Down-filled jackets are ideal for lightweight insulation on outdoor adventures, but active use can result in damage. If this happens to you, there’s no need to panic. From DIY fixes to professional repairs, there are multiple options to bring your coat back into action.
Down jackets are chosen for their impressive warmth-to-weight ratio. The down feather filling traps heat close to the body without bulk. These jackets are highly compressible, making them ideal for packing as a versatile layer for changing weather conditions.
Related: Which The North Face jacket should I choose for warmth?
On the mountain or the trail, your clothing is at risk of damage. Sharp rock edges, thorny branches or even your own crampons can cause rips or tears in your jacket. Hot embers from campfires can burn small holes in the outer lining.
When you notice damage to your down jacket, act immediately to prevent the hole from becoming larger. If down is escaping from the hole, avoid the instinct to pull it out - this will drag large amounts of the fill with it. Instead, push the down back in as much as possible and then consider how to seal the tear.
How do you fix a tear in a down jacket?
To fix a tear in a down jacket, follow this step-by-step process:
Push loose down back into the jacket
Clean the area around the tear. Use an alcohol-based cleaner to remove grease as well as visible dirt
Cut your patch or repair tape to size, to completely cover the hole (tip: circular shapes are better as there are no hard edges to catch and loosen over time).
Lay the jacket on a flat surface
Apply the patch, smoothing out any wrinkles
If damage occurs when you need to keep moving, duct tape or other repair tape can quickly seal the hole. This may not look great, but it will do the job of holding the outer skin together. Duct tape can be hard to remove, especially if you are considering professional repairs at a later date.
For a neater finish, self-adhesive repair patches can be used to cover holes. Ensure that the material is clean, dry and flat before applying the patch across the hole. Do not try to sew the hole together yourself. The lightweight, technical materials used in the outer layers of insulating jackets are likely to rip further with a needle and thread.
Before attempting your own fix, consider a professional repair service. When you have invested in high-performance clothing, a quality repair will give you peace of mind on your next adventure.
Prevention is better than cure for damaged jackets, so start by purchasing a durable coat with a tough outer coating. Ripstop fabric is used in The North Face Heritage Ripstop Down Parka. This technology adds reinforcement yarns in the weaving process. The end product enhances resistance to tearing and ensures that small holes will not spread across the jacket.
Ripstop technology is also a key feature of The North Face Women’s Himalayan Down Jacket, adding durability to the essential combination of weight and warmth.
How to fix a down jacket after washing
After washing your jacket, the down can clump together inside the lining. To fix this issue, dry your garment on a low heat setting, adding some tennis balls or dryer balls. The balls will separate and fluff up the feathers as they dry, maintaining their insulating properties.
The light down feathers inside a jacket absorb moisture easily and are difficult to dry thoroughly. When the down gets moist, it can clump together, resulting in an uneven distribution inside the lining.
To maintain an even spread of down within the jacket, start by checking the manufacturer's washing instructions. In a washing machine, this will usually include a cool wash with no fabric softener and a low spin cycle. Some jackets require hand washing, so check your label.
If you are not using a tumble dryer, then put the jacket on a flat surface to air dry. Hanging it vertically will cause the wet feathers to sink down to the bottom of the garment. As your jacket dries, you should knead the clumps, using your fingers to break the feathers apart.
With a jacket that has been washed and dried and is already lumpy, start the washing process again. This time, add tennis balls to the washer and dryer to encourage the break up of any clumps.
Down jackets are a versatile and effective piece of clothing when you need lightweight comfort and warmth. Choose a North Face down jacket that is tough enough to last a long time and, combined with the simple repair techniques in this guide, you can concentrate on enjoyment and performance.