Northern goose down is the finest insulating material known to man–at least for clothing to keep you alive under the worst conditions. Down is the ultra-fine, almost weightless plumage that lies between the skin and the outer feathers of ducks and geese. It’s at its best in Arctic waterfowl, and the term ‘eiderdown’ is found in accounts of Arctic exploration going back centuries, the eider being a duck common to Scandinavia. Any material that can insulate a swimming bird in the frigid waters of the Arctic must be good insulation.
Although feathers and down have been traditional materials for quilts and comforters for eons, down presents two major problems when used in clothing: First, it tends to settle, clumping in one spot; and second, it is very difficult to confine with even the finest stitching.
In 1936, a Seattle sporting-goods dealer named Eddie Bauer solved both problems, perfecting not only a method of quilting articles of clothing to hold the down in place, but also a means of keeping the pesky little down fibers from worming their way out of the garment.
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