In Melbourne, the minute the temperature drops below about 15 degrees, it seems like half the town’s population pulls out their Katmandu puffy jacket. Down jackets seem to have made a come back in recent years. As a backcountry skier who spends a fair amount of time camping in our sometimes damp mountain conditions, I’m a big fan of my synthetic insulated jacket. It’s the layer you put on when you’ve built the platform and snow walls, put up the tent, and are just starting to cool down ahead of a long night huddling around a camp stove …
But a few years ago I bought a down jacket, and it’s a fantastic option for staying warm without adding much weight to your pack. I asked around at the time and was assured that Mountain Hardware had ‘ethical’ down. That is, it was produced as a side product of food production, and was not live picked. As a life long vegetarian, I’ll just quietly side step around the obvious dilemma of buying any kind of down jacket or sleeping bag …
I recently spotted the new social media campaign from Patagonia about their ‘traceable down’. There is a short animation that makes the issue clear, that traditional down can be cruel in that animals can be ‘live plucked’ and force feed. Patagonia has established a chain-of-custody supply chain so they can track the source of down they use in their products. They promise that the down produced is ‘Never Live-Plucked. Never Force-Fed’. They have introduced a code of conduct for producers they use, and have third party audits to ensure compliance.
If the down is then used in products such as jackets, it is marked with ‘Patagonia® 100% Traceable Down’. Patagonia says that from (northern hemisphere) autumn of 2014, all of the companies down products will only contain only 100% Traceable Down.
You can read about the process here.
You can see the Standard here.
And you can see the products here.
You can find a list of Patagonia stores in Australia here.