US consumers of outdoor clothing appear to be moving towards buying products based on high performance results and lowest environmental impact, a new survey suggests.

The survey of 500 potential purchasers carried out last month found that water-repellent treated down is very important or somewhat important in the product purchasing decision for over 83% of respondents. Of those same consumers, over 51% said fluorine-free (PFC-free eco-friendly) chemistry is also a very important or somewhat important consideration.

The research was carried out by Downlite, which supplies down to many outdoor apparel companies.

It "reflects we are reaching a convergence point in 2016 where the outdoor consumer will be purchasing based on high performance results and lowest environmental impact", said Rick Meade, president of Nikwax North America, which partnered with Downlite to launch a fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic down in May last year.

Under the arrangement, Downlite markets and sells Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) to Nikwax-approved outerwear brands. Downlite applies the NHD treatment to its sustainably-sourced down in the cleaning process before it is shipped to manufacturers for finished goods production.

In another performance milestone, the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL) this spring confirmed that Nikwax Hydrophobic Down broke the 1,000-minute shake-test barrier. The shake test is a recognised method of lab testing the water resistance of hydrophobic down, and involves shaking the down with water in a glass jar, 50 times a minute, to see how long it takes to get wet.

Downlite and Nikwax claim that no other hydrophobic down product has gone higher than 1,000 minutes – and that 120 minutes would be considered to be a very acceptable result. Nikwax has applied for patent protection of the technology.