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A Guide To Insulated Winter Jackets That Are Not Made With Down

March 12, 2012

Source PETA

As documented in a PETA exposé, geese and ducks are often plucked alive so that their down can be stuffed inside outerwear, bedding, and other products. Once they’re considered no longer profitable to the down feather industry, these birds are thrown into crates for a grueling journey to the slaughterhouse, where they’re hung upside down and killed for their flesh.

Thankfully, many companies are using high-tech vegan materials that are better for both birds and the environment. Here are several that’ll keep you cozy without hurting animals:


PrimaLoft offers high-performance insulations and fabrics that are 100 percent vegan. Originally developed for the U.S. Army, it uses a proprietary microfiber structure to help retain warmth so that the body can conserve energy. Fibers just a fraction of the diameter of a human hair form a tight collection of air pockets that trap body heat and keep the cold out. It’s used in the outdoors market as well as for home furnishings and bedding in over 500 brands. The company also recently introduced PrimaLoft Bio insulation made from 100 percent recycled, biodegradable fibers.

Black Diamond, Patagonia, The North Face, and Adidas are among the retailers that offer PrimaLoft.


Plumtech, an exclusive Save The Duck padding, is a synthetic down made from recycled polyester using innovation that’s completely animal-free. It provides outdoor enthusiasts with outerwear that allows easy movement and is durable, light, packable, and machine-washable. It has a high level of breathability, which disperses the excess heat generated during everyday workouts, and can trap an extremely large amount of air, preserving the body’s natural temperature.

Thermal R

Marmot, one of the world’s most highly respected technical apparel and equipment companies, created a unique polyester insulation called Thermal R, engineered to meet various cold-weather needs. This insulation combines multichannel and hollow fibers to provide maximum warmth while it reduces the adverse effects of perspiration, condensation, and humidity. Thermal R is resilient, has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, and is highly durable.


Down and wool trap air to keep you warm, acting as thermal insulators. That’s why Nudown made the business-savvy decision to skip cruelly derived animal materials and go straight to using air. It offers a line of jackets and vests with built-in inflatable chambers. You simply squeeze an in-pocket pump that forces air into the chambers surrounding your torso, and you can adjust the level of insulation whenever you need to.

3M Thinsulate

3M Thinsulate is a unique insulation that works by trapping air molecules between you and the outside, providing a breathable and moisture-resistant experience, and it’s machine-washable. These synthetic microfibers are far finer than down feathers, so they can trap more air in less space, which naturally makes for better insulation than down. Thinsulate has a plethora of products designed for virtually all weather conditions.

This technology can be found at Spyder, Rossignol, and Carhartt.


Climashield is composed of thousands of continuous strands of synthetic fibers in a distinctive interlocking solution. It maintains thermal efficiency in wet and humid conditions, is more cost-effective than down, and retains warmth over time—even after multiple uses. Its strands require minimal to no quilting, which allows products containing it to be less expensive. Its custom-fit insulation can be found in sleeping bags, bedding, outerwear, gloves, and footwear sold around the world.

This technology can be found at Arc’teryx, Eddie Bauer, and Mountain Equipment.


A great alternative to down was created by 37.5 (formerly known as Cocona), which uses active carbon derived from coconut shells that are blended with recycled polyester. This unique blend increases the surface area of the insulation—allowing it to dry fast, resist odors, absorb heat, and provide a high warmth-to-weight ratio.

This technology can be found at Rossignol, Homeschool Outerwear, and NuSleep Bedding.

Aspen Aerogels

Referred to as “frozen smoke” because it’s so lightweight, Aspen Aerogels insulation was developed in a lab 80 years ago and then reintroduced in 2007, when NASA figured out how to use it to keep instruments warm on a Mars rover. It’s used in running shoes, sleeping pads, snow pants, and spacesuits and is extremely effective as an insulator because the holes in it are only 1/10,000th the diameter of a human hair, blocking almost all airflow.

This technology can be found at OROS Apparel and The North Face.

DuPont Sorona

Since the early 1900s, DuPont Sorona has been revolutionizing the world of fibers and polymers. This bio-based fiber insulator is lightweight, breathable, warm, quick-drying, and resilient. Thirty-seven percent of its polymer is made using annually renewable plant-based ingredients. Its revolutionary Bio-PDO compound turns a formerly chemical process into an eco-efficient biological one, using less energy and fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.

