Home / Gear Reviews / Clothes and Footwear / Big Agnes Third Pitch Hooded Down Jacket Review

Big Agnes Third Pitch Hooded Down Jacket Review

Big Agnes Third Pitch Hooded Down Jacket
Big Agnes Third Pitch Hooded Down Jacket

Big Agnes has emerged as a leading manufacturer of down jackets over the past two years, bringing their know-how with down insulation, hood design, and lightweight fabrics to the challenge of designing high performance insulated apparel for front-country and backcountry use.

Big Agnes’ newest down jacket, the Third Pitch Hooded DownTek Jacket, is an ultralight marvel that is warm enough to serve as your warmest puffy layer on belay, on wind-swept mountain summits, or while melting snow in camp, without the weight or bulk of a much heavier down parka. Weighing well under a pound, the Third Pitch is insulated with 6.5 ounces of 850 fill power DownTek water-repellent down, The outer shell is a thin 10 denier ultralight wind and water resistant ripstop nylon, which weighs just 7 ounces, totalling 13.5 ounes on the mens XL jacket that I tested. Despite its ultralight weight, the Third Pitch is a fully featured jacket with a helmet-compatible adjustable hood, thumb-loops, and numerous internal and external pockets providing it with excellent  flexibility for climbing, hiking, and winter backpacking adventures.

Big Agnes Third Pitch Hooded DownTek Jacket Features:

  • 850 fill power DownTek water-repellent down
  • Ultralight 10 denier nylon rip-stop shell is wind and water-resistant
  • Insotect Flow vertical baffles keep you warmer
  • Flow Gates eliminate down shifting
  • Adjustable drawcord hood closure keeps the weather out
  • Main zipper includes interior no-draft flap and a zipper garage at chin
  • Adjustable drawcord at hem seals out wind
  • Thumb holes eliminate the gap between sleeve and glove
  • Two zippered hand-warmer pockets
  • Two interior mesh pockets
  • Interior chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack
  • Fill weight size Large – 6.5oz/ 184g
  • Jacket weight, size Large – 14oz/ 397g (13.5 oz Men’s XL, tested)
  • MSRP: $449.95
Third Pitch Hooded Jacket with Insotect Flow Baffles
Third Pitch Hooded Jacket with Insotect Flow Baffles

Baffle Design

The Third Pitch Hooded Jacket exudes warmth as soon as you put on. Part of that is certainly due to the 6.5 ounces of 850 fill down, which is a large amount of very high quality down to include in an athletically cut, body hugging jacket. In fact, I own two much heavier down parkas that have less down in them.

But the warmth of this jacket and its low weight is largely due to its baffle design which uses tubes of down instead of the more popular box baffle construction you find on other down or synthetic winter coats. Called Insotect Flow baffles, this is an innovation that comes out the sleeping bag industry which Big Agnes has applied to lightweight jacket design.

You can see the tube-like Insotect baffles on the Third Pitch, which run vertically up the arms and diagonally across the back and chest. These tubes require less fabric to sew, they keep your body heat closer for better warmth and allow it to flow more evenly throughout the coat. The down in the tubes is held in place by flow gates staggered along the length of the tubes that prevent it from shifting and help eliminate cold spots. The resulting decrease in baffles means less fabric is required to sew the coat, which translates to lighter weight gear.

Climbing Helmet Compatible Hood
Climbing Helmet Compatible Hood

Fully Featured Hood

There’s a disturbing trend in down jacket design where manufacturers are skimping on hood adjustability by making their hoods one size fits all with an elasticized face opening. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Third Pitch Hooded Jacket which has draw strings in the hood so you can adjust it to your head size and draw it in tightly to block out the wind and bad weather. The hood is fully helmet compatible, which only makes sense in a jacket named the “Third Pitch”, but the hood isn’t so huge that hikers can’t use it comfortably too (I have a small-sized head and I’ve sensitive to such issues).

