All the way back in November, we brought you word of a clever, super packable, super light-weight synthetic down jacket that was on fire on Kickstarter (when I checked just before the campaign closed, it was sitting at 37X it’s initial funding goal. So, obviously, I was not the only person who found the project intriguing. Well, fortunately for you (and me), I got to spend some time with a prototype of the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket, and am here to give you my take on the jacket.
First off, you will not believe how light the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket. Seriously – once I had it packed into it’s pocket (more on that in a bit) I threw it on our kitchen scale, and the readout told me 12.2 oz – you know, like two steel dive watches. This has got to be one of the lightest jackets I’ve handled that is intended for keeping you warm in the cool weather. Given that Outdoor Vitals also makes sleeping bags (among other lightweight backpacking gear), I inquired what sort of rating they would apply to the jacket, in terms of temp. Per the brand, the jacket should keep you comfortable – if you’re doing nothing – down to around 40 F. If you’re active – say, actually backpacking – then that temp range extends a good bit more.
In fact, that’s why the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket has zippers on both sides. You can lower those down and get some air moving into (and under) your arms to help cool you off when you’re heading over the river and through the woods to your next campsite. Or, if you’re more of an urban hiker, keep those zipped up. If it’s below freezing? Well, feel free to layer up. For a few days, I used the jacket as a layer (in place of my Patagonia Better Sweater) and it filled that layering role with aplomb. Actually, in some ways, it may have been a better layering partner. For starters, the synthetic shell is a touch slippery, so it slides into sleeves easily. Next, when you consider how thin it is, it’s not adding much bulk (and the synthetic down compresses). Finally, the insulated hood was a revelation. I’ve had jackets with hoods, but never insulated. It was more to keep your head dry, but I always wore a hat of some sort. Not so with the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket. Cinch the side hood straps down a bit to keep the wind out, and your head and ears stay toasty (even in below-freezing Chicago weather).
Also helping you stay warm is the rather high neck gusset on the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket. Some folks may not care for it, but I rather liked it. Other winter jackets will have taller necks, but they always seem to leave a big enough gap that I need to have a scarf or gaiter in there to keep the wind out. Not so here – zip it up to your chin, and you can seal yourself up pretty well. You’ve got cinch elastics down on the waist as well to further close in the envelope. For that, I actually found the size L to be pretty snug on my hips (as it drops lower for better coverage, especially in the back) so I did not need to use those drawstrings. Finally, if you wanted to extend the warmth down inside your gloves, you’ve got thumbholes that hold the sleeves down and in place. I did not make use of that here, but I have on another sweater I have, and it does help in the lower temps.
What if it’s snowing or raining? Well, the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket still has you covered. I wasn’t about to spray down a loaner jacket (or do some of the other water tests they showed in the Kickstarter campaign), but we did have some snow and freezing rain falling here in Chicago, so I tried it out that way. Guess what? I stayed nice and dry! And, even if it had been enough of a downpour to get through the DWR coating on the jacket, the insulation is supposed to dry quickly, and still insulate (much like wool) even if it’s wet.
Now, there is one other trick the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket has up it’s sleeves, and it’s something that made me wish this jacket had existed back when I was backpacking more regularly. You can pack this jacket into one of the side pockets, and it then becomes a pillow you can use in your tent. Backpacking is all about weight reduction, and if you can turn something into a multi-tasker, all the better. For those more looking at traveling, it packing into it’s own pocket (and you can still really compress things) means it’s not a jacket that will take up much space in your bag. Or, even your backpack if you’re bringing it on the trail due to uncertain weather conditions.
At the end of my time with the Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket, I came away suitably impressed. The brand managed to take all of the great things of lightweight sleeping bags and turn it into a jacket that is great on it’s own or as a layer. While the Kickstarter campaign has ended, I have to imagine, with it’s popularity, that this would become a part of their regular catalog in the future. Until then (and, actually, right now) you can check out the second campaign that just started up at Indiegogo. All their current production is spoken for, so orders from the new campaign (with pricing starting at $114) are expected to ship by July. So, consider this your second chance to get a jacket from a company run by someone who’s dedicated to creating quality, lightweight gear for the trail. outdoorvitals.com
- Brand & Model: Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Adventure Jacket
- Price: $150
- Who’s it for? You want a lightweight layer – and pillow! – to head out on the trail with
- Would I wear it? Yes, indeed I would
- The best thing about it: There’s a lot to like here – narrowing it down to one detail, it would be the high neck / insulated hood
- Watch it pairs best with: I’m thinking something solar powered, like the Citizen Promaster Tough
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