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- A high warmth-for-weight jacket is an essential for outdoor adventurers and commuters alike. Thin construction means more mobility and less weight to carry.
- I discovered the Outdoor Vitals StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket for $180 on Amazon, and it’s become my favorite affordable alternative to the pricier brand-name options. It’s extremely lightweight and surprisingly warm.
- The jacket features a durable, water repellent outer, 800-fill-power goose down insulation, adjustable drawcords on the hem and collar, and a packable design.
- At $180, the Outdoor Vitals StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket is a good value. Similar packable jackets sell for about $100 more.
While warmth is at the top of my list of requirements for cold weather clothing, I despise having to wear heavy and bulky pieces. I don’t like the feeling of being weighed down or immobile while commuting, and I’m sure anyone who likes spending time outdoors in the cold gets where I’m coming from. No one wants to feel like a heavy marshmallow while trecking through train stations or the backwoods.
One of my favorite jackets that answers the call of being warm and lightweight is the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody, but as much as I love all of its functions, the bright blue color I have isn’t exactly made for wearing every day. I needed something that was black, but I didn’t want to spend $300 on another Micro Puff strictly for the color.
So, I began searching the internet for cheaper lightweight alternatives and I came across the StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket from an up and coming outdoors brand called Outdoor Vitals on Amazon. I had never heard of the brand, but a lightweight jacket with a water-repellant outer shell, responsibly sourced down insulation, and a packable design seemed like a good choice — so I decided to reach out to learn more and give it a try.
Founded in 2014 by Tayson Whittaker while studying finance at Southern Utah University, Outdoor Vitals was created to challenge outdoor adventurers to "live ultra-light" by buying fewer wasteful products and physically lightening their camping packs. To help them do so, the brand makes affordably-priced essential gear like sleeping bags, tents, and hammocks — and recently added jackets to its product lineup.
Typically, outdoor and camping gear aren’t the type of products you cheap out on, but Outdoor Vitals maintains affordable prices by avoiding retail markups and selling directly to consumers, not by cutting corners and producing low-quality items.
Outdoor Vitals sent me the StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket to review and it turned out to be a lot better than I expected. I was pleased with its warmth-for-weight ratio and compact design. If the same jacket were sold from a more well-known brand like The North Face or Patagonia, it could easily sell for $100 more.
My initial concern before receiving the jacket pertained to the sizes available and the fit. The jacket is available in sizes medium through extra-extra-large, and since I usually wear a size small, I was worried that none of them would fit me. But the brand stated that the StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket has a slim, tailored fit and that it’s recommended to size up anyway. Based on that advice, I went with a medium and it turned out to fit like a small. In my opinion, the sizing could effectively be listed as small through extra-large, but since it’s not, you’ll have to go up from your normal size.
Once I received the jacket, I was impressed with just how light it was considering the 800-fill-power rating. Fill power measures the fluffiness and volume of down insulation. The higher the rating, the more capable it is of trapping air and retaining heat. Just to give you an idea on where it stands against other jackets, it’s rated higher than most of the super-warm winter parkas we recommended at the end of last year. Usually, I would never wear a jacket this thin in 30-degree weather, but I did during testing and was completely blown away by how warm I stayed.
As important as warmth is, it’s not the only thing that makes this jacket great. Some of my favorite features include thumbhole sleeves for warmth that extends to your hands, a high-neck collar with an adjustable hood for a secure element-blocking fit, adjustable hem cords, and a design that packs and zips away into its own left pocket. It’s also worth noting that many of these features aren’t included on comparable styles from brands that cost more.
Priced at $179.97, the Outdoor Vitals StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket is a really good value. Don’t let its weight fool you into believing it’s poorly made or too expensive for such a light jacket — it’s supposed to be this light, comfortable, and compact. Whether you’re wearing it on its own, layered under a heavier coat, or you’re carrying it in your bag while it’s packed away, you won’t feel weighed down. You can get good value out of more expensive competitors, but paying upwards of $300 for a jacket of any kind is out of many people’s budget. If such is the case for you, the StormLoft Ultra Down Jacket is a great choice. Alternatively, if you’re simply shopping for a lightweight jacket for fashion and not warmth or protection, you very well could find a cheaper alternative.
In case you need any more convincing, even with affordable prices and a business model free of retail markups, Outdoor Vitals dips into its profit margin by donating 1% to people in need who are living in developing countries. Although it doesn’t make the product any better, I always enjoy finding new brands doing good things for other people.
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