KUIU – ULTRA Down Hooded Jacket – Review

Travis Gneiting Reviews

Overview

The KUIU Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket is a top of the line down insulated jacket with hood designed as a mid layer to be worn under a more durable shell. The KUIU ULTRA Jacket is completely packable down to a 6 inch by 6 inch pocket for super easy packability and storage once the morning chill wears off. The lightweight of the ULTRA jacket, small packable size as well as the warmth to weight ratio make it a great option for always having in a pack for inclement weather.

Fit

I am currently wearing a size large, that fits true to size for most large sized down jackets of similar weight. The lighter fill weight of the jacket makes it work well as a mid-layer. It allows you to maintain mobility when worn alone, or as an insulating layer. The sleeves fit standard for average sized, the chest and stomach fit a little larger than average. I weigh about 160lb, and would have gotten the size Medium if I was always planning to wear as a mid-layer. However, I like to wear the KUIU Ultra alone as a jacket and feel the large is a better option for this. It’s notable that there is a small Velcro latch on the back of the hood for pulling the upper portion of the hood back away from the face. When combined with the hood drawstrings, the hood can be cinched to move with your head and out of view. It’s worth noting that the Ultra jacket doesn’t have pit zips or chest pockets. These are two features some consider a necessities on a mid layer.  Around the wrist is tight fitting elastic for holding the sleeves in place when adding a layer.  They also work well keeping a draft out of the jacket and snow from getting in the arms.  The bottom of the jacket has an elastic adjustable band for sealing out drafts.  The hood also has a draw cord for reducing heat loss.

Down Fill

If you are looking at purchasing the KUIU Super Down ULTRA Hooded jacket you likely are at least familiar with the warmth to weight ratio of down, DWR treated down to help maintain loft and warmth when wet, fill weight and Fill power. If not here is a quick rundown of the Down used in the KUIU ULTRA Jacket. The Jacket is filled with premium 850+ goose down. 850 down is top quality down that provides really good warmth to the amount of down that is used. The Down is treated with DWR that makes the down completely waterproofs. It will remain dry, maintain loft, which continues to trap air and warmth.

KUIU Alternate to Down Filled Jacket

KUIU has a wide variety of jackets to meet many elements and climates. If you are looking for a different price range, or something that may be more suited for wet, cold, rain, etc. be sure to check out their KUIU Jacket Comparison Guide. There are many reasons to choose a down filled jacket vs a synthetic jacket for warmth.  You will definitely pay more for a down filled jacket, but in my opinion the warmth to weight ratio is worth the added cost.  However, the care for a synthetic insulation, cost, durability, warmth when wet, are all valid arguments for synthetic.

Value

I always get anxiety wearing lightweight down jackets, especially with the cost of a high quality product. The lightweight material can easily catch a tree branch and tear a hole. The KUIU Super Down is made with Toray stretch fabric to reduce the risk of damage. The Toray Stunner fabric feels very similar to most down jacket with a slick lightweigh feeling. You will notice a bit more give/stretch to the coat. It’s still a little noisy, and if you are looking for something a little quieter, I would recommend the Kenai Ultra hooded jacket. It’s a synthetic jacket very similar to the Super down ultra.

Packability

One of the biggest arguments for Down in my opinion is weight and packability.  It’s pretty amazing something can pack down so small, and be compressed even smaller in a pack if needed, yet provide so much warmth and protection.  I always have a down jacket in my pack for emergencies.  They weigh almost nothing, take up so little room and can be a real life saver in the case of an emergency. The picture below shows the jacket compressed into its stow-able pocket.