Nothing puts a damper on being out in the great outdoors like being ill-prepared. With frozen hands and chilly toes, it’s hard to think of anything but heading back inside to warm up.
With a trip to Iceland and Norway planned for the middle of their winter, we knew that having quality gear would be essential to enjoying our visit. As New Zealanders currently living in Abu Dhabi, we’re not exactly used to the cold so when it came time to choose our gear, Kathmandu, a homegrown brand that we know and trust was an easy choice. Though we purchased a number of items that we loved, the following is a review of our favourite item, their XT driFILL Down Jackets – they are literally the best piece of clothing either of us have ever owned.
Choosing a Jacket – Down or Synthetic?
When selecting a jacket, there are two main considerations – warmth and waterproofing. Traditionally, the environment you’re doing into dictates the materials required of your jacket and because each have their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, your jacket will not necessarily be ideally suited everything the outdoors throws at you.
With this in mind, which materials are best suited to different needs?
If you require significant warmth then down is the most appropriate choice. It is light-weight, packs down well (so is an excellent choice for travellers) and is incredibly breathable. Unfortunately though, down does not retain its warmth when wet which means that it is traditionally suited to dry but cold climates.
The performance of down fill is measured by fill power. The numbers 550, 600, 750, for example, refer to the fill’s quality. Fill power is measured by the number of cubic inches that one ounce of down occupies in a climate-controlled test cylinder. The more volume occupied by the down, the greater the amount of air trapped and the greater the insulation generated – Kathmandu
If warmth is still a consideration but rain is expected, then a synthetic fill may be a better option. Though it is not as warm as down and does not pack down as well, it does retain its warmth when wet and is a more affordable choice of material.
What options do adventurers have though when they require a jacket that provides both a high degree of warmth and waterproof capabilities?
Kathmandu XT driFILL – The Perfect Combination
In the past, outdoor enthusiasts would purchase a jacket with one weather condition in mind – you could get significant warmth or waterproofing but not both. Fortunately, Kathmandu have changed the game by combining the best of a range of materials to create a jacket that delivers incredible protection, regardless of the elements.
With 750 loft goose down (coated with their own driFILL waterproofing treatment) and an NGX 2 waterproof shell, you’ll both be warm and dry in all conditions. The combination of these materials results in a breathable and comfortable jacket that looks just as at home on the in the city as it does on a mountain-top.
As part of the elite XT Series, these jackets have a proven track record. They have undergone significant testing in extreme conditions and we can attest that not once did we feel cold, even in the middle of the Icelandic and Norwegian winter.
Reviewing the XT driFILL Down Jacket
Though these jackets are made from the very best materials and offer a high-tech solution to an age-old problem, there’s much more to them than just that. Kathmandu have thought of everything in the construction of these jackets – seriously, check out some of the key features below:
- Each jacket includes a fully adjustable hem, cuffs and hood to ensure the best possible fit and weather protection.
- They’re constructed with a seam-taped 3D baffle construction which allows the loft to sit plump (which keeps you as warm as possible) whilst remaining wind and water-proof.
- All external zips include guards to prevent water finding its way inside your jacket and the main zip opens both from the top and bottom, providing harness compatibility should you need it. They’ve also included a down-filled tube that sits just behind the zip to lock every bit of heat in.
- To keep you toasty, the XT driFILL jackets have close-fitting fleece-lined, down-filled collars – though I took a scarf, I barely wore it because my jacket did such a superb job of keeping my neck warm.
- Access to a range of different pockets to keep everything close by, including weather-protected chest pockets, large internal mesh pockets and the most exciting ones of all, fleece-lined hand-warming pockets (and yes, they really do the trick!)
- If you’re travelling light, these jackets squeeze down into an included stuff-sack, allowing you to tuck it away safety when not in use.
If you’re looking for a warm jacket that can brave anything and everything the weather throws at you, whilst looking good in the process (and who doesn’t!) then we highly recommend Kathmandu’s XT driFILL jackets. Both Iceland and Norway were absolutely amazing and a great deal of our enjoyment came from the fact that we were warm, dry and comfortable – our jackets allowed us to head out in all weather conditions and equipped us to have the time of our lives. That’s what it’s all about!
Keen to kit yourself out? Check these beauties out online – they’ll even ship to your door.
For more information regarding the difference in materials, check out Kathmandu’s guide to choosing your next jacket to see what other options they have on offer.
Thank you to Kathmandu for providing us with jackets for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are our own – these jackets are just seriously amazing!