Zpacks Goose Down Jacket Review

Zpacks Goose Down Jacket Review

The Zpacks Goose Down Jacket is an insanely warm 950-fill power goose-down jacket that is perfect to wear in camp on cold nights and as an adjunct to a sleeping bag or quilt. It’s sort of a cross between a parka and a jacket, cut long and very roomy but with the sewn-thru style of construction common in jackets. Despite DWR coatings on the inside and outside, this goose down jacket is too warm and puffy to be used as an active midlayer when hiking. While it does have the hood adjustment controls which lightweight down jackets often lack, its value lies in its excellent warmth and extremely low weight.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 6.1 oz to 8.8 oz; varies by size – S,M,L,XL,XXL
  • Tested Weight: 8.5 oz (men’s XL)
  • Down fill power: 950 Downtek treated down
  • Down fill weight: 3.0-4.6 oz, varies by size
  • Shell: 7 denier Ventum Ripstop Nylon
  • Construction: Sewn-thru

The Zpacks Goose Down Jacket is a very lightweight, very warm down jacket, cut long and very roomy for layering. It’s made with a highly breathable 7 denier ripstop nylon that is down-proof and has a luxurious silky feel. The construction is sewn-thru, meaning that the inside and outside fabric are sewn together to hold the down insulation in place. This a common construction technique in down jackets although it provides less space for the down to loft and retain warmth than a box baffled construction, which is more commonly used in warmer parkas.

The Zpacks Goose Down jacket is a cross between a parka and a jacket
The Zpacks Goose Down jacket is a cross between a parka and a jacket

That said, the Zpacks Goose Down Jacket is extremely warm, which I attribute to the 950 fill power down that it is insulated with. The Men’s XL size jacket I tested contains 4.2 oz of goose down but only weighs 8.5 oz, which is a very high warmth-to-weight ratio. I’ve found it great to wear when using a hoodless sleeping bag or quilt, providing extra head insulation with its snorkel-like hood and helping to seal out drafts, particularly around the neck and shoulders.

However, fit-wise, I found the jacket to be a little larger than I prefer. I didn’t mind the extra length as much as the extra girth and shoulder width which makes the jacket feel like a sleeping bag with sleeves! Size-wise, the large was too small for my chest girth so I opted for the extra-large with the next larger chest girth. While it doesn’t matter that much, since this isn’t a jacket I’d recommend for active use when hiking, it felt strange with all that extra volume.

The Zpacks Goose Down Jacket has three pockets, an inner chest pocket with a zipper, and two open handwarmer pockets along the sides. The jacket can be stuffed into the chest pocket for packing, which is a good way to compress it and protect the shell fabric from any sharp pointy things in your pack. That chest pocket is also good for storing a smartphone or a screw-on water filter at night wrapped in a Ziploc bag when it gets below freezing at night. The hand warmer pockets do not have zippers and are open, so you need to be a little careful with putting anything valuable in them. They’re also positioned somewhat low on the jacket which I’ve found a little awkward but not insurmountable.

The length is much longer than compartively priced down jackets
The length is much longer than comparatively priced down jackets.

The jacket has neck cords so you can adjust the size of the face opening, which I think is essential, but is often left off of lightweight down jackets. But the cord locks that control the length of the adjustment cord are positioned inside the hood at mouth height, not outside the hood, so they rub against your face. Moreover, the seam where the cord exits the hood is not reinforced with a plastic or metal ring so it rubs directly against the seam and 7 denier fabric, which doesn’t bode well for durability.

If you compare this hood construction to the hoods of the Montbell Ex Light Anorak or even the synthetic Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket, which I would consider good competitive alternatives, they have much more durably built hoods with external adjustment controls that are out of the way. Both also protect the hood seams from the control cords with metal rings so they don’t tear the fabric or seams. The same goes for their hem adjustments, another weak area on the Zpacks jacket.

The cord-locks controling the hood opening are positioning inside the hood, which is weird and uncomfortable.
The cord-locks controlling the hood opening are positioned inside the hood, which is weird and uncomfortable.

I also don’t particularly like the sewing on the Zpacks Goose Down Jacket, where the stitching is fully exposed, with lots of loose threads, and not buried and out of sight like the aforementioned competitive jackets above. If you’re going to $375 for a down jacket, I think you should expect a more refined level of construction.

Assessment

The Zpacks Goose Down Jacket is the third garment I’ve reviewed from Zpacks this year, including the Zpacks Ventum Wind Shell and the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket and I haven’t been blown away by any other of them. While super lightweight clothing used to be much harder to come by a few years ago, there’s a lot more competition out there than there used to be. Zpacks makes great backpacks and shelters, but I’d give this Goose Down Jacket and their other ultralight attire a pass.

Disclosure: Zpacks donated a jacket for this review.

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10 comments

  1. Nice honest review. That’s why I respect your opinions.

  2. I also have mixed experiences with Z-Packs gear, especially the clothing. If you are looking for the lightest version on any class of gear, their stuff is often fits the bill. On the other hand, I have purchased 6 items from them in the past 18 months (Nero, Vertice rain pants, FUPA DCF fanny pack, 2 water bottle sleeves, and shoulder gear storage pouch. Only the gear storage pouch hasn’t failed in some way within the warranty period.

    I will say that Zpacks has been very good with doing warranty repairs and replacements. But with other UL manufacturers, I wouldn’t have to so consistently. And overall, as you mention, the fit and finish of there gear is often below that of their competitors. So while my Nero was a comfortable pack that I used successfully for 1000 miles this summer on the PCT, by the end it had several holes, while my hiking partner’s UL pack looked virtually brand new.

  3. Great honest review Phil ! I’ve had great results with my Rab zero g. Pertex quantum, 1000 fill wr down, long length (covers my butt). Specs say 11 oz but mine is 10 oz. Only negative is no hood cords save for velcro tab in back to pull hood back a bit.Very warm in teens in Northern AZ fall weather Usually on sale at christmas. Thinking about a FF Eos. Lots of great ones in this price range !!!

  4. great review.

    Nukatak and Timmermade make interesting custom down garments.

  5. Strange that Zpacks is big. For example their Vertice overmitts are so tiny that I expect they have all been returned except the Large.

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