A lot of people want to know if down blankets are good for camping. Here’s what I think.
Down blankets are great for camping because it is warm and extremely durable, yet breathable. And its hypoallergenic properties help them stay clean while outdoors. Down naturally regulates body temperature allowing you to sleep without waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat.
Last but not least, down is a renewable resource that would otherwise be thrown away if not repurposed.
What is Down?
Down is the ﬂuffy soft feather-like material that grows beneath a bird’s outer feathers. Goose down is the most sought-after for bedding. Down from geese typically are grouped together in larger clusters than other types of down, which means a higher ﬁll power (measurement of the loft of the down, or the amount of space the down takes up when it is ﬂuffed up to it’s maximum). The higher ﬁll power of down is what makes it warmer and softer than other feather or blanket materials.
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Breathability of Down
The breathability of down blankets is great compared to other blanket materials, making it a great choice for camping. It’s moisture wicking properties allows sweat to escape, keeping you dry and not too warm all throughout the night. This means that your down blanket will make your camping sleeping experience comfortable because you won’t wake up sticky from using sleeping bags that seal you in and don’t allow moisture to escape.
I remember one cold camping night where I hunkered down in my sleeping bag to stay warm, just to wake up in the middle of the night freezing and wet from sweat. A down blanket would’ve helped me stay warm and dry by allowing perspiration to escape while keeping the heat in my bag.
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Hypoallergenic Properties of Down Blankets
The hypoallergenic properties of down blankets make them great for camping, especially to those who suffer from respiratory issues. Down’s breathability and moisture-wicking properties are what helps prevent dust mites and other air contaminants from settling in the blanket.
Those suffering from asthma and seasonal allergies can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep thanks to their down blankets locking out harmful foreign elements that are absorbed by other types of blanket materials.
Body Temperature Regulation
I can barely stay cool when I sleep with even the lightest of blankets, so keeping a comfortable body temperature is extremely important. Down’s lightweight allows the blanket to cover you without making you feel weighed down, which allows space for your skin to release moisture.
Down’s superb breathability allows that sweat to escape. Perspiration is you’re body’s way of regulating it’s temperature, so these properties help your body stay at the perfect temperature. Not too cold, not too warm, but just the right temperature for sleeping during your camping trip.
Ready to ﬁnish your day of camping with some cloud cover? We’re not talking about the weather here. Down’s softness is enough to lull me to sleep after an exhausting hike or taxing day at the campsite. Down does not contain the hard, pointy quill that feathers have, allowing it to softly conture to your body or skin. The soft, coziness of down blankets make it the perfect addition to your packing list for your next camping trip.
Down blankets deliver supreme softness despite the fact that you can pack it, shove it, and compress it without hurting the overall integrity of your blanket. Down goes through much abuse while it is attached to geese. High winds during ﬂight, and big impacts upon landing in water are just an example of the stress that goose down is subjected to while attached to geese.
Down still maintains its integrity and positive properties despite the abuse. The durability of down blankets make it so you can stuff it in a bag, roll it up, or crumple it and it will still stay just as soft, breathable, and warm as before. Down blankets can cost more than other camping blankets, however, with proper care, they are an investment that will last longer than other camping blankets.
Camping enthusiasts are generally nature enthusiasts as well, so it makes sense to use camping gear, and blankets, that won’t have negative effects on Mother Earth. Down is an eco-friendly ﬁber that keeps you warm while keeping you dry while you sleep.
Natural down comes primarily from 2 sources: byproduct of poultry production or reclaimed from geese nests.
Down as a Byproduct
The majority of down comes from the processing of geese that are eaten in North America, Europe, and China, accounting for ~80% of the global down supply. Like cow leather, geese are not raised speciﬁcally for their down, it’s a byproduct that would have been thrown away if it weren’t used for things like down camping blankets.
The difference between byproducts like cow leather versus geese down is live-plucking. The name says it all, they pluck the down from geese while they are still alive.
Live-plucking is banned in the US & many European countries, however, China and other Eastern European countries still use this practice. Despite this process being extremely painful for the geese, some have claimed that over 50% of the global down supply is from live-plucked geese.
Geese naturally shed their down, and some companies use this down especially when their brand is concerned with how animals are treated. This is dramatically increases the cost of down, however, one can sleep soundly knowing that no geese were hurt in the production of their camping blankets. There is no difference in the effectiveness of either method of down collection
Regardless of the method of collection, down is still something that would otherwise be thrown away if it did not have more practical uses in our camping blankets, comforters, and pillows.
Disadvantages of Down for Camping
Down is a great material for camping blankets, however, it’s not perfect. Down loses its power to insulate when it gets wet. Down wicks moisture, it does not repel it, so it takes a considerable amount of time to dry once it gets wet.
Cleaning your down camping blanket takes special care, and most instructions tell you to clean it sparingly in order to maintain the positive properties of down. Down is also more expensive than other synthetic materials like foam. As mentioned above, most down is sourced by inhumane needs.
Synthetic Materials vs Down
Some people prefer to choose synthetic materials for their camping blankets for multiple reasons, however, the main 2 reasons are due to budget and animal friendliness. Synthetic materials are cheaper than down, however, they are not as
effective as natural materials when it comes to insulation, moisture wicking, softness, and durability. Animal-loving, campers (ME) prefer synthetic materials over natural down due to the live-plucking practice that is used to produce the mosf of the down products we purchase.
Down Blankets are a Great Choice for Camping
Down materials are one of my top choices for camping blankets for many reasons including: best breathability, hypoallergenic properties, it’s ability to regulate body temperature, and renewability as a resource.
Rest assured that down blankets will get the job done on your next camping adventure.
Alex Mwangi is the creator of Outdoor Right and an outdoor enthusiast. During his free time he enjoys riding his road bike or traveling the world looking for his next adventure.