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I am looking for a regular sized sleeping bag for my child. Most seem to be coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) in which most DWR coatings contain fluorocarbons or PFCs that have been shown to be a hormone disruptor, like BPA. These chemicals are persistent, and break down very slowly in the environment. They also bioaccumulate, meaning their concentration increases over time in the blood and organs when you eat foods that contains them.
Can you recommend a water repellent alternative that would not be toxic in this way and brands that are concerned about this. I was looking to purchase the REI Helio, but it has that coating.
If there are not alternatives at this point, our family would like to put in that request that REI works in that direction for people's health and for the environment.
@JennGN Thanks for reaching out!
We have reached out to our team about the DWR used on our products and other brands. We will circle back with you when we hear from them and get some of the answers to the questions you have asked. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out the Sustainable Product Practices section of our Product Sustainability page.
Specific to DWR use:
"Concerns about the toxicity and environmental persistence of certain durable water repellents (DWR) is driving a transition in the industry. As of 2019 product lines, REI has eliminated DWR treatments that contain long-chain PFAS from our supply chain. Use of short-chain PFAS alternatives is a positive stepping stone while we explore non-fluorinated alternatives, which we believe will eventually provide the best balance of performance and environmental stewardship."
Thanks again for the questions, we'll get back with you as soon as we can!
@JennGN Thank you for your patience as we worked on finding an answer for you. We have connected with our sustainability team today and here is what they had to say:
While the industry is working to transition away from the use of PFC/PFAS chemistry in various product categories like apparel and sleeping bags, most brands still use short-chain PFC/PFAS-based chemistry due to its performance and durability. REI’s Co-op Brands has moved away from the use of long-chain PFC/PFAS for the DWR treatments used on our products. In addition, we’re a committed bluesign® System Partner and prioritize the use of bluesign®-approved materials for our products, including the shell fabric used in the REI Co-op Helio sleeping bags. bluesign® is a group that works with brands and factories to certify the chemical inputs, materials, and suppliers that create certified products. The bluesign® system focuses on consumer safety, resource use, occupational health and safety for workers, and water and air emissions. This includes requirements for how suppliers minimizing the risk pose to the environment, workers, and user when using chemicals such as PFC/PFAS. You can learn more about bluesign® in REI’s Expert Advice article on the topic.
If you’re looking for an alternative product that does not use PFAS, look for sleeping bags that do not have a DWR finish. PFAS-free DWR finishes may become more common in the future as brands continue to innovate and develop additional PFAS-free durable water-repellent technologies that perform as well as those that use PFAS. In the meantime, the best way to avoid products made using PFAS is to avoid products with a DWR treatment.
All of that is to say that all of REI's sleeping bags use a DWR treatment at this time. We have forwarded your feedback to our product team for consideration in the future. We really appreciate you reaching out to let us know about your concerns regarding DWR treatments on products. Additionally, we have reached out to the buying team to see if they are aware of any other brands we carry that may not have a DWR treatment on it. We will respond here as soon as we hear back from them, hopefully in the next day or so.
We wanted to call out that Nikwax DWR treatment is a water based technology that contains no fluorocarbons or PFCs. While we will see if we can find any brands that use Nikwax for the DWR treatment on the outside of their sleeping bags, Nemo and Thermarest use a NIkwax DWR treatment on the down in their sleeping bags.
Hopefully this helps. We'll check back in when we get more info on other brand's DWR treatments on their sleeping bags. Thanks!
@JennGN Thank you again for your patience!
We have some good news: we have a good amount of sleeping bags that are PFC free! The North Face and Marmot both have product lines that are PFC free and use recycled materials. You can view The North Face Eco line and the Marmot Trestles Eco line to see what else they offer. Here are a couple of options of their PFC-free sleeping bags:
Thank you so much for your question and patience as we gathered information. We have forwarded on your feedback to our product teams. Hopefully this helps!
Thank you for such a thorough response to JennGN’s question! I too am concerned about the presence of fluorocarbons and known-toxic chemicals in so many of our outdoor gear products. I appreciate your taking the time to tell us which brands are PFC/PFOA free, and I hope REI and others will continue to push for further innovation that allows for healthier alternatives. It is so sad that such a high percentage of gear contains carcinogens.