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Anyone who knows anything about outdoor life will tell you that no matter what, it is vital to stay warm, and equally important to stay dry. Down has long been a staple of cold-weather performance gear because of its outstanding warming qualities compared to synthetic alternatives. However, it comes with legitimate consumer concerns over the ethics of using animal feathers, rather than synthetic materials. The inevitable question then becomes: how can we ensure the down is ethically sourced?
When investing in new gear for your winter outdoor adventure, you will be faced with a familiar and important dilemma: should you choose down or synthetic insulation? Making the right choice will impact your ability to enjoy and succeed in your adventure – whether it is a day-hike in the woods or an alpine expedition.
Caroline Auclair, Head of Product Management Apparel at Haglöfs, explains that both down and synthetic insulation has its own specific pros and cons.
“We offer both down and synthetic insulation, and there are many factors you should consider when purchasing your gear. Price, warmth-for-weight, packability, durability and water resistance to name a few. Synthetic insulation tends to be more affordable and is of course hypoallergenic. Down, however, is unrivalled in its lightness and warmth, and thanks to recent innovation in hydrophobic treatments, down can now also compete with synthetic insulation in wet conditions.”
Ensuring responsible and ethical sourcing of down
All down is not procured equally: using down places an immense responsibility on the garment manufacturer and brand to ensure it has been sourced under the right conditions. Haglöfs takes several measures to ensure the down is ethically sourced and responsibly used.
“Down is almost uniquely capable of retaining heat and keeping the weight down, which are critical to many of our loyal adventurers. And it gives that cozy puffiness associated with winter gear. But we can only offer down products if they are responsibly sourced. Enjoying the outdoors in cold conditions must not come at the expense of animal welfare,” said Caroline Auclair.
100 percent of the down used by Haglöfs is certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to help ensure that no live-plucking or force-feeding of the birds has occurred in its supply chain. RDS down is a by-product of the food industry and has the lowest carbon footprint of any fill material, including synthetic insulation.
The RDS certifies farms that respect the ‘Five Freedoms’ of animal welfare: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury, or disease; to express normal behavior; and from fear and distress. All Haglöfs’ RDS-certified products are third-party audited along every step of the chain from farm to warehouse and are fully traceable via the Track my Down system.
Products made to last
In addition to ensuring the down used in products is responsibly and ethically sourced, Haglöfs works hard to ensure its products are designed and made to last. This is to enable customers to take care of their products and reduce the overall environmental impact of their purchase.
“We want to ensure that our down products can live a long life in tough conditions, thereby limiting our customers’ product turnover as much as possible. As we use materials that originate from animals, we have a moral obligation to make the most of every feather for the longest possible time”, said Caroline Auclair.
This is also why Haglöfs has developed a range of down products with hydrophobic qualities to prevent it from losing its breathability and insulating properties and from gaining weight. By sourcing ethical down and refining it to withstand the natural elements for as long as possible, Haglöfs ensures that its down products are as responsible and long-lasting as possible.