Elements of Innovation: Goose Down

We are a function-first brand, striving to engineer the world’s best outerwear. In doing so, we use various materials and fabrics that are proven to enhance performance. One of these is goose down.

The Shackleton performance outerwear is stuffed with European goose down. It is the highest-quality insulation material on the planet, with an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio. High quality goose down is remarkably light and, when used in jackets, easily compressed – a handful of pure goose down will loft to the size of a basketball when released. Our Endurance Parka, for example, weighs roughly the same as a bag of sugar and will compact into a two-litre stuff sack, yet it will keep you warm at -30ºC. 

Here’s a more in-depth look at the properties of goose down:

What is down?

Down is the soft layer of fine feather that grows between a bird’s skin and exterior feathers.

How does it work?

Down is light and fluffy, and rather than quills a down cluster has a round centre called a plumule, which features thousands of tiny fibres. When stuffed into a coat baffle, these fibres interlock with each other, trapping pockets of air and, subsequently, the warmth from your body.

What is fill-power?

Fill power measures how many cubic inches an ounce of down creates when allowed to reach its maximum loft. The higher the fill-power, the more superior the insulation. With a higher fill-power, less down is required, meaning a lighter product. 

In short, the fill-power is the difference between a jacket that is warm on a winter’s day and a jacket that will save your life in the Arctic. All of our outerwear features 800 fill-power, meaning that one ounce of down can cover 800 cubic inches at its maximum loft. This makes them incredibly lightweight, packable and immensely efficient.

What is the ratio?

This refers to the ratio of down to feather. The higher the down ratio, the higher the quality and insulation. When feathers are used in a mix, tiny quills can pierce the outer fabric. The minimum ratio we use in our outerwear is 95/5, while our Endurance, Wild and Fortuna are pure 100% goose down. This, in part, is why our outerwear is more expensive than other brands – we have not compromised on the performance, opting for the best of the best. 

Ethics of down

The down used in our insulted jackets has been sourced and managed in accordance with the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). RDS certification is granted to a company that has had its supply chain audited by a professional, third-party body. It recognises and rewards the best practices in animal welfare. None of the down in Shackleton products is ever plucked from live birds. 

Where is this used in the Shackleton range?

Goose down is incorporated within five of our jackets and parkas: the Endurance Parka, the Pilot, the Wild, the FH-4 Photographer's Parka and the Fortuna Gilet.