Water repellent and much more

Down is warmer, lighter and more compressible for its weight than any other insulating fiber – natural or synthetic. The drawback: When wet, down loses its ability to loft and insulate. For this reason, the development of water-repellent down has been a holy grail for outdoor companies for decades.

For the first time water-repellent down garments are now available from several manufacturers. Patagonia, however, has taken a unique approach, one that not only produces water-repellent down, but also delivers a significant, additional advantage no one else can provide: an off-the-charts fill power of 1000.

Encapsil™ technology, Patagonia’s proprietary plasma process, safely and dramatically increases our down’s loft, its warmth for weight, and its strength and water resistance. Plasma treatment not only modifies the molecular structure of the down fiber to make it more hydrophobic, but also strengthens the delicate, complex tree-like structure of the down. This in turn boosts the down’s lofting power by more than 25 percent. Encapsil™ technology is unique to Patagonia; the plasma-treated down technology, process and manufacturing equipment are all patent-pending.

Down’s insulating power comes from its loft. Tiny spaces of air trapped between the down plumes are warmed by body heat to form a “pillow” of warmth that surrounds you. Loft is measured as fill power, the number of cubic inches one ounce of down will fill. Patagonia incorporates 800-fill-power goose down in the garments we make for alpine uses. One ounce of 800-fill-power down treated with Patagonia’s Encapsil™ technology carries an unprecedented fill power of 1000, providing more loft and more warmth with the same amount of down.

Encapsil™ technology uses safe, silicone-based chemistry. The down is sent through a vacuum and agitated with low-level radio frequency waves until the down’s molecular structure begins to shift. A tiny amount of siloxane is then deposited onto each plumule, adhering to its changed molecular structure in a virtually permanent synthesis to make it hydrophobic, stronger and more efficient.