|Down & Feather
What is Tog
What is down?
Down is the layer of light fluffy clusters that is the undercoating, closest to the skin of ducks, geese and other waterfowl. They are three-dimensional in that each cluster resembles the head of a dandelion that has gone to seed. These down clusters act as insulation and are protected by the outer layer of feather. The down has a thermal quality that keeps the birds warm in the winter. The waterfowl will pluck down from itself to insulate their nests in the spring, which in turn cools the bird for the warmer seasons to come.
What is Feather?
Feather is the principal covering of birds. They are two-dimensional in that they comprise of a quill shaft running down the centre from which a series of fibres are joined on either side. They do not heat nor do they cool the bird. Feathers make up an external coating, which protects and keeps the down dry.
What's the Difference?
Quite simply, "Down" insulates whereas "Feather" shields against moisture.
Why does Down insulate so well?
Down clusters intertwine to form a natural wadding that traps the heat that your body generates. Every ounce of quality down consists of approximately 2 million filaments that interlock and overlap. This creates a protective layer of still air that keeps warmth in and cold out. The warmth of a finished down product will vary depending on the type of Down used, the construction of the shell and the type of fabric used to encase the fill. Down from mature birds will always be of better quality and this is reflected in the fill power measure of the down. However, if the down is mixed with feather (which has no thermal quality other than from sheer weight) the insulating power may be drastically reduced. This is Mother Nature's way of offering you a variety of mixtures to suit individual needs. Hence, a higher percentage of down fill will always provide a greater thermal yield.
Which Waterfowl birds has the best Down
Quality down is always harvested from 'adult' birds. Fibre length is indicative to the down's 'sticking' capability. The 'Sticking' quality of down defines how tightly the down clusters weave together. The tighter the natural weave, the better the down will be able to trap body heat.
Down from the neck and upper chest areas of waterfowl is superior to down from other parts of the bird.
The warmest down today comes from the female Eider duck.
The Eider duck migrates back and forth to the most northerly parts of the globe annually.
In order to survive the extreme temperatures associated with their migratory paths, the down that this small duck produces is the warmest of all downs fills.
So much so, that in the mid part of the 19th century, this duck was sought after to the brink of extinction.
Today, the Eider duck is registered as an endangered and protected species.
Only a limited quantity of Eider down is available to our industry annually, as the down may only be harvested off the ground after the nesting season has come and gone.
Also known in many parts of the world as "sticky down", the clusters have unusually dense cores and the fibres cling very tightly forming supremely efficient, natural thermal wadding.
Eider down is always associated with extreme temperatures.
Siberian Goose Down is next in line. There are various qualities of 'Siberian' down.
The ultimate 'Siberian' down is taken from the neck and upper chest areas of the birds that have been given the opportunity to mature.
Pure Siberian goose down is a comfortable and affordable alternative to Eider when looking for that extra natural warmth and silkiness.
Then comes our Moskus Down.
The Moskovy ducks are not members of the mallard species and this is reflected in their biological make-up.
Their oil glands are underdeveloped making this bird lean and meaty.
Renowned for its palatable qualities this duck is considered a delicacy worldwide.
It's down is superior to most other duck down as the fibres that make up the clusters are long and with little human intervention (tumble woven), interlock well to create superior insulation which is considered as "the next best thing" when compared to the Eider and Siberian goose down.
Our Goose Down: There has been a lot of discussion as to which country produces the best goose down.
Whether the geese origins are Canadian, Hungarian, Siberian... etc... it is important to know that when selecting a type of goose down fill, to keep in mind that there are a few factors that should be taken into consideration.
It is not the country of origin but rather the global latitudes of origin that will provide a better indication of how much warmth the down will provide.
Geese from more northerly areas will produce a down with greater thermal qualities.
Goose Down is a common and highly efficient thermal down.
Being a fairly large bird, the down clusters are large in size and intertwine well in order to capture, store and reflect the heat that your body generates.
Although it's natural weave is inferior to that of the Eider, Siberian and the Moskus, Goose Down is still a most respectful, comfortable fill that offers a very high degree of natural warmth.
Our Duck Down is the least thermally efficient of respectful waterfowl down.
This is attributed to the fact that the Duck is simply a smaller bird and produces smaller sized down clusters.
It is important to point out that although this is true, we do emphasize that the down from 'mature' ducks will provide a higher thermal yield than down from 'immature' or young geese.
Ducks provide the most cost efficient thermal down.
Although it's natural weave is inferior to that of the Eider, Siberian, Moskus Blend, and Goose, Duck Down is still a most respectful, comfortable fill that offers a high degree of natural warmth.
What is Tog?