Grado Zero Espace

Grado Zero Espace is an Italian-based company that creates many vegan textiles, including Grado VeganTech Insulation—a natural insulation composed of flowers, biopolymers, and Aerogel. It is oil- and animal-free and is known for maintaining its breathability. It’s also inexpensive and efficient. This technology offers protection against freezing temperatures, heat, and fire, while at the same time providing a high level of comfort.

Monark Fibre

Using fibers from milkweed, a native plant encompassing more than 100 species that grows in abundance in North America, Monark Fibre produces materials that provide insulating power equivalent to down’s. The material is waterproof, buoyant, and extremely lightweight, and it repels water. Milkweed fiber is a natural and eco-friendly material that can be used in a wide variety of products, including jackets, sleeping bags, gloves, bedding, and boots.

This technology can be found at Quartz Co.


Thermolite is a synthetic form of insulation created by the innovative company Invista. This technology provides lightweight warmth and functional insulation with lasting durability. Thermolite is used in a variety of products, including outdoor apparel and sports gear, and it’s engineered to keep you warm while helping to optimize your performance.


Polarguard is a continuous-filament, polyester synthetic fiber that is most commonly used in sleeping bags and outerwear. It is hypoallergenic and mildew-resistant and retains most of its loft and insulating properties when wet. Polarguard 3D is a softer fiber that is similar to down—without the cruelty to animals.


Thermore, a producer of vegan thermal insulation for apparel and sleeping, has been on the leading edge of thermal insulation technology and continues to be a pioneer in the development of advanced fibers that help your body maintain its natural warmth. The company produces several thermal insulators, including Thermore Freedom, which consists of countless micro-gaps that move and adapt to your body with every movement—from walking around town to more enthusiastic pursuits in the great outdoors.

This technology can be found at Brooks Brothers, Hugo Boss, and Aspesi.


Ingeo is a unique bio-based material made completely from plants. Its functionality grants a broad assortment of creative innovations like plastics for food and beverage containers and consumer electronics, and it’s a great down alternative for apparel and sleepwear. Ingeo insulation is breathable, quick-drying, UV light–resistant, and hypoallergenic, and it boasts outstanding moisture management.


The industry is now embracing pure bamboo for insulation in quilts, comforters, and pillows. This eco-friendly down alternative is naturally antibacterial, odor-resistant, chemical-free, dust mite–resistant, thermo-regulating, hypoallergenic, and extremely breathable.

This technology can be found at Cozy Earth, My Organic Sleep, and Loomstead.


MicroCloud offers a wide variety of vegan bedding, including mattresses, quilts, and pillows. This “down-like” alternative is created with synthetic polyester high-tech fibers that provide comfort and superior support of your head, neck, and shoulders. It’s hypoallergenic, machine-washable, and tumble-dryable. MicroCloud achieves an affordable price point without harming birds, and the filling provides greater health benefits than down does.


Flocus is a revolutionary textile brand producing insulation made with fibers harvested from kapok pods found on tropical ceiba trees. This insulation is 100 percent sustainable, utilizing a natural alternative without abandoning functionality. Flocus is insulating, lightweight, water-resistant, and fully biodegradable.

What’s So Wrong With Down?

Down feathers are used in clothing and comforters, but for geese and ducks, the down industry’s methods are anything but comfortable. In the cruel industry, the birds are often plucked alive for their down—the soft layer of feathers closest to the skin.


And if you think birds used for down don’t die for their feathers, think again. Once their feathers are ripped out, many are paralyzed with fear and are left with gaping wounds—some die as a result of the procedure. But you can help birds suffering in the down industry by refusing to buy items containing down and instead choosing from the plethora of vegan materials above. Send a powerful message to the cruel industry by pledging to be down-free.

