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December 16, 2010

New Textiles Leave Animal Fur out in The Cold

Outdoor enthusiasts swear by compassionate clothing

  • Jordan Campbell at the summit of Ama Dablam (22,550 feet), with Mt. Everest to the right. Jordan Campbell Collection

  • Campbell said of Marmot's Polartec® Power Stretch® Half Zip, "I've virtually lived in it throughout three Himalayan expeditions." Marmot.com

  • Columbia's Omni-Heat Reflective technology helps regulate temperature by retaining body warmth while dissipating moisture and excess heat. Columbia Sportswear

  • No animals need to lose their lives to keep you warm and dry. iStockphoto

by P.J. Smith

When top alpine climbers tackle Mount Everest or K2 in the Himalayan mountain range, the clothing they wear to stay warm in some of the harshest conditions in the world is notably lacking in one thing: animal fur.     

Patagonia, The North Face, Marmot, Burton, Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Hardware, and Eddie Bauer supply alpine climbers, skiers, and snowboarders with innovative apparel to offer protection in the most extreme altitudes, temperatures, and wind chills. And they all do it without any animal fur.

"I'm proud to say that Marmot doesn't use fur in any of our categories...rather, we use sophisticated fabric technologies," said Jordan Campbell, Marmot's public relations manager and a Marmot Athlete.

"Throughout my 20-plus-year climbing career, which includes several Himalayan expeditions, I've used stacks of outstanding synthetic insulating jackets and layering pieces. They are what I trust for all my cold weather adventures," Campbell said.

Although the fur industry likes to tout fur as cold-weather gear, many top outerwear companies know differently and have joined more than 300 retailers, designers, and brands on The HSUS' fur-free list.

Sandra Cho, Corporate Responsibility Manager for Columbia Sportswear Company, said, "Columbia does not use animal fur in any of its products, relying instead on faux fur made to deliver the high levels of warmth and comfort our consumers demand."

Warmth and compassion in outerwear

These companies understand that there are many materials that surpass animal fur in durability, warmth, and perhaps most importantly, impact on animals and the environment.  

Millions of wild animals are killed intentionally in traps each year in the United States, and these same traps also maim and kill countless thousands of "non-target" victims, including threatened or endangered animals, pet dogs and cats, and hunting dogs—many of whom are lured in by bait set near the trap.

Killing threatened and endangered species is just the beginning of the harmful ecological footprint of using animal fur, which can also include high levels of fossil fuel consumption, threats to local waterways from massive factory farm operations, and dangerous chemicals in tanning.

So, while you're finishing up your holiday shopping or looking for that perfect jacket to keep you warm in the cold winter months ahead—even if you don't plan to climb Mount Everest—make sure to think fur-free.

P.J. Smith is deputy manager of the Fur-Free Campaign at The Humane Society of the United States.

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