The tog value that appears on feather and down filled product labels is an indication as to the measure of warmth or insulating value, technically called 'thermal resistance'. The term is in common usage in the textile industry as the unit of thermal resistance of all fabrics and clothing, not just duvets. It is derived from the metric unit commonly used internationally for all types of insulating materials.
The tog value of quilts is, of course, measured on a tog-meter. The name was taken from the common slang for clothes.
Which TOG is right for me?
Down quilts are warm because they trap heat radiating from the body. The higher your metabolic rate the more heat your body generates. Tog is simply an indication of how efficiently the duvet retains body-generated heat. Generally the higher the tog, the more heat is retained. When choosing a quilt, many people think the higher the tog, the higher the quality of the quilt. This is not true. Also, many people think that the higher the tog, the heavier the quilt. Nor is this true. A high quality natural down quilt will be much lighter than a synthetic one of the same tog value.
Your choice of TOG should be governed by bedroom temperature, how warm you like to be and how much heat your body generates in a typical centrally heated house. Other factors such as sex, age and physical condition, will also help you to determine your needs. Since good quality down traps and reflects the heat that your body generates, it is important to know that everyone is unique when it comes to selecting an appropriate TOG rated product.
Tog is being superseded by new European regulations, for natural filled quilts only. Under the new European Norms (EN 12934), quilts will be labelled according to the % content of down and feather. A more precise indication of the heat value is identified by Temperature Comfort Ratings. Tog values will be dropped from sewn on labels in the near future and replaced by the EN 12934 'comfort temperature range'.
What is Fill Power?
Fill Power defines the amount of loft a specific down or blend of down has and may be calculated differently around the globe. Based in Europe we have adopted the EN-12131 method of measuring fill power (Height in cm3 per 20 grams).
Measuring 'Fill Power' determines how 'fluffy' or 'lofty' the down is. The higher the fill power, the more efficiently it traps air. The trapped air is warmed by body heat and keeps the sleeper comfortable. The actual test that is used to measure the down's loft involves filling and weighing a cylinder with 20 grams of down. A specially calibrated weight is then placed on top of the cylinder and is slowly allowed to fall onto the down for 60 seconds. The tester will observe the markings on the side of the cylinder where the weight stops and is solely supported by the down. The higher the fill power the loftier the down. The loft the down has, the better the insulating power. This test is performed again 24 hours later and the results are compared and averaged. Typical quality fill power is approximately 7 and can reach as high as 15 or more in premium down bedding. As fill power increases, the value of the down goes up significantly.
Fill power can be influenced by a variety of factors including: sitting in transit, humidity, temperature, static electricity and timing issues.
5 STEPS OF TESTING "FILL POWER"
The EN 12131 calculation is based on 20 grams of fill and is the norm that we use in rating our fills. The majority of Scandinavian feather and down companies has adopted this standard in measuring and reporting fill power.
The I.D.B.F rating is based on 30 grams of fill (approximately 1 ounce) and identifies closely with non-metric measures. It is commonly used throughout English speaking Europe to assist with the calculating of TOG values.
The I.D.B.F. - CUIN rating is the imperial equivalent to the I.D.B.F - 30g measures. These ratings are used to quote fill power in North America and are also commonly used in rating down filled sports gear.
"FILL POWER - RATINGS"
Temperature Comfort Ratings
There has been much controversy around the world, throughout the years, as to methods of how to accurately calculate a reliable and suitable 'Temperature Comfort Rating' for bedding. TOG was introduced in an effort to satisfy this need. However, when dealing with the various types of down and feather fills, the TOG-meter's assessment is confusing and lacks accuracy. A person's ultimate comfort is achieved by providing a thermal balance that will allow the body to rest comfortably for an 8-hour period. Today, after multiple studies from around the world, the key factors that are taken into consideration when calculating this 'Comfort Rating' include; environmental conditions, metabolism, sex, age, fitness and lifestyle. Although these are factors that often vary from individual to individual, the Temperature Comfort Rating has been calculated with the 'average person' in mind and is therefore intended for use as a guideline in selecting a duvet that is more suitable for your personal comfort.
Environmental conditions: The bedroom temperature is a fundamental factor in evaluating your primary needs. If the room's humidity levels are high, the thermal capacities of down will dwindle.
Metabolism: The higher the metabolic rate, the greater the heat output. Down traps and reflects this heat depending on the construction and design of the duvet.
Sex: On average, women are generally colder than men by approximately 5 degrees centigrade.
Age: The older a person is, the colder they are. This is simply due to the slowing down of metabolism which is age related.
Fitness: A heavier person has more natural insulation than a thin person.
