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Crux Torpedo sleeping bags use Polish goose down with a minimum fill-power of 850.

We use only Polish goose down because we can guarantee the integrity of the means of its collection, and the quality of the fill power. Poland bans both live-plucking and force-feeding practices, the two main areas of ethical concerns. Our supplier is a producer of goose-meat, their major export market being Germany. They have a vertical operation, which means they have complete control over the breeding, raising and killing processes of geese. Down is a very valuable by-product of their business.

Down works as an insulator by trapping air. The more air that is trapped, the greater the loft of the down. It is by this loft that the performance, or quality, of down can be measured. The volume a fixed quantity of down will occupy is commonly referred to as its Fill Power (FP).

Although the basic method of measuring fill power is consistent, there is no actual universal standard. Most down products are currently rated according to one of two systems, one European (the Lorch Fill Power standard recommended by the Swiss-based International Down and Feather Laboratory) and one American. Both systems measure fill power in cubic inches. The higher the number (i.e. the greater the volume), the greater the ability to trap air.

500–600 EU(530–640 US)Acceptable quality for mid-market products
600–700 EU(640–745 US)Minimum quality for performance products
700–800 EU(745–850 US)Excellent quality, best performance/price ratio
800+ EU(850+ US)Outstanding quality, limited availability, high price

Down with a fill power of 800+ is extremely good. While manufacturers occasionally quote figures of 860, 870 or even 880, we at crux believe that 850 is the highest quality that is consistently available.

Down comes from domestic birds (wild birds have down too, of course, but this is far more difficult to collect!). Domestic birds - chicken, turkeys, ducks, geese - are available all around the world, and the collection of down is practiced everywhere. To obtain a fill power of 500 or above, it is widely acknowledged that the best source of down is waterfowl - ducks or geese.

The common view is that goose down is best. In fact, at the lower end of the fill-power spectrum, e.g. at 600 FP, there is no difference between duck down and goose down. A duck down with a fill power above 750 is rare, however, and it is here that goose down truly comes into its own. For high-performance sleeping bags with fill powers greater than 750, the source of down will inevitably be geese.

Fill power can be highly variable even in the case of goose down, however. Environment and the age of the bird are two major determining factors in this respect. It is widely believed that the colder the climate, the better the quality of the down. This may be true, but it remains to be definitively proven and it certainly does not mean that high-quality down is not available from warmer climates - because it is.

The age of the bird is very important. Since down collection is usually a by-product of the meat industry, most down comes from (increasingly) young birds. However, the very best down - i.e. with a fill power of 750 or more - comes from mature birds, which have larger down clusters and more of them. Poland is recognised as the source of the best goose down in the world.

Down “quality” is often additionally expressed by the ratio of down to small feather, written as 90/10, 95/5 etc. This is of no relevance. If a fill power of 800 is quoted, then the actual mix of down to small feather is not only unimportant, but it stands to reason that the ratio is more likely to be 95/5 than 85/15.