An inflatable and durable vest that uses air and recycled bottles
Are you OK with wearing duck and goose down in your winter jacket? You probably shouldn’t be; down is a byproduct of the meat industry, but worse, it often involves ‘live-plucking’ and comes from geese that were used to make foie gras. Cue the Zero Down Vest, which achieves an ethical stance no other outdoor company apparently can by producing a jacket that uses as its insulating material just air and yarn made from recycled bottles. Great, but is it any good?
Zero Down Vest: design
Look, no feathers! Now on Kickstarter, Hong Kong-based Zero Down’s latest is an air-filled winter vest that replaces feathers with inflatable air chambers. Close to the top-left side of the jacket is a small tube and air nozzle; the user blows into it and – hey presto! The vest fills with air. The vest itself is made from a soft material fashioned from 8.8 recycled plastic bottles.
Zero Down Vest: performance
The vest is easy to inflate to various levels depending on how cold you are, though if you fill it up to the max expect to feel a little constricted. Best left slightly under-filled with air, the material it’s made of also feels really durable (as a bonus, it’s extremely water repellant, too). Does it have the same heat retainability as duck and geese down? If you’re talking about a lightweight jacket, then yes it does (worn in near-freezing temperatures), though we’re not convinced it competes with an extra-thick down jacket.
As a bonus, it weighs just 375g, so could work as part of a capsule wardrobe when traveling light, and even better, it packs away into its own internal pocket.
Zero Down Vest: conclusion
An ethical alternative to down, the Zero Down Vest uses air to create an insulation layer, and for the most part, it works well. Our only criticism is that it feels a little tight when filled with air.
Price as reviewed: US$159