Jan 28, 2021
DOWN JACKET ESSENTIAL GUIDE
What is a down jacket?
Down is an ultra-warm insulator commonly found in jackets, sleeping bags, pillows, and duvets. Down is a natural alternative to synthetic fillings that gives an airy quality to clothing and bedding. Using down as their main insulator, down jackets are super warm, and are usually sold in a puffer or parka style.
A down jacket’s ‘fill power’ will indicate its insulating capabilities - when shopping for a down jacket, you may notice that there are several densities to choose from. Even at a lower fill power, a down jacket can provide plenty of warmth.
What is down?
Made from the soft undercoat of duck and geese, down is the soft layer of feathers located closest to the bird’s body. These feathers form into clusters which create tiny air pockets that trap heat against the body, making a light but highly efficient insulator. This unique quality makes down a popular option for thermal layers, jackets, and gilets.
Down jackets are measured in fill power which measures the loft. The loft measures the size and quality of the air pockets that the down creates and traps against the body. Sometimes fill power is confused with how warm a jacket is but the two things are different, largely because overall jacket warmth is based on a number of different factors.
Alongside fill power, the warmth of a down jacket is also affected by:
- Down to feather ratio
- Garment construction
- Garment fabric
At TOG24 we use softer fabrics for our lightweight down garments. This means we have to use more down to feathers since sharp feather quills could damage this lighter fabric. A lighter garment like this could be perfect for a spring or autumn morning when there’s a slight chill in the air but wouldn’t be appropriate as a full-on winter coat when you’re facing harsh winds, sleet and snow.
A heavier parker coat that would suit the worst that winter has to offer is made of stronger fabrics and can therefore take a higher ratio of feathers to down. Whilst these garments are warmer than a lighter down jacket, they technically have less fill power because of the higher ratio of feathers to down.
Down garments are typically constructed using chambers, often tubes called baffles. These tubes keep the down evenly distributed across the garment and held against the body. Lighter garments will use a stitch-through construction, meaning the baffles are visible on the outside of the coat. This means that the garment uses less fabric and is therefore light and easily packable (these jackets have great loft recovery because of the construction used so warmth won’t be compromised by packing).
The trade-off here is that stitch through construction compromises waterproofing. Heavy coats like a parker won’t have visible baffles on the outside of a coat so won’t be as compact but will be fully waterproof.
How to wash a down jacket
Washing down jackets requires a tumble dryer
If you’re wondering how to wash a down jacket, there are a few necessary steps to keep in mind. Below, we’ve outlined a step-by-step guide to washing your down jacket or gilet to ensure it stays clean and lasts for years to come.
When it comes to cleaning down-filled items, you must use the right solutions and tools. All TOG24 down-filled jackets and gilets are water-resistant, made possible using a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) coating. Regular detergents will break down this coating, compromising the quality of your jacket.
For all TOG24 down-filled jackets, we recommend the Grangers Down Wash Kit, complete with downwash and dryer balls. This solution is designed to protect and even restore the waterproof coating while removing any dirt or stains from your jacket. This kit also comes with dryer balls, which will ensure your jacket is evenly dried and fluffed in the tumble dryer.
2. Prepare the jacket: Before you wash your jacket, you’ll want to empty the pockets and ensure all the zips are closed. This will prevent the zipper teeth from snagging or tearing the fabric of your jacket as it goes through the washing cycle. If you snowboard or ski and have a pass/tag attached anywhere on the jacket, be sure to remove these as well.
3. Start the wash: Place your down jacket into an empty washing machine and add two cups of down 2-in-1 wash. Ensure the water temperature is set to 30 degrees and that you use a gentle wash cycle.
4. Inspect and de-clump the jacket: While your jacket is still wet, feel the material for any concentrated areas of down filling. Break these apart and distribute them down as best you can by hand.
5. Drying: Along with two Grangers dryer balls, place your jacket in the dryer on low heat. Periodically check the jacket by hand to see if it is dry enough to remove. The jacket should be puffy and dry, with the feather down evenly distributed.
While you can trust that Granger’s Down Wash Kit is safe for TOG24 down-filled jackets, for any other brands, always consult the label or the website for specific care instructions. For a visual guide on how to wash a TOG24 down jacket, you can also view our care guide here.
How to clean a down jacket
Although you can occasionally wash your down jacket in the washing machine (for hygiene reasons or to restore the waterproof coating), frequently saturating the down filling will affect its lifespan. Where possible, it’s best to spot-clean stains on your down jacket or gilet so it lasts as long as possible. Here’s how to clean a down jacket using a spot cleaning technique:
Whether you’re looking for an everyday lightweight jacket or an ultra-warm coat built for the slopes, a TOG24 down jacket is a great place to start. These quilted jackets come in a host of styles for the whole family and are guaranteed to protect you against the harshest weather.
If you’ve recently purchased a down jacket and want it to last as long as possible, we encourage you to follow the steps above. Knowing how to wash a down jacket will come in handy when the time comes to wash your down-filled coat, as well as other weatherproof, down-filled items like gilets, sleeping bags, and camping pillows. To find your next down jacket, browse the full TOG24 collection online or in-store.