It all started with Eddie…
Back in the late 1930’s, the main way to keep warm was by wearing impractically heavy wool garments, and lots of them. An outdoorsman from Washington by the name of Eddie Bauer was set to change the future.
After giving up his weighty wool jacket as he returned from a winter fishing trip, just to make his journey easier, Eddie was struck down with hypothermia. Inspired by his misfortune, Eddie wanted alternatives to these heavy wool garments which would offer something that would be very warm, but light and comfortable.
Finally in 1940 he invented and successfully patented the first quilted goose down-insulated jacket, the Skyliner. The down jacket was born.
So what is down?
Down is a layer of fine feathers found underneath the tougher exterior feathers of birds, providing incredible insulation and warmth to protect the bird from the cold all year round.
How does down work?
It’s simple, you just wear it! A down jacket keeps you warm by trapping and storing warm air generated by your body, and then once trapped within the down feathers it forms a barrier against cold air outside the jacket.
What’s the catch?
There’s no catch, a down jacket really is that good at keeping you warm. However, if you need to stay dry as well then that’s when things start to change.
Originally when first designed, down jackets were made to perform magnificently in extremely cold conditions but had nothing to protect them from the rain. The feathers would get wet, cold and heavy, and the jacket would start to lose its efficiency.
Today you can get down jackets with a waterproof outer to ensure you can retain the maximum warmth and still stay dry. These jackets do fetch a higher price but are well worth the money if you are catering for all conditions.
The good things never change
Despite 70 years of down jacket evolution, not much has actually changed. Yes, the jackets of today have modernised and been tweaked to cater for our needs, but the fundamental design has stayed the same, showing true testament to Bauer’s design.
How did we ever live without them?
Today when the cold weather sets in, you can pretty much see a down jacket everywhere you look, from top of the mountain, right down to the high street. They’re lightweight, easy to pack away into small places and once again… extremely warm. So if you’re not wearing one already, you probably should be. You won’t regret it!