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Very light in relation to its volume, down is widely used in the production of clothing, especially sport clothing, designed to protect from the cold. The filling of these garment is essentially of two types: down or feather.

The down, because of its unusual structure (a central core from which many beards arise), can trap large quantities of air. The feather, instead, has a rigid central part from which small eyelashes depart. It has greater weight and lower volume. The down is generally mixed in varying proportions to feathers and it helps preventing congregation and formation of lumps. The greater the amount of down, the more voluminous and light will be the garment. The ratio with which these two different types of feathers are mixed is usually indicated on labels as a percentage ratio, in which the first number refers to the percentage of down and the second to the percentage of feathers (e.g. 80/20, 90/10, etc.).

Another indication of the quality of the filling comes from the so-called Fill Power, which indicates the capability of a given kind of feather to fill a certain volume. This gives an indication of its insulating power. Fill Power values ​​are expressed in cm³/g (or in³/oz in the U.S.). Typically, the Fill Power has values ​​between 300 and 800 in³/oz. The highest-quality feathers can reach 900 in³/oz.

The characteristics of down and feathers (lightness, elasticity and compressibility) allow the garments filled with this materials to be compressed in very small spaces and easily transported. For over fifty years now, down filled garments have been traditional pieces of clothing for all those who practice outdoor sports in the cold. Even today down and feathers keep being extremely functional and versatile insulating materials for outdoor clothing.

The characteristics that make the natural materials unbeatable when compared to synthetic ones are:
  • Lightweight
  • Softness
  • Elasticity
  • Filling power
  • Hygroscopicity
  • Thermal insulation
  • Compressibility