There are various types of downs utilized in the manufacture of naturally filled products – the most common ones, however, are the goose down and duck down. When it comes to outdoor gear, goose down has long been the standard for insulation. However, with ample supply and a lower price point, duck down has been making serious inroads.
In this duck down vs goose down comparison guide, you will get to know the differences and similarities existing between the two raw materials. By the time you reach the end of our goose down vs duck down guide, you should have a better idea of what to invest in the next time you need to buy a down jacket.
What is Duck Down?
Under the tougher exterior layer of feathers, ducks have a layer of fluffy feathers. The duck down is obtained from the fluffy feathers. Since most ducks are reared for food, duck down is usually obtained as a by-product. Duck downs are airy and soft due to the numerous fibers which radiate from its core.
The fundamental characteristics of duck down include:
- Breathable – This makes them ideal for filling duvets
- Soft – This is because they are extremely feathery
- Very warm – They are great thermal insulators
What is Goose Down?
Geese feature a layer of under plumage beneath the outer feathers which helps them stay warm and dry. Goose down is derived from the under plumage. Being soft and fluffy, the goose downs are used in duvets, sleeping bags, and pillows.
The fundamental characteristics of goose down include:
- They are luxuriously soft
- They are extremely breathable – They allow moisture to pass through and escape
- They feature excellent insulating properties
Goose Down vs Duck Down – An In-Depth Comparison
Now that you are familiar with what the goose down and duck down are, we will go ahead and weigh them against each other. This section of the duck down vs goose down comparison guide will take a deeper look at the characteristics of both materials.
Simply defined, fill power refers to a lab measurement of the backpacker’s or hiker’s 2 most important ratios – warm to compressibility, and warmth to weight. Fill ratings are derived from the number of cubic inches that an ounce of the down can fill.
When it comes to backpacking and hiking gear, mediocre fill power will begin at 500 while top-end apparel will feature a fill power of 900. Basically, the higher the fill power, the more favorable the 2 ratios.
Compared to the duck clusters, the goose clusters are naturally bigger – this is understandable considering that the goose is naturally bigger than the duck. Due to the bigger size, goose downs feature more robust and long-lasting fill power than the duck downs.
It is worth noting that the age of the bird plays a key role when it comes to filling power. The longer the life of the bird, the better developed its clusters become. Older birds offer more fill power.
Goose eat just grass and leaves. Ducks will consume almost everything. For this reason, goose tends to feature fewer issues regarding odor compared to ducks.
Downs are organic materials, and the presence of oil and fats is the reason they smell. No matter how clean your down jacket is, you may still sense some slight scent irrespective of whether the rain jacket is manufactured using duck or goose downs. However, due to the feeding habits of the ducks, the duck downs tend to have a more pronounced odor.
When it comes to comparing duck down vs goose down in terms of the price, the quality of the product plays a key role. Because of the higher fill power and minimal odor problems, the goose down is generally more expensive than the duck down. However, if by chance you come across a duck down featuring higher quality than the goose down, it may be more expensive.
In most instances, the price tends to fluctuate based on the availability of the clusters. In the seasons when the bird consumption is low, the supply of the clusters is usually limited and hence the prices naturally go up. People tend to eat the ducks more than the goose – this is another reason why the duck downs are cheaper than the goose downs.
When comparing goose down vs duck down in terms of the insulation, the key thing you need to note is that both feature the same comfort. The downs feature the same physical structure that is key for a useful insulator.
What this tells you is that goose down and duck down will offer the same amount of warmth once you grab your hiking backpack and get on your favorite hiking trail in the USA or other parts of the globe.
If you take good care of your down jacket, both the goose down and duck down are capable of lasting for a very long time. Generally, how long a down lasts is dependent on its quality, regardless of whether it is a duck down or a goose down.
The down quality is largely dependent on natural oil and fat content. There is a particular percentage of oil and fat that a bird is supposed to have so that the downs obtained from it can be both resilient and pliable.
During processing, care has to be taken to ensure that the downs are not over-washed. Over-washing may end up removing the oils and fats and hence making the down more brittle, as a result of the drying.
The goose and duck downs come in 2 main colors – mottled grey and white. If the downs are of the same type, the color does not have any effect on their performance. However, since most fabrics feature the white color, white-colored downs are generally more desirable.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Goose or Duck Down Product
At this point, you are already familiar with the main characteristics of the duck and goose down and how the 2 products measure against each other. In this section, we won’t be comparing duck down vs goose down – instead, we will show you some of the factors you may want to consider when choosing down products:
1. Shell Materials Used
The material and thread count used in the production of the fabric shell is extremely important. This is because they will determine how comfortable and soft the material will be against your skin.
An ideal shell material should feature a higher thread count and the ability to keep the down inside. This will ensure that the down stays protected and clean over the time when you will be using the product.
2. Quality of the Down
When comparing goose down vs duck down in the previous sections, we have mentioned that it is possible to have a high-quality product made from either the goose down or the duck down. When purchasing your outdoor gear, it is essential that you ensure your gear is manufactured using down featuring the best quality. The best down is supposed to be from the underbelly of mature ducks and geese.
3. Design and Construction of the Product
Irrespective of whether you are purchasing a jacket, a pillow, a sleeping bag, or a comforter, it is crucial that you consider the construction and design of the product. To give you an example, if you are purchasing a jacket to put on when hiking in cold weather, the 2 qualities will determine how warm the jacket will be.
If your goal is to purchase a comforter, it is important that you ensure the product is designed in a way that no down slips to the edges. If down slips to the edges, it will end up trapping heat on those edges and hence keeping warmth away from your body.
Before investing in any down product, consider its design and the effect that the design will end up having on the comfort and warmth of the product.
Globo Surf Overview
After going through our duck down vs goose down comparison guide, you have probably realized that both materials have limitations and benefits. This means that none of the materials can be considered 100% perfect.
Most outdoor enthusiasts consider 2 main things when choosing between goose down vs duck down – the price and comfort. If you are cost-conscious consumer, you may want to go with duck down considering that it is less expensive. However, if your comfort comes before how the wallet feels, then you may want to invest in the goose down products since they are cozier.
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- Duck vs. Goose, Standardfiber.com