There’s a high collar on the hood the provides excellent wind protection for your face while sealing in interior heat and a brim is built into the top of the hood that sticks out about an inch to help cut down on sun glare. The hood adjustment hardware resides inside the hood so it’s not flapping around in your face. There’s an elastic cord that controls the size of the face aperture and two cord locks, both housed in their own garages, that let you control the tension of the fit, so there’s nothing to scratch or rub up against your face.

Pockets and More

The Third Pitch has five pockets that give you a lot of flexibility in different situations. There are two large zippered side pockets along the torso with zipper garages and zipper pulls, in addition to two cavernous, open mesh pockets on the inside of the coat above the hem. There is also a zippered chest pocket on the interior of the coat that can also be used as a stuff sack for the jacket. This pocket has a fabric loop sewn inside that is good for attaching keys to or anything you want to secure and forget.

The main zipper has an interior draft flap with webbing backing to prevent it from catching on the delicate shell fabric (nice!). There are adjustable cord pulls on the hem to block out drafts and seal the jacket’s warmth in, and thumb loops on the sleeves to eliminate cold spots between your hands and gloves.

Likes

  • Very warm with 6.5 ounces of high quality 850 fill power down
  • DownTek treated water-resistent down
  • Ultralight fabrics and construction
  • Full adjustable hood
  • Body hugging shape that still provides lots of room for layering underneath

Dislikes

  • Expensive (find yourself a sale)

Recommendation

The Big Agnes Third Pitch Hooded Jacket is an extremely warm but ultralight DownTek water resistent down coat that’s ideal for climbing, winter hiking, and mountaineering. With a body hugging design, it’s sleek enough to be worn as an extra layer inside your sleeping bag, but still provides lots of interior room for layering in cold weather. Fully featured with high quality 850 fill power down insulation, the Third Pitch Hooded jacket is a go-to jacket when pack space is at premium because it can replace a much bulkier down parka without compromising on warmth or camping comfort.

Disclosure: Big Agnes provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a Third Pitch Hooded Jacket for this review. 

The following online retailers sell this product:

21 comments

  1. While I’m sure this is a fantastic
    jacket I can’t stomach spending this much money on a jacket. I bought a montbell frost line parka for $200. It has the same amount of down and I’m ok with a 5 ounce weight penalty when I can save $250.

    • I agree. It’s insanely expensive. But it is a lot lighter weight, 6.2 ounces, than that Montbell which is your typical bulky parka, and the down fill power is higher quality. I also really like the compressibility of this jacket because I do have a space problem in my winter pack. Being able to knock off a half pound on my winter above treeline gear list is also a big deal for me. I’m not as young as I used to be.

  2. Philip, will it survive your bushwhacking ventures? Do you think the lightweight exterior material will survive getting poked and scraped by branches and boulders?
    Big Agnes has some amazing gear designers, though, don’t they?

  3. Is there a women’s equivalent of this jacket?

  4. I’m yet to be convinced about unique warmth value from the “tubes” but this jacket does have plenty to recommend it as a light weight cold weather garment … all things mentioned by Phillip:
    * the amount of down
    * the light weight fabric
    * the cut/fit
    * the hood … such a hood!

    But like many … the price is well beyond my pain threshold.

  5. Philip, explain some more about the baffles in order to convince the skeptic in me that the design is truly “revolutionary?” I remember the first time I saw insotect baffles in sleeping bags (and tried one of the first ones with the EMS Mountain Light bags), and I was completely underwhelmed. The whole thing seemed like a desperate attempt from a bunch of marketing execs who couldn’t think of anything else to do for an edge up on the competition.

    Like JimC says, it looks like a good jacket considering all the specs, but I have a hard time believing the marketing hype– especially when the baffle design just seems like a slightly fancier version of the age-old Patagonia down sweater.

