Apr 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm #1301791
I know there have been threads where people have mentioned the Tundra company, but I can't say that I have read about anyone actually owning one of their products. I have transitioned through a few Western Mountaineering bags and a Marmot Hydrogen. I have read about and seen footage of down procurement practices from the major suppliers in Hungary and Allied Feather & Down in California, and while I wasn't happy about using down in the past, upon learning more I decided it was out of the question. I was left researching for the lightest, most efficient synthetic sleeping bag in the 30-35 degree range. Of course, there is no comparison between a lightweight down bag and a lightweight synthetic bag in terms of weight….there are just apples and oranges.
This led me to research more and I came to find out about a handful of companies that procure their down from Eider geese in a non-invasive humane manner. As I understand the bags that Tundra makes do not use Eider down, but rather hand collected down from another species of goose in Poland. As per Tundra's web site:
"So we set out to source our down in a gentler way and discovered a special down in Poland. This is collected from the nests of birds that are kept for breeding and live on rivers, lakes and open farm land, moulting naturally four times a year. This naturally moulted down is then hand collected from the nests without disturbing the birds who are allowed to live to a ripe old age, doing what birds do naturally in the wild.
This last detail is very important for two reasons
The natural rights of the birds are not challenged in the collection of the down.
You get a higher fill power and a better quality down from mature birds, which need to be three to four years old to produce fully developed, high quality down clusters."
I purchased the bag from outdoorgb.com and with shipping here to the US the price was right in line with a comparably rated Western Mountaineering bag…actually less.
It came fully compressed in it's stuff sack and upon taking it out I was very disappointed. While I didn't expect the down to fluff up immediately, it was the flattest, least lofting bag I had ever seen upon removal from the stuff sack. Fifteen minutes later it still looked like a pancake…barely 1" high. I have since had the bag out, fluffed out, and slept in and it has finally lofted fully to approximately 3-3.25inches. It is my belief that Tundra ships their bags from the manufacturing facility in a stuffed condition (as opposed to, for example, WM bags that I have always seen as in their larger storage bags). While it took a while to fully loft initially, now it rebounds normally upon removing it from a stuffed sack condition for eight to ten hours (representative of hiking time).
"The bags dimensions and some particulars are as follows, quoted from an e-mail to me from a Tundra rep:
The should width is 82cm tapering down to 60cm for the foot
The total weight is 620 grams with the fill weight 260 g and the shell weighing 360
As it is such a light fill there is no side baffle so you can always shake the down on the top if it gets a little cold
As US retailers are not very interested in Ethical Products You can buy from http://www.outdoorgb.com"
So, as you can see its a pretty wide bag at 64" at the shoulders and a quoted 46" for the footbox. The measures weight of my bag is right on at 22oz. Claimed weight of down fill is 260g or 9.1oz.
Due to the rather large dimensions the loft is not as impressive as on a WM Summerlite for example. Having owned one I can attest to the true "puffed up" and semi firm nature due to the down being in close quarters. The down is claimed to be 860 fill power (yes…860, not 850).
All in all I'm very happy with the bag so far. I have slept in it indoors, albeit with all the windows in the room open to drop the temp to the upper 40's, where of course I am confortable. The bag is rated for 32 degrees as a lower limit and around 43 degrees as comfortable. I plan to push it into the 30's with supplemental clothing.
Above all I am extremely happy with the fact that birds were not harmed to product this product, but I still enjoy the benefits of down insulation. I hope anyone in the market for a mid to low 30 degree rated bags will use this overview as some basis on which to feel more comfortable pulling the trigger on this brand.
Below are images of the bag and captions detailing particulars of the shot.
Hang loops, "double stuffed footbox". Black material is water"proof" fabric
Distance of zipper to end of bag. Nice detail – that triangle is stuffed very well with down to prevent cold air seepage.
I tried to get an average height area. There were of course peaks and valleys. This is with all down shifted in baffles to top layer.
This gives you an idea of the "double stuffed" footbox. Very similar to many WM bags.
Single drawcord for hood closure. Hood is more separate from bag body and contoured than some.
Bag open. You can see all the down has been shifted off of the bottom.
I found the draft tube to be stuffed very well and of excellent size/coverage.
Cotton storage sack is rather small. Stuff sack has unique bag in bag design. I'm assuming to let you choose how much you want to compress the bag / how much room you require in your backpack.Apr 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm #1977148
Thanks for this review. Like you, I have misgivings about the way down is harvested by the major suppliers. This bag seems like a good option, but I would find it more tempting if the baffles were overfilled a bit and it had a lighter shell material. If the fill weight/shell weight ratio was a little higher, I would choose this bag over a WM.
