[Photo] Kelly Grant
MSRP – $255
Making puffy jackets–like any clothing item–has environmental drawbacks. Synthetic jackets rely on “products derive[d] from the mining and processing of oil (though some are now made from recycled materials),” Gwen Cameron wrote in Alpinist 45. And making down products has often relied on the plucking of goose feathers. Continues Cameron:
“In 2009 a Swedish documentary film, Cold Facts, reported that the majority of down was harvested by ‘live plucking,’ a painful method of repeated feather removal before the bird is killed. Several North American and European companies have since tried to set more-ethical standards for suppliers, such as providing clean living conditions for the animals, abstaining from force-feeding (as in the case of geese raised for foie gras) and only collecting feathers from birds that have already been slaughtered for food. Some companies, including Patagonia and Mountain Equipment, have made their down products ‘100% traceable’: a customer can enter an identification number and trace the origin of the down to its standards-compliant source…. Tundra, Crux and Bask use a process called ‘nest harvesting,’ instead, gathering the down that has fallen naturally from living birds.”
Instead of collecting new feathers, Neokdun recycles down that has been sterilized from old duvets in its special processing plant.
The Spanish company Ternua works with Neokdun to process the down in their 800-fill power Loughor jacket.
Over several months, I took this jacket on skiing and climbing trips including early winter bouldering sessions in North Carolina’s high country and on Maine’s frigid coast. I also used it when climbing ice in Montana and the Canadian Rockies, and skiing in BC’s Selkirks.
This puffy also has a great size to weight ratio (weighing in at 140 grams). I’m a tall, lanky guy and a size large easily slides over four layers of clothing. Even with all these layers on, I was still able to easily move my arms. The lightweight and compressible Loughor easily packs down to the size of a one-liter water bottle.
The jacket’s hood fits comfortably and snugly over a helmet or against my bare head. The hood has a tension cord on the back and elastic in the font. It also has two Nalgene-sized internal pockets. I often used these pockets to keep my climbing shoes warm when between boulder problems.
Because the jacket is cut long to eliminate cold spots, it hangs down to my harness leg loops. This is a great feature for keeping warm, but it means I have to lift the front of the jacket up to use my belay device. One drawback is this jacket doesn’t have a two-way zipper, so your front is exposed when utilizing your belay loop. The Loughor is great for most activities but not for chimneying on sharp limestone, or for brushing against sharp branches while skiing–there would surely be feathers everywhere. That said, after three months of heavy use I still haven’t ripped it.
It comfortably fits my 6’1 frame and long arms, and kept me warm throughout my travels. I didn’t notice any differences between the down in my other jackets and the recycled down in this one. And I plan to continue using the Loughor for years to come.
[To learn more about the history of harvesting down feathers, including “live plucking,” click here–Ed.]
Pros: Extremely lightweight and compressible; utilizes recycled Neokdun down; generously sized, functional pockets; doesn’t inhibit movement.
Cons: No two-way zipper to accommodate a belay loop.