#GearReview – Wildcraft Packable Down Jacket

Warm jackets occupy space in your backpack particularly polyester fill jackets that have inherent property of swelling inside the pack automatically. I’ve spent a considerable time in mountains deliberating upon this mysterious self-swell property of poly-fill jackets.

The good folks at Wildcraft (probably) sensed my predicament and sent me a packable hooded down jacket. The jacket was tested in the rugged terrain of Kinnaur and brought to the maximum altitude of 4810m/15970feet. Here’s a 3D video of the terrain.

Down jackets are lightweight and can be made to fit in a remote corner of your backpack. And believe me they behave like an ideal child and stay wherever they’re placed.

Wildcraft @ 4500m/14940 ft
Wildcraft @ 3660m/12150ft

Material Specifications


Let’s talk about these one by one.

The design and colors are almost similar to previous Wildcraft Bomber Jackets. There are no fancy pockets or creative designer liberties that make it a neat clothing merchandise.

The jacket weighs just under 250 grams and can be fitted even to the outside of your backpack. Although I don’t recommend that you do that because the cardinal rule of trekking says that nothing should be placed outside the rucksack. Just to give a size perspective, here’s what this little ball of down looks like.

Wildcraft Packable Down Jacket_Gear Review
Fitted to the backpack-Wildcraft Packable Down Jacket
Packable Down Wildcraft Jacket
Packable Down Wildcraft Jacket

Warmth to weight ratio is a deciding factor while choosing your down jacket. Although I don’t have any quantitative measure to calculate its warmth to weight ratio, one thing that can be said with certainty about this jacket is that the down filling has been done appropriately that provides a soft cocoon of warmth at high altitudes. To keep my pack weight low, I walked from 3600m (Campsite) to 4810m (Summit) wearing just a layer of inner thermal and the jacket above it. We started at 0330 Hours at the crack of dawn and it was only the scary thoughts of flying ghosts that worried me and not the chilly winds. A walk in drizzling skies of Kinnaur is anything but pleasant. At high altitudes, if what you’re wearing is protecting you from cold, then you’re wearing the right thing.

August being the rainy season, this jacket was not only tested at high altitude but its water repellent properties too were tested on this expedition. Although water being a sworn enemy of down material, I still took the risk of walking in Kinnaur drizzle wearing this down jacket. For almost an hour I kept walking in the rain, not because I was actually wanting to test water-repellent properties of what I was wearing but primarily because I was too tired to even breath let alone pulling out the poncho from my rucksack. So yeah, it worked pretty well that way. The water didn’t penetrate through the outer lining of the jacket though externally it did look wet but the inside was still warm and comfortable.

But you shouldn’t try the same in wet regions like Dhauladhar Himalaya (Kangra-Dharmshala-Triund et al.) or Pir Panjal Himalaya because once wet, down becomes more of a liability than being an asset.

Water Repellent Wildcraft
Water Repellent Wildcraft

The jacket has elasticated cuffs, hand pockets and hemline which is a huge plus as compared to velcro or chord adjuster. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of adjustable chords. Elasticated cuffs make it a sort of self-adjusting jacket for someone like me with thin wrists. The hemline is elasticated too which ensures that you don’t have to pull or adjust your jacket while you hike. Usually free hemlines either penetrate through trek-pants or try to expand their territory by loitering here and there.

Now that you know the good things, here are two important aspects that could have have been made better. The protective chin guard isn’t as protective as it has been claimed to be. With chilly winds blowing at supersonic speeds, it would have been great to provide the chin region with elastic lock or adjustable chords to keep the extended chin part fixed in one position. Because nobody likes their chins being hammered by icy winds.

Secondly, the obstructed movement of zipper is another downside, not a major one though. Sometimes the zipper gets stuck in the inner lining which becomes irksome at higher altitudes. Its highly likely that this could be the case just with my product but if it is a generic issue, it must be addressed.

Imagine being breathless and trying to zip up your jacket at 4500 meters.

Not a pleasant site at all, isn’t it?

Overall, I would highly recommend this jacket for high altitude treks. Combined with multi-layers this can perform well even at 5000+ meters. I wish it came with two pack pouches because I have already lost my pouch somewhere in the mountains of Kinnaur. I hope good folks at Wildcraft are listening 😀

Click to Check Out Wildcraft Jacket Collection

Coming Up Next: Wildcraft High Ankle Trekking Shoes Review | 200+km clocked so far

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