Lifestyle: A person leading a busy lifestyle will burn more calories than the average person. Their metabolism is usually higher than the less active person. As a direct result of this, the more active person can tolerate cooler temperatures more comfortably.
Why do "Feather & Down Filled" product prices vary so much?
- Type of Down
- Classification of fill
- Cleaning Process
- Fabric/Shell Construction
Type of Down:
Primarily, Eider down is the most expensive of all down types. The Eider duck is classified as an endangered and protected species. The bird plucks the down from its chest area in order to line their nest. The high insulating power of their down allows for safe incubation of the eggs in extreme temperatures. The largest contingents of Eider ducks nest in Iceland and Greenland (around the 70th parallel). Once the nesting season has come and gone, only then may their down be harvested from the ground. An additional restriction that is implemented by wildlife protection allows for the harvesting of only 20% of the down nest, as the Eider will return to the same nesting area, year after year.
Therefore quantity limitations accompanied with the highly efficient thermal qualities of Eider down makes it the most expensive of down fills.
There are wide price variations when it comes to goose down as, depending on it's origins of habitat, the down from geese reared in northerly areas of the globe will provide a higher level of thermal efficiency. Another factor that affects pricing is the fill power that the down can offer. Geese, being large birds, grow large down clusters whereas down clusters from ducks are smaller in size and more clusters are required to match the fill power of goose down.
Each down cluster has a core in the centre that holds the down filaments together. Goose down is silkier than duck down because less individual clusters are required to reach a common level of thermal efficiency. A goose down filled item will feel silkier and be slightly lighter than a duck down filled item.
Duck down is usually the less expensive than goose down. There is an extremely high population that consumes duck as a regular part of their daily diets. This allows for an abundance of quality down that produces a respectable level of thermal efficiency. As a by-product of the poultry industry, superior Goose & Duck down is only harvested from mature birds that are commonly bred and farmed for their meat.
The least expensive down is derived from the 'Down Farming' industry. This practice breeds geese and duck explicitly for the down. Offering a supply of inexpensive and inferior down fills, a typical yield entails harvesting (plucking) down from live animals up to 5 times during their life span. A method that is rarely publicized, it unfortunately remains a common practice in many countries. At Beds of a Feather Ltd., all our fills are a by-product of the poultry industry only. We do not agree nor do we support the practice of down farming.
Oeko-Tex 100/1000 branding is a consumer warranty. It guarantees and certifies that our processes and products are in line with the greatest concern for humans and nature. Further we have committed ourselves to constantly striving for ecological improvements and frown upon 'Down Farming' practices and policies.
Don't be fooled, there is no such thing as a 100% pure down duvet. Warm air is used to sort the feather from the down and the rule of gravity is the decisive factor during this process. Lighter feather and down clusters will float to the top while heavier feathers will fall towards the ground. The process is repeated over and over again until the takings from each level are graded. The purest goose and duck down is 90-97%. There are always tiny feathers that weigh the same as a down cluster that will sneak into the blend.
Feathers are mixed in with down in an effort to offer the client a variety of thermal yields as well as reduce the price of an item.
Various types and blends of feather and down are classified according to content type, source, source age, cleanliness and condition. Regulated throughout Europe in accordance with the uniform European standard (EN 12934), natural fills must be analysed thoroughly in order to attain a reliable classification. These classifications have an important impact on pricing of end products.
Under the EN 12934 standard there are three classes of feather and down. Our products consist only of new down and feathers of the highest quality (Class I). The other two classes are for inferior qualities. If there is no information on "class", the product in question might be filled with Class III down/feather. Class III permits the use of more than 15% recycled down/feathers from old products that other people have slept in.
Price is affected by the method used in the processing and cleaning of feather and down. Depending on the manufacturing practices adopted, the feathers and down are usually sorted during the washing and drying process. Blend mixes are established for different markets.
BEWARE !... It has recently been reported that many manufacturers in eastern Europe and the Far East are cutting costs by incorporating a percentage of reclaimed (recycled) feather and down within their blends. This practice is strongly frowned upon as more often than not the reclaimed fills are unwashed. Known in the industry as 'couché', this type of fill is a threat to public health as this is fast becoming common practice. The IDFB, EFDA, Oeko-Tex and various respected agencies are fighting hard to stop this practice. It is now becoming more and more imperative that down and feather products be purchased from a reputable and registered manufacturer.
All our fills and fabrics are analysed by independent laboratories to ensure top hygienic and certified feather and down filled products.
All our fabrics are made of either down proof cotton or silk. The weave type and thread counts will vary and from product to product. The cost of each fabric type will also vary and is factored into the price of the finished product.