you do, but how you do it. This applies in all walks of life, from how we treat our neighbors and coworkers to practicing fair chase in the pursuit of fish and game. While it may be easier or more profitable to turn a blind eye and purchase our down from the cheapest source, that would mean not knowing where the feathers came from and how they were obtained. Doing things the right way takes time and effort, and with their bluesign® certification and efforts to build the Responsible Down Standard, nobody has invested more time and effort in doing the thing right than Allied Feather & Down. That is why we’re proud to call them our partners in supplying us with the highest quality goose down available.