I have had my sewn-thru, Joobox brand, ultralight down jackets through two winters now. Mine are the down shirt/sweater type shown below… perfect to just go over a tee, or then under a shell or fleece as needed.
I have worn mine as a throw-on to go out on the porch at dawn to smoke, as a layer under a heavier jacket and overnight in my hammock for extra warmth in sub-freezing weather, just as a shirt over my trunks after swimming on breezy days at the beach [if you have been to Maine you will understand that this IS NOT odd in the least], as well as just around the house to help keep from turning up the thermostat.
The jackets came to mind partly because I am happily wearing one as I write, and partly because there is a “Sale” today on similar jackets from Uniqlo… theirs are down to $59 [from $69].
Over the last two years I have checked out the higher priced versions. Here are the current links [MSRP shown] :
- Uniqlo – $70 ~no deetz given
- REI Co-op– $99 ~650 fill/ 10.5 total weight
- LL Bean – $199 ~850-fill-power goose down/ no weight given
- Mountain HardWear [Ghost Whisperer] – $325 ~Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™ 800-fill/ no weight given
- vs the Chinese generics – $16-$29 ~ 2.5 oz. white duck down/ approx 9.7 oz with stuff sack [from AliBaba/ DX Gear/ BangGood and others]
It certainly seems that the higher in price you go, the more buzz-words they toss out. Still, while all these “brand-name” versions do go on sale at 20-30% off fairly regularly, that’s still quite a spread in costs for a very limited feature set or a brand logo.
It should be noted that you can also get heavier versions of the REI and Beans offerings that are more in the full jacket mode, but I like mine in the shirt/sweater styling… living in Maine, I’ve got full-scale puffer coats/jackets/parkas out my wazoo.
As near as I can determine, all of these lightweight jackets are sewn-thru construction [no baffles to add loft depth] and are of the same sweater styling. The biggest variation looks to be the number of channels of down, with the GW the clear winner there… and it looks like the GW tosses in some vertical stitching to minimize down shift from side-to-side. My cheapos have 12 channels counted up the back and not including the collar or shoulder areas. and I have never noticed any down shift at all… a quick shake and everything is fine.
After two years of very frequent use, I can see no signs of wear on Chinese cheapo… no pulled threads, no down leaks, no channel breaches, etc. I don’t think I could ask for more for the price… especially at only 5%+ of the GW.
90% for <50% Rocks…!