Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $139
Pros: Inexpensive, zippered pockets, packs down small, headphone slot
Cons: Not the most form-fitting
Best Uses: Anything you would use a thick fleece for: hiking, backpacking, just wearing around town
Of all the jackets we tested, this was one of the least expensive and best suited for everyday use. It gets our Best Buy award because it layers well in just about any temperature and is incredibly functional. Don't be surprised if you stop wearing fleece jackets and reach for this instead. The Sherpa Vajra also gets a best buy award and it is only $10 less expensive (or even less with REI member discount). We rarely give two best buy awards but we felt the two jackets served different purposes. If you you want a jacket to mostly wear around town: get the Revelcloud. It has zipper pockets and a chest pocket that is headphone compatible. We find zippered pockets crucial for everyday use: securely holding your keys, cell phone and wallet. The Vajra does not have zipper pockets which is fine as long as you are using this mainly for active outdoor activities layered under and over garments with zippered pockets.
If you need a thick and warm jacket, you would be happier with the Arcteryx Atom SV - Women's or the Mountain Hardwear Compressor. If you are looking for an insulated jacket that breathe well, go with the Mountain Hardwear Zonal - Women's.
Check out our complete Women's Insulated Jacket Review to see how this jacket compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This is a simple jacket that gets the job done. It is relatively light and great to layer under or over. All the pockets are zippered making it a great around town jacket for securely holding all your stuff. During this review I had my wallet fall out of an unzippered pocket while biking from now on, its zippers all the way.
It packs down very small. This, along with the Patagonia Houdini - Women's became stables of our bike commuting package. Both these items packed down to nothing but gave us tremendous versatility in varying temperatures.
While simple, they do add in a cool headphone slot in the chest pocket. This allows you to easily listen to music while routing the headphone cord in a convenient spot. Its a minor thing but adds to the jackets urban utility.
The REI warranty, refund and exchange policy is hard to beat. While many companies will replace or repair a defective product through the mail. REI is one of the few retailers where you can walk in with an item, and get an exchange or refund that moment.
This jacket just barely does not pack into its own pocket (see photo above). It does come with its own stuff sack but you then have to either put the stuff sack in a pocket or keep track of it. If the pockets were a little bigger, it would fold into itself. The fit is similar to other REI jackets we have tested: it seems to leave a little extra room. It also doesn't taper much at the wrists like the Montbell Thermawrap. It's a minor thing, but we just don't feel it is as ideally fit to slim folks and is not the most form fitting in general. As of this writing, you can see just what I mean at the REI web site. While the jacket is flared at the bottom, it is not particularly form fitting and the sleeve bunches up. Compare that to the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - Women's below and you can see the difference in fit.
Credit: Rei.com and Patagonia.com
This jacket is simple: the pockets are not lined with fleece and there is no fleece around the neck. It is not what would we call one of the most stylish of all the insulated jackets. It has more of an outdoors/utilitarian look and feel.
Once you own this jacket or one like it, you wonder whether a thick fleece jacket is that necessary. Other than high heart rate activities, this jacket works well for just about everything: skiing, backpacking, hiking or bike commuting.
This is one of the best values out there. Not only is it the least expensive insulated jackets, it comes with zippered pockets and a light weight that make it very versatile. Don't be surprised if you wear it 50-100 days a year. Because it uses synthetic insulation, we feel much for at ease about using it hard, getting it dirty and then tossing it in the wash. A similar down jacket requires much more care.
— Chris McNamara and McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: May 10, 2011
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