A high-end down jacket is no longer the preserve for outdoor athletes. Popstars, actors, politicians, and princesses have been pictured in a ‘puff’. Of course, a down jacket only comes into its own when used outside. But what is down, and what should you pay attention to when purchasing a down jacket? To simplify the decision, we’ve put together a simple guide to choosing the jacket that’s best for you.
An outdoor company such as Rab derives its origin from down. Rab Carrington started his business in Sheffield in 1980, and since then, Rab down products have consistently been the pinnacle of innovation and design. The company is pride to call itself The Masters of Insulation. Whether you are looking for an everyday winter jacket or a means of staying alive on your next Himalayan conquest, Rab provides the right jacket for the job.
Down is the layer of feathers that are closest to a bird’s body. These feathers are made of very fine tendrils and fibres that provide the lightest and most efficient means of trapping and holding air in position. This trapped air produces an incredibly efficient thermal barrier, which at the weight and mass of down, is unrivalled by any natural or synthetic equivalent.
Nikwax hydrophobic down
Down is naturally breathable, which makes it very comfortable to wear, but this comes with a drawback – it can absorb moisture. This moisture can overload the fibres, or cause them to stick together, stripping the down of its insulative properties. To mitigate this effect, Rab applies a Nikwax water repellent “hydrophobic” treatment to the down. This treatment significantly improves the performance of the down by preventing the clusters from absorbing moisture and helping it to retain its loft. In the event that the down does become waterlogged, the treatment significantly decreases the time it takes the down to dry and its loft to recover.
Duck and Goose down
Rab jackets use either duck down or goose down. Higher grade down (700FP and up) tends to be from geese as the clusters are larger, offering a higher warmth to weight ratio and improved packability. Although duck down consists of smaller clusters and a reduced warmth to weight ratio, it is still a great choice for everyday jackets, as premium goose down is simply too warm for everyday use.
Responsible Down Standard
While down products have revolutionised how we dress for outdoor activities, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the raw material is farmed from animals on a large scale. Rab takes its responsibility seriously to ensure that their insulation is produced in environments where animal welfare standards are being maintained. All of Rab’s virgin down is certified by the Responsible Down Standard.
Using recycled down is a sustainable alternative to virgin down and helps reduce the environmental impact of a product. Rab is proud that all recycled down used in their range is certified according to the Global Recycle Standard (GRS).
Down Fill Power (FP)
Fill power refers to the quality of down. Fill power does not refer to the amount of down used and it cannot be relied upon to give an idea of a product’s warmth, unless, that is, you are also considering the product’s ‘fill weight’ too.
Rab grades down according to the size of the clusters, that is the amount of air that the down is able to trap relative to its weight. To do this Rab takes one gram of fully lofted down and records its volume, the result represents the down’s “fill power”.
All of Rab’s Duck down is 650FP and their Goose down ranges between 750 and 1000FP. The range of down that Rab uses allows to fine-tune the garments to meet the differing demands of end consumers, both in terms of budget and intended use.
Once you’ve got your new jacket, you’ll want to make sure it lasts – and Rab has got a few pointers for proper down storage and cleaning. This helps to extend the lifetime of a product, which is good for the planet and good for your wallet.
Rab down products can be home cleaned, however this is a difficult and time-consuming job as the drying process can take several hours. In its own Repair and Service Centres, Rab offers a no fuss, specialist down wash service that ensures that your Rab jacket or sleeping bag is clean, fully lofted and ready for your next adventure.
Down should be stored uncompressed and out of direct sunlight in a dry, cool place. If your down product gets damp, air it thoroughly and make sure it is completely dry before putting it back into storage. If the product is still damp after airing, a short cycle in a tumble dryer on a cool setting should help to complete the drying and restore the loft.
Which down jacket for which activity?
Rab’s range of down jackets covers a wide range of styles and intended uses, but the breadth of the range can be a bit overwhelming. With this in mind, Rab has grouped their range by the types of activity, with a little selection below:
Expedition: The Expedition 8000 Jacket
The Expedition 8000 is Rab’s warmest jacket built for the most extreme conditions, whether you’re summiting an 8,000m peak or crossing the polar ice caps.
Filled with RDS certified, 850FP goose down and built with robust and weather resistant Pertex Quantum Pro outer fabric, this jacket has been developed to retain heat in the world’s coldest environments.
Ascent & Mountain: The Infinity Microlight Jacket
The Infinity Microlight stays true to its original purpose, an insulated jacket for year-round mountain use, but with the added wind and weather resistance of Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper. This outer fabric is super lightweight with impressive weather protection, coping with light snow, spin drift and moisture.
It is exceptionally breathable and soft to the touch, offering a quiet and comfortable hooded down jacket for all mountain activities. Built with zoned micro and nano baffles, the 700FP P.U.R.E recycled down has been body mapped to optimise warmth and breathability where you need it.
Everyday Use: The Cubit Stretch Down Jacket
Giving a second life to quality down that might have otherwise ended up in landfill, the functional Cubit Stretch Down Hoody is filled with fluorocarbon free hydrophobic 700FP recycled down.
Built with advanced Pertex 3D Weave Technology, this all-round jacket has excellent wind resistance, a light weight, and allows for maximum stretch and mobility on the move. The outer Pertex Quantum fabric itself is breathable and weather resistant with a fluorocarbon-free DWR finish.
For more information on Rab’s down product range, head over to https://rab.equipment