Down is a tricky business. Where does it come from? What is loft? Is it high quality, is it high loft, is it DWR down?
Knowing about these terms is important when it comes to choosing down products, knowing what sort of conditions they’re appropriate for and knowing whether you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Down is a layer of very soft feathers that grow underneath a birds exterior feathers. Down is extremely lightweight, very soft and is very effective at trapping warmth.
This is an easy one, Fill Weight is in reference to how much down is inside.
The Brindabella Standard Sleeping Bag has a fill weight of 680g. That’s 680g of down.
Loft (or Fill Power) is in reference to the quality rating of the down. Down quality is measured in Loft and Loft is measured by cubic inches per ounce (28.35g). The higher the number, the greater the volume per ounce and the warmer the down will be.
1 ounce of 785+ Loft Down will have a minimum volume of 785 cubic inches and
1 ounce of 850+ Loft Down will have a minimum volume of 850 cubic inches.
The higher the loft rating, the higher the warmth to weight ratio. 100g of 850 loft down has the ability to trap more air, and more warmth, than 100g of lower loft down.
High loft down is able to spring back to its full size many more times after compression than a lower loft down.
When comparing down products between different manufacturers it is important to understand that there are multiple different tests used to grade down. Each of these tests have different procedures and will produce varying results. Mont down is tested using only the IDFB USA Test Method.
The quality of down fill and its performance doesn’t necessarily relate to the species it is sourced from. It is true that in the case of extremely high lofting down, loft ratings of 900 and higher, the down is sourced from Geese. But regardless of this fact, an 850 loft Duck Down will be just as warm and have the same weight as an 850 loft Goose Down.
When it comes to bang for your buck, duck down is more affordable than goose down. A sleeping bag with 850 loft duck down will be significantly cheaper and have the same performance as the same sleeping bag with 850 loft goose down inside.
As for differences between grey and white down, those differences are purely cosmetic.
All down batches will contain some percentage of pin-feathers and down fibres. The higher the down quality or loft, the lower the percentage of pin-feathers and down fibres. Good quality down will generally contain at least 90% down clusters.
All down used by Mont is tested and rated by an independent lab and is guaranteed to be of the highest quality.
DWR Loft is an environmentally friendly (Blue Sign Certified) down treatment that protects down from moisture, helps it maintain its loft in wet conditions, greatly reduces the drying time, extends the life of the down in your product and improves its resistance to bacteria growth.
Look for the DWR Loft logo on Mont Down Sleeping Bags and Down Clothing.
For more in depth info on caring for your down product see the Sleeping Bag Care Guide
Danny filling a custom made High Altitude Down Suit with 850+ loft down. Photo by Kirrill Talanine. Learn more about the making of this custom down suit
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As summer approaches, I keep looking through my list of past walks to see which ones I want to do again.
In September 1986 I walked from Lake St Clair, up past Little Hugel to Mt Hugel. I then continued down the western slopes to Lake Hermione, followed a valley up to Lake Petrarch and walked back down to Lake St Clair. A good partly offtrack bushwalk. This time I only had two days, so the plan was to camp next to a tarn up on the Mt Hugel plateau.
One of the biggest jobs at Mont is customer service, with the inbox sometimes a little overwhelming! But the emails are overwhelmingly positive; questions about our gear, emails about how well a customers gear worked, and fun stories and photos from the wild.
It isn’t all smiles, though, negative emails do occasionally pop up. But not to let that get us down, often these emails highlight a failure of communication on our part or provide information for us to reflect upon and improve.