If this sounds like a sin -we think it is. Some small manufacturers have added fibers such as polyester, plant fibres, or wool to down, claiming that this somehow improves on the characteristics of down. That somehow 1 + 1 = 3.
The down industry is always looking for ways to improve upon the already incredible properties of down. The Down Association of Canada would be happy to find ways to make such improvements but so far all we have seen are unsubstantiated claims such as:
1. Down is rendered less allergenic by the addition of (a specific fiber)
With modern cleaning processes down is remarkably hypoallergenic on its own and we have seen no proof of this being improved by the addition of any other fibers. We have seen no proof that these plant fibers have superior hypoallergenic properties.
2. Down's loft and insulation is improved by the addition of (foreign materials.)
Nothing can be added to down to magically make it loft more. Down is the highest lofting substance there is, and nothing can be added to improve on it. Adding a substance that either does not loft, or that lofts to a lesser degree than down cannot make the down better. It does not make sense. The same applies to insulation. Adding an inferior insulator to down will not improve on this special quality of down.
3. (Down and plant fiber blend) wicks moisture from the body more quickly than down.
Down is recognized as one of the most breathable products with an amazing ability to wick away moisture. We have seen no proof of this being improved by the addition of any other fibers.
The best proof can be found in the sleeping bag industry. The most leading edge part of the down industry is the research and development carried out by the sleeping bag manufacturers. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their products and their down is never adulterated. When you are climbing Mt. Everest quality is critical.
The only reason to add these fibers is to cut costs.
The claims that are made as to these products being equal to or better than down do not stand up. There are mentions of scientific studies claiming to prove these assertions.
The Down Association of Canada has a copy of a study done by the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University. This study was printed in the Textile Research Journal, Vol 61 No.4, April 1991. This is a quote from this study under CONCLUSIONS :
"It appears that the major incentive for down jacket and comforter producers to blend milkweed with down would be for economic reasons and not to improve the performance properties of down. Currently, milkweed is marketed for about one-half the price of goose down and, as production increases, the price of milkweed floss may be further reduced. This should make milkweed attractive to down producers who can use it to reduce costs."