I’ve been using a Golite Roan Plateau 800 Fill Down Hooded Parka for winter hiking and backpacking for the past 5 years. It’s a great parka to pull out of my pack when we stop for breaks that last longer than 10 minutes (so I don’t get cold), if we pop above treeline and I need to put on maximum insulation in bad weather, or we’re sitting around in camp cooking dinner and melting snow for drinking water.
If you’re wondering about the name of this parka, the Roan Plateau is an area in western Colorado containing a variety of natural resources and scenic terrain: high ridges, deep valleys, desert lands, waterfalls, cutthroat trout, mountain lions, bears, rare plants, and oil and natural gas.
I like the Roan Plateau Parka because it is really really WARM and compresses down really real SMALL in my backpack when not in use. That’s the chief advantage of using goose down parkas and down sleeping bags in winter because items with high fill power goose down (see down fill power ratings) are the lightest weight, most compressible, and warmest insulation you can buy.
They’re also longer lasting than synthetic insulation because goose down feathers don’t break down after repeated stuffings in a stuff sack but retain their boinginess for decades with fairly minimal care. Synthetic fibers break each time you compress them and eventually lose their power to loft which is the mechansim used to trap warmth.
When buying a big puffy jacket for winter hiking, you really want to get a jacket with a hood. Before I got the Roan Plateau, I had a warm puffy down jacket without a hood and while it was warm, having a hood makes all the difference in the subzero temperatures we tend to hike and camp in. Wearing a hooded parka also lets you augment the insulation in a sleeping bag or quilt if you’re cold at night or want to use some of the insulation you carry for multiple purposes to eliminate “redundant” weight from your backpack.
Weight-wise, the Roan Plateau is 21.7 oz in a men’s XL. The outer shell is made out of 20 denier Pertex, a lightweight downproof fabric, with a DWR treatment to keep it dry. The parka has insulated pockets with deep side zips to keep your hands warm and let you stow gloves for easy reach. The hood system has a built in draft collar and soft fabric lining to prevent chin chafing, a feature I really appreciate. Stretch knit cuffs and cinch cords on the hem also prevent wind from blowing up your torso.
The Roan Plateua has another important feature I look for in winter parkas – which big internal pockets so you can warm up snacks so they’re soft enough to chew or to act as a food cozy when you’re rehydrating a freeze-dried backpacking meal with boiling water.
If there’s one downside to this Parka it’s that the hood is not large enough to accomodate a climbing helmet, which is a shame because it’d be a great belay jacket for ice climbing. That’s not a major concern for me as a hiker and the fact that I’ve stuck with this parka for for 5 straight winter seasons without seeing a reason to switch, should give you some indication about how much I like this parka for winter use. It’s also still made and sold by Golite.
Disclaimer: Golite provided Phlip Werner with a complementary Roan Plateau 800 Fill Down Parka 5 years ago.