Down seems to be sweeping the world as the "it" material right now. It's always had its uses in outdoor clothing and gear, but has mostly been seen in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. At Outdoor Retailer last month, one company or another was using down in every garment but boxer shorts. Here are some of the more interesting applications of goose feathers from the show.
Outdoor Research Down Beanies and Caps
What is that quote about losing 90 percent of your heat through your dome? Well, why wouldn't you want to protect it with the warm, soft, comfortable feel of a down beanie. Outdoor Research had both a down cap and beanie on display in a variety of colors. I tried the 650-fill Transcendent beanie on and have to admit it was warm--although the hot showroom floor wasn't exactly the place to put it to the test. A little goofy--but how many winter hats aren't goofy when all is said and done. Due out next fall for around 20 bucks.
Sierra Designs Gnar Down Skirts
Can't say that the down skirt will be the sexiest skirt in her closet, but since when is outdoor apparel designed for just looks. Sierra Designs' Gnar Down Skirt is designed to complement a pair of tights or ski pants in providing a little extra warmth around the nether regions. The skirt will retail for $99 beginning next fall. Shortly after that, expect to see a few bearded dudes at every ski area's locals' day wearing one.
Therm-a-Rest Alpine Down Blanket
Even lighter and less cumbersome than its Haven backless sleeping bag, the Therm-a-Rest blanket promises extra insulation for those cold winter nights--or use it in place of a sleeping bag when it's guaranteed to be warm at night. The box-baffled, 700-fill blanket is good down to 35 degrees F and provides a more natural, comfortable night of sleep when used with a warm mat. It weighs just 1 lb. 5 oz. and is already on sale for $250.
Patagonia Down Shirt
Launched last year, the Ultralight Down Shirt slides the advantages of down underneath your jacket. The 800-fill shirt weighs in at just 167g (just under 6 oz.). It's Patagonia's lightest insulating layer to date, and the natural, compacting nature of down should eliminate some bulk under the jacket and/or in the pack. For the winter show, Patagonia detailed an expanded line that will include a hoody and a heavier down jacket.
Eno Ember Underquilt
Okay, the Ember Underquilt isn't actually down. It's a synthetic. But the hammock-quilt was eye-catching enough to put on this list. And when I saw it, I swore it was down until I read the spec sheet. The Ember is not actually an insulated hammock, but instead a quilt designed to wrap around your hammock and provide comfortable, four-season insulation. The Ember has a sil-nylon shell, 30D ripstop nylon interior and a shock-cord around the top to close in around your body. Retail price is set at $175.
And while I wasn't able to find any down boxers (yet), I did a little Internet research and found no shortage of down long johns. Here's a pair from Cabela's that looks particularly toasty.