Patagonia's New Silent Down Coats Push Environmental Standards Even Higher

©. Patagonia (used with permission)

Recycled fabric, down insulation, and fair-trade sewing make this a top pick if you're in the market for a new coat.

Patagonia has, once again, hit the nail on the head with some gorgeous new products – the Silent Down collection of winter coats. The outdoor gear retailer has always prioritized ethics and sustainability in its product design, but this new line reflects an effort to push those environmental standards even higher. So if you're in the market for a new winter coat, this is definitely one to consider.

The collection features a parka and a jacket for women and a jacket and shirt for men (the shirt is a lighter, snap-down front version of the jacket). The exterior of all these models is made from 70 percent recycled polyester taffeta with a DWR finish, and the insulation is 100 percent recycled 700-fill down, salvaged from old duck and goose down products that would otherwise go to waste. As Patagonia explains on its website,

"[The down is] reclaimed from cushions, bedding and other used items that can’t be resold. The reclaimed down is washed, using detergent and thermal water at 34 degrees Celsius, then dried at 135 degrees Celsius (20 minutes longer than the industry standard), making it hypoallergenic. Recycled Down offers the identical performance benefits to virgin down."

All sewing is Fair Trade-certified, which means factories meet rigorous standards for health, safety, and the environment; workers earn living wages and get paid maternity leaves; there is no child or forced labor; and an annual premium allows workers to build other projects, such as health care programs, child care centers, or communal kitchens.

Patagonia Silent Down men's shirt

© Patagonia (used with permission)

It's the name I really want to talk about, though. 'Silent Down' refers to the fabric's surprisingly quiet sound. There is none of that swish-swish noise that's normally heard when someone is wearing a polyester coat. Instead, it's pretty much silent; you'll only hear a slightly muffled sound under the arms.

Even more appealing, though, is the appearance and feel of the outer fabric. This is a jacket that I cannot resist stroking every time I walk past it. I've noticed my husband has the same reaction; he's always reaching out to touch it. It feels matte, soft, nicely broken in.

The women's jacket, which is the one I wear daily, has sleeves with wide openings, but there's an elasticized inner sleeve cuff to keep in the heat. As someone with unusually long arms, the sleeves fit perfectly, which is a relief. The short, adjustable hemline sits just below the top of my mid-rise jeans); I like to cinch it tightly to keep it cozy inside.

W's silent down parka

© Patagonia (used with permission)

The only mild criticism I have is that the jacket style is a bit boxy-looking, thanks to the wide baffles, but I suppose one isn't going for a tapered, slim look when one chooses to wear a puffy down jacket! I've noticed a few feathers poking through the soft polyester, but not many, and that's just something that comes with wearing down.

While I don't think you should rush out and buy this coat just because it's beautiful and meets impressive sustainability criteria – that goes against the whole TreeHugger ethos – it is wonderful to know that companies like Patagonia are making such forward-thinking products for when we really do need them. When products like this exist, there's really no argument whatsoever for buying a non-recycled, non-fair-trade coat.

Well done, Patagonia, once again. Check out Silent Down here.