I wish ethical down was available in small quantities to cottage companies and the MYOG crowd. It would be great to be able to choose the ethical down option when ordering gear from Goosefeet or Zpacks, and it would be nice to be able to use it for MYOG stuff.Apr 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm #1977157
So these are captive birds, correct? Then how are they allowed to live like wild birds and remain captive? They are being imprisoned, it may be a very nice prison, but still being detained from following their natural migration patterns in conjunction with seasonal changes in weather.
There are only two ways to keep water fowl from flying away. The most humane is to cut/damage the primary feathers of the birds so they can not take flight. This however is rare. Most farmers actually take nail clippers to the tips of the wings when they are cute little fuzzy goslings and chicks and cut them off. This prevents the primary feathers from ever growing so the birds never even get to learn how to fly. It's analogous to clipping off the entire last digit of an infant's finger to keep fingernails from growing. Regardless of which process is being used the natural rights of the birds are being infringed. A bird that can't fly (assuming it's not inherently flightless) is not living to its full potential in the least. Flight is their primary freedom.
Don't delude yourself, there is no eating of cake when we co-opt animals for our own purposes. We keep our dogs from running wild in the neighborhood and force them into a life of celibacy when spade and neutered, all of which is good stewardship as pet owners.
Get over it. The fact that you live necessitates that others suffer. Our vegetable foods are planted on land that could be wilderness and the food grown could feed countless animals. The water you drink has been diverted from once healthy riparian habitats and is often stored in artificially flooded canyons that used to be home to unique micro-ecosystems.
You're trying to appease some kind of misplaced moral guilt. If you want to minimize your impact, move to a tropical region where our bodies are well adapted and need minimal gear to survive. Otherwise make peace with your impact and just try to weigh the pros and cons, because there's no choice you can make that won't have a negative impact on some creature that has arguable moral rights.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:22 am #1977163
@pitsyLocale: Central Texas
Production of synthetic insulation certainly damages the environment.
A good down bag, properly cared for, will last a long time.
I'm glad we're having this discussion; the ethics of down and wool products has been on my mind lately.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:44 am #1977167
TJ ChristopherBPL Member
Yeesh, negative much?
I couldn't find further info on this particular source of down except that the birds are free range. That probably means at least their wings are clipped, either permanently (more likely) or seasonal feather trimming.
Either way, it certainly seems more humane than the standard practice of down collection. I don't buy the argument that if the animal suffers at all, then it's pointless to take their treatment into account. If the process can be made less cruel, then why not? If the product ends up more expensive, then each consumer gets to weigh the pros/cons versus the regular product.
The OP is concerned with the ethical treatment of animals, he found a product, voted with his money, and ended up satisfied with the product. Seems pretty reasonable.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:54 am #1977168
Troy HawkinsBPL Member
While I agree with Dustin to some degree, I think it's more about minimization of impact for Carl.
A bird that, potentially (as we don't have proof either way) has had it's feathers clipped is still a living bird.
Kind of like how some people choose to be vegetarian rather than vegan.
How far down the rabbit's hole do you want to go?Apr 16, 2013 at 9:55 am #1977276
"You're trying to appease some kind of misplaced moral guilt. If you want to minimize your impact, move to a tropical region where our bodies are well adapted and need minimal gear to survive. Otherwise make peace with your impact and just try to weigh the pros and cons, because there's no choice you can make that won't have a negative impact on some creature that has arguable moral rights."
Your argument is not new to anyone. Most of us tried believing it for a while as teenagers, until it became clear that it is preposterous. The slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy. If something can't be made perfect (if our environmental impact can't be reduced to zero), it shouldn't be improved at all?
If there was a special grease with performance better than Hydropel and it could only be harvested from a broth produced by boiling live monkeys, I would have misgivings about buying it. And I'll bet that you would, too. Moral guilt? Yep. Misplaced moral guilt? No.
You're right that being alive requires using resources that could otherwise go to other living things, and most of our activities also result in direct harm to other living things beyond usurping resources. I think Carl is just interested in reducing that harm. Why shouldn't he (or we) reduce it, if we can? When we have a choice between things to do (or things to buy), and we are, as you said, weighing the pros and cons, please explain why we should not consider low-harm a pro for those options that have it.Apr 16, 2013 at 9:58 am #1977277
Link .BPL Member
+1 on what Colin said "If something can't be made perfect (if our environmental impact can't be reduced to zero), it shouldn't be improved at all?"Apr 16, 2013 at 10:12 am #1977282
Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: So. California
Nice I am glad you like your purchase. It sounds like you bought this over what you thought was an equivalent WM bag, but this bag ended up having a bit less down. Is that correct?
