• Can Sleeping on Your Rope Cause Damage?
  • Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • What's the Point of Spotting Highball Boulder Problems?
  • Closet Car: Is it Safe to Store Climbing Gear in Your Vehicle?
  • Do Twists in a Figure-8 Knot Reduce Its Safety?
  • Can a Belay Device Jam Open?
  • Marking the Middle of a Rope
  • Fitting Rock Shoes to Problematic Feet
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • When Your Partner Steals Your Gear...
  • Can You Climb on a Wet Rope?
  • Can You Decrease Fall Factor?
  • Should You Be Allowed to Practice Lead Falls in the Gym?
  • Rope Certifications: Twins, Doubles, or Both?
  • Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • More, on the EDK
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • Can You Recommend A Self-Release Knot?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
  • Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?
  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
  • Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?
  • Can You Use Cams As Passive Pro?
  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
  • Am I Using a Daisy Chain Wrong?
  • Should I Buy a Plastic or Foam Helmet?
  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Trouble With Glue-In Bolts
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
  • How Durable is Trad Gear?
  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
  • The Worst Gear Ever Invented
  • Rap Ring Strength
  • Spinners and Losers
  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
  • Is it Ethical to Clean a New Route?
  • Aid Climbing = Moped Riding
  • Cam Care and Maintenance Guide
  • Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are My Modified Crampons Safe?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip Ice Screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • How to Place Ice Tools and Crampons - Will Gadd's Tips
  • How to Place Ice Screws - Will Gadd's Tips
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your Fingertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • How to Hand Drill
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Will sports drinks freeze more slowly than water?
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
  • Video Spotlight
    WIDE BOYZ: Spradventure (Full Film)
    WIDE BOYZ: Spradventure (Full Film)
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

    Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?


    I have a goose-down jacket, which I really like because it is so light and warm, but I'm wondering if they have to kill the goose to get the feathers.

    Geese aren't sheep. Their feathers are plucked only after the goose has been slaughtered, harvested for its liver and meat. Down insulation is simply an efficient use of a byproduct, one that is no more likely to raise the bile of PETA than the making of bologna.

    The liver is the most prized part of the goose, being sold for upwards of $200 a pound as foie gras, or fatty liver. Ancient Egyptians learned that they could fatten migratory waterfowl such as geese and ducks by force feeding them. A gorged bird can have a plump, buttery liver up to 12 times larger than normal, producing up to three pounds of the organ coveted by the gastronome. For centuries, the French (and now the Chinese) have used a similar fattening process called gavage, or to gorge, where they place a tube in the bird's throat and shovel down the groceries. Up to four pounds of grain mash are pumped into the bird two to three times a day. Here in America, we have a similar process, except we call it Happy Meal and practice on small children instead of birds. When the goose reaches maximum plumpness, it gets axed. The bird's proverbial golden egg, its liver, goes to the cannery, the unctuous flesh is peddled at market and the down is sold as insulation.

    Feeling faint? Consider eiderdown. This insulation from the wild eider duck of Iceland is plucked from the female's breasts or gathered from the nest lining, where the soft feathers protect the young birds from the Arctic cold. In this case the bird is not harmed and the feathers are collected only after the chicks have left the nest.

    Eiderdown, although from ducks, which typically do not produce down that can compete with that from a goose, is highly compressible yet has fantastic loft and a unique hook design that interlocks the plumes, minimizing shifting, the bane of all feather insulation. Shamans even claim that eiderdown can heal. Eiderdown is rare and spendy. Less than 9,000 pounds are produced annually and one nest produces just half an ounce -- there are more Ferraris than eiderdown jackets. Usually reserved for luxury comforters, eiderdown broke into the climbing world in 1982 when a Russian team wore BASK eiderdown parkas on Everest.

    Both goose and duck down is valued for its fill power. Outside the world of smut, fill power is the amount of cubic inches one ounce of down can occupy. The higher the fill power, the better the down will insulate. Down with a fill power of 600 or greater is excellent, and 700 is standard in the climbing industry, where you can find claims as high as 850.

    You may notice over time that your down jacket or sleeping bag has lost some of its loft. Loft reduction doesn't mean that the plumage has collapsed. Down, like the stubble on your chin, is made from keratin, a tough fibrous protein with a nearly infinite shelf life: Feathers thousands of years old have been found in Egyptian tombs. Rather, down loses loft  because your body grease is coating it. A washing can restore it, or ruin it if you do it wrong.

    Hand wash a down jacket or bag in a bathtub filled with warm water. Use a gentle soap like Ivory Flakes or a special down soap, available at most climbing shops. Submerge the item and carefully knead the down. Washing is easy; rinsing and drying, like cheating on your taxes, take a lot of time to do right. Rinse the bag in warm water two, three or more times until you are certain it is fully rinsed. Drain the tub, then fold the jacket or bag, and carefully press out the water. Lift the sopping thing out of the tub, set it in a washing machine, and run the spin cycle to centrifuge out most of the water. Toss it in a dryer, and dry on low, checking often to make sure the bag isn't getting hot. When the down clumps, gently pull the clumps apart.  Finish with a two- or three-day air dry. Hibachi!


    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article: