Combining box-baffle construction, quality fabrics, attractive style, and well designed (and unique) features the K7 Jacket from Mountain Equipment is one of our favorite warm winter down parkas and is our Editors' Choice in this 2014 update. Designed primarily for winter / cold weather alpinism or ice climbing belay duty, the K7 is also a fantastic choice for any backcountry activity in winter from ski touring hut trips to winter camping to snowmobiling.
Mountain Equipment K7 Jacket Review
Cons: A bit pricey - but you get what you pay for.
Manufacturer: Mountain Equipment
Our Analysis and Test Results
With 330g / 11.6oz (size L) of 750 fill power down in a box-baffled construction the K7 Jacket by Mountain Equipment is certainly very warm. Adding even more warmth and comfort are a nice parka-length cut (down over the butt in back) and a fantastic, protective, cozy hood. The K7 is comparable in warmth to the Feathered Friends Volant, but with a longer cut - providing a bit more warmth and protection overall, and a more comfortable fit for around town use.
The critical feature to note on the K7 for those looking for warmth is the boxed baffle construction. box baffle construction is more complex than a simple sewn-through construction commonly found on down jackets and many down parkas. boxed baffles are warmer because they minimizes or eliminate the presence of "cold spots" which are inevitable along the stitched edges of sewn-through baffling. Mountain Equipment's use of box baffle construction on the K7 makes it a true "full-featured" cold weather jacket.The construction of the hood on the K7 is also important to note. The lowest baffle on the hood - the one at neck level - is sufficiently tall to allow for superb face coverage when the jacket is fully zipped. This is true both with and without a helmet on. Being able to fully cover the face (even up over the nose) adds a lot of both warmth and importantly comfort when trying to stay protected in a winter storm where snow/ice/grapple are blowing in your face.
One of our favorite things about the K7 Jacket is the quality and thoughtfulness of the features. One unique and functional detail for example is the elastic build into the stitching on the back of the jacket, and within the hood. This allows the jacket to contract slightly and snug up against your body, eliminating drafty dead space. If you're wearing lots of layers underneath, the jacket can stretch outward slightly to accommodate. Overall this gives the jacket an extremely comfortable and warm fit. Similarly the elastic int he hood allows for a flawless hood fit both with and without a helmet on, and largely without having to mess around with the hood adjustment cords. All in all a great design feature.
The pocket layout on this jacket is also quite nice. The K7 features two internal pockets - one on either side of the zipper. Both are very large - the one on wearers left zippered for safely keeping important items, and the one on the right an elasticized drop-in pocket perfect for briefly storing cold gloves, a hat, water bottle, etc. On the outside are two standard zippered hand pockets, and a zippered chest pocket.
Weight / Compressibility
The K7 Jacket weighs in at 775g or about 27.3oz overall. While this is a few ounces heavier than a good handful of the jackets in this review, The K7 is also remarkably warm overall and is thus relatively light for the warmth provided. In addition, the combination of 750 fill power down and light weight outer fabrics means that the K7 compresses down and pack rather well for such a warm winter jacket. This makes it an excellent choice for human powered backcountry recreation like winter climbing, winter camping, back country ski trips, etc. If you're willing to sacrifice warmth there are indeed lighter winter jackets in this review.
The K7 Jacket features windproof and water resistant DRILITE® Loft II fabric. These fabrics combined with great hood construction and a longish cut make the K7 a very weather resistant winter jacket overall.
The K7 Jacket balances warmth with weight and as a result is constructed from relatively light fabrics. While the jacket is comparable in durability to most other high end winter jacket, particularly winter belay jacket, it is less durable than heavier jackets meant for more stationary use like the Mountain Hardwear Chillwave or the Feathered Friends Icefall Parka which feature more robust fabrics on high-wear areas.
Like many products from Mountain Equipment, the K7 Jacket is a great looking piece. There are only two color options besides black, but both are stylish without being too flashy. Some users might find the K7 to be a bit to "technical" looking for around town - however in any mountain town, this jacket certainly wont look out of place.
The K7 Jacket is a fantastic winter climbing jacket. Additionally due to the great warmth and weather protection it provides at a relatively low weight it would be a great down parka for any winter backcountry activity from ski touring in cold weather, to winter camping, to snowmobiling. This is also a jacket that is not lacking in connivence features, making it a good around town jacket as well if you live in a very cold climate.
There are cheaper winter jackets certainly, but the K7 jacket from Mountain Equipment provides superb warmth in a very well designed and thoughtful package. If you're looking for a well made, attention to detail, winter down parka it's certainly worth checking out the K7.
— Chris Simrell