What unethical practices are you referring to in the down industry? I went to Allied feather and down's website and there is a lot of talk about certification process for sourcing there feathers from dead birds. They seem to put much emphasis on not using live plucking methods. Have you found evidence this is not the case? Or, by unethical practices are you referring to sourcing the feathers from foie gras manufacturers?
Also, it surprises me that cottage gear guys are completely unable to source small quantities of ethical down to offer as an option to there customers.Apr 16, 2013 at 11:10 am #1977307
Avery SBPL Member
If I feel bad that my lifestyle creates too much carbon dioxide, which is contributing to alteration of the global climate, I can purchase offset credits at places like http://www.carbonfund.org/individuals. For example, if I want to offset a flight from L.A. to Denver, it costs me $3.20. Not bad. I get to feel better about my impact on my world, and some organization with the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions gets a little donation.
Why not use the same concept for "cruelty credits?" The Humane Society, for example, could have a "cruelty calculator" where you type in how much leather, down, etc. is used in a product. They would somehow (roughly) quantify the impact and allow you to make a donation to the Humane Society that would be equated to improving the lives of animals in a similar amount. Paying 3x as much (or however much it is) for "ethically sourced" down is probably not the most efficient way use your money to reduce the net suffering of the many species on this planet that are currently underrepresented in our legislative process (har har).
I've thought about coming up with my own % to donate if I purchase down products in the future. 25%? 50%? 10%? I really have no idea. Thoughts?Apr 16, 2013 at 11:30 am #1977314
W I S N E R !BPL Member
If anyone is interested in absolving themselves from the guilt of eating meat, let's work something out. You keep eating meat, and for a fee, I'll go vegan for you. For every animal you kill, I'll leave one alone. I promise.
For an additional fee, I could also start riding a bicycle to work X days per week to offset your carbon from driving to work X days per week. You keep burning that gas and I'll be green for you.
I will make sure to send you a groovy bumper sticker and T-shirt so you can let people know you don't actually pollute or hurt animals- it's all taken care of.Apr 16, 2013 at 11:40 am #1977320
Luke SchmidtBPL Member
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Craig you need to quit teaching and start a business, LOL.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm #1977325
@towalyLocale: Smoky Mtns.
I hope you enjoy your new bag.
The rest of the world is still using what they want so if you think that 9 ounces(or whatever) of supposedly more humane feather harvesting is making a world of difference, then good for ya.
We can all use what we want.
I think it's great that you found something that soothes your angst.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm #1977328
"Paying 3x as much (or however much it is) for "ethically sourced" down is probably not the most efficient way use your money…"
I think Carl said that the Tundra sleeping bag was actually cheaper than the Western Mountaineering alternative.
Avery, I like your credit idea in that it would encourage people to support causes that I approve of, but I'm not sure that I agree with your assessment that the credit system would be more "efficient" (more good deed for less dough, I assume).
If I spend $250 on a more ethical sleeping bag, rather than $200 on a less ethical one, then the good business just got a $250 sale and the less good business got nothing. If, instead, I buy the $200 less ethical sleeping bag and send $10 to the Humane Society, then the good business gets nothing, the less good business gets a $200 sale, $4 of my Humane Society donation goes to HS administration, staffing, and advertising, and $6 funds a very tiny part of a campaign to distribute brochures that promote the benefits of spaying and neutering pets. In 2011, the Humane Society spent about $28 million of the $46 million in funds (60%) on its mission and $18 million (40%) on administrative costs, advertising, etc.
I donate to charities, but I think we have far more power to actually mitigate threats to the environment by our purchasing choices. Our behavior as consumers sends a direct message to companies in a language that they understand. They are dying to know what we want to buy, and every penny we spend is of interest to them. Charitable donations, on the other hand, OFTEN go to relatively impotent and inefficient organisations that have minimal power to influence commercial practices.
Tom, do you vote? What? You do? Well, fine. Go ahead, if you think it makes any difference. What about your health? Ever make an effort to eat anything healthy? Cuz one lima bean is not going to make any difference by itself. But, do whatever you like, if it soothes your angst. I agree with you, actually: if you have to do something more than once to make a difference, or if more than one person has to do it, then why do it at all?Apr 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm #1977329
I didn't make a slippery slope argument at all. I came to the conclusion that the effort is to minimize impact but to still acknowledge that there is no win-win solution or magic bullet.
It screams of disingenuous morality when people start spouting off the following quote "The natural rights of the birds are not challenged in the collection of the down."