Eco-friendly vegan synthetic jackets | One Green Planet

Source: One Green Planet

Spring is almost upon us — you know what that means? All those expensive winter skiing, snowboarding or hiking jackets are now on sale! Before you rush to the nearest store to look for a great season-end deal on a well-insulated winter jacket, stop and think about how you can make your next purchase an ethically conscious one. When it comes to insulated winter jackets, most people instantly think of a down jacket as the highest quality insulation to look for. There are several reasons for this: down has great insulating properties, it’s light and compresses very well, making it easy to roll up and stuff into tight spaces when you don’t need it. But your search for a warm, comfortable and convenient jacket that will get you through your ski trip and the worst days of winter does not have to begin and end with down.

Down is the soft layer of fine feathers from the breast of a goose or duck that is closest to their skin and grows to form quill, but does not have the hard quill shaft found in the outer feathers of birds.  Down acts as a natural thermal vest for birds by trapping air and preventing the loss of body heat. This is also what makes them a very popular filler material in comforters, pillows and jackets. Down is picked from birds after they are slaughtered for meat or foie gras and in some cases, by forcibly restraining the animals while they are still alive. In both cases, the birds involved generally live short, miserable lives and die painful deaths for purposes that are absolutely unnecessary. This is because several synthetic insulation materials have been developed over the years that are far superior than down and won’t leave you looking like the Michelin man.

Here are a few examples:

Primaloft®: This patented synthetic microfiber thermal insulation was originally developed for the U.S. military in the 1980s for use in clothing and sleeping bags. The goal was to develop a material that (unlike down) would not lose its insulation when wet, but would retain the lightness, softness, suppleness and compressibility found in down insulation. This makes jackets lined with Primaloft® insulation water-resistant, lightweight, very soft, highly packable and a lot less bulky than jackets made with down insulation.  Primaloft® is undoubtedly the leading name in the synthetic insulation field, with several big brands using Primaloft® insulation products for their garments. North Face makes a range of jackets with Primaloft® insulation like the men’s Lhotse Primadown Jacket or the women’s Quimby insulated jacket. Patagonia also has an excellent range of jackets with Primaloft®, ranging from the men’s Das Parka to the Women’s Micro Puff Hooded Jacket. In addition, Patagonia uses recycled polyester in their jackets, which is made by weaving polyester fibers with used soda bottles, unusable second quality fabrics and worn out garments. Cloudveil’s Enclosure Hooded Jackets for men and women are also great synthetic options. If you’re looking for some Primaloft® insulation with more style, try the AIRS (women’s) or the LARSON (men’s) by ethical (vegan) fashion powerhouse, Vaute Couture.

Thermal R: This polyester based insulation is the brand Marmot’s proprietary insulation that is used in their garments, sleeping bags and gloves. Thermal R is almost as light as Primaloft®, provides excellent warmth and is very durable. The Men’s Cauldron Hoody and the Women’s Dena Jacket are very good options for the coldest winter conditions, and both come with a relatively reasonable pricetag.

Omni-Heat®: This is Columbia Sportswear’s proprietary brand of thermal insulation, which is advertised as the highest heat retention per gram of synthetic insulation in the industry. Jackets made with this technology are very soft and down-like, but are made out of eco-friendly synthetic materials. Unfortunately, not all Columbia Sportswear Jackets using Omni-Heat are free of animal products. Several use down and feathers. The Lhotse Mountain™ II Parka, The Powder Bowl™ Parka , The Whirlibird Parka and the Shimmer Me Timbers™ Jacket are four men’s Omni-Heat® jackets that are made up of 100% nylon and polyester. The Black Diamond Dash™ Parka, the Prism Ice Parka, the Whirlibird™ Parka and the Kaleidaslope™ Jacket are great women’s synthetic choices.

In addition to the one’s mentioned above, some other synthetic insulation fabrics to look out for include Thermolite (made by the same company that makes Coolmax Polyester), Thermacore Insulation ™ (Burton’s proprietary synthetic insulation) and Coreloft ™ (by Arc’Teryx), which is used in some of their jackets. Whatever you choose; remember that there is an abundance of synthetic, non-down insulation options that can not only meet your specific functional and aesthetic needs, but also your budget.

There is no good reason to continue buying down (or freeze next winter), and now you know why!

thank you for this info
we and the birds
are very pleased
to find humane clothing out there
and we won’t have to freeze♥

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2012 3:27 am

    thank you for this info
    we and the birds
    are very pleased
    to find humane clothing out there
    and we won’t have to freeze♥


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