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  1. #1
    New Member Traveller's Avatar
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    Down Testing / Quality?

    Looking at a DIY quilt project this summer and was thinking of salvaging down from a couple old parkas and sleeping bags. I am guessing there will be a mix of Duck and Goose Down. Is there any method for checking the down to see if it is still good or usable? Any info appreciated.
    I found a few threads on salvaging n such. I am going to be salvaging from sleeping bags so quilling should not be a heavy issue. I am more concerned about the quality of the down. i.e. has it been damaged from improper washing, degraded, etc. etc.
    Cheers.
    Last edited by Traveller; 06-07-2011 at 10:35. Reason: additional info.

  2. #2
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    I am also curious how one might test for fill-power in a re-purposed old sleeping bag. I have a 10 year old north face 0 degree bag with no remaining tags. Not even sure what model it is to look up old specs on the internet. Any info would be very much appreciated.

  3. #3
    New Member agrajag's Avatar
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    The quality of down is in its lofting ability. Not sure how you could test that besides filling a bag with a specific weight of down and calculating the fill power.

    length x width x loft (in inches) / oz of down = fill power

    Maybe it would be easiest while still in the sleeping bag. If you get a similar number to the advertised fill power of the bag then it hasn't lost much quality. Probably not that accurate but should give you a rough figure.
    Last edited by agrajag; 06-08-2011 at 05:14. Reason: clarification

  4. #4
    Senior Member TinaLouise's Avatar
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    One thing you can look for is the size of each piece of down. The higher fill power down is actually larger. As you look at one piece of down, look at how big it fluffs out to. Is it the size of a quarter or a dime? And if you're seeing stuff that looks more like feathers than fluff balls.... well then that's an indication of a lesser quality down.

  5. #5
    New Member Traveller's Avatar
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    Great info, thanks. I had read on the web on harvesting the down from older bags and garments; some say that it is better to wet / wash the garment / bag before salvaging to reduce the fluff, hence, loss of down. You would then transfer the down into a sealed pillow case or similar and then dry it to revive the down. Any one try this, thoughts?

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    Check out this video for testing method.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrOvedSyvl8

    I've seen another video where they put a small weight on top to compress the down consistently but couldn't find it with a quick search.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JohnSawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveller View Post
    Great info, thanks. I had read on the web on harvesting the down from older bags and garments; some say that it is better to wet / wash the garment / bag before salvaging to reduce the fluff, hence, loss of down. You would then transfer the down into a sealed pillow case or similar and then dry it to revive the down. Any one try this, thoughts?
    Having harvested down from a comforter, I'd highly recommend this method, though I can see it being messy too...

    My method: Wash out the shop-vac, put a new filter on it, wash out the hose, cut the fabric and suck it out... In a word: It sucked.

    At some point, the down filled my 5 gallon shop vac, and when I opened it, it went everywhere. (do this INSIDE a tent! Wear a dust-mask!) I found down clusters in my EAR! It was a learning experience...

    If you wash, and partially dry the source bag, you could just scoop it out, but you'd have to cut down the length of each baffle, and it'd stick to everything. When it finally dried, any clusters you missed would float about.

    Have you thought about selling the bag here or on ebay for $50 and then buying really good down with the money?
    "Do or do not, there is no try." -- Yoda


  8. #8
    New Member Traveller's Avatar
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    Have you thought about selling the bag here or on ebay for $50 and then buying really good down with the money?
    For the workload of salvaging down I am also strongly considering buying down.
    Again, quality and price I know little about.
    The bag is a Canadian military down bag x 3. I had tried selling it in the past with little result. I also have an old goose down parka that I was going to tap into.
    Figured for my first build I would be better to salvage and recycle than spend and waste. Though, looking at the assistance and threads on the forum I will have plenty of guidance.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    If you are looking to do a rough prototype just check out some design ideas it might be worth your while to save the money. If you investing in good fabric and intend to make a final product, do yourself a favor and buy the good stuff. By the time you get it finished you will want the high quality down.

    When harvesters and first level distributors test fill power it is with very high tech precise equipment. Something I think it would be hard to Rube Goldberg. (I'm probably showing my age there.) For a possible throwaway... go ahead and recycle. But for the good items... you will be glad you bought the good stuff.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  10. #10
    New Member Traveller's Avatar
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    I have been doing some searches on the forum for distributors of down w/o much luck. Who would think down would be such a common word on a lightweight hammocking forum Any thread attachments appreciated.
    Looking on the web I found some very wide variances of prices for down (goose). Should I consider buying/shipping from China? or stick w U.S?
    Thanks again for all the previous info and advice.

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