Down Sleeping Bags: 50 Years of Innovation

Our first down sleeping bag was introduced 50 years ago. At the time, it represented a huge leap in performance for sportsmen seeking warmth, low weight and packability. First used in military sleeping bags during World War II, down is exceptionally warm, lightweight and compressible. Previous insulations such as wool and sheepskin were extremely bulky and heavy, so down represented a massive upgrade.

Out first down sleeping bag, introduced 50 years ago.

Despite this initial effectiveness, there was still plenty of room for improvement in the decades that followed. Higher-fill-power down was developed, which delivered more warmth with less material. Design improvements such as baffle stitching prevented settling and clumping, eliminating cold spots. Our product developers sought out new shell and lining materials to make the bags lighter, stronger and softer.

Our modern DownTek™ sleeping bags stay dry longer and dry faster.

But one drawback to down remained: its inability to insulate when wet. On multiday expeditions in high-humidity or damp conditions, the down would eventually absorb enough moisture to significantly lower the temperature rating of the bag, a potentially dangerous problem. Then our developers discovered DownTek™, an advanced nano technology that coats each down feather with a water-resistant polymer. Our DownTek-treated down sleeping bags stay dry longer and dries faster, making them the pinnacle of camping comfort technology.

What will the next 50 years bring? While we can’t say for sure, with our industry-leading developers on the case, we think it’s pretty safe to say there will be many more great innovations. Stay tuned.

  1. TW in Wisconsin | November 23, 2014 | 10:32 pm

    How difficult is it to contact the leadership of this company? I appreciate LLBean products but I have to let you know that I am disappointed. Long story short, my family moved to Wisconsin from North Carolina, and we were excited to get decked out in LLBean (my mother in law is from Kennebunkport so we have been to the flagship many times). We ordered quite a bit, coming close to $1K. I ordered the Baxter State Parka in Heather Gray. I always wear a medium but your jacket was like wearing a mumu. Someone is not doing their job in QC (just check the reviews). When I tried to replace it with a small, I was told it was back ordered until next summer? No stores, not online. This is unacceptable and a massive disappointment in LLBean. I know it is late in the season, but November is way early to be running out of jackets!!! I am being forced into buying a North Face jacket now unfortunately. Please correct the sizing and inventory issues and I hope to become a loyal customer once again.

    • Laurie | L.L.Bean | December 16, 2014 | 11:08 am

      Hi TW
      Thank you for contacting L.L.Bean. I have shared your feedback to our product developers. Please contact us at any time via 800-441-5713 or email Best, ^LB

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