Information on Duck Down Leakages in Sleeping Bags & Why It Happens

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Information on Duck Down Leakages in Sleeping Bags & Why It Happens
Duck down is a popular fill for sleeping bags. (white feather image by Jane from

Many campers use down-filled sleeping bags because of their superior insulating properties. Down-filled bags are particularly popular with backpackers because of their light weight and low bulk compared with synthetic-fill bags. Duck down is a popular fill for down sleeping bags because it is considerably cheaper than goose down. One downside of duck down sleeping bags is that down will sometimes leak out of the bag.

Duck Down

The fill used in duck down sleeping bags has two components: small feathers and down clusters, which are the fine, fluffy interior feathers of a duck. Manufacturers use a percentage ratio to specify the composition of a sleeping bag's fill. A typical duck down bag will have an 85:15 rating, meaning that the fill is 85 per cent down clusters and 15 per cent small feathers.

Sleeping Bag Construction

Most duck down sleeping bags have outer shells and interior liners made of high-quality, tightly woven fabrics. The tight weave prevents the down fill from leaking out. Manufacturers also sew strips of fabric into the bag to create boxlike compartments, according to outdoor gear manufacturer Alpkit. These compartments keep the fill in place, preventing it from accumulating in the bottom or sides of the bag. The stitches used to make these compartments create seams that may lead to feather leakages.

Down Leakage

Most of a duck down sleeping bag's fill consists of soft, puffy down clusters. Except for some minor leakage in new sleeping bags, these clusters usually do not escape. The sharp quills of the small feathers, however, often poke through seams, and the feather will eventually work its way out of the bag. Feathers may also pierce through the shell or lining of an old sleeping bag because wear and age have loosened the fabric's tight weave.


Don't be alarmed if you discover minor feather leakages from a duck down sleeping bag, particularly a new one. According to down sleeping bag manufacturer The North Face, "It is natural for some of the down and feathers to escape through the fabric, particularly in the seam." Minor fill leakages will not affect the insulating capacity of your sleeping bag.


To minimise feather leakage in your duck down sleeping bag, inspect your bag after each use. If you see a feather quill poking out, outdoor gear retailer REI recommends that you "pull the down back through the underside of the fabric and massage the fabric and down underneath." This will return the feather to its compartment and help reseal the opening in the seam or fabric.

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