Sometimes our gear testers act like kindergartners: They know they’re supposed to share, but they just don’t want to. And we’ve never seen a product bring out the childishness like this down jacket. Its premium 1,000-fill feathers pack tiny and puff up fat, the 13-denier ripstop nylon feels more like a force field than fabric, and a Gore Infinium exterior makes the Ignis more weather-resistant than any ultralight puffy we’ve seen. One tester wore it on a two-week trek in Nepal and he was still hoarding it on our trip to Banff. “I would have passed it on to someone else,” he claims, “but I was always wearing it.”
That’s because of two key attributes. First, it nails a Goldilocks level of warmth—just right for wearing alone over a baselayer while you’re on the move in cold temps, layering under a thicker parka in camp, and packing as your only insulation in mild conditions (it packs down to slightly smaller than a 1-liter Nalgene). Second, the Infinium—a name that applies to Gore tech with a wide range of applications; this one is windproof—extends the jacket’s versatility in wet and gusty weather, but it’s still uncommonly breathable (a slim cut helps). “I’ve never actually worn a down jacket while touring, but with this jacket I did,” says a guide who took the Ignis on an expedition to Mt. Logan in Canada, with temps as low as -30°F. The Gore laminate is not waterproof, but we used it comfortably in drippy conditions.
Features are spare, but you still get hand pockets, two interior drop pockets, an exterior chest pocket (men’s version only), and an adjustable hood. We expected durability to be a weakness, and while you shouldn’t subject the wispy fabric to bushwhacking abuse, it suffered no damage during two months of alpine adventures. The only caveat is price, but that’s not too bad considering you now own something everyone will want to borrow.
$399; 10.1 oz. (m’s M); m’s S-XL, w’s S-XL