Poll Reveals Outdoor Enthusiasts Prefer Down-Free Insulation

The Coleman Company Ends Sales of All Down Products

For Immediate Release:
December 12, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

A new poll shows that a majority of skiers, snowboarders, campers, and climbers, among other outdoor sports enthusiasts, are happy to choose products with synthetic insulation over duck or goose down and would shop at stores that don’t offer any down products. PETA—after uncovering cruelty to birds who are violently force-fed or plucked alive for the down feathers used in jackets and sleeping bags—commissioned Harris Interactive, a leading market-research firm, to poll outdoor enthusiasts about the advanced synthetic materials on the market today.

The online poll of 307 active outdoor enthusiasts ages 18 to 45 who have bought insulated products found that 80 percent of those shopping for insulated outerwear and/or sleeping bags will shop at stores that don’t offer down. After reading a description stating that some birds used for down are force-fed for foie gras (a process in which feeding tubes are manually inserted into their throats and their stomachs are pumped so full that their livers swell to up to 10 times their normal size) or plucked while they’re still alive (meaning that workers hold the birds down and rip their feathers out by hand), the percentage of these outdoor enthusiasts who would shop at a store that doesn’t sell down jumped to 88 percent. Similarly, after reading the description of the practices of the down industry, 82 percent of these outdoor enthusiasts said that they are likely to choose synthetics over down. Even prior to reading the description, 81 percent said that synthetic insulation works as well as down.

The poll results reflect the current industry trend: The Coleman Company, the world’s leading outdoor gear manufacturer, has just become the first such company to agree never to use down again after being contacted by PETA. Modern synthetics, which keep you warm even when wet, are light, packable, machine-washable, and animal-friendly. The North Face recently launched its most innovative synthetic to date—Thermoball technology, which is constructed of low-weight, individual high-loft clusters that mimic down and offers a superior warmth-to-weight ratio. Furthermore, each year, Outside magazine awards eight pieces of gear its prestigious Gear of the Year award. This year, it selected one piece of insulated gear, Outdoor Research’s Halogen jacket, which is 100 percent synthetic.

“Retailers should take note of the poll and Coleman’s compassionate decision: Once shoppers and manufacturers learn how geese and ducks have tubes rammed down their throats or have their feathers violently ripped from their bodies, they swear off down-filled products for good,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “High-tech synthetics are lightweight, lofty, warm, and more durable than feathers—and they’re far kinder to birds.”

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of PETA USA between September 5 and 11, 2013 among 307 outdoor enthusiasts, defined as U.S. residents ages 18 to 45 years who participated in hiking/backpacking, camping, mountain climbing/mountaineering, or snow sports at least twice in the past year, own insulated outerwear or a sleeping bag for outdoor recreation and have spent at least $100 on these items, shop at outdoor specialty stores, and identify as someone who leads an active lifestyle and enjoys the outdoors. This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, is available upon request.

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