    • Consider the following. The fabric used in this jacket is 50% less than that used in a parka with the same fill amount. Why don’t more manufacturers do that? Because the manufacturing process is different than box baffling *which requiures twice as much fabric by weight to hold the down in place.” I consider that evolutionary if not revolutionary. Whatever, it’s pretty dam cool imho. The prices will drop when factories in china and vietnam retool to make tubes rather than box baffles, but for the moment this is pretty new for jackets even though it has been modified from sleeping bag design.

  6. Phil, this jacket as most lightweight down jackets is sewn through (quilted) whether in tube fashion or boxes such as a Western Mountaineering Flash jacket. Truly baffled clothing is only for the most extreme environments such as those when I’m climbing in the Himalaya. I would venture to say that this jacket is no warmer or not much warmer than my WM Flash at 10.5oz that I use shoulder season in the Southern Sierra. This jacket needs so called flow gates because of the design (vertical tubes) because the down would not be as well controlled as those in an Arc’teryx Cerium jacket or any other conventionally sewn light down jacket. By adding unneeded items (flow gates) Big Agnes only adds to the weight of the jacket. Based on the apparent thickness of this jacket and the specs given, I would think that the jacket is over stuffed with down (not an efficient way to add insulation value to a garment), not to mention the price is crazy expensive for something of it’s insulative value and not made in the US or Canada

  7. Wow, this looks like an amazing jacket! I just have one question for you. How do you afford all this cool hiking gear? My mom has to buy my sister Sage and I great hiking gear, and that’s for all three of us! Don’t get me wrong, she buys us great gear, as she would never sacrifice our safety, but. I was just wondering how you do it.

    • Big Agnes gave me one to test and review. I always disclose the source of the product, whether I bought it with my own funds or I received a manufacturer sample at the end of the review in a disclosure statement.

  8. I like the Jackets features but absolutely hate with a passion the color blue…Dark Green maybe…. I have 3 Goose Down jackets and Vests one with zip off sleeves to use as a vest should the weather warm up or to zip back on for the evenings chill, to meet predicted weather conditions and NONE of them cost any where near the amount they are asking for this jacket. I’d say they have a winner except for the cost..And all the new thinner baffles in my opinion is to mimimize the use of the insulating product. The tube idea is not new going back to the late 60’s, they failed over the long term due to stitching problems and cold spot between the baffles and difficulty in washing them. With todays Polyester thread an maybe some Kevlar thread this problem could be taken care of.

  9. How are the “tubes” different from “sown through” ?

  10. Does 50% less fabric just mean that there’s no baffle – in other words the front is sown to the back, and then the sleeve is filled with enough down to give it a tubular shape ?

    Or is there just a shorter baffle, like 1/3 of the circumference of the tube, rather than the entire side of a square ?

  11. I’m in a warmer climate – the mid Atlantic and use a hooded Mountain Hardwear ghost whisperer. I haven’t seen the Third Pitch in person. The Ghost Whisper is definitely not sturdy, but does fine. It packs into its own pocket. I believe its made with butterfly wings and stuffed with fairy dust. You can find them on sale and almost get away with buying two of them and layering them for the same price and weight of the Big Agnes. Around $450 and 15 oz. That would be fun!

  12. The baffles for this jacket would only be about .6 to .8 ounces more, (depending if you used them in the arms). I made a box baffled (body only)10d fabric 8.5 ounce jacket with 5 ounces of down. There are only 8 baffles, but the weight of the 1 3/4″ pieces was 0.45 ounces.
    It’s the add-on that weigh so much.
    A hood that accepts a helmet = extra 1/2 ounce.
    Built up pockets = extra 1.5 ounces (over more simple ones).
    It all adds up.

  13. What is your impression of the sizing of the jacket — aka, do you normally use/buy garments of this style in an XL and does it fit like an XL? Would you recommend buying it bigger for layering or does that defeat the purpose of its “athletically cut, body hugging” design? Thanks!

  14. I normally buy an XL and while this has an athletic “body hugging” cut, it’s still big enough for me to get two layers under it comfortably. I wouldn’t size up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *