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Tech Talk: Testing Treated Down

Backpacker Magazine, September 2013, p 55 reports.

“International Down and Feather Testing Laboratories, the world’s largest independant down-testing facility, confirmed that in controlled testing (In the Hydrophobic Shake Test, water and down are combined in a jar and agitated until the feathers start absorbing water.) of feathers alone, treated down resists moisture up to 60 times longer and dries faster than conventonal stuff.  Our field testers also found that treated down bags feel more breathable – likely because the insulation stays drier and fluffier in humid conditions.  We hammered this crop of contenders (plus untreated down and synthetic models as controls) through months of diverse field conditions.  Lessons learned? 1) After a six hour soaking, synthetic bags absorbed a lot more water (more than 5 pounds) and dried much more slowly than the fastest drying treated down bags (days compared to hours).  2) A bag is much more than its fill.  Many facors are at play, including shell and lining materials and DWR treatments. High-quality untreated down bags performed better than expected in wet conditions, but we like the added insurance and increased comfort range of treated down.”

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