I'm all for the sustainability and humane treatment of animals, I'm not for people deluding themselves into believing they're more ethical or moral than others because of their fuzzy feelings towards animals. Truth be told, aside from a few species, most animals don't give a crap about us the way we do about them. I want to protect siberian tigers but if I'm out in Kamchatka with a broken leg you can be sure a siberian tiger is going to see me as food (or a competitor to be eliminated, like how bengal tigers kill leopards…).
We are animals just as much as anything else. We do have a greater impact because our brains are over evolved but nature has a nice way of balancing itself (sure we may wipe out 90% of life on the planet including ourselves but Nature will go on). The end game is that we enjoy existence (we should, that's pretty much the only tangible meaning of "life") and we enjoy the other forms of life we share the world with (in addition to needing them).
Just be honest with yourself. It may be cynical but it also lets you focus your effort/money effectively in ethical choices. Every small bit helps for sure, but every small bit used effectively helps far more.
The OP already had a few WM bags and a marmot hydrogen. That sounds wasteful and rather consumeristic to me. Sure they felt "bad" about the sourcing of the down but the geese that died for the previous purchases died in vain. They artificially increased the demand for those products which increases the demand to find a cost effective way to obtain down. If they'd been honest with themselves they would have accepted their purchase and then decided that when they needed a new bag (in a decade or so) they would source it better. Instead they returned or resold the bag and had one shipped from across the Atlantic (whether plane or ship that's exacts a costly pollution toll).
All cultures that live with minimal impact also generally use animals for their own utilitarian purposes. What they do differently is only use as much as they need, not as much as they want. Satisfy your needs and curb your wants and that will do far more for the world than just buying something labeled "ethical." Buy less, hike more.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm #1977334
There were no surprises in the purchase of this bag in terms of equivalency. WM simply utilizes very narrow cuts not inly in width, but also in length in comparison to other manufacturers. As such 9oz of down fill in the cubic space of a WM bag will fill out the available material and look much fuller than the same amount (9.1oz actually) within the cut of the Tundra, which is cut larger is all respects.
In terms of the unethical what we know will always be a gray area. But, in my years on Earth I have found it naive to believe that when animals are raised / killed in mass there ethics doesn't take a back seat to productivity, efficiency and profitability. As you might expect the information on unethical practices doesn't come from the manufacturers, but from whistleblowers in various animals rights and humane groups. I am full aware they have their own agendas, but when the video footage, written accounts and ex-employee reports start to pile up its hard to dismiss it all as a militant agenda rather than facts. I try to do my homework, take in both side, and be open to all evidence before weighing judgement. Seeing as how I neither work for PETA or am an employee in a down feather facility I can never be 100% in my certainties. But, harkening back to life experiences…big business, in my opinion, tends to not be the best friend of animal welfare.
I am waiting for a response from the Tundra rep with regard to an earlier comment on the birds having their wings clipped. It stands to reason that is probably so, but the commenter typed the question rhetorically as a segway to provide their views. In truth I am in agreement with much of what Dustin Shirt said/believes. Of all species we are the sole one have such a lack of homeostasis with nature. However, I take issue with his assumption that, "trying to appease some kind of misplaced moral guilt". I do not believed it is misplaced to find the area of least intrusion, harm, etc. I think the easiest thing to do is to view out relationship with other life forms as black and white….vegan or porterhouse. I think I represent a large group of people who embrace the conscious turmoil of thinking about all their decisions with regard to plant, animal, and nature and making the best decision that they can at the time, not only for themselves and their conscious, but for the other living thing. Our interaction with all life on Earth defines what it is to operate in the gray area and I am saddened by those who view it in a black and white nature, although I understand why as that is the easier path to walk in the forest of consciousness.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm #1977337
Dustin, that all sounds pretty convoluted. This is the relevant information, I think: Carl needed a new sleeping bag, and he chose what he thought was the lower-harm option. I don't understand your objection to that.
You buy gear, too. We all buy gear once in a while. And when we need new gear (as you do sometimes), why shouldn't we consider low-harm a pro in our pro-and-con evaluation of our options?Apr 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm #1977340
just Justin WhitsonMember
I agree a lot with Colin's comments on this thread. I try to do my little itty bitty part to mitigate damage (for an example, i eat vegetarian 99% of the time, except for some occasional wild caught, smaller fish types and i take care of 3 chickens for eggs), i don't always do it perfectly and sometimes i do go against my better ideals because of lack of money, etc.
However, it's the try that is important. If just a slight majority of us tried more (in a fairly consistent sense), it would have a hugely positive impact on things, and like Colin said we affect change most through our wallets and purses because we live in that kind of society.
Re: down in general, there seems to be different levels of harm and/or impact.
For me, the worst is live plucked stuff from massive over crowded farms and then smaller farms.
The 2nd worst is dead plucked stuff from massive, over crowded farms.
3rd is dead plucked from smaller farms.
4th is the OP's source.
and 5th and least is wild collected stuff like Eider down, Canadian Geese, etc.Apr 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm #1977344
Dustin, I must comment on this as well. Your absolutely correct in that buying an "ethical" bag after having owned and sold/returned a few others would be hypocritical. However, my last bag (WM Highlite) was returned for performance reasons and the others for reasons of fitment. Because two of those bags were sold to individuals you could make the argument that they themselves would have purchased the same bags new, or used from another person who also at some time must have bought it new. In any scenario the bag was reused and not wasted so the number of "new" orders placed to the company is mitigated, at some stage, by the individual who purchased said bag secondhand.
But, as stated, the Highlite slept too cold for me and was too narrow a fit. Upon going back into the market for a bag I first went the secondhand route myself. But, between fit, weight, and availability I could not find a product to suit my specific needs. My attention then focused on a lightweight synthetic bag. I'm well aware of the carbon footprint case that can be made from tracing every step of the synthetic fill and it's environmental impact. Between that and the weight difference between down I further searched and found the "ethical" companies that collect either Eider or other goose down. To me, that was the best medium for my needs in the product, environment and animal. As there are zero Tundra retailers here in the US the product had to be shipped from the UK…I suspect the plane didn't fly on account of my purchase.
I am waiting to hear back from Tundra with regard to the clipping of the birds wings. I inquired at length to the specifics of the practices as best the representative would be able to inform me.Apr 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm #1977353
I do commend your efforts Colin. I'm more or less playing Devil's Advocate and using you as a relevant example, rather than focusing on my end of semester work, so I hope you don't take it too personally.
My point is that if you do enough digging every choice becomes questionable. There's a point of diminishing returns I guess. Down, for me, is beyond that point. Even this better down is still only available because these geese are kept to make more baby geese which will eventually be slaughtered. Most down is sold as a waste byproduct from the european and asian demand for goose meat. Most farms don't live pluck the geese (not all unfortunately and enforcement/validation is poor at the moment) and that's as much as I ask. You could even interpret that buying the "waste" down gives the farmers more revenue from their geese which may not persuade the farmers to be more humane, but does mitigate their "it's too expensive" argument.
Regardless shipping is still by far one of the worst offenders in the lifecycle is of ANY product we purchase. That may go down as ships adopt LNG as fuel instead of petroleum but it still takes a lot of fuel to move millions of pounds of product across open seas.
I don't want to dissuade you, or anyone, from being conscientious at all, I just want to make sure you don't get lost in the details of ethical optimization (a curse that anyone with half a brain and a decent moral compass will suffer).Apr 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm #1977359
Ben CBPL Member
I love your idea, Craig, and I think it can be used in many other areas. For those who like to practice abstinence, I think I can work out a credit deal that will make us both happy. Give me a ring…Apr 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm #1977368
"I do commend your efforts, Colin. I'm just…using you as a relevant example…"
"I just want to make sure you don't get lost in the details of ethical optimization…"
Aw. All this time it seemed like you were making a weak, convoluted argument, but really you were just using me as a tool to share with all of us an important lesson about the inherent limitations of ethical rhetoric and the fundamentally a priori nature of ethics. It was so well crafted! I was fooled.
Dustin, it's OK for us to disagree. I don't take it personally.Apr 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm #1977375
I dont know about you guys but when im on the trail I DONT pack out my trash. Why? Whats the point? The earth is already poluted you'd be a fool to think you packing out your trash would make a difference. And recycleing? F it! I also Poo and pee directly in streams I mean whats the point it will end up there eventually.
As Dustin has clearly shown there is no point to any kind of conservation or humane treatment just come to terms with life and do what you want.Apr 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm #1977401
Edward ZBPL Member
@fuzzLocale: Sunny San Diego
You are all looking at this wrong. For every goose taken, I give a goose. No down is harmed, and it can happen in a sleeping bag. Give a goose… stop taking.Apr 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm #1977419
"Aw. All this time it seemed like you were making a weak, convoluted argument, but really you were just using me as a tool to share with all of us an important lesson about the inherent limitations of ethical rhetoric and the fundamentally a priori nature of ethics. It was so well crafted! I was fooled."
Thanks for that "now I gotta clean my keyboard and computer screen" moment……
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