vtg TNF vest with massive down leakage

2:29 p.m. on December 3, 2010 (EST)
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4 forum posts

Hi all, i'm from the Netherlands and new here.

I have a question about a vintage brown label The North Face down vest, which i've picked op on ebay last year.

It suffers from massive down feather leakage, the tiniest of feathers come through the lining, getting all the shirts and sweats i wear underneath covered in down, and making me look like a giant baby goose...

The vest looks to be in great shape, no visible flaws whatsoever, and there are no holes or loose stitchings at all, it leaks through the lining itself.

I always hear old TNF gear should be top notch, so i don't think this is normal, but i don't like to wear it anymore because of this issue.


Could something have happened to the vest in the past causing it to leak, maybe a dry clean or something?

And more importantly, how can i solve it?

I've tried shaking it for some time outside, feathers flying around, but it still leaks just as much afterwards.

And i've also tried a water repellant spray for nylon, to try and close the pores of the lining without any succes.

If any of you experts have a solution, please tell me...


12:32 p.m. on December 6, 2010 (EST)
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223 forum posts

I couldn't tell for sure without seeing it but it seems that you might'ved been had. Check to see if the down comming out is actually down. Let me explain.

The filling in most down jacket follow a rule of percentage. For example 80/20 or 60/40. The first number indicates the percentage of down and the other one is the percentage of feathers. Needless to say that the higher the down percentage the higher quality jacket you got, generally. Now down doesn't have any cartillage in it, whereas feathers do. That might be what is piercing through. If that's the case it might mean that the percentage of down/cartillage is in favor of the feathers. If that is the case you might've bought a contrefit jacket or just a fluke product, happens. Check the label and call customer service, TNF is warrantied for life, you shouldn't have much problem proving your point.

Question: What fill power is your jacket 600? 700? 800?

Hope it helps a bit.

4:07 p.m. on December 7, 2010 (EST)
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Thank you for your reply.

Do you really think i've been had?

The vest looks minty and unblemished, don't think anyone ever opened it up to re-fill it with different down, sure doesn't look so.


Here is a link to some pics i took of the vest, if you care to take a look and give me your opinion.


This is a close-up of the feathers that i'm talking about, the big one that came out through the seam when i took the photos is something that comes out rarely though, what i mean are tiny feathers like the one on the right.



Unfortunately there's no label saying anything about the down fill grade.

It's pretty old, i think from the late seventies or early eighties, so i guess it was uncommon back than to put that on the label.


I didn't consider giving TNF a call, but would they really be interested in hearing stories about a 30 year old vest leaking down?

On the TNF website i could only find a statement about a 2 year warranty, maybe that's their European policy...?


Thanks anyway and i hope maybe you can give your opinion based on the pics i posted.




5:54 p.m. on December 7, 2010 (EST)
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56 forum posts


My best friend lives in Wageningen, The Netherlands.  He just moved there last September.

This is VERY normal for all down garment..even The North Face.  Here is a perfect example for you!

I had a TNF down vest that I bought in university back in 1995.  It was awsome and although it looked almost idential to the Neptuse Down Vest today it was not 700 but 900 down fill and had a tuck-a-way hood under the down collar.  It was awsome.

Over the years I was losing down through the seams and sent it back (2007) TNF.  Yes, it was 13 years old when I returned it and TNF provided me with a full store credit for a new vest!  No questions asked...however, I could not replace it with the same vest.  TNF no longer makes a 900 down fill vest (or at least they didnt back in 2007 when I returned my original one).   I also couldnt find one with a hood...the guy at TNF couldnt believe that it had a hood until he had it in his hands.

Point here is if yours was like mine, and is in fact 900 then you may be better off keeping it cause although you may be losing lolft, it probably isnt as low as 700.  However, if you are losing it through the material and not just the stiching then you may be out of luck...Im affraid the material has worn too thin and this is going to continue to happen. 

FYI, The North Face will NOT help you if you are not the original buyer or dont have some kind of proof you bought it from a licensed dealer.  So, beware if you are going to make a warrantee claim that it doesnt cover the 'end user'.

Good luck...BTW, do you have any pics of the vest.

Please send them my way at  rdagg@hotmail.com.

I may be able to help you more since I have a friend in Wageningen.  He is coming home for Christmas on the 9th of Dec and returning after the new year....let me know yo


6:03 p.m. on December 7, 2010 (EST)
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56 forum posts

sorry for the double post

By pictures I mean, do you have pictures of the material tags sewn into the side seam of the vest

They will be located on the left inside inside seam near the bottom of the jacket...there are numbers and codes there that will help me determine authenticity.

4:12 a.m. on December 8, 2010 (EST)
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4 forum posts


Thanks so much for your reply.

It could indeed be the lining that has become thin, causing the feather leakage.

It's coming through pores in the lining i can't even see with the bare eye.

Would there be a solution if this is the case?

Get it re-filled maybe, or pack the down in an extra layer of fabric inside the vest?


I inspected the vest but have not found a material tag untill now, but tonight i will check again thoroughly, and also look in the front slash pockets if it's maybe sewn in there.

It's not sewn into the side seam on the inside.

I'll let you know if i found it.

8:53 a.m. on December 8, 2010 (EST)
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1,370 forum posts

I have the same exact down vest, see fotogs below:



I looked all over mine for code tags as described and couldn't find anything.  This vest has 550 fill as was the standard top of the line NF fill in those days.  Their best sleeping bags in 1980(the "North Face" model, the Ibex model), all had 550 fill in a ripstop nylon shell, identical to the inner shell of this vest. 

Down leakage occurs more with 550 fill since more of the feathers have stiffer quills and pass thru easier.  If you want to really see down leakage, check out the old down filled Army bags using pillow feathers---and not necessarily goose down.

Then again, my vest does not leak feathers as described above but here's one thing you can do:  These garments were meant to be stuffed and worn and stuffed again, over and over.  This will help break up the stiffer feathers and possibly you'll get less leaking.  From your picasa fotogs it looks like your liner is not UV damaged or thin, other contributors to leaking down.

10:56 a.m. on December 8, 2010 (EST)
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56 forum posts

Gosh...that is quite a dilemma you have.  I assumed that all NF items had that sewn in tag.  All TNF items currently have it and that is one of the things NF refers to when under warrantee.

However, as the gentleman above just posted, I suppose it was not NF policy back in the 80's!  550 is a lot of loft for The Netherlands and you should be happy with it. 

As per your down-loss, I was starting to develop the same problem the more I wore my old vest.  It is rip-stop nylon in the inside.  I don't think it would be that cost efficient to re-fit it with another liner.  I'm sorry but you may be out of luck in that regard. 

I am going to think about what you should do because quite honestly I have NO clue what to suggest at this point in time. 

Perhaps you can contact TNF and see what they say.  However, I just don't think they are gonna honour any warrantee (as you are not the end user and probably don't have a licensed NF dealer in your area to claim it for you)  As per The North Face warrantee, it is lifetime in North America but limited to 2 years Globally...

You wont be able to 'see' if your liner is worn...I certainly couldn't on mine but it was definitely losing down through the liner!  It is a super cool vest, very stylish and I wish you the best of luck with it.

As a suggestion, maybe the poster above will make a claim for you since he has the exact vest.  Tipi Walter...sorry for putting that out there, its just a suggestion to help our friend across the pond =)

1:51 p.m. on December 8, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks for the replies Walter and rdagg!

I triple checked my vest and indeed like Walter already said no code tag at all.

Thanks for the info that the vest actually has 550 down fill, nice to know at least.

It's enough to keep me warm on fall days with just a flannel underneath.


I actually love the looks of this vest, especially with the western style pockets, gosh i wish TNF would reproduce some of their gear from the old days...

That's why i'm making an effort to get my vest into a more wearable condition, but like you said rdagg, i also don't know how to solve this.

I try to wear light coloured stuff underneath whenever i do wear it, so that the feathers that spill are less noticable.

Maybe it's a normal phenomenon with these vests and i just have to get used to cleaning up my garments after wearing it.

One time i wore it over a black hoodie for a day and that had at least hundreds of tiny feathers all over it.

The liner material looks to be in great shape, actually the vest looks to be hardly worn if it ever was worn at all before i got it.

The liner material is rip-stop nylon and much thinner and different from the shell material, the shell does not leak down, i wish they'd made the liner out of the same material actually.


I'm not looking to make a warranty claim with TNF really, apart from it being almost impossible, i'm realistic that it's a vintage vest.

I just hope there's something i can do to at least make it leak less down than it does.

So i'm gonna try the stuffing method Walter described and see how that works out.

I'll let you guys know!

cheers ~ Mich

May 27, 2018
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