Several major outdoor companies are pushing to invest in more sustainable down
| By Jack Foersterling
The puffy jacket is a key piece of every skier’s closet. Perfect for layering under a jacket on a cold day at the resort or just tossing on at home to take out the garbage, a puffy provides two crucial necessities for winter gear: comfort and warmth.
But that comfort and warmth comes at a price–down insulation is made with the feathers of ducks and geese raised, often inhumanely, in Eastern Europe and China. Because waterfowl in these regions are raised for their meat, not their feathers, down is a waste byproduct of an often-abusive meat industry, with birds being live-plucked of their feathers (exactly what it sounds like) as well as being force-fed to fatten them up for gourmet meals like foie gras (the state of California even bans the sale of foie gras for this reason).
While newer, synthetic insulations have been introduced over the last few years, the warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility and longevity of natural down is nearly impossible to beat, leaving many manufacturers going back to the farm and investing in sustainable down practices.