Down jackets are kind of my thing and I really love them. Which is weird because I live in California and the last time we had a winter was probably before I graduated from college. But come on, a down jacket is your best friend. It keeps you warm. It packs down super small in your pack and is forgotten until you need it. It makes a great pillow when you forget yours while camping.
Western Mountaineering is one of those names that’s synonymous with quality. When I found out that they are based in San Jose, CA! Naturally, I had to come say hi.
I’ve never seen what a sleeping bag factory looked like, or any factory really. Their headquarters are located in a more industrial area of San Jose. I opened the doors and it was a flurry of whirring machines, crinkly material, and stray down feathers fluttering about.
I got a quick tour of the place and a rundown of how the sleeping bags are made. All of Western Mountaineering’s bags are handmade here in San Jose! (And some jackets too!) Each bag takes about six hours to make and only touch two people’s hands in the creation process. Limiting the number of people working on one bag helps to keep quality very high. Not to mention, each bag goes through two quality control check points: once before it is stuffed, and once after it is stuffed. If there’s an errant stitch or the like, the bag does not leave the factory.
It was very cool to stop by. Thank you to Gary and Gary at Western Mountaineering for having me!
And just for kicks, pictured above is one of the first Western Mountaineering bags ever made. It is still a usable bag to this day, a great testament to the longevity and quality of one of their bags.
I’ve been drooling over Outdoor Research Incandescent Hoodie after seeing it in various email blasts and gear sites. When Outdoor Research contacted me about participating in #ORInsightLab (What is it? Whitney and Dave explain!), I was lucky enough to have the Incandescent Hoodie arrive at my door. I’m addicted to down jackets; I can’t help it!
Unfortunately it’s been a really warm, dry and snow-less winter in California so my hoodie has not seen much alpine activity. One thing it has seen much of is cold temperatures and long commutes, which isn’t too bad, right?
At 800-fill power, this baby will keep you toasty at below freezing temperatures. The DWR treated 10D Pertex® shell keeps you dry in light precipitation. At 14.4 oz (M size), the warmth to weight ratio is pretty high. The Incandescent also stuffs into its own pocket, conveniently equipped with a tiny ‘biner, for easy packing and stowing. The Incandescent has two hand-zip pockets and one outer chest-zip pocket.
This thing is comfortable beyond belief. I use it as my primary commuting jacket. It’s lightweight, warm, and great for dozing off with on the train. Unlike my Sierra Designs Tov Jacket, it hasn’t shown any signs of wear and it’s been tossed on trains, floors, rocks and backpacks. (Though that may be attributed to the black color.)
The only downside is the size. If you’re a big fan of layering your down jacket underneath your shell, you might need a really big shell. The size/poof to weight ratio is fairly high. It doesn’t pack down well under the majority of my other jackets. It looks downright awkward beneath my Outdoor Research Valhalla jacket. Some people tell me that I look like an eskimo when I wear it.
On the bright side, it’s also got a roomier fit, so you can wear plenty beneath your insulating layer. Above, I’m wearing it with the Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie.
All in all, it’s a solid down jacket for its price point and the abuse I’ve put it through nearly every this winter. If Outdoor Research can get the Incandescent Hoodie to be on the trimmer side, it will definitely knock many other brands out of the park.
This was sent to me for review.
Now that winter is coming and cold weather is near, it’s time to break out my winter clothing for those brisk morning commutes. Say hello to the Sierra Designs Tov Jacket.
About a year ago, this jacket kinda stole my heart when I saw it at REI. Every time I stopped inside, I’d take a photo with or of it to text to the boyfriend. The sky blue with lime green accents was bright and obnoxious. It was fluffy and lightweight and warm. He surprised me with it for my 23rd birthday and I pretty much wore it for three months straight until summer came.
This jacket is constructed with 100% polyester rip-stop and 600-fill hydrophobic goose Dri-Down. The total weight of the jacket for a size Medium is 15.5 oz.
The jacket has a total of four pockets: 2 outer zipper hand pockets, 1 interior dump pocket, and 1 interior zip pocket. The cuffs are elasticized with thumbholes and the hood is fitted and adjustable.
The fit for an XS on a 5′, sub-110lb person is comfortable. It’s fitted, but not too tight. I can layer a hoodie underneath if needed.
This jacket has all the makings of a solid piece of technical clothing, but I am sad to say that it does not meet expectations.
The jacket immediately began to show wear on the trim after a few days of use. There was pilling on the trim around the wrists, thumbholes and zippers from every day activity.
The polyster ripstop shows sign of dirt and wear very easily. I’m not a particularly dirty or disgusting person, but I have stuff that I go for months without washing and it still looks mostly new. Not the Tov jacket. I am terrified of brushing up against anything out of fear of looking like I am homeless.
Lastly, I am pretty sure this thing poops feathers. Any movement means I’m waving fluffies away from my face and picking feathers out of my clothes. The feathers sneak out at the seams, and it’s pretty much impossible to squeeze and pull them back in.
Because of the above three, I haven’t legitimately taken the Tov jacket for an outdoor adventure, mostly just commuting to and from work in the city. Oh, and it makes a great pillow for camping. It just wore too quickly and seems to be too delicate for outdoor adventures. Which is kind of a bummer!
All in all, this is an okay jacket for winter and cold commutes if you can purchase it at a discount. I would attempt to recommend another jacket, but I don’t have much experience with down jackets (they’re kinda expensive!).