Down Jacket Care Guide

How To Care For A Down Jacket

 

Whether you’re heading out for a winter stroll, or embarking on a high-altitude summit camp, a down jacket is an essential in any hiker’s wardrobe. It’s important to take proper care of your down jacket to keep it performing well and ensure it lasts as long as possible. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to properly care for that delicate feather fill and get the most out of your beloved puffer.


Getting The Most Out Of A Down Jacket

 

Down is structured so that air is trapped between the feathers and warmed by body heat, thus providing effective lightweight insulation. There are a number of things we can do (and avoid doing) when wearing down to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

  1. Don’t get it wet - When wet, down provides no warmth, gains weight, and loses breathability, leaving you cold and uncomfortable. It’s also very difficult to dry once it gets wet. Avoid wearing your jacket in heavy rain, unless it is underneath a protective waterproof shell.
  2. Shake it out - Occasionally, down will migrate or clump together in the baffles of the jacket and create cold spots. This can be quickly fixed by moving it with your fingers or shaking the jacket out.
  3. Staining - Greasy foods or fuels can permanently stain your jacket and can contaminate the membrane (if waterproof), so take it off before you begin preparing food or eating.

 

How To Wash A Down Jacket

 

It’s a daunting thought, but washing your down jacket regularly can actually help it to perform better. Washing the jacket removes any dirt or oils that can start to build up either on the shell or in the down feathers. How often you wash your down jacket will depend on how often you wear it - but for weekly use, we’d recommend washing it once every 6 months to a year. In between washes, spot cleaning any stains with a damp cloth or wipe will be enough to keep it ticking over. You don’t want to overwash your jacket as this can also have damaging effects on the fabric and feathers.


We’d recommend using a down-specific detergent - NOT regular laundry detergent. Most down jackets will contain a DWR (durable water repellent), coating which allows them to shed light rain showers. Regular laundry detergents and softeners can actually hinder the DWR of a garment, as well as stripping the down itself of its natural oils which can affect both loft and performance.


You can either hand wash your garment or use a front-loading washing machine (without an agitator). If you’re using a washing machine, make sure to rinse out the drawer for any residual signs of detergent or fabric softener - running your washing machine through a quick empty cycle will do this.


When you’re ready to wash your down jacket, zip up the zippers, loosen any elastic cords, and close all pockets before you put it in to wash. Pop it on a gentle, cold cycle with the appropriate detergent, and further gentle rinse and spin to make sure any residual detergent and water is removed.

 

If hand washing, soak your garment and then knead the soap through the jacket, making sure that it is completely rinsed of excess soap before drying. Always check the manufacturer instructions before washing your garment.


How To Dry A Down Jacket

 

If you have a tumble dryer, use it! Air drying can take a long time and often causes the feathers to clump together. Tumble dry your jacket on a low heat, according to the care label instructions. Adding a couple of clean tennis balls (or something similar) to the dryer will help to restore the loft (or “fluff”) of your jacket. You can also remove the jacket at regular intervals and fluff it out to make sure no clumps are forming. 


If you don’t have access to a tumble dryer, you can air dry it flat and out of direct sunlight. Make sure you regularly pat and shake out the jacket to prevent clumping. It can take a long time to air-dry, so be patient. Ensure the jacket is completely dry before you start wearing it as moisture will affect the insulation of the down.


How To Restore DWR Of A Down Jacket

 

If your down jacket is treated with a DWR, and you notice that the water repellency is beginning to reduce, there are two ways to restore this treatment. Using a down-specific wash-in waterproofing treatment, such as Nikwax Down Proof, simply run your clean jacket through a gentle machine wash cycle with the solution and dry as normal. An easier but less thorough option is to apply a spray-on waterproof directly to the jacket, applying an even coating across the garment.


How To Store A Down Jacket

 

Your down jacket can be stored pretty much anywhere that you keep your other jackets and clothes, in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area. Although one of the benefits of down is that it can be compressed, you shouldn’t store it for long periods this way. If you’ve stuffed it down into your pack for a hike, make sure that you remove it when you get home to air out and hang up. If you’re storing it away for winter, ensure it is completely dry, and store it fully lofted in a dry and well ventilated area to prevent mildew.


How To Repair A Tear On A Down Jacket

 

It’s important to repair holes or rips in your down shell when you see them, otherwise they will inevitably get bigger. If down starts to leak through the shell, avoid pulling it as this can make the hole bigger - try easing them back in from the other side first. It’s super simple to repair a small tear or hole in the shell of your jacket with GearAid Tenacious Tape. Follow the steps below to effectively repair a tear in your down jacket.

  1. Smooth the jacket out on a hard surface and isolate the tear.
  2. Measure the tenacious tape leaving some room to spare around the tear, cut to size and round the corners.
  3. Flatten the surface of the tear, and push in any loose down that is poking out.
  4. Remove the backing paper and apply the tenacious tape, making sure it is smooth and fully stuck down.
  5. Leave it to set for 24 hours